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New Regulations Ease the Way for Food Trucks, But Not in Georgetown

Mayor Vincent Gray proposed updated regulations for street vending, including food trucks.

Score one for food trucks in the "battle" with brick and mortar restaurants. Mayor Vincent Gray announced updated regulations for street vending that will make it easier for food trucks to operate in the District.

"My new regulations are designed to strike a careful balance between encouraging business innovation and respecting our laws as well as brick-and-mortar businesses that have long played according to the rules,” said Mayor Gray in a statement.

The proposed regulations, issued by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), would open up additional locations for sidewalk vending and address several issues with the 30-year-old regulations that have come to light during the recent renaissance in food trucks.

“Many of today’s street-vending entrepreneurs will become tomorrow’s bricks-and-mortar entrepreneurs," said DCRA Director Nicholas Majett in a statement.

The regulations do not add or change any of the allowed sidewalk vending areas within the Old Georgetown Vending District, but do stipulate that more could be added if DCRA creates a Vending Development Zone in Georgetown—an unlikely occurrence.

Restrictions on special exceptions for vending locations—like no parking within 40 feet of an intersection and no parking on snow emergency routes—would make it difficult for food trucks to find a home in Georgetown, as the Georgetown Metropolitan pointed out in September 2010.

Acording to a press release from the Mayor's Office, the new regulations would:

  • Update the outdated “ice-cream-truck rule” that has led to food trucks being cited and fined for having no customers in line even though they were obeying other laws:
  1. Trucks preparing and selling food would have to park in a legal spot, pay the meter, and can remain there for as long as allowed by the meter or posted parking rules.
  2. Trucks selling ice cream and desserts would have to park in a legal spot, pay the meter, and can remain there for as long as they have a line of waiting customers or for no more than 10 minutes when customers are not waiting.
  • Allow the permitting of new sidewalk vending locations throughout the District while grandfathering in existing, long-time vendors at their current locations.
  • Allow the creation of new Vending Development Zones, which would allow local communities to design plans best tailored for their needs that could include sidewalk vendors, food trucks and farmers’ markets.
  • Update and expand the ability of DCRA to issue citations for violations of the regulations to ensure vendors clean up any litter and maintain all required health and business licenses.
  • Clarify street-photography provisions around street vendors to make clear they are not applicable to journalists or photography enthusiasts.

The following locations are the only areas where sidewalk vending is permitted in Georgetown:

(1) Northern sidewalk of P Street, NW, east of Wisconsin Ave.;
(2) Northern sidewalk of P Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave.;
(3) Northern sidewalk of O Street, NW, east of Wisconsin Ave.;
(4) Northern sidewalk of O Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave.;
(5) Northern sidewalk of Dumbarton Street, NW, east of Wisconsin Ave.;
(6) Southern sidewalk of Dumbarton Street, NW, east of Wisconsin Ave.;
(7) Northern sidewalk of N Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave. (two Vending Locations);
(8) Southern sidewalk of N Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave.;
(9) Southern sidewalk of N Street, NW, east of Wisconsin Ave.

(10) Northern sidewalk of Prospect Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave.; and
(11) Southern sidewalk of Prospect Street, NW, west of Wisconsin Ave.

Bruce Majors January 24, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Readers may enjoy this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrMJs_DVajc&feature=plcp&context=C3bdb859UDOEgsToPDskKHiNIOsNz5AosduXCC5bFi
Virginia Burton January 24, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Both the north and south sidewalks of Prospect Street in the first block west of Wisconsin are congested with vendors selling knock-off purses and other items. The vendors park all day long on the south side, without parking permits (and with out-of-state license plates). I can't imagine these vendors yielding any of their turf to food vendors without a fight.
Shaun Courtney (Editor) January 24, 2012 at 03:00 PM
That's probably true. Though, if someone really wanted the space, they might be able to prove that other vendors have violated the rules. According to the regs, the Director may summarily suspend a Vending Business License, without prior notice to the vendor or an opportunity to be heard, for the possession, sale, or offering for sale of counterfeit merchandise, among other reasons.
Teel Oliver February 08, 2012 at 02:39 PM
A food truck or two on K Street beside the new park North of Wisconsin Ave. wouldn't congest traffic. I'd rather see a food truck than than a vendor selling knock-off purses.

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