D.C. Council passes food truck regulations

Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer,Phil Mendelson,Vincent Gray

Through a multistep legislative maneuver, the D.C. Council found a way to pass vending regulations while stripping away many of the controversial provisions, pushing those decisions back to another day.

Tuesday's unanimous vote was a victory for food trucks.

It means, for example, that the rule that would require food trucks to do business with at least 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk did not pass. The council also nixed a proposal that would have prevented food trucks from operating within 500 feet of areas with assigned food truck parking spaces.

"Thank you, D.C. Council, for supporting our small businesses," Che Ruddell-Tabisola, political director for the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, told The Washington Examiner. "If you're supporting food trucks, you're supporting the thousands of District residents and workers that support us."

Meanwhile, the mayor's office has worked for several years to craft amendable regulations to replace the outdated ice cream truck rules under which the District's lively food truck industry is operating.

It had hoped that this version, the fourth iteration of legislation, would do the trick.

"We do not support amending the regulations," Mayor Vincent Gray's spokesman wrote in an email. "We believe that the regulations, as submitted, strike the proper balance between the various stakeholders."

In the multistep process shepherded by Councilman Vincent Orange and using the legislative know-how of Chairman Phil Mendelson, the council temporarily amended a 2009 law that restricted it from amending regulations and passed the legislation, omitting the more controversial sections.

The omissions did not simply mollify the food truck industry. The council also put on hold an inspection provision that concerned farmers markets.

Now, the council will take up the challenge of crafting satisfactory regulations that will help decide key questions, including where food trucks can park and how limited parking spaces should be divvied up in popular areas like Farragut Square.

"We're encouraged that they have moved forward with some of the vending regulations, and we hope they will meet their commitment to finalize a complete set of regulations by the end of recess," said Andrew Kline, a legislative representative for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. But, he said, "we frankly think that the council had a good set of regulations before it."

The council will go into recess in July and return in mid-September.

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