Police Start Enforcing Hour-Limit On Food Trucks

by Aaron Kraut July 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm 12,133 118 Comments

Seoul Food truck co-owner J.P. Goree got a citation and a court date from Arlington County Police on Wednesday.

His crime: Keeping his Korean cuisine food truck in one Clarendon Courthouse parking spot for longer than the county’s 60-minute limit for mobile food vendors.

“We feel like we’re being treated as a second-class business,” Goree said Friday. “We’re a micro-business, aspiring to be a bigger small business and it seems like that’s something that would be fostered by the community.”

Goree said police told food truck owners a few weeks ago that they would soon start enforcing the regulation. In May, Jill Griffin, a commercial development specialist for Arlington Economic Development, said she had heard enforcing the time limit “has been challenging.”

Griffin also said officials hoped to talk with stakeholders this summer to form recommendations for updating Arlington’s vending ordinance this fall.

“If you open at 11 [a.m.] or 11:30 [a.m.] that hour is only going to get you to when you have the longest line right in the very middle of your lunch rush,” Goree said.

Goree said he thinks ongoing tension between food truck owners and brick-and-mortar restaurant owners is behind Wednesday’s enforcement. Also in May, ARLnow.com obtained an internal document from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) that said “the number, location and type of operation” of food trucks and carts is “inadequately regulated by Arlington County.”

The Rosslyn BID is funded by the property owners who rent space to the neighborhood’s restaurants, delis and cafes.

The Bada Bing truck also reported receiving a ticket Wednesday on its Twitter page. Ice cream food truck Sinplicity tweeted out a similar message. Goree’s court date is Aug. 21. There was no fine listed on the citation.

“If a truck or a car parks at a metered spot, it can stay there for as long as the meter allows,” said Rob Frommer, an attorney with the Institute For Justice, a Ballston-based libertarian public interest law firm. “It doesn’t make any sense to arbitrarily limit how long one particular type of vehicle can remain in one spot.”

Two years ago, the Institute for Justice began a National Street Vending Initiative to help legalize food trucks and vendors. Frommer said Arlington’s own experience with the growing food truck industry helped inform the organization’s goals.

“It seemed like Arlington was doing a good job of embracing the vendors and letting these businesses start up,” Frommer said. “This change in enforcement is an unfortunate and surprising development.”

  • Brian

    Have to agree with ACPD, parking limitations are there for a reason. The food trucks needs to obey traffic and parking lot just like everyone else.

    • Brian

      That said if it is a 2hr spot, they should be given 2 hours and no more. If its 60mins, same. They can;t just feed the meter all day.

      • WeiQiang

        Everyone else does. Why would the type of vehicle make a diff?

        • WeiQiang

          Correction for the semantic-romantics: Drivers wishing to park their vehicles legally for periods beyond the limit of the meter very often just keep feeding the meters.

          • South Awwlington

            Yes…..and that doesn’t make it legal brah.

          • WeiQiang

            I honestly didn’t know it was illegal, brah. I re-print/-pay the parking tickets all day long on certain days at a client site and don’t get a ticket. When I run over the limit, I get a ticket.

          • South Awwlington

            I do it too…but it’s not legal. Luckily my car isn’t as distinguishable as a purple food truck.

          • charles

            Either enforce the regulation or change the regulation. No wishy-washy enforcement or favoritism.

          • dk (not DK)

            don’t try this in DC.

        • SomeGuy

          It should be enforced the same for everyone.

          The vendors don’t have much of a case if they’re in violation of the space’s designated limit. But if the one-hour limit applies to a 2-hour spot just because they’re a food truck, then I think the vendors’ arguments are legit.

    • Ben

      The Arlington needs to actively enforce it to everyone. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a ticket for going over the limit – you just feed the meter and stay.

      • CrystalMikey

        Exactly, as long as the meter is paid, what’s the issue?

        • Brian

          Wrong. It is 2hr limit. You cannot feed the meter. They mark the entry time with the handheld ticket computer and/or mark the tire. It’s just against the law, food trucks think they are above the law.

          • Jon

            This has nothing to do with parking meters. Food trucks can not vend for longer than one hour regardless of the meter limit

          • Westover

            Are YOU sure they were at one hour meters? Sounds like they were at multi-hour meters, but the officer is enforceing the silly rule intended for kiddy ice cream trucks to not stay in any one location for more than an hour. And even if they were at one hour meters they should recieve nothing more than the $20 ticket for over staying the meter.

