NSVI- Washington, D.C.
May 10, 2013
IJ Explains to D.C. Council Why Proposed Anti-Competitive Regulations Should Be Rejected
On May 10, Senior Attorney Bert Gall testified before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that the proposed food-truck regulations the Council is considering are harmful and unnecessary. He urged that the City instead enact regulations that eschew protectionism and instead focus solely on carefully crafted solutions to legitimate public health and safety concerns.
April 12, 2013
|Click for larger view|
Proposed Food Truck Regulations Find Little Public Support Nearly 95% of Comments Submitted Reject Mayor Gray’s Proposal
Mayor Vincent Gray’s proposed new food truck regulations received weak support in letters submitted during the public comment period that ended on April 8, 2012.
D.C. residents, officeworkers, and associations submitted 225 comments on the most recent proposed regulations. Of those, 212 comments – 94.22 percent – opposed the regulations, while just 13 – 5.78 percent -- supported them.
It’s not hard to understand the public’s opposition to these new rules. If the regulations the D.C. City Council is currently considering are enacted, they would turn D.C. into one of the worst food-truck cities in the nation. This is because the regulations would prohibit food trucks from serving customers Downtown on streets with less than 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk space. They would also create a confusing and arbitrary lottery process to assign a small number of fixed locations. Food trucks that don’t win that lottery would not be allowed to operate within 500 feet of those locations. Why? In the words of D.C. officials, the 500-foot rule is meant to keep “non-lottery vendors [from] encroaching upon their assigned spaces and customers.” But frustrating competition isn’t just wrong; it’s unconstitutional.
The cold reception the most recent regulations have received stands in stark contrast to the more than 2,500 comments submitted in favor of a previous food truck proposal. The difference in opinion comes from the fact that the earlier regulations would have let food trucks continue to serve all of their customers in the Central Business District and throughout the city. As the Institute for Justice said in its public comments to those proposed regulations, D.C. would have had one of the “best regulatory frameworks for food trucks in the country” if the District had enacted them with some minor tweaks. Instead, now the food trucks fight for their very survival.
April 8, 2013
Today at 5:00pm, the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs closed the comment period on its most recent food-truck regulations. As IJ described in comments that it submitted today, these controversial rules, if enacted, would prevent food trucks from operating in most of Downtown D.C., including 8 of the 10 most popular locations in the District. And they would force food-truck owners to enter into a confusing and arbitrary lottery for one of a few “mobile roadway vending locations;” spots where food trucks could operate for up to four hours at a time. Truckers that aren’t lucky enough to win the lottery would effectively be shut out of prime vending locations for a month at a time. Few other businesses are forced to play games of chance with their livelihoods.
“Washington, D.C. has one of the best food truck scenes in the country,” said IJ Senior Attorney Bert Gall. “It has created hundreds of jobs, satisfies thousands of customers each day, and contributes millions in tax revenue to the District. D.C. officials should scrap these counterproductive rules and instead introduce a reasonable and constructive set of regulations that will let this vibrant new industry continue to grow and succeed.”
For a detailed explanation of the problems with these restrictions, click here.
|Download: Food Truck Freedom: How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City|
D.C. Officials to Decide Fate of Local Food Trucks: Proposed Regulations Threaten to Destroy City’s Thriving Food Truck Scene
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., the District of Columbia will close to the public its comment period on its most recent proposed vending regulations for the District. According to the Institute for Justice (IJ), the regulations, if adopted, will be among the most restrictive in the entire country.
“Implementing the proposed regulations would cripple the District’s vibrant food truck industry,” said IJ attorney Robert Frommer. “If enacted, these regulations would eliminate food trucks from eight of the city’s ten most popular vending locations.”
As outlined in IJ’s comments to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, there are two particularly problematic aspects of the proposed regulations. First, they would not allow food trucks to park on any street in the Central Business District where the adjacent, unobstructed sidewalk is less than ten feet wide. This requirement would make it illegal for food trucks to serve their customers at most of the popular operating areas throughout the District. Dozens of spots where food trucks now legally operate—including Farragut Square, Franklin Square, and L’Enfant Plaza—will disappear overnight.
This restriction is not based on a deliberate, evidence-based investigation that looks at what impact food trucks have on sidewalk congestion. Instead, it appears that the District has copied the minimum sidewalk widths that apply to sidewalk cafes and other permanent occupations of the public right of way and applied them to food trucks. But unlike the presence of sidewalk cafes, bike racks, and other permanent obstructions, a food truck does not deny anyone the use of the sidewalk.
Secondly, the proposal calls for the creation of Mobile Roadway Vending (MRV) locations that could further reduce the opportunities available to food trucks in the District. While MRVs would establish specific locations for food trucks to operate, officials have said that food trucks could not park in any other space on the same block as an MRV. The end result would likely be a drastic reduction in the overall number of parking spaces available to mobile vendors.
“Instead of trying to ‘protect’ brick-and-mortar restaurants from food trucks and other vendors, city officials should encourage a vibrant vending culture by enacting clear, simple, and modern laws,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Bert Gall. “The end result would be a win for food trucks, their many customers, the local economy, and—most importantly—the right of all D.C. small-business owners to earn a living free from anti-competitive restrictions.”
IJ releases statement on behalf of DC food trucks.
Will the District of Columbia fully embrace the food truck revolution, or will it empower brick-and-mortar restaurants to run mobile vendors out of town?
That is the question confronting city officials as they consider new regulations for the District’s mobile food businesses. Today the Institute for Justice (IJ) and its National Street Vending Initiative sent the D.C. government its views about the proposed regulations. Although the proposed regulations represent a significant improvement in the legal landscape for mobile food entrepreneurs, IJ noted three specific concerns that the government should correct before final passage.
Want a FREE “Legalize Street Food” sticker for your food truck or cart? Email email@example.com. Make sure to include whether you'd like a slate gray or sangria colored decal.