If you’ve been following Twitter today, you know that local food trucks have been asking more of you than usual. These new mobile vendors are collectively banding together to make their voices heard at the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and, by extension, the D.C. Council.
And they need your help. They realize their futures are at stake.
You see, some BIDs, food-cart depot owners, ANCs, and business associations have been trying to make life harder on the new street vendors. These groups have reviewed the draft regulations proposed by DCRA, and they don’t like them. They think these mobile newcomers will squash the brick-and-mortar businesses that pay taxes, support the community, and heal the sick. So they’re proposing more onerous regulations or, at the very least, more review and comment processes that will further delay the improvement of D.C.’s street food culture.
Don’t let them get away with it.
These businesses are merely trying to legislate competition away instead of relying on the free market. If a brick-and-mortar restaurant can’t compete with a mobile vendor, it should improve its food, plain and simple, not try to shoo the competition away. Some of these same business groups have worked their voodoo before: They effectively hijacked a food vendor task force that was supposed to include all stakeholders, including new truck vendors, who were not allowed to vote. They also convinced Councilmember Jack Evans to slip language into last year’s law to limit the number of vending sites in Ward 2, the area where most trucks want to sell their food.
The only thing that will counteract the muscle of these moneyed groups is the power of public opinion. If you haven’t already, you should contact DCRA today and let them know you don’t want the agency to introduce any language into the regulations that will restrict food trucks on D.C.’s streets.
You can review the draft regulations here, along with all the public and business comments. Then you can either e-mail Helder Gil at DCRA with your comments or visit this page if you’re not sure what to write. It offers a suggested letter to forward to the D.C. Council, which has the ability to rewrite the regulations that DCRA will likely present as is to the body later this year.
But whatever you do, don’t wait. I spoke with DCRA today and the agency said that it will accept comments through the end of business tomorrow, rather than the end of business today.