        • Fred

          You should study the economic incentive behind Performance Parking.

          • WeiQiang

            All I know is that those multi-space meters are a CASH COW. It’s possible to have people triple paying for a given space. You can’t just tack on time to the time that someone else left on a regular meter. Unless you waste your time and print a new ticket at the exact moment the old one expires, you’re actually paying twice for the same space during the overlap period.

            It would not be hard to use the same technology to return the ticket unused time to credit one’s credit card, but I guess it’s too much to expect.

          • FoodTruckin’

            Look into Ipark


            $20 upfront but you only pay for what you use…..makes sense

          • WeiQiang

            Thx. Last time I checked, they said they had no units available and didn’t know when they would get more. Will try again.

          • South Awwlington

            Park Mobile – look up the app.

          • WeiQiang

            I use it in DC. Haven’t seen any zone/usage info in Arlco.

          • Autoexec.bat

            @WeiQiang: Pentagon Row Harris Teeter parking lot has some ParkMobile spaces.

  • Westover

    Sounds like one cop getting to the end of the month and realizing he has not reached his quota, which the chief has said does not exist.

    • Brasco

      So ACPD enforces a violation that came to light because OTHER people complained and of course, for lack of nothing better than putting down a cop doing his job, you add your ignorant comment. How about commenting on the people that truly caused this? Well I have a suggestion…stay in Westover!

      • Westover

        Settle down officer. Number one, are you going to deny that there is a quota system in place for ACPD officers? Number two, who really complained? The law is not currently dealing with the reality of food trucks, they were written to deal with ice cream trucks camping out at little league fields and swimming pools 40 years ago. Who really caused this? One a County Board that does not do its job to keep up with reality in food services. Two an over zelous cop, or his/her supervisor.

  • Jon

    I’m pretty liberal, tree-hugger, Obama supporter, yada yada yada — but it pisses me off how business unfriendly Arlington can be sometimes.

    • SomeGuy

      I don’t understand why tree-hugging or Obama would enter this discussion.

      • Westover

        Because they typically are not supporters of business, I assume.

      • Tumblebum

        “We’re a micro-business, aspiring to be a bigger small business and it seems like that’s something that would be fostered by the community.”

        You didn’t do that. Somebody else made that happen.

        • KalashniKEV


          Pay tribute to your master, slave!

        • confused

          somebody else built the roads, is what Obama said.

          In this case that would seem to be quite on point.

          • Westover

            Except it isn’t what he said. Or at least to anyone normal english speaker.

      • Josh S

        Good point.

        The everyone go to their own corner approach to our political system is extremely unproductive.

    • yequalsy

      Enforcing parking turnover is business friendly.

      • Westover

        Except it was not parking turn over that was being enforced.

    • drax

      I agree, Jon. THere’s no good reason for this regulation.

  • Big Spender

    Another waste of time and my tax money to legislate AND enforce such nonsense! Catch the real criminals sheesh.

    • blah

      ummm, isn’t this collecting money

      • Big Spender

        So is continually feeding the meter after its expired. So lets keep paying the meter maids for enforcing more bs

  • Mick Way

    Let’s go to the videotape and check the rulebook:

    Because most of the parking meters are designed for turnover (short-term) parking, you are required to leave the parking space when the meter’s time limit has been reached. >>>>>It is illegal to pay for additional time at the meter after the time limit has been reached.<<<< Feeding the meter beyond its original maximum time could result in your vehicle receiving a parking ticket. Persons with disabilities may park at specially designated meters that have longer allowable times.


    • MarceyRd

      Thank you. You should get your name up there as a co-contributor to this article.

    • SomeGuy

      Mick Way, your point is valid, but if you read the PDF relating specifically to food truck vendors (linked above), it suggests that the 60-minute rule applies to food trucks regardless of the metered space’s designation (i.e., even if it’s a 4-hour space).

    • Sarah

      Mick, they weren’t feeding meters in excess of the posted time. They were being kicked out of spaces at the one-hour mark because they’re food trucks. The PDF makes it very clear — no matter the time limit on a parking space (one hour, two hours, four hours, etc.), a food truck has to leave after one hour.

