Food trucks push back against regulations

Food truck owners have mounted a fundraising and publicity campaign in the face of proposed regulations that could cut down mobile eateries’ parking options and tack on thousands of dollars in fines.

The potential legislation would limit trucks to park only in certain areas – including one spot along H Street from 20th to 22nd streets – to reduce congestion and preclude battles for coveted parking spots. The spots would be assigned through a monthly lottery.

Trucks not chosen in the lottery would have to park at least 500 feet from the designated zones and only along sidewalks with at least 10 feet of unobstructed space. The closest locations for trucks that do not win the H Street lottery would include spaces along Pennsylvania Avenue and another designated area at 17th and K streets.

Violators could also receive fines between $1,000 and $2,000.

The D.C. Council, which originally scheduled a public hearing on the proposed regulations for April 30, pushed the meeting to May because of a scheduling conflict. The city legislature has until June 22 to pass or reject the vending regulations.

Tasty Kabob operator Moustafa Shokry, one of nearly 50 members of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, is helping to promote a social media campaign asking patrons to pressure their city representatives to vote the regulations down.

“I’ve been telling everyone to go to the website and they can sign their name, email and phone number to say something about it,” he said. He said spreading the word would allow for a greater discussion of the regulations and hopefully a change in policy.

If the council does not act upon the proposed guidelines, food trucks would continue to follow “ice cream truck” rules that require parked vendors to have a line of customers waiting for service at all times.

The city has cracked down on food truck regulations in the last year as it updates its decades-old rules on mobile vending. The number of food trucks in the District has exploded to more than 100, and at least a half-dozen trucks park on or near the Foggy Bottom Campus each weekday.

Nearby Arlington County recently pitched looser regulations that could lure trucks to an area with more places to park.

Kirk Francis, owner of the Captain Cookie and the Milk Man truck that parks near campus, displayed a map of the proposed vending zones and restrictions on the front of his truck last week.

“We’ve been disappointed with the process thus far, and we’re hoping to kill these regulations, and hopefully not put 100 small businesses out of business overnight,” he said.

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