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Rosslyn BID Statement on Food Truck Regulations

by ARLnow.com — May 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm 3,120 93 Comments

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District has issued a press release regarding its support for additional mobile food vendor regulations in Arlington County.

Citing “challenges” posed by the 100 or so food trucks and carts licensed in Arlington, the BID says the county should work to create a “level playing field” between mobile vendors and restaurants. Among the BID’s recommendations are regulating the “location and schedule of food trucks, trash, parking and access to restroom facilities.”

We reported exclusively last week that the BID was in the process of formulating a set of recommended county regulations for food trucks, at least in part to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants against the onslaught of competition from food trucks, which don’t make the same kind of long-term investments in a neighborhood as restaurant owners.

The full press release is below.

The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is collaborating with Arlington County and other County-based BIDs to explore different ways of actively managing mobile food vendors within the community.

Business Improvement Districts across the nation and within the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are working with municipalities, business communities and other stakeholders to create vibrant hospitality zones and sociable cities, and restaurants and food trucks are part of that mix.

“Our review of this issue is a work in progress,” says BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy. “The goal is a level playing field, an enriched streetscape and a variety of dining experiences, while enabling brick-and-mortar food purveyors as well as food trucks to thrive.”

Over the past few years, the number of food vendors has significantly increased in Arlington, with 100 food trucks currently licensed to do business in Rosslyn, Crystal City, Ballston and other areas throughout Arlington County. Georgetown and other D.C. neighborhoods also have seen dramatic increases.

Food trucks enliven the streets and offer dining options to residents, workers and visitors, and as such can be welcome contributors to communities.

Challenges

Food trucks, however, present certain challenges.

  • Trash left behind by food truck vendors that property owners must pay to have removed
  • Pedestrian walkways blocked by food truck lines, creating safety issues
  • Limited parking spaces absorbed by food trucks, preventing customers from reaching brick and mortar businesses
  • Restrooms within property owners’ buildings being used by food truck vendors and customers
  • Health, hygiene and safety concerns

“AED [Arlington Economic Development] staff has started discussions about our retail policies with Arlington’s BIDs and Partnerships, property owners and small businesses, and mobile food vendors,” said Arlington Economic Development’s Director, Terry Holzheimer. “We recognize that any change to the rules and regulations must do three things: accommodate the needs of the mobile food vendors; address the concerns of property owners and businesses; and provide clarity for staff involved in enforcement.”

The BID is coordinating a set of recommendations with other Arlington County BIDs that will be presented to the County within the coming weeks. Based on benchmarking of best practices with other cities across the country, issues covered in the recommendations include location and schedule of food trucks, trash, parking and access to restroom facilities.

For the past 10 years, the Rosslyn BID has worked with Arlington County, local businesses and property owners to revitalize the area and create opportunities for growth. By working collaboratively with Arlington County, the BID seeks to tackle the challenges raised by property owners and tenants by devising a strategic retail plan for Rosslyn.

The Rosslyn BID has established a Retail Task Force to devise strategies to promote strong restaurant and retail development within Rosslyn, recognizing the contribution that food trucks make to the street and dining scene. The Retail Task Force has developed marketing collateral to promote Rosslyn and attract new restaurants and other retailers to the area. Chaired by Wright Sigmund of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the Retail Task Force is comprised of community members, retailers and property owners.

“New retail opportunities are on the horizon,” says Wright Sigmund. “We have 60,000 square feet of available retail space in Rosslyn, and 44,500 square feet of retail space will be available with the completion of Central Place and 1812 N. Moore Street office towers.”

“We are optimistic that the Rosslyn community can have multiple exciting choices: both food trucks and restaurants,” says Wright Sigmund. “This issue is not unique to Rosslyn, and we welcome continued dialogue on the topic to make it a win-win for all.”

  • KalashniKEV

    I hope they all come to Crystal City and make Rosslyn into one of those Michelle Obama “Food Deserts.”

    • CourthouseChris

      I don’t think you understand the concept.

