Washington, D.C., released a fourth version of proposed revisions to food truck regulations March 8, which, if passed, would loosen licensing requirements but restrict locations where food trucks can set up shop.

The provisions would eliminate certain vendor license requirements that treat trucks as sole proprietorships, allow employees to work for more than one vendor and differentiate between non-mobile vendors, food trucks and ice cream trucks, eliciting support from some food truck vendors.

D.C. Food Truck Association Chairman and Red Hook Lobster Pound co-owner Doug Povich said that the current ice cream truck label is troublesome because food trucks currently are not allowed to stop or remain in a location unless customers are waiting.

But the possible regulations governing parking have roused discontent among vendors.

The proposed revisions call for the creation of new mobile roadway vending locations, or MRVs, in 23 general areas of the city that will feature a 500-foot area that excludes other food trucks from selling. The ability to park in an MRV will be distributed to vendors through a lottery system.

“This idea of designating spaces based on what city thinks are good vending locations doesn’t make sense,” Povich said. “It’s not flexible enough to accommodate demand.”

Outside the MRVs, trucks can still vend but only in locations where there is a 10-foot-wide unobstructed sidewalk.

Povich, who is also worried about the opacity surrounding the MRV selection process, said that he has surveyed large portions of the District and determined that much of downtown D.C. and most of Georgetown  would not accommodate this rule, making trucks unable to set up shop at locations around the city based on demand.

Povich said he would like to see the sidewalk requirement eliminated or possibly reduced to six feet.

Patrick Rathbone, owner of the Big Cheese food truck — one of the few food trucks that comes to the Georgetown area — agreed, saying that the 500-foot regulation should be changed to one block.

Rathbone said that he is not particularly concerned that, in theory, the proposed regulations would not allow him to park in his current location near the university’s front gates.

“We don’t really get hassled because we are not causing a disturbance,” Rathbone said. “Nobody is going to chase us down as long as nobody complains.”

In general, the regulations will have little to no impact on the Georgetown area because vending rules are already stringent.

Currently, vendors are not allowed to sell in the Old Georgetown area, with the exception of a vending zone that encompasses N, O, P, Prospect and Dumbarton Streets within 50 feet of their intersections with Wisconsin Avenue. As part of the proposed regulations, MRVs have been assigned to the general areas around other universities in the District such as The George Washington University, but not Georgetown.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bill Starrels, who represents the southern part of Georgetown, confirmed that the sidewalk limit will stop trucks from selling in the neighborhood. But Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Legislative and Public Affairs Officer Helder Gil said the impact of the regulations on vending around the university would be minimal.

“We don’t expect to see significant change in the Georgetown area due to the narrowness of most sidewalks,” he wrote. “Because of the narrow sidewalks, only a few sidewalk locations are approved for vending in the Georgetown area.”
The regulations have been submitted to the D.C. Council and must be passed within 60 days.

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