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Alexandria Debates Opening Streets To Food Trucks

Food trucks can be found in D.C. and Arlington, but now some officials say Alexandria should be next to offer up mobile dining options.
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Food trucks can be found in D.C. and Arlington, but now some officials say Alexandria should be next to offer up mobile dining options.

Leaders in Alexandria are about to consider a proposal that would open up the streets of Alexandria to food trucks. But like the fight over food trucks in other parts of the region, there are critics — and they say the plan is too broad.

The proposal on the docket for Saturday's public hearing would allow food trucks in most of the city, including residential streets 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. They would be prohibited from setting up in areas that have parking districts, and they would be restricted to certain areas of Old Town and Del Ray.

But during a recent meeting of the Planning Commission, Commissioner Stu Dunn said food trucks would have very few restrictions. "We have all kinds of restrictions on outdoor dining. Nothing on these," he said.

Supporters say food trucks create a sense of excitement and provide choice to consumers. "As someone who works in the District of Columbia and frequents them, I think that they have an impact on enlivening public space that we could take advantage of here," said Planning Commissioner Nate Macek.

Planning Commission Chairman Eric Wagner said city leaders have spent years protecting the old and historic district, so it would be a mistake to let a truck drive in with an eight-foot sign advertising pretzels.

"If I were a civic activist right now I would go home and call everybody in my neighborhood association, and I would gin up a tidal wave of opposition to this," he said.

City Council members have indicated they might scale back the proposal this weekend to and create a pilot program to have food trucks at farmers markets.

Similar debates over when and where food trucks should be able to operate took place in Arlington and D.C.

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