      • Homer

        Mmmm desserts

      • KalashniKEV

        I wish there was a “Non-Arlington” forum on ARLnow so I could hear the defense of her ridiculous notion.

  • bert

    here’s an idea…maybe the b&m restaurants lose business cause they’re overpriced, have poor customer service, and most importantly…the food is bland.

    and they wonder why the food trucks do so well…

    • Gilmer

      Which is why you never eat at sit-down restaurants, right? Right?

      • bert

        in Rosslyn? hell burger and pho 75 are about it.

        correction, red hot and blue is not bland. it just plain sucks. yes, i’m a hater.

        • CourthouseChris

          I doubt anyone that lives in Arlington actually patronizes Red Hot & Blue – it is solely a trap for tourists.

        • Southeast Jerome

          But you is right, it do suck.

  • John Fontain

    “says BID Executive Director Cecilia Cassidy, “The goal is a level playing field…”

    And yet all of the proposed regulations go against the food trucks to the benefit of the brick and mortar shops. Sounds more like they want to level the competition.

    Rosslyn BID’s motto: All businesses are equal, but some businesses are more equal than others.

    • http://www.welovedc.com Don

      Yeah I’m not sure what level playing field that is. One where everyone has seating? Indoor space and climate control? Full-featured kitchen and larger storage space? Room to add staff?

      Brick and mortar shops have plenty of advantages over food trucks. If they’re unable to leverage them into being desirable that says more about them than anything else.

      This nonsense about garbage and restrooms is also a macguffin. You have restroom demand because there’s more people in the area (which should be a “yay”) and if you don’t want to deal with the marginal increase in traffic then use keys and limit access. You can probably find a dozen Adams Morgan businesses who can tell you how they deal with it.

    • jslanger

      Kind of sounded like that to me the first time I heard about this stuff a week ago. With the list of complaints about the food trucks, I at least understand where the B&M places are coming from….but I disagree with the extent of the proposed rules. If the food trucks can sit down with the Rosslyn BID and agree to be good neighbors (take care of trash, etc), then I say that the B&M places need to chill and learn to compete better…

    • Bluemontsince1961

      +1

    • KalashniKEV

      Yeah, that jumped off the page at me too… when has regulation and it’s accompanying market perversions ever “leveled” the playing field.

      What he’s looking for is a leg up… since he can’t compete.

    • A Beberman

      Sounds to me like the BID is protecting the area.

  • ArLater

    Maybe they should make the B&M stores only operate during the lunch hours like the food trucks do, if they are so interested in “leveling the field”

    • A Beberman

      Why do you think the food trucks only operate during the lunch hours?

  • novasteve

    This is the restaurant equivalent of fat/ugly women wanting very attractive women banned from bars, so they can get more attention from men.

    • John Fontain

      +10! Made me chuckle. That is a good analogy.

      • Neutrino

        To me, it seems more like a girl, who paid a greater cover charge to get into the bar, demanding that the bar limit the number, and restrict the social interactions, of those girls who paid little or no cover charge be restricted.

        • Neutrino

          Scratch the final two words of my previous post. Damn my poor, and far from thorough, editing skills.

  • Columbia Pike Y’all

    Point 1- Maybe there’s some trash. Rosslyn mostly keeps it clean.
    Point 2- “Safety Issues”. Let’s start banning tour groups while we’re at it. Some of those high school and elementary school groups that crowd intersections, sidewalks, etc. DANGER DANGER. Red herring.
    Point 3- There is limited parking in Rosslyn period. Very little driving and parking for Rosslyn as a lunch destination. The workers in the vicinity walk to the brick and mortars and the food trucks. Missing a couple parking spaces of the few that are available should not be an issue. Red herring.
    Point 4- Restrooms. There’s some Rosslyn-area outdoor seating. Beyond that, people take this food back to their work. They don’t hang out and eat on the sidewalk standing up to wait and use the restroom, no more than passers by use the restaurants in any area for the restrooms.
    Point 5 – Health. Sure. Brick and Mortar alternatives being McDonald’s, Chipotle and Baja Fresh. Sure….

