Money & Business

Food Truck Association Battles DC Vending Rules

By / Apr 3, 2013 (photo by Ted Eytan/Flickr)

Proposed regulations in Washington, DC, would severely limit where the city’s food trucks can operate, according to the local food truck association. It’s mobilizing members and social media to fight the proposal.

Food trucks would become far scarcer in most of downtown Washington, DC, if regulations proposed by the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs are adopted, according to the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington (FTAMW). The group, which expanded late last year to better serve food trucks in and around the District, released a statement last week that outlined the impact the regulations could have on the city’s mobile food vendors.

We started off supporting the regulations two years ago, but now we’re at a point with all of the changes and additions that we just can’t.

“The proposed regulations have one outcome—less choice and competition for District resident’s dollars and fewer food trucks just where residents want them the most,” Doug Povich, chairman of the board of directors of FTAMW and co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound-DC food truck, said in the statement.

Under the regulations, specific zones would be designated throughout the city in which the number of food trucks present at any one time would be limited. The proposed rules also include restrictions on where the trucks may be parked while selling food.

Truck owners would have to pay $25 to enter a monthly lottery system that would determine which trucks get a spot in one of the 23 zones. Those that chose not to enter the lottery or failed win a spot would still be allowed to vend, but they would be required to stay at least 500 feet away from the zones and could only park in a metered parking space adjacent to at least 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk.

FTAMW released a map of downtown DC—where the food trucks get the bulk of their business—that shows where trucks would be allowed to vend outside the designated zones.

map-of-proposed-regulations

(Image: Credit Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington)

Kathy Hollinger, president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which supports the plan, recently told the Washington Examiner that she would like to see more specifics in legislation, including a limit of two to three food trucks on each side of a block.

FTAMW’s Povich warned that the regulations would hurt the city. “The District will lose hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue, he said. “And DC residents and workers will be left with fewer choices and less opportunities for their dollars.”

The group held a meeting Monday to brief member and nonmember truck owners and to begin to hone their message about the impact the proposed regulations could have.

“We started off supporting the regulations two years ago, but now we’re at a point with all of the changes and additions that we just can’t,” Povich said. “A very important component of our strategy is going to be to get members involved in meetings with the city council—especially members who can speak to these proposed regulations and describe their stories in ways that the government officials can relate to.”

FTAMW is also leaning on their massive Twitter and Facebook following—the group’s member trucks combined have roughly 100,000 Twitter followers—to get their customers to voice their opinions, Povich said. “When you’re coming from our perspective, you’ve got to pull from everywhere that you can, because we don’t have the same amount of resources that the other side has.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. More »

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