Food Truck Group’s Protest: Information, Not Food, Served

With an upcoming regulatory vote causing potential trouble for Washington, DC-area food trucks, members of Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington took an unusual step on Monday: They closed up shop.

The food trucks were out on Washington, DC’s Farragut Square around lunchtime on Monday, but they weren’t dishing out any tasty meals.

That’s because, in an effort to draw attention to some proposed new rules, a number of members of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington (FTAMW) used the opportunity to oppose some forthcoming regulations.

The proposed restrictions have little to do with protecting public health and safety, and everything to do with restricting competition and consumer choice.

More details on the protest:

What happened: On Monday, 17 food trucks shut down their food services at lunchtime, instead encouraging people to write to members of the DC city council regarding the regulations, which would limit the number of mobile roadway vending (MRV) locations in certain parts of the city. “The proposed restrictions have little to do with protecting public health and safety, and everything to do with restricting competition and consumer choice,” said the group’s chairman, Doug Povich, in a statement to NBC Washington. The proposed regulations have already caused some trucks, including Pinup Panini, to shut down for good, wary of the costs that the proposed regulations could have on the business.

The proposal in question: The city is considering a proposal that would limit the places where food trucks could operate and require drivers to pay a $25 fee to enter a lottery each month to decide where the vehicles can park. Those that do not win a spot would still be allowed to operate but would be forced to stay 500 feet away from the zones in question. (And since many of the zones are located in downtown Washington near the White House, it would limit the level of access the food trucks have.) The City Council is expected to vote on the regulations Friday, though it’s unclear whether the measure has the votes to pass.


Is it really that bad? The protest comes days after another industry group, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), raised concerns about the way the food truck group is presenting the regulations to the public—particularly the food truck group’s map of the proposed regulations, shown above. “This map is not only visually misleading, but patently false,” the restaurant association wrote in an email acquired by DCist. “On the map, these ovals are colored red, implying that food trucks may not vend there. To the contrary, these especially designated areas for food trucks have NO LIMIT in the regulations on the number of food trucks that may vend there. Instead, there is a minimum of three trucks allowed, but no maximum.” Like FTAMW, RAMW has a map of its own [PDF], which is focused on a much broader swath of the city than the food truck group’s. But even RAMW’s map shows that much of the area around K Street—the heavily trafficked area of the city where the FTAMW’s map is focused—is off-limits to food trucks.

The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington is one of the region’s newest associations, launched last year in an effort to create a unified voice on local regulations.

(photo by Elvert Barnes/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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