    If rosslyn loses the food trucks over this corporate cry fest, it will reinforce/reinstate how sterile the area already is. Sad sad. I’ll start bringing my lunch again, not going to chipotle.

    • SoMuchForSubtlety

      Good points.

    • John Fontain

      Spot on!

    • redstang423

      I’m glad I read through the comments before posting my own thoughts… since they’re the exact same as yours, but you articulated them better than I would have. Well said.

      I do like how they couldn’t be any more specific than “health, hygiene, and safety concerns” without specific examples.

    • wat

      RE: Parking

      Who drives to Rosslyn to eat lunch anyway?

      Re: Restrooms

      Aren’t they for the public anyway? They don’t have signs on the doors that say Customers only, or require a key like most of the places near farragut/metro center/chinatown.

      • Neutrino

        No one.

        No.

    • Neutrino

      You want to level the playing field? Maybe we should build seating and restrooms along the food truck corridors. Jk.

      1 – Actually, it is the Rosslyn BID that keeps the area clean.
      2 – Wheelchair-bound people are already hindered by Rosslyn’s landscape, so this is a real issue. It is hard to get a long line of assholes on their phones to move all at once for you. At least, tourists don’t tend to be on their phones as much. And, people from outside this area have the potential to demonstrate actual consideration for others.
      3 – No one ever parks in Rosslyn… there’s too many people parked there. Seriously, your customers were never going to get on-street, mid-weekday parking spaces anyway. This is an invalid complaint.
      4 – You’re right. Everyone who eats in Rosslyn during lunch rush does so because their office is nearby. They will mostly just use the bathrooms at their office. The impact to toilet traffic should be minimal and the impact of toilet traffic shouldn’t be hard to bear.
      5 – Hygiene and safety should be regulated for all vendors. I certainly think that food trucks should be monitored by the county, just as other restaurants. I also think that food trucks should have to provide the county GPS tracking and an always accessible phone line, so the county can perform unannounced inspections and so the county can, simply, know who’s selling what food and where. However, I think this bullet point in the BID’s statement is so vaguely written that is intended to be a propaganda point rather than a clear and concise complaint.

  • Crystal City

    Wait a minute. I’m confused. Just what is this ‘task force’ supposed to do? Seeing as how it’s chaired by someone from Vornado/Charles E. Smith… the people that RENT SPACE to the brick and mortar restaurants!!?? Gee, which side do you think they’re on?

    • Josh S

      It’s the Rosslyn BID. If the food trucks want to somehow get a business address in Rosslyn, they can be a part of it. I’m assuming that the vast majority do not claim a Rosslyn business address on their licenses, etc.

      There is no expectation that the Rosslyn BID would represent the interests of those who simply drive up every day and then drive away and the end of the day. Unless the food trucks get a permit that specifies a specific location? Which is not how I understand things work. It looks more like the trucks simply show up and park – could be here today, down the street and around the corner tomorrow? Just like DC, right?

      So if I represent businesses that have invested in a semi-permanent physical location in Rosslyn and we are now faced with competition from an extremely transient group, I think it’s understandable if we have a problem with that competition. If I’m a clothing store and someone sets up a table and racks on the sidewalk outside my store selling clothes, I’ll be a little irked, too. This is my spot – go find your own.

      • drax

        Right Josh, the BID represents only part of the business community. He’s just pointing out that it shouldn’t pretend to be otherwise. For a group that represents only one side to talk about “leveling the playing field” and having the power to regulate is suspicious.

        As for competition, would you be mad if another restaruant moved in next door to yours instead of on the street next to yours? Of course not. You have no right to anything beyond your own doors. You might be “irked,” but that’s life.

      • Crystal City

        The task force is presented in the press release as separate from the BID and something that will be fair to both the b&m restaurants as well as the food trucks. Which is clearly not going to be the case.