      • Mick Way

        I was responding to the “just feed the meter” guys above. Not the pdf.

        • Sarah

          Sorry, it wasn’t clear that you weren’t responding to the trucks.

    • WeiQiang

      Thank you. I honestly never knew that, since it wasn’t posted on the meters. I’ve seen jurisdictions where it is clear.

      • Brian K

        But they also stay well beyond 2pm .. I work and live in Ballston. Walk past the trucks by Metro at 10am on way in and then when I leeave for lunch at 1pm, still there. Ticket them then,

        • Josh S

          Actually, which would be better – keep existing regulations, ticket violators when caught. Or, figure out different regulations which might allow vendors to stay in designated spaces for longer periods of time. Or, allow trucks to stay as long as meter allows.

          Personally, I think the existing regulation option is last on the list of ideal outcomes.

  • MarceyRd

    And of course this article will suffer a multitude of ifs ands and buts and divergent theories since, as usual, a basic bit of journalism was skipped.

    What is the actual Arlington code being cited here, and what are the actual parking restrictions where this happened?

    • Josh S

      Good point. But ARLNow is hardly alone on this. I am always amazed at how frequently I read a news article all the way through and it has not answered what to me seems like a very basic question.

  • Arlingtron

    I’ve been watching this food truck phenomenon hit all the area jurisdictions. It may just be a fad and go away as quickly as it came. At the moment it is responding to market demands and should be embraced. I enjoy getting a good meal at food trucks, carry-outs, and sit-down restaurants.

    There should be fairness in all the regulations and no one type of business should be afforded special protections or permissions. Perhaps the COG should hold a summit to get all the players at the table and determine fair and reasonable regulations that are similar across the region?

  • Original

    Ha ha ha. So funny. I guess all of us cops just sit around looking for lazy ways to fill our quota books that obviously exist.

    Here’s a simple idea – obey the laws and our quota books will be empty. That goes for food trucks too. Don’t break the law and cry poor me. Those that have stores pay rent and taxes. They have a legit reason to cry poor me.

    • Sarah

      The law should apply equally to everyone. You shouldn’t say that a food truck can’t enjoy the full two-hour parking time if that’s the time you’re offering anyone else to park there.

      • drax

        The law should allow food trucks to park beyond two hours, or whatever the time restriction.

    • Jon

      Food trucks pay taxes , food trucks also have to pay rent for a commercial kitchen,food trucks pay litter tax, food trucks pay for the same business license brick & mortar’s do. Try to get some facts first!

    • Fred

      How about ticketing all the people who double-park in front of Corner Bakery and Chik-fil-a in Crystal City every single day? If you’re going to give the food vendors a hard time you could make a lot more money ticketing the double-parkers.

      • WeiQiang

        Jaywalkers, too. Add to congestion and affect safety.

    • arlgirl

      No one is staying don’t obey the law. It’s the law regarding food trucks that’s stupid. I agree — having to move in 1 hour is detrimental to their business. Anyone ever considered set-aside spaces for food trucks?

  • WeiQiang

    OK, all it says is that, “Once stopped, they may remain there for up to 60 minutes.” What’s wrong with moving the vehicle 3 inches, stopping it again, and restarting the clock. There is no requirement to vacate the space. It appears to be technically in compliance with the guidelines. If ArlCo wants to douche-ify the market forces, then why not be a little petulant with the rules.

    I’m thinking that the food trucks should establish a presence as an umbrella organization [named, say, the Association of Sanitary Street Vendors (ASSVendors, for short)] in a brick and mortar office in Rosslyn and then join the BID en masse.

    • drax

      Yes, there is a requirement to vacate the space.

  • ArlResident

    Arlington county is ridiculous. They want their cake and eat it too – they want the conveniences of being urban and the tax revenue of a high density area but they want it to have a small town feel with the local businesses.

    They want lots of people to spend their money in Arlington – but they get rid of parking spaces – or limit the number of parking spaces a builder can build.

    They want to say, look at all we have to offer to the young people who are great tax wise because they don’t really use alot of services like schools – but then push out some of the things that young people like – like the food trucks.

