Yesterday Keep Food Legal filed comments in support of Washington, DC's food trucks. We filed these comments in response to a draconian proposal by District regulators to adopt new rules that could make the popular mobile food vendors a rarity in much of the city's downtown area.
The primary issue in this third cycle of proposed regulations in the District was not complaints about the trucks themselves but about their customers. District regulators--and a small segment of the brick-and-mortar restaurant lobby--apparently believe food trucks just have too many people waiting to buy their food. Keep Food Legal focused in part on this absurd argument against food trucks in our comments:
[U]nder the [District's] so-called “ice-cream truck” rule, DCRA has long mandated that the potential customers of a mobile food vendor form a line (or queue) before a food truck may stop and serve food. DCRA has also required that a truck must leave a parking space without delay after serving the last customer in a queue. Hence, existing DCRA regulations have been an important driver of queues in places like Farragut Square because they effectively prohibit any mobile food vendor from parking and vending unless they do so at a place with a high concentration of people standing in a line.
The proposed regulations... seem designed to punish mobile food vendors because these vendors have been mindful of DCRA regulations and vend only when and where they find large numbers of potential customers standing in line to buy their food products. It would be unjust for the District to penalize mobile food vendors for complying with an absurd regulation like the ice-cream truck rule just because compliance with that absurd rule has perhaps created a fresh set of unintended consequences.
Read our complete comments here.
Our Baylen Linnekin was quoted in the Daily Caller last week on the issue of DC food trucks and their customers. Read Linnekin's remarks here.
Law Journal Publishes New Article on Food-Truck Advocacy by Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin and Colleagues
Keep Food Legal is excited to report publication of executive director Baylen Linnekin's latest law journal article. Linnekin co-authored the article, The New Food Truck Advocacy: Social Media, Mobile Food Vending Associations, Truck Lots, & Litigation in California & Beyond, with attorney Jeffrey Dermer, whose Venice, CA law firm Dermer Behrendt represents the influential Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, and Matthew Geller, a lawyer who co-founded SoCalMFVA and serves as the group's leader.
The article, a symposium piece published by Chapman University's Nexus Journal of Law and Policy,
explores the many ways that food truck owners have worked together to defend their economic rights. In part I we introduce common characteristics of many of today’s food trucks. In part II we introduce the regulations that impact food trucks, paying particular attention to regulations in the state of California. Also in this part we discuss a survey one of the authors administered to several food truck owners around the country. In part III we discuss several ways food trucks have coped with and countered these regulations, including using social media, forming associations, litigating, and vending at public and private truck lots. Also in this part we discuss a survey the authors administered to several association leaders around the country. In part IV we introduce a framework within which to consider model food truck regulations. Finally, in part V, we conclude that only through continued cooperation across economic, social, and geographic lines will food trucks be able to ensure their permanency in the face of opposition from large, powerful, and entrenched opposition.
Earlier this month, Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared with host Kennedy on the Fox Business Channel show The Independents to discuss the often-difficult regulatory environment for food trucks. Click on the image below to watch the segment.
For see and read more about what Keep Food Legal has to say on food trucks, click here.
Today Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin will testify before the DC Council in support of Washington, DC's vibrant food truck community. There's he'll join food truck entrepreneurs, litigators, fellow advocates, and members of the public to urge the council to reject proposed regulations that could prove a fatal blow to the District's food trucks--and harm consumers and the District's tax base in the process.
"The proposed regulations would restrict uses of public space that are good for District consumers and District coffers alike," says Linnekin, in a preview of his testimony. "They are arbitrary, unreasonable, and unfair."
"Keep Food Legal and its members and supporters urge the DC Council to reject the proposed food truck regulations," he says. "The rules would favor uses of public space by powerful, well-funded, politically connected, and entrenched businesses over the use of often entirely different space by smaller, less powerful entrepreneurs."
In an op-ed that appears in today's Washington Examiner (online), Linnekin writes that the proposed regulations are a draconian solution in search of a problem:
These proposed regulations would impose severe restrictions on where food trucks could park and sell food. The rules would assign some parking spots by random lottery, establish 500-foot exclusion zones around these lottery-designated spaces in which no other food truck could vend, and bar trucks from vending on any street with a sidewalk that is not at least 10-feet wide.