  • Rick

    Who’s to say a customer of a brick and mortar restaurant wouldn’t put trash in public receptacle?

    Who’s to say that in their heyday (and maybe even present day) have lines of chipotle et al backed up out of the restaurant?

    I thought limited parking spaces was the goal of Arlington?

    I’m sure tourists and the less fortunate have never gone to use the McDonalds or Chipotle bathroom

    And they missed a comma after hygiene, you add a comma before using “and” with three or more words in a series. Amateurs.

    • Vampire Weekend

      Who gives a flip about an Oxford comma?

      • Rick

        Well if they teach Oxford commas at Arlington Public Schools, I believe they should.

        • drax

          This is Arlington, not Oxford.

        • http://theliffeyswell.blogspot.com Foggy Dew

          As it states clearly at the top, that’s a press release. Releases are written in AP style. AP does not use the useless Oxford comma. Down with the Oxford comma.

      • cranky.crankypants

        I’ve seen those English dramas, too.

    • From the Hill

      Who gives a f–k about an Oxford comma?

  • Grease

    Screw the BID. Paid by your tax dollars.

  • Matthew Hurtt

    The BID and brick and mortar establishments are clearly colluding to push food trucks into obscure parts of Rosslyn or out of the neighborhood altogether. A comment on the last post quoted Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”:

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

    I’m writing a piece for America’s Future Foundation’s Doublethink, and this recent statement attempts to address the questions I sent Ms. Cassidy yesterday via email. I wonder if I’ll hear from her, or if she’ll continue to communicate indirectly through press releases.

    I’m also attempting to talk to food truck operators/owners by Twitter, so if anyone wants to help me tweet at them: @MetroHalalFood @LobstertruckDC @badabingdc @fojolbros @tastykabob @SeoulFoodDC

    I’m at @matthewhurtt

    • bert

      does pushing food trucks out violate antitrust laws in any way? j/w…

  • Guy LeDouche

    That’s just grand. Someone else has a more effective business model to fit the need of convenience that an urban workplace area requires and perhaps better tasting food as well, so the answer is to ask the government to intervene as to have a “level playing field”. As always, goverment intervention must be the answer to what ails them. If only Polaroid figured that out they could have just asked to government to intervene and stop the advent of digital cameras…or myspace with the rise of Facebook. Or how about maybe, this is a crazy idea, the B&M restaurants figure out a way to offer quick and convenient options on the go that taste good in order to compete with the competition…or apply to get their own food trucks.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      +2

    • A Beberman

      This is a zoning issue not an anti-competition issue

      • John Fontain

        Maybe if you say it 1,000 times you’ll convince us to abandon common sense and believe this. Then again, probably not.

        • a beberman

          Because your one sided comments make so much sense

  • Suburban Not Urban

    See this is the problem with the BID concept – you’ve set up an independent quasi-governmental body with an independent taxing authority/funding mechanism that no longer represents the larger interests of the county, it’s residents and buisness owners.

    • Libertarian

      But voluntary associations are what we are all about.

  • Bdgrgl

    Instead of voicing your opinion here, write the Rosslyn BID.

    • John Fontain

      No point in that, they are a lobbying group that doesn’t care what you think. It’s better to voice your opinion to the county staff and board to whom the BID will be lobbying to level the competition.

  • Barcrofter

    If “they” are worried about parking spots in “prime” locations how about you get rid of some of the “prime” spots taken up by these companies like Smart Car or to a lesser extent Bikeshare DC. Let’s be honest…this is Arlington and most people have/need a car. If you don’t then you are accustomed to the metro/bus system and should have no trouble walking an exra block or two to get your Smart Car rather than the 3-5 spaces that are taken up right in front of and at the heart of the retail businesses that rely on close parking to get business.

    • Joan Fountain

      Where do CaBi stations take ‘prime’ spots in Arlington?

      • wat

        Corner of Wilson and Ft Myer Drive for one.

        • wat

          *I should note that I am not against CaBi. Arlington has long been about alternative forms of transportation.

