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D.C. Council Members Propose New Food Truck Rules

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The BBQ Bus parked in front of the entrance to the Galleryplace-Chinatown Metro station.
Eric Purcell: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ep_jhu/6872749737/
The BBQ Bus parked in front of the entrance to the Galleryplace-Chinatown Metro station.

D.C.'s food truck scene is thriving, but some restaurant owners say the food truck's prosperity is coming at their expense. They say food trucks use public space essentially free and their long lines often crowd sidewalks.

So D.C. regulators are proposing rules to limit food truck operating hours and create a lottery to dole out the most coveted parking spots in what will be vending zones from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day.

If a food truck loses out in the lottery, it can park somewhere else, as long as it's 500 feet away and along a curb at least 10 feet long.

"Those would effectively eliminate our mobility from our perspective, which is the core business model, by reducing the number of spaces that are available," says Doug Povich, owner of the mobile food truck, Red Hook Lobster Pound. He testified Friday before the D.C. Council committee, urging lawmakers to drop that plan.

But one local restaurant owner says the playing field isn't fair. "I have to chase people out of my seats that are eating food from the food truck, and I paid for public space to provide that for my customers."

Council members at the hearing say the proposals are subject to change — in effort to find the right balance between regulation and competition.

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