These arbitrary and punitive rules could kill off the District's vibrant food truck scene.
If you agree, take action at Save DC Food Trucks.
If you want to learn more, please read our many writings in opposition to regulations that would curtail food trucks--in DC and around the country--at our Publications page.
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared on the new Huffington Post channel HuffPost Live last week to talk with host Janet Varney about food truck regulations around the country. Appearing alongside Linnekin in the segment were Natasha Case of Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck in Los Angeles, budding food truck entrepreneur Jeff Feldman of St. Louis, and Dave Andelman of Boston's Phantom Gourmet.
Linnekin pushed back against Andelman's arbitrary and protectionist call for a ban on food trucks parking within 1,000 feet of any Boston brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Watch the video below.
We are excited to report that Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin has accepted an invitation to speak at the University of Chicago School of Law next weekend as part of an Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship symposium on street food, mobile food vending, and food trucks. The IJ Clinic, a joint project of the Institute for Justice and The University of Chicago Law School, is hosting the one-day symposium as part of its campaign to ensure that regulations permit a vibrant street food scene in Chicago, where rules currently place needless burdens on mobile vendors at a time when demand for street food has exploded in the city.
Linnekin will sit on a regulatory-reform panel at the Saturday, Apr. 14 conference, My Streets, My Eats: Chicago Mobile Food Symposium & Meet Up. He will discuss mobile-food vending regulations and highlight his forthcoming law-journal article on mobile-food advocacy, which he co-authored with Jeff Dermer of Dermer Behrendt and Matt Geller of SoCalMFVA.
Nationally known IJ Clinic symposium panelists include Gregg Kettles, currently with the Los Angeles mayor's office, who wrote one of the earliest law-review articles on regulating street vending; food journalist Heather Shouse of Timeout Chicago, author of the book Food Trucks; and Sean Basinski, of New York City's excellent Street Vendor Project. To learn more and to register for the free symposium--which will feature food served by various Windy City trucks--go here.
In related news, Linnekin will teach an undergraduate-level course on food entrepreneurship and social media at American University in Washington, DC in fall 2012. Course registration for students in the Washington, DC area is now open.
Washigton, DC's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has long considered proposed reforms to the District's regulations that govern food trucks. When DCRA recently issued proposed regulations, most supporters of food trucks were pleased with the content. But most also believed there were still a few pieces missing, and that some potentiall hurdles in the regulations should be removed.
When DCRA opened up the regulations to public comment, Keep Food Legal jumped at the opportunity to make sure our voice (and yours) was heard. Here is an exceprt from the comments we submitted before yesterday's comment deadline:
Keep Food Legal commends DCRA for proposing many regulations that would improve the climate for mobile food vendors and consumers in the District. Keep Food Legal, on behalf of our members and supporters, urges DCRA to ADOPT the proposed regulations insofar as they do not restrict mobile food vending. We support many of the elements of the current regulations and urge DCRA to also take the following additional steps:
1) DO NOT place any restrictions on mobile vendors based in any way on the items they serve. For example, the final regulations should not discriminate against food trucks that sell sweet (rather than savory or other) items.
2) DO NOT create the proposed Vending Development Zones that would no doubt be used to limit consumer access to food sold by mobile vendors.
3) DO NOT restrict operating hours for food trucks. Any regulations pertaining to hours of operation must apply equally to both food trucks and restaurants.
4) DO amend the proposed regulations to permit the sale of alcohol beverages from food trucks.
Because Keep Food Legal supports food choice--rather than particular food choices--we also urge DCRA to consider steps to alleviate the tremendous burden its regulations (and regulations enforced by other District agencies) place on brick-and-mortar restaurants.
You can read our complete response here. We also included by reference and link a 2011 Reason magazine article on DC food truck regulations written by executive director Baylen Linnekin. In case you haven't read that piece, you can do so here.