WASHINGTON (ABC7) — For years DC officials have struggled to deal with food vendors parking junk cars and illegal food trucks along 7th and 14th streets near the National Mall. Now, the city is proposing to legalize food truck sales during certain hours.
ABC7 first exposed the junk cars, used to hold spots for illegal food trucks along 7th and 14th streets last year, some racking up as much as $10,000 in unpaid fines. The cars and trucks park in the rush hour lanes on 7th street and the 24-hour no parking zones along 14th street. The city struggles to enforce the 24-hour no parking zone on 14th street, and the out-of-state vehicles rarely face consequences.
PRIOR COVERAGE: 'They want a spot to work': DC food truck vendor fights for proposal over illegal parking
Now, DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is proposing major changes, including the expansion of the current weekday food truck lottery system to the National Mall area. Under the proposal, vendors would be permitted to operate between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays if they win a spot through the lottery. On weekends, which are often the most profitable days, spots will be awarded to the highest bidder in an auction. Vendors will operate between 11:00 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Under the new guidelines, DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah says permit and parking enforcement will be in full-force with a no-tolerance policy for violations. Any truck with more than $300 in unpaid fines could have its permit revoked. The city also says its plan to launch an app that will require vendors to log their hours and allow the city to see their location.
DCRA also says any food truck operator who tries to bribe, intimidate, or assault a city employee on official business could have its food truck permit revoked.
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“It amazed me the level of desperation that people have. You can easily focus on the illegal activity, but when you talk to the food truck vendors and talk to the community members, people want to make money that’s at the heart of it”, DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah explains. “The city is providing a pathway for them. But at the end of the day it’s about the humanity, the opportunity for people to make some money.”
Aside from food trucks, the city also plans to start issuing licenses to those who want to sell bottled drinks from small coolers near the National Mall. Those vendors would need to remain at least 25 feet away from a vending or retail site also selling drinks.
The proposed rules are now in the open comment period for 30 days and can be found HERE.