Monday, April 1, 2013

To Protect Connected Restaurants, D.C. May Curb Food Trucks:

By Tim Carney

Should D.C.'s food laws try to protect consumers and public safety? Or should they try to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from competition?

D.C.'s restaurant lobbyists, along with many local politicians and bureaucrats, seem to think the government's job is to save the delis and diners, bistros and brasseries from the scourge of falafel trucks, barbecue buses and weenie wagons.

Most of downtown D.C., according to the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, would be off-limits to food trucks under new regulations proposed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. The Golden Triangle would be sacred ground, not to be soiled by the unclean tires of mobile vendors, except for those fortunate few smiled upon by the whimsical gods of the DCRA.

The rules would designate a few food truck parking spots around prime locations such as George Washington University, Farragut Square and the Verizon Center. These spots would be awarded by lottery once a month to a handful of trucks, and all other trucks would be prohibited from coming within 500 feet of these zones. The proposed regs would also prohibit trucks from parking anywhere that lacks 10 feet of "unobstructed sidewalk."

When I called Food Truck Association President Doug Povich for this column, he said, "I wish the story wasn't 'restaurants vs. food trucks.' " But it is.

The restaurant lobby hasn't fully embraced DCRA's proposed rules yet -- the eateries want to ensure the rules are strict enough. Kathy Hollinger, president of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, wants a limit of two or three trucks on either side of a park, reports my Washington Examiner colleague Eric P. Newcomer.

Why should there be any limit -- besides the number of legal parking spots -- on how many trucks can line up on either side of Farragut Square? The clear reason is restraining competition. Jim Doherty, owner of the Washington Deli, said of food truck proliferation, "If they don't stop it, they're going to be everywhere. ... There's so little barrier to entry."

Read the rest here.

1 comment:

  1. In a related story, Congressman Dick Ballbuster has introduced HR69 to allow Bath House and Brothel trucks in place of the food trucks.

    "After all," said Congressman Ballbuster during a TV 6 interview, "man does not live by bread alone..."