The regulations, which require D.C. Council approval to become law, offer a two-tiered system in which food trucks would still be allowed to sell from any legal parking space
, as long as they follow the posted time limits. But truck operators would also be able to apply for a permit for a specially designated spot that would allow them to vend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Both options come with caveats. If truck operators continue to use legal parking spaces in the city, they must leave those spots when a meter expires or face a $100 fine per incident. Previously, the city charged $25 for the same offense; many food truck owners consider those tickets just the cost of doing business.
The District hopes the higher penalty will discourage vendors from squatting for hours in high-density spaces near restaurants such as Farragut Square or Metro Center, not far from where restaurateurs are trying to make their own living. But the parking spaces — at least those in the all-important Central Business District — must be adjacent to sidewalks that are 10 feet or wider.
If truck operators want the option of selling for longer periods, they can apply for a permit for the newly proposed Mobile Roadway Vending locations. (The permit will cost $480 a quarter, or roughly the price of feeding the meter for four hours a day, five days a week for three months.)The District Department of Transportation will be responsible for designating and assigning these spots. As proposed, there will be three trucks per Mobile Roadway Vending location, and only one location can be established on a city block (and only on one side of the block).
DDOT spokesman John Lisle said in an e-mail that the agency will work with “all stakeholders,” from food trucks to restaurant owners to Metro, to determine locations. “We will of course begin with the locations that are currently serving as popular locations for mobile vendors,” Lisle said. “If the current location is deemed to be a safe location (from a transportation perspective), under the standards spelled out in the proposed regulations, then DDOT will move to sign the location” as a Mobile Roadway Vending location. The spots will be operated on a first come, first served basis.
“I think depending on how they’re implementing [the new regulations], they could be workable,” said Doug Povich, co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound D.C. truck, a founding member of the D.C. Food Truck Association and a telecommunications regulatory lawyer. “It sounds like they’re not as onerous as we thought they might be. But obviously I haven’t seen them.”