Terry Bellamy, director of the Department of Transportation, and Nicholas A. Majett, who heads the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, are expected to identify 19 parking spots around Farragut Square, 15 near Union Station and 13 around Franklin Square — to highlight just three of the most popular downtown vending locations — that would be open to vendors while satisfying the agencies’ rules for public safety and space management. Those figures compare favorably with the number of food trucks now operating in those areas.
“You won’t see fewer [locations] than this,” said a city official who requested anonymity because he was not permitted to speak about the city’s plan ahead of the public hearing before the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, chaired by Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large). “The map is basically what we believe is a pretty good baseline on where we’re going to be.”
The District’s number of vending locations is far greater than those estimated by the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington when it conducted a sidewalk survey in March and concluded that many trucks would be effectively locked out of downtown unless they were part of the city’s proposed “mobile roadway vending zones.” The association created its own map outlining the areas that would be off-limits under the new regulations.
The food truck association had been trying for months to learn the exact number of vehicles the city would allow in the zones, which the District has proposed as a way to relieve congested sidewalks, blocked Metro bus stops and a lack of public parking at the most popular vending sites downtown. But until the figures were provided Thursday afternoon to a reporter, the association had heard no concrete numbers other than what is printed in the regulations, which proposed at least three spaces for trucks at each mobile roadway vending zone.
The new numbers didn’t immediately calm the food truck association, which has been urging the D.C. Council to kill the regulations. The association has dubbed its grass-roots campaign “Save D.C. Food Trucks.”
“Our main concern is that they put [the numbers] on paper in the actual regulations,” said Doug Povich, chairman of the food truck association and co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound DC truck.
The problem with not having the numbers in the regulations, said Povich, is that there is turnover among agency directors and officials. The next leaders of the city transportation and consumer agencies may decide they no longer want 19 trucks at Farragut Square; they may decide they want only five, Povich said. There’s no language in the regulations now that would prevent the agencies from changing the number, he said.