The District will allow food truck vendors to enter multiple vehicles in a lottery for desirable locations after a change to the rules prompted complaints.
Vendors criticized the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs after it said operators could enter only one truck in May’s lottery. The monthly lottery awards spots at busy locations such as Metro Center and Franklin Square, which are substantially more profitable for owners of food trucks.
Some operators this week received an email from the city saying the “temporary change” was a mistake. Multiple trucks owned by the same operator will be able to enter June’s lottery.
“Some vendors have chided our decision to apply changes without input, which DCRA recognizes in hindsight was a flawed approach,” the email said. “Going forward, we will ensure food trucks are aware of potential changes under consideration that may affect your industry to provide the opportunity for your critical input and engagement.”
The DCRA’s email also said the agency would work to ban the unauthorized trading of lottery spaces, increase enforcement of vending regulations and identify more spots to include in the lottery, a move sought by some vendors.
DCRA spokesman Timothy Wilson called the one-truck-per-operator rule “a short-term initiative . . . intended only for a month or two at best.”
“Despite its brief duration, DCRA has gained some additional insight on the District’s food truck industry and looks forward to more feedback from food truck vendors after May concludes,” he wrote in an email.
Kirk Francis, owner of the mobile bakery and dairy bar Captain Cookie & the Milkman, praised the decision.
“May is unfortunately still limited to one truck but at least we have an apology, acknowledgment that communication is needed and return to status quo,” he wrote in an email.
Sam Whitfield, chairman of the DMV Food Truck Association and former operator of Curbside Cupcakes, said food truck operators still were planning to seek a restraining order against the city to prevent implementation of the one-truck rule for May.
In its letter to vendors, the DCRA said the number of food trucks in the city has tripled since 2013, approaching 500 vehicles. More than 200 trucks were entered in the lottery in April, at a cost of $25 for each to participate and $150 to use the spots won.