    Walk signs – not every walkway has a push button to ensure safety across the street but then the walk sign never comes on with the signal. So what do you do – play chicken in 110 degree day and hope you don’t get hit.

    Ridiculous. If the food truck vendor has paid the meter, they should leave them alone. They pay the permit to provide food – where are they supposed to park their truck? On the sidewalk with the food cart guys? Is anyone harassing the food truck guys on the sidewalk? They don’t even pay a meter – shouldn’t Arlington Co put meters on the side walk for the food cart vendors?

  • Sarah

    Guys, the PDF linked above makes it clear that food trucks are being treated differently than anyone else parking on Arlington streets.

    According to the county government PDF, food trucks may park in any metered space for a maximum of one hour. After one hour, they have to move.

    Two hour space — food trucks can only stay for one hour.

    This isn’t about feeding meters. It’s about having separate categories of rules for different users of the same parking space.

    • Big Spender

      Sarah your right, its the rule that’s bs. I just decided that if I ever make a food truck, I won’t service Arlington.

    • T

      Simple way to make it fair to everyone. All Arlington restaurants shall be allowed to serve food for a maximum of 1 hour in each 24 hour period. Makes perfect sense.

    • SomeGuy

      Seoul Food’s operation appears to have started 5-6 months after that “guidelines” PDF was published, so even if the rule wasn’t being enforced back then, that particular vendor won’t be able to claim that the rules of the game changed on them. It’s just the enforcement of the rules that changed.

      Sarah, my inclination is to agree with you that the rule itself is crap. If a vehicle pays to occupy a parking space and doesn’t exceed the space’s designated limit, it doesn’t seem like there should be an issue.

    • drax

      This needs to be fixed like they fixed the sign problem (mostly).

  • Willy

    Isn’t it illegal to feed the meter? I do it, but I don’t think you are supposed to.

    I’m just saying.

  • Becoming indifferent

    I’ve found most of the food trucks here aren’t worth the money. I don’t really understand the appeal–seems like a fad to me.

    What sort of permits, etc., do the food trucks require? I’m guessing not the same as a traditional restaurant; I can see why traditional restaurant owners aren’t happy about them.

    • SouthernPrincess

      The food trucks that come to Arlington aren’t as good because all the better ones stay in DC where they are actually welcomed more than they are here.

      • South Awwlington

        Princess huh? Interesting.

      • CommonCents

        Oh great point. Isn’t DC the city that shut down their own DC Lottery vending truck for being a few feet too long to even vend in public squares? And then they had a big DC debate over it like DC doesn’t have more important issues than the length of a lottery truck. Great point… DC seems very welcoming to vending trucks.

    • Jon

      Actually they are exactly the same

  • Tre

    Feeding the meter is illegal, just not always enforced.

  • FoodTruckin’

    Why doesn’t Arlington County just come up with legislation to govern food trucks? They are obviously a viable and sustainable business satisfying consumer demand. They should not be treated as a store front nor should they be treated as a regular vehicle – WHY?? Becuase they are not either of those things.

    Food Trucks are awesome….they deliver good food fast, they are far superior to most fast food restaurants (personal opinion), AND they are local/small business. Look at District Taco – began as food truck(s), but not how store(s) – the family that owns it lives and pays taxes in Arlington County

    Quite frankly we need to set acceptable standards and regulations for food trucks….

    BTW I would like to open a late night food truck in Clarendon – thoughts?

    • WeiQiang

      How about they pay for permits to pay at specific locations … using a ZipCar-like model?

      • FoodTruckin’

        Dedicated Food Truck parking spaces

      • Id

        How about a Food Street Car?

        • WeiQiang

          effing brilliant! efficient … will draw customers … great use of space

          • drax

            Great idea, Id. Pick a street near office buildings but with few restaurants. Easily found in Rosslyn.

    • Id

      District Taco started as a food cart. They owner lost his job in construction and was down and out.

      • Food Truckin’

        Check your facts, you’re wrong. DT is family owned and operated by a local Arlington Family….I happen to know them

        • AJ

          lol. then why does their website say…

          In 2009, two neighbors got together over some homemade chips, salsa and guacamole and decided to launch District Taco as a food truck. District Taco has since grown and now operates multiple locations in and around Washington DC.


          • Id

            Then the story that ran in the Sun Gazette, the Compost and other media is false then.

