Look, I ask merely for information.
Yes, there’s a crowding concern.
But if you are willing to stand in line for an ungodly amount of time, as people jostle past you with trays of barbecue, and pay exactly the same amount that you would pay to sit in the comparative peace and order of a Cosi, at a table, like a civilized human, why should the city be so eager to stop you? The city does nothing to stop me from standing in much longer lines at the DMV.
Nothing about the food truck ambience, when you really get down to it, recommends it. There’s nowhere to sit. You can try to squat on one of the six benches around that particular park’s Statue of a Civil War General or Admiral Looking Disgruntled on a Horse, but invariably a pigeon has preceded you. Instead, you crouch on the grass, getting thick gobs of meat sauce from the Fojol Bros. truck all over your white skirt in the process.
No, nothing recommends the overall food truck dining experience — except the food. And the choice.
It’s not even the price. Lunch from a truck will set you back the same amount as a Corner Bakery sandwich. A Classic CapMac ‘n Cheese will set you back the same $6 as one of those grotesque panini that sit slowly suppurating in the nearby Starbucks behind foggy glass.
But one of these things is not like the other. One of these things is delicious. I say this with all the bias of someone who will willingly run ten blocks in the pouring rain, then back, skittering from awning to awning, just to seize a cardboard container of CapMac’s finest. I hope I ever love a human being so much.
Why stop this? Just when I was beginning to think that capitalism worked!
Have you seen the other options lately? Please, I beg you. Those salads have eyes.
The new proposed regulations by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs would create 23 Mobile Roadway Vending Zones that would offer special reserved parking spots for food vendors between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. but place limitations on the number of food trucks that could operate in the zone — or within a 500-foot radius.
There seems to be agreement from both sides that the congested food truck zones would benefit from a different approach.
But this doesn’t seem like the right one. Some of the truck zones attract very few trucks, raising the question of why a zone would make sense in the first place. And for the most trafficked ones — where business would be most affected by the ban on other food trucks within a 500-foot range and the additional requirement that they find spots with 10 feet of open sidewalk (something that’s as hard to find downtown as a delicious lunch, on a routine day, and basically puts the Golden Triangle off-limits) — the spots would be distributed by lottery. This restriction could be devastating.
Why place such potentially stringent limits on the number of food trucks in each zone — so arbitrarily? And why distribute the slots by lottery, which, as D.C. Food Truck Association chairman Doug Povich noted to the City Paper, would effectively put vendors out of business for a month without giving the city much additional revenue. “If you don’t win the lottery, you’re out of business for a month. It seems crazy to have a business model based on a game of chance!” If your concern is that they aren’t paying for the space, auction the spaces, or if your concern is that space isn’t being rotated fairly, come up with a turn-based system. A lottery serves no one’s interest, except the interest of that one guy in the back office who really likes a good lottery no matter the circumstances.
If we are deciding what to eat by lottery, I hope it’s because I’m on a boat in the middle of the ocean and we’ve turned to cannibalism.
And they won’t say how few trucks will be included in each zone. The restaurant association has expressed the hope to the Washington Examiner that it will be no more than two or three per side of a block. How thoughtful! Wouldn’t want crowding. Kathy Hollinger, president of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington noted that having to compete for parking is one of the “downsides” of food trucking.
This is like a soda machine pointing out solicitously that it is Far Too Hot Out Today for a Lemonade Stand. Oh yes, Far Too Hot. Far Too Crowded. Go back indoors and take your inexpensive and delicious lemonade and its low start-up costs with you!
I have nothing against D.C. restaurants. I eat there often. I respect their investment in the city. I want this to end happily for both sides. But please, don’t do to my lunch hour what Jar Jar Binks did to my childhood.
Spare the food trucks. Life’s too short to waste on nasty sandwiches.
The new rules are open for comment until April 8. Comments should be sent to Helder Gil, Legislative Affairs Specialist, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 1100 Fourth St. SW, Room 5164, Washington, D.C. 20024, or to DCVending
Regs@dc.gov. Speak now, or forever regret your pasta.