D.C. food truck owners hope for compromise on proposed regulations

There may be new roadblock to roadside dining in D.C.

Mayor Vincent Gray is proposing a new round of regulations limiting where food trucks can park and for how long. The goal is to clear congestion and protect traditional brick and mortar restaurants.

About 50 food truck operators met Monday night out of fear the district is about to drive them out of business. Gathering behind closed doors, they hoped to come up with a game plan.

Victoria Harris with the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington
said, "We're trying to be as optimistic as possible, but these are our livelihoods at stake."

"The way these regulations are proposed, I won't be able to operate my food truck business at all," added Samuel Whitfield, the owner of Curbside Cupcakes.

Whitfield's truck was the third to roll into the city.

"Why do we have to drive across town, fight traffic, get in a long line wrapped around the building when the cupcakes can come to you?," he asked.

Now he worries he won't be able to deliver.

The latest round of proposed food truck regulations would fan food trucks out to 23 "mobile roadway vending zones" or MRV.

A monthly lottery system would determine who get s the spots. Everyone else would have to park at least 500 feet away in a metered space with at least 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk.

Red Hook Lobster Truck Co-owner Doug Povich/Red Hook Lobster Truck said, "We're concerned if you don't win the lottery, you'll be out of business for the month that the lottery covers...They have a restriction on the sidewalk width; and when you actually measure the sidewalks, it turns out we can't really vend their either."

The vendors created a map of likely spaces allotted.

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington says in a written statement the map "does little to advance the debate and blatantly misrepresents what has been communicated in the newly proposed vending regulations."

Both sides hope they can serve up some sort of compromise.

Whitfield said, "I believe that we can help along with the city put together some regulations that do maintain public health and safety, but also don't limit our customers' choice and competition as well."

The city is taking written public comment on the proposed rules through next Monday. A public hearing will then take place on April 30.The City Council is expected to vote in June.