The Washington Post

Food trucks are here to stay

Council vote Tuesday means long-sought government acceptance for food trucks. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Updated 3:45 p.m. with comment from Kline and Ribeiro

After more than four years of sometimes rancorous debate, food trucks on Tuesday made a major advance toward becoming a government-sanctioned, street-legal fixture of the District’s culinary scene.

The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to complete the approval process for regulations setting out where and how food trucks may operate in the city. Since 2009, restaurants on wheels have operated under ad hoc arrangements while industry advocates hammered out permanent rules with city officials and representatives from brick-and-mortar restaurants, some of which have strongly opposed the food trucks’ proliferation.

After the vote Tuesday, however, all sides appeared satisfied with the final product. “I think it was a great team effort,” said council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), who hammered out the final compromise. “We’re ready to move forward.”

The approved regulations create special “mobile vending zones” in the most popular downtown vending locations where trucks can apply by lottery for guaranteed spots. Some final tweaks to the rules — shrinking a truck-free “buffer” area around the vending zones; easing a restriction on where trucks could park outside the zones; clarifying the size of the fines levied on violators — passed with little debate Tuesday.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray could veto the bill before a June 22 deadline, throwing the matter back into limbo, but a Gray administration member not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said that is unlikely. “We are currently reviewing the amendments and changes to the regulation,” said spokesman Pedro Ribeiro, in the official administration comment on the matter.

Che Ruddell-Tabisola, political director of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, said that — assuming Gray doesn’t stand in the way of the compromise — the industry’s focus will now turn toward making sure the new regulations work as intended.

That goes as well for traditional restaurants, said Andrew J. Kline of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. ‘We’re certainly pleased to see an overall scheme of regulation,” he said. “We needed a framework; we didn’t have one before.”

All concerned said they are pleased to be moving on to a new phase.

“It was certainly a longer process than anyone anticipated,” said Ruddell-Tabisola, who is also the proprietor of the BBQ Bus. “We’re not over the finish line yet, but I’m certainly happy we’ll be able to get back to selling barbecue sandwiches.”

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college
Next Story
Mike DeBonis · June 18, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.