When it comes to food trucks, Georgetown business groups and their supporters are wary, but other officials keep an open mind.
The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has proposed new regulations to address several issues with the 30-year-old rules that have come to light during the recent renaissance in food trucks.
At its monthly meeting on Feb. 27, the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC2E) voted four to one to ask DCRA:
- that the regulations also restrict food trucks from parking on Georgetown's residential streets,
- that the regulations address trash and waste management through strict enforcement, and
- that the rules be instituted in Georgetown on a trial period of up 18 months.
Commissioner Bill Starrels voted against the resolution, arguing, "I think we need more control over it." He wanted to include provisions to restrict the location and number of food trucks.
His stance was similar to that taken by both the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) and the Georgetown Business Association (GBA).
Jim Bracco from the BID said, "Our first reaction is to protect our brick and mortar establishments." He added, "Despite the novelty of the trucks...our initial reaction is to say, 'no'".
In a letter sent to DCRA about the food truck regulations, GBA President Rokas Beresniovas asked that the rules offer "assurances that the areas in which [food trucks] locate are not over-run or overburdened by their presence."
Commissioner Tom Birch, however, was less concerned about negative impacts from the mobile vendors.
Birch asked several rhetorical questions about the concerns he was hearing, "Do we have a problem right now? Are we afraid these trucks are going to open the door?" He added, "I'm not sure what we want to guard against."
Starrels, however, argued that trash could be a real issue, especially if lines of food trucks crowd K Street near the Georgetown Waterfront. "We have a world class park at the waterfront now," he said, adding that he did not want the return of a large rodent population to undo the community's hard work.
But fellow commissioners ultimately decided not to ask for quite as much oversight as Starrels seemed to want.
Commissioner Ron Lewis commented, "We really haven’t been inundated with these trucks."
The public comment deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday, March 1. Comments can be emailed to DCVendingRegs@dc.gov.