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After Four Years Of Fighting, D.C. Council Approves New Rules For Food Trucks

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Under the new rules, 180 designated spots for food trucks in downtown D.C. will be doled out by lottery.
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Under the new rules, 180 designated spots for food trucks in downtown D.C. will be doled out by lottery.

Fans of D.C.'s budding food truck scene can breathe easy. After four years of wrangling over proposed rules, the D.C. Council has approved a new regulatory framework for the mobile food vendors.

D.C.'s food trucks—150 and counting—have quickly become a staple diet for many who work in the downtown area. And what may have started as a fad—savory cuisine served out of the side of truck—is now a big business.

But the city's laws for mobile food vendors were crafted 40 years ago and dealt largely with ice cream trucks parked around the National Mall.

The new regulations—hashed out by lawmakers after lobbying from food trucks, brick-and-mortar restaurants and city regulators—are seen by some as a fair compromise.

"Folks will continue to have choices, they're going to have competition for their hard-earned dollars and food trucks will continue to operate and our employees will have their jobs and our businesses will grow," said Che Ruddell-Tabisola, a food truck operator and one of the leaders of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington.

The key provision: a lottery system for 180 designated food truck parking spots in downtown D.C.

One of the thorniest issues in the regulations debate involved parking fines. The new law includes heavy fines—up to $2,000—for food trucks caught stealing each others designated spots. And much smaller fines—$50 dollars—for run-of-the-mill parking violations taking place outside the food truck zone in downtown D.C.

The law will go into effect unless its vetoed by Mayor Vincent Gray. The mayor's office says it's currently studying the amendments and needs time to carefully review the changes.

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