        • EPA

          What hotspot would you be going to park there? The Wells Fargo?

    • wat

      Yeh. Arlington, home of the Car Free Diet…Unless property owners get complaints from the restaurants that rent with them about the food trucks that are creating competition.

  • JimPB

    The B&M establishments are directly or indirectly paying a meaningful amount of property taxes Ignore this at your peril.

    That said, I would hope that the B&Ms would look more closer at the Food Trucks for what they offer that appeals to the public and then duplicate or, better yet, trump the food truck appeals. In doing this, B&Ms might use food trucks to take their offerings (perhaps in part) to the public on the street while concurrently promoting the greater range of offerings and attractions of eating within the B&Ms.

    • wat

      Property tax is paid by the property owners.

      Food/Sales tax is collected and paid by the companies that rent with them.

      So why aren’t we proposing what other areas are doing, and charge sales tax on the food sold from trucks/carts?

      Technically the food trucks pay more direct money to the county than Chipotle and others do, as the food trucks pay the parking meeters.

      • http://www.lemongrasstruck.com Uyen Nguyen

        As an owner of a local food truck, I will gladly confirm that WE PAY TAXES to Arlington on the Food we sell there. Not sure where the rumor that trucks don’t pay taxes started.

  • http://foodtruckfiesta.com Kyle

    On any given day, there are anywhere from 0 to 5 food trucks in Rosslyn. The BID’s statistics are inflated to cause fear-mongering.

    Georgetown has NOT seen a dramatic increase in food trucks, mostly because Georgetown already has a variety of cuisines in their brick & mortar restaurants. There is simply not enough consumer demand in Georgetown for food trucks.

    • A Beberman

      From everyone comments, the food trucks are so good that they create demand in an area. If the trucks move to Georgetown, all the Roslyn consumers will walk to Georgetown to patronize the food trucks. Yeah! I don’t think so either.

      • jackson

        A good food truck is the only reason to wander to Roslyn during lunch. I may not follow them to Georgetown, but I won’t say “Oh well” and start going inside most of the bland restaurants in Roslyn if the trucks are forced out. I’ll just avoid Roslyn entirely.

  • Arlingtonian

    Do the food trucks feed the parking meters? If they don’t, the BID should call the cops.

    • EPA

      More importantly, do food trucks have solar trash compactors?

    • redstang423

      At least in DC they are required to follow all parking regulations. I’ve actually seen one get a parking ticket for not feeding the meter.

  • Trolly Troll

    The BID funds are generated by a “voluntary” property tax paid for by Rosslyn real estate owners. Therefore the board of directors of the Rosslyn BID are comprised of the major real estate owners. Cecilia Cassidy just wants to keep her job and make the board members happy.

    The whole system is designed to promote cronyism. Look what just happened at the Ballston BID, the director just hired a former co-worker with no direct experience for the position. Tax dollars with private oversight.

    Crooks in suits.

  • soarlslacker

    Rosslyn BID needs to stop trying to screw the food trucks. Food trucks are great and offer excellent products with the minimum of hassle and BS to the customer. My office or my home is much nicer than your restaurants. I don’t want to be rushed through a meal so your restaurant can do as many seatings as possible for a single meal—sacrificing my comfort for your profit. Compare it to the going to the movies or watching a movie in the comfort of your own home. If Rosslyn does screw the food trucks and pushes them out, it is the residents and workers loss and the real estate conglomerates gain…perhaps the Rosslyn BIDs goal is to screw the 99% so the 1% can have more profit. Food Trucks are one of the best parts of urban life. You turn to corner and bam–you come across something delicious.
    FOOD TRUCKS please come to Crystal City and Pentagon City….yummmmmmmm!

  • A Beberman

    This all sounds good to me. The BID needs to protect the businesses that invested in the area.

    The food trucks are taking up public property to make a profit (vending) and restricting its use to others. This should be regulated to be fair for all.

