In the spirit of this week’s “Answers Issue” of Washington City Paper, Y&H has a few questions of his own. Here’s one that pertains to the District’s longstanding vending regulations, particularly the much maligned “ice cream truck rule,” which, as presently written, specifically states that:
“No roadway vending vehicle shall remain in any one (1) place for a period longer than necessary to make sale after having been approached or stopped for that purpose.”
D.C. food truck operators have long complained about this rule, which basically means they are legally required to drive away when no customers are standing in line. Take the truckers in the above photo, for instance. Time to move along, bucko!
Newly revised regulations released last Friday would alter this rule, allowing trucks that sell non-dessert foods and food prepared inside the vehicle to stay parked as long as their parking meter is paid. Vehicles that primarily sell ice cream or “other prepared desserts,” on the other hand, could stay parked for only 10 minutes when there is no line of customers waiting to be served.
To me, there’s a simple solution to this. So I put the question to Kristi Whitfield, executive director of the D.C. Food Truck Association, and proprietor of the dessert focused truck Curbside Cupcakes:
Can’t you just get some guy to stand out in front of your truck all day?
“That’s a gray area,” Whitfield tells me. “The intent [of the regulation] is a real customer. But, you know, as we’ve found ourselves feeling more or less persecuted, we’ve thought about—I’ve thought about—hiring a person to stand in line. None of the trucks have done that to my knowledge.”