Owners of Arlington food truck, cited for breaking one-hour parking rule, win in court

February 5, 2013

The Seoul Food truck. (Astrid Riecken/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Seoul Food owners Anna Goree and her husband J.P. Goree were cited Dec. 6 for violating an Arlington County ordinance that prohibits mobile vendors from stopping at a single location for more than 60 minutes. Anna Goree moved the truck after 60 minutes, but was told by police that she did not move it far enough, said the Gorees’ attorney Noah Sullivan, an associate at the Washington office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which took the case on a pro bono basis. Sullivan argued that the ordinance — which says mobile vendors cannot remain stopped for more than 60 minutes, but does not specify how far they must move after that — was too vague.

“They were told they weren’t moving the truck ‘far enough,’ ” Sullivan said. “You can’t enforce a crime based on a vague standard, that can’t be the basis for fining someone or putting them in jail. That was the defense we constructed.”

The Gorees, who serve Korean fusion including kalbi burritos and kimchi quesadillas, faced up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The motion to dismiss the case was granted by Arlington General District Court Judge Thomas J. Kelley, Jr.

In a statement released shortly after the court’s decision, the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, a group of more than 50 food truck owners in Arlington and Washington, said it hopes the case will spur a conversation with local officials to change the 60-minute rule.

“This case highlights the absurdity of treating what amounts to a parking violation as a crime on par with assault,” said the association’s chairman Doug Povich, who co-owns Red Hook Lobster Pound-DC. “The Food Truck Association hopes to work with the county in the months ahead to craft a food truck law that serves the county’s residents and workers and keeps food trucks as a vibrant part of Arlington’s business community and landscape.”

Related story:

Good news for all Arlington food trucks?

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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