So you might have noticed that the interwebs were all atwitter yesterday about the alleged crackdown on food trucks. It started off with a post from Kyle Johnson of Food Truck Fiesta about how food trucks were going to be fined if there was any lapse in time for a line of customers (ie: a truck could serve a line of people, but if that line stopped and there were no customers for no predetermined amount of time, MPD could fine the truck and shut them down for the day). Followed by a few other blog posts, a great article by The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis, and then a tweet from Mayor Gray assuring us all that no new enforcement was going to happen. Pardon my skeptical eye roll.
My skepticism comes from the fact the initial story got its legs from food truck owners themselves. As DeBonis reported in The Washington Post, Kristi Whitfield, the proprietor of Curbside Cupcakes and executive director of the DC Food Truck Association, stated that the police department’s lead vending enforcement officer told her “that ‘heightened enforcement’ of the city’s vending laws ‘are going to be a top priority’ starting Friday.” Additionally, The Post reported that new regulations for food trucks are on their way to being published and reviewed for comments. Was that law enforcement official completely misinformed? Or is MPD really going to play games with the food trucks while they wait for new legislation to be published, reviewed and potentially passed by the DC Council? At the time of publishing this post, we had not received a response to our email requesting a comment from the Mayor’s office about moving forward with the proposed legislation.
I’m not saying that DC government doesn’t have bigger problems on its plate at the moment (one word: embezzlement). But to arbitrarily decide to start enforcing a law, albeit antiquated, and mess with the livelihoods of food truck owners and employees, well, that really grinds my gears, to put it lightly. There are several issues at play with creating regulations for food trucks and I hope we don’t punish these small businesses. It seems as though we’ll all be waiting to see if MPD acts on these initial threats of a crackdown and what the new regulations set to be published on January 20th will have in store for the trucks.