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Alexandria OKs Food Trucks At Parks And Schools, But Streets Remain In Question

Food trucks will be allowed at Alexandria's parks and schools, but the streets in Old Town remain off-limits.
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Food trucks will be allowed at Alexandria's parks and schools, but the streets in Old Town remain off-limits.

Leaders in Alexandria are ready to move forward with a pilot program that will allow food trucks at city parks and schools — but the debate continues about whether they should be able to use city streets.

Food truck owners say that brick-and-mortar restaurant owners don't want the competition that the mobile vendors can bring. One of those is Amir Mohammed, who on a recent weekday flipped a stack of onions in his Baba Big Bites truck as a crowd gathered on a Rosslyn street. He said he would love to drive his truck into Old Town and start selling lunch — even if the restaurants there say no way.

"I don't know why they are afraid of a little competition. I mean everyone is just out here trying to make a buck," he said.

Much of the opposition to food trucks in Alexandria is that they would threaten the historic ambiance of Old Town, but Mohamed said that would be a good thing.

"I think it needs it. It needs to be updated a little bit over there to kinda more, I don't know, it's outdated. So I think it needs to be moved up into the 21st century with us," he said.

During a recent public hearing, members of the City Council heard from dozens of restaurant owners and citizens who say food trucks should not be allowed on city streets in Old Town. The hearing went on for hours, and many of the speakers got hungry.

"Right now I'm starved. I had no idea it would be six o'clock or something like that. If we had food trucks downstairs, I'd rather starve," said Ursula Witte. Like many of the speakers, she said she has a low opinion of the mobile restaurants.

"I find them nauseating. They are ugly. They are eyesores. They are an obstruction. They generate grease spots and trash," she argued.

Perhaps one of the biggest criticisms from restaurants owners is that they have to have every sign approved by the Board of Architectural Review. But the food trucks would not have that kind of restriction.

Those are the kinds of issues that members of the City Council will consider yet again next year, when the pilot program expires.

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