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Review of the last couple hundred comments (1051 to 1250) received on Proposed Vending Regulation Title 24

30 Aug

All of the past couple hundred comments were in support of food trucks.  Many used some version of the yesontitle24 sample letter.  Some added personal stories about eating from certain food trucks or expressed their opposition to attempts by brick and mortar restaurants to limit competition. 

Curbside Cupcake had the most specific shoutouts, followed by the Lobster Truck and Fojol Brothers. 

Below are some interesting comments submitted:

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I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please do not allow the introduction of any discriminatory language into these regulations that would limit mobile vendors or food trucks.

Please pass the regulations as written and protect the diverse, growing and small business vending options in the city.

Also, have you had the bahn mi sandwich from El Floridano? It’s so good. Every Friday. I don’t know what I would do without it. Food trucks are very hot right now. Regulating them or restricting them would significantly set back the food renaissance that is finally happening in the district.

We are slowly coming out of the dark ages of over priced, expense account meals and into the light of real, innovative food, real restaurants with real character. Believe me when i say that the people who are excited about food trucks are the same people who are going out and supporting the great new local restaurants at night as well. I am one of them.

Thank you,

Owen

Self proclaimed bon vivant and avid food enthusiast

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I would like to submit some brief comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – Vending Regulations 24 DCMR 5 in particular section 556. In particular, several of the proposed rules would not benefit the general public who buy lunch (including myself, a District resident since 1997).

For example, the proposed 556.2 (b) reads: “(b) Once it is not in operation, the Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle may not re-open to serve customers at that same location.” I am struggling to understand the purpose of this rule or why DC needs to regulate whether a food truck such as Sauca, DC Slices, etc. can close temporarily and then re-open. There may be various periods of time where the truck needs to close, either because of inclement weather or to take advantage of a lull in customers.

The proposed 556.6 reads: “No mobile roadway vending business shall be located or transacted within forty feet (40 ft.) of any intersection or within any of the distances specified in this title; provided, that vehicles vending ice cream or other products likely to attract children as customers shall, when stopping to make a sale, park curbside outside of, but as close as possible to a pedestrian crosswalk without entering the intersection or otherwise interfering with the flow of traffic.” This requirement really does not make sense with the number of cuts/alleys/service roadways even along Massachusetts Ave. NW where I work. All legal parking spaces should be usable by food trucks/mobile vendors.

Finally, 556.8 reads: “No Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicle subject to this section shall be parked within sixty feet (60 ft.) of a business with a fixed address that sells the same type of food.” This is out and out protectionism. It will be unenforceable. As citizen reading this, am I to assume that somewhere in the DC regs the various types of foods are laid out in some bizarre taxonomy that will be understandable to the average code enforcement officer? I think the opposite is true, that enforcement will be driven by complaints from overpriced dining options that are locked into high rents (despite the commercial real estate depression) and can’t cover their overhead. Why as a consumer in DC am I required to have less options because CafePhillips can’t compete with the food trucks along Mass Ave. NW?

I think that the proposed regulations should be re-worked to remove the protectionist language that is in there along with truck requirements identified by DC Vendors Caucus as superfluous (canopies, etc.) before passing this. There definitely should not be a “truck-only” spot created, as I have read some businesses want, and the rest of the city “truck-free”. This isn’t Denver or other cities where food trucks are treated as either a boutique curiosity or consigned to the “downtown” area because that’s where the big lunch demand is.

Karl

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I’d like to express my opposition to legislation that would restrict street vendors in DC. As a professional employee in the McPherson Square area, I depend on food truck menus to provide affordable and delicious alternatives to the over-priced likes of Cosi, Corner Bakery, Five Guys, Au Bon Pain, and other sub-par sandwich shops.

Also, I enjoy the diverse and varied fare that food trucks provide- not everyone wants to sit down in a restaurant that charges $10 or more for a wilted salad and soggy sandwich. Food truck entrepreneurs should be praised for their innovative ideas in food service, job creation, and fulfilling public appetite.

Please save DC food trucks!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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I both live and work in DC and heartily support the proliferation of food trucks and street vendors in DC. Brick and mortar restaurants may be understandably concerned with the possibility of competition, but the DCRA’s regulations should not be predicated on preserving the existing monopoly of a brick and mortar restaurant. If a restaurant’s product is compelling, then they will compete successfully. There is room for all in the market. And in any event, the new vendors I have seen and/or patronized do not have a price point substantially lower than that of a brick and mortar restaurant, and do not appear to be siphoning business from existing businesses.

Food trucks and vendors add variety, diversity, color, life, options, and interest to our city. So long as they are regulated and sanitary, the proliferation of street vendors should be encouraged and supported. Consumers should be the paramount concern of the DCRA (and the city council for that matter) in this regard.

I had a lobster roll from a truck on Monday on Penn. Ave., which was delicious and brightened my day. It would not have happened but for the DCRA’s encouragement and pro-new business rules. And there was a line of people down the block. So clearly, this is something that is in demand and should be encouraged.

Please consider my comments in the record of this rule making proceeding, and thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Regards,

Brendan

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I am writing to support the current proposed DCRA regulation Title 24 Chapter 5 that will allow mobile vendors to stay in DC and continue offering more choices and value to consumers.

