Regulation

Food Trucks: Will D.C. Be the New L.A.?

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freeloaders or lunchtime saviors?

When it comes to street food, D.C. has offered little more than the occasional hot dog stand or ice cream truck for many, many years. Tourists and offers workers alike labor under the terrible yoke of dirty water dogs and deli sandwiches.

But as the price of opening a restaurant gets higher and higher, even the snootiest food entrepreneurs are turning to the the Good Humor man for inspiration, filling trucks with lobster rolls, Korean-fusion tacos, or cupcakes and taking to the streets.

Naturally, a development like this one—which makes thousands of ordinary residents very, very happy, and a few vocal business owners and merchants' associations very, very unhappy—isn't likely to go unnoticed by the city council. A new set of proposed rules is set to hit the council in the next few weeks and the future of food trucks is teetering on the curb. Restaurant owners are in league with currently licensed vendors—they complain that the city is unfairly changing the rules on them and that the food trucks aren't pulling their weight in taxes—while food truck owners are rallying thousands of Twitter followers to mass action. Emotions are running high, and everyone is hungry,

The Washington City Paper breaks it down in a great story this week. You should read the whole thing, but here's the guts:

There are at least two doomsday theories floating out there for the food trucks. Pressured by business groups, the council could find a way to reject or table the new regs, continuing a cumbersome status quo. Worse still, councilmembers could actually pass a law that kills off roadway vending in downtown D.C., no questions asked. Whatever happens, crunch time is approaching. By November, in terms of street-food ingenuity, the District could either become the next Los Angeles or remain the same bureaucratic backwater burg that has long allowed processed blandness to dominate its streets.

If you're in D.C. and you're a Twitterer, sign up to follow the trucks of your choice from this list.