    • Dave in SA

      They are paying to park at the curb, paying license fees, adhering to the health codes, providing jobs, and most importatntly providing alternatives that customers want. They will go away if the customers go away. We don’t need more government intervention. It is supposed to be a free and open competitive market. What would the B&M folks say if Arlington ticketed all of their double parked suppliers every morning? They are using public property (drive lanes) in Ballston, CC, and Rosslyn for free every day.

      • A Beberman

        I agree with you that the food trucks are parking in a public area. This means there should be regulations and restrictions.

        And anyone illegally parking should be ticketed.

      • WestoverPam

        They are also providing something that Rosslyn does not want, which is a transient and unpredictable business that does not support vibrancy throughout the day and after work. They contribute very little to the neighborhood in general and merely leach off of the success of property owners and businesses.

        Rosslyn is too much like CBD’s in other cities that become lonely canyons after 6:00 pm, and roach coaches only reinforce that day to night dichotomy.

        • jackson

          The food trucks vanishing will not cause an influx of new B&M restaurants. No way.

      • jackson

        +1.

        Semis with their hazards on double-parked daily delivering food to B&M restaurants. Let’s propose they circle the block a few dozen times to find 4 open spaces and feed each meter and see if BID agrees to absorb the extra costs that would incur.

  • Mike

    This protectionism for b&m shops is silly. I eat in rosslyn everyday, even when there are 4 food trucks parked near the metro the chipotle and chopt have a line nearly out the door. The food trucks create a nice variety as opposed to the same 4-5 places in that area for lunch.
    I don’t think they should do anything to dissuade food trucks from the area, in fact, I think they should be working to encourage more of them.

    • A Beberman

      No one is saying there should be no food trucks. They just need to be regulated since they are on public property.

      • John Fontain

        No one is saying there should be no food trucks. They just need to be regulated into non existence since they are on public property.

        • A Beberman

          No one has stated that want them to not exist.

          • John Fontain

            Yeah, that’s not the goal at all. Wink, wink!!

      • Beber le douche

        Give it a rest, bro. You’ve earned your fee from the B&Ms and your arguments are tired & weak.

  • A Beberman

    Wow! You hurt my feelings.

    Let me know what is “tired and weak”

  • Ronald M

    Do you find it ironic that there are several posts about “B&M” restaurants? Is the abbrevation used to describe brick and mortar or is it describing the bad restaurant choices in Rosslyn or that eating at any of these will move your bowels immediately upon consumption?

    • WestoverPam

      It’s B&M Restaurants vs. Roach Coaches; Thunderdome Style.

  • CC

    We got rid of the brothels and casinos; now let’s get rid of these food trucks. Let’s continue the fight so Rosslyn stays a bore!

  • sam

    if these food trucks are forced to leave rosslyn, Does the BID and the B&M restaurants think they will solve their problems? Will the demand for their crappy overpriced sandwiches suddenly increase and solve their budget woes? Or will demand stay the same as it is now with the food trucks?

    Lets not forget the lack of choices in rosslyn. CHiptole and chopt are packed, other than that…

    • WestoverPam

      False premise. Nobody is proposing banning them from Rosslyn.

      • John Fontain

        Not explicitly at least, right?

        • WestoverPam

          HeeHee! I know, but don’t let our little secret out. winks

      • worksy

        Maybe not outright banning them, but Rosslyn BID will enforce regulations that will make it difficult for food trucks to operate in Rosslyn.

        • WestoverPam

          I don’t think the BID has any enforcement powers, that would be done by the county, most likely the police.

  • sam

    it sounds like that is what they are trying to do.

  • worksy

    I’m sure there’s a middle ground here somewhere. Food trucks used to park on central space. But they were no longer allowed to there because they moved the cabbies in that spot. In central spce, there are already tables and chairs. They are not blocking pedestrian lanes in front of B&Ms. There are trash receptacles in that area. Nobody is allowed to park in central space anyway so food trucks are not taking anyone’s space.

    • a beberman

      Great comment. I agree with you.

      Here is an idea that is not just one sided.

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