Please make sure that the language in the regulation does not place undue burdens on mobile vendors or food trucks. For example, the design standards are arbitrary and don’t seem to have any basis. They appear to be a way to bog down a vendor without a safety or public purpose.

The restaurants may not like it because it is competition, but that only makes the restaurants better competitors. Efforts by restaurants to exclude vendors with the same type of food within an unreasonable distance (e.g., 60 feet) is an effort to quash the competition and should never be allowed.

Even more unfair is a suggestion that the mobile vendor not be within 25 feet of ANY restaurant. That would exclude mobile vendors from much of the downtown area. Does DC currently prevent restaurants serving the same food to locate adjacently? Or, from restaurants located adjacent to one another? The same standard should apply to mobile vendors.

Also, suggestions that the ANC be allowed to intervene and take public comment have nothing to do with health and safety issues. That allows local politics to dictate food. The vendors provide safe and nutritious food and with the appropriate level of oversight, food and traffic safety can be achieved.

Please pass the regulations without additional burdens and protect the diverse, growing and tasty options for those of us who work and live in this city.

Thank you,

Danielle

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I write in support of the new wave of food-vending trucks that have appeared on the DC culinary scene. While the regulations may need to smooth out questions of etiquette between mobile and landbased vendors, they should not impose restrictions that unfairly favor the brick and mortar establishments.

In fact I trust the health and safety of these trucks more than the vermin-infested buildings from which many restaurants operate. I’ve not seen a rat jump into a truck, but I have seen them invade tiny openings in the walkways/alleyways next to restaurants.

The choices available for us in the Golden Triangle have become much broader with the arrival of these trucks. I trust it will inspire more small businesses to open providing similar delights, such as cupcakes worth eating (Reeves is gone, Federal Bakery is gone), decent Indian food at a decent price, and now the latest indulgence for someone like me related to seafood restaurateurs in Maine — lobster roll and whoopie pies.

“Starving for inviting food at 14th and H”…

Peter

Yes to food trucks, but yes to Title 24 as written?

25 Aug

So, I am hopeful that the new regulations will be worked out to continue to keep mobile food trucks in DC, and so that the brick and mortar and mobile businesses can all get along.  Frankly, I don’t even really see the competition, if a cupcake truck is in farragut north I don’t see how it’s competing with the cupcake establishments in dupont or georgetown.  If I want a cupcake and I’m working downtown, I’m not going to fight traffic to get there and then stand in line at Georgetown Cupcake. But with all of the “yes to title 24″ hype, I think there are some problems with Title 24 as written:

 Section 556.1-556.2 – Taken together, these sections suggest that food trucks have to keep moving unless they have a customer, and if they are still sitting in the same spot without a customer, have to close. Once they do so they cannot re-open to serve customers at that same location. What if there is a 5 minute gap between customers, do they have to move then? If they are paying for the parking spot, as required by proposed Section 556.3, then why can’t they sit out the meter and keep serving customers that show up? Who’s going to enforce this? Can a food truck be forced to move by a meter enforcer even if they have paid the meter? If so, there’s a potential legal challenge there. A better, and more enforceable, solution would be to allow food trucks to sit in the parking space they have paid for.

Section 556.4 (which makes Section 535 apply to mobile food trucks)– “Vending Truck” requirements – is nonsensical. The section purports to be different than the sections of vending carts and vending stands, and yet requires umbrellas for food trucks. I have yet to see a food truck with an umbrella that meets the definition, other than perhaps FoodChainDC. (But FoodChainDC may be in a different position than other “trucks,” it seems like it could fit into the cart definition).

Section 556.8 – Fines for food trucks within 60 feet of an establishment selling the “same type of food” – This section may be “void or vagueness” as written. That doctrine provides that a government cannot impose fines on conduct that a reasonable person cannot tell is prohibited by the statute. As an example, is a cupcake truck the “same type of food” as a Starbucks that sells cupcakes and muffins? Since there is a Starbucks practically every block downtown, if that is how this is interpreted, that could make it hard to abide by the law. Is a lobster truck the “same type of food” as downtown restaurants like Kinkeads, DC Coast, etc. that serve seafood? Now, are my examples a reasonable interpretation? I wouldn’t consider those to be the same type of food myself, but I can imagine that restaurants that feel threatened would want a broad interpretation of this to keep competitors further away. A better solution would be to take this out or at the least, make it clearer when a food truck may be violating this provision. But why is this provision even necessary? How/who is going to enforce this anyway? MPD?

Section 538 – Advertising – I have seen at least one commenter suggest the restrictions on advertising to only advertising that is the name of the business, price, and food or service sold is an unconstitutional burden on free speech. Without weighing in on that issue at this point, there are some problematic issues for food trucks I see in this section. That advertising of the truck can only be on the “front” and not the back or street side (Section 538.2) seems unnecessary. That advertising has to be mechanically printed and not written (Section 538.4) could also be an unnecessary burden for some food trucks, I have seen handwritten descriptions of items for sale.

P.S. this is not to be construed in any way as legal advice, this is just my personal opinion.

Check out other stories on this debate:

DininginDC

WeLoveDC