        • AJ

          you may also want to read http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/05/district-taco-d-c-location-opens-more-expansion-planned-75889.html

          After losing his construction job in 2008, [Hoil] shared his dream and a beer with his best friend and neighbor, Marc Wallace.

          Soon after their chat, Wallace put up $25,000 for the distinctive, yellow District Taco carts, which quickly became a staple in Rosslyn and Crystal City.

          The rapid success of the the cart led to the opening of the first restaurant location on Lee Highway, which in turn paid for the latest location in downtown D.C.

    • CommonCents

      They have. They legislated you need to move the truck every hour, as the article clearly explained. If you don’t like the ordinance, then go to a County Board meeting and dispute it. Did you even read the article?

  • Bdgrgl

    Another reason there’s never a selection of good trucks in ARL.

    What happens if your meal is in the works and the meter expires? Bye-bye lunch?

  • Mick Way

    This is pretty mild compared to new Chicago rules if I read them correctly.

    No food trucks within 200 feet of a restaurant. And they are apparently using GPS to enforce.

  • kevin

    I can’t convince myself to ever go to a food truck. No bathrooms etc. what do these people do if they’re stuck in a truck all day. Too unsanitary to me.

    • Id

      That’s why they keep the oil extra hot.

    • Pike

      I saw a truck draining some sort of ice chest out the back. He had opened the spigot and the stream of water was going out and into the street. He was also standing there in bare feet putting each foot into the stream to rinse off.

      Not directly food-prep related, but nasty enough to turn me off.

      • Josh S


      • KalashniKEV

        Maybe he was getting ready to pray…

  • Mr. Brown

    I would have thought a private parking lot might make a deal with them. In Crystal City they’ve moved them all off the street, which is safer and doens’t disrupt traffic.

    • WeiQiang

      Where are they in CC?

      • Fred

        They’re in a parking lot at 18th and Crystal Drive, just down toward the river from the Metro station, every Thursday. There’s usually four or five trucks there.

        • WeiQiang

          Ah, nice. got it. thx, brah

      • Jon

        Seoulfood comes to CC on Tuesdays usually the 2300 block of crystal dr. Baddabing is in the same spot on Wed.

    • Sarah

      But they also have to sign an agreement with the BID that if they participate in Food Truck Thursday, they aren’t allowed to come back any other day of the week.

      From Arlnow.com earlier this year: “Trucks participating in the program agree to make Thursdays the only day of the week they come to Crystal City.” http://www.arlnow.com/2012/06/06/crystal-city-launches-food-truck-thursdays/

      Another way for the BID to try to squash competition in Crystal City … make it look like you’re welcoming trucks, but limit their ability to do business in your area.

  • Mavin Tikvah

    Really, c’mon. Arlington wants to be the “cats meow” with it’s socially-centered style epicenter, but watch out if you want to penalize those that are trying to serve the community.

    I think Arlington should be car-free and bicycle-free. If you need to get somewhere, walk or take Metro. Food carts should be converted to rikshaws and pushed thru the street.

    Choke on them apples!

    • South Awwlington

      I don’t think that are trying to choke you. They would much rather have you as a permanent restaurant than a fair weather food truck.

    • KalashniKEV

      Now you’re getting it!

      18th century patterns of living are called QUAINT CHARM in Arlington.

  • zzzSleeper

    I wonder what it’s like if the food truck has rented space in a privately owned parking lot…

    • Jon

      They would love it depending on the location

  • SMDC

    DEAR Brick and Mortar Restaurants of ARLINGTON:

    Food Trucks wouldn’t threaten your business if your food didn’t SUCK.

    Stop whining, and start putting that effort into offering better, healthier, fresher lunch options to employees. We’re sick of fast food and pay and weighs.

    <3 SMDC

    • Bob

      Why should they? When most of Arlington continues to enjoy their offerings, they should keep providing what the people like.

  • Arlingtonian

    Get rid of the food trucks. For the price of a parking space, they have a choice space to do business. They don’t pay rent and thus don’t contribute to property taxes. They occupy prime parking spaces.

    Their lines clog the sidwalks at times that people are rushing to reach Metro stations. Some people may like to eat at them because they are convenient. However, they inconvenience far more people and contribute little, if anything, to the County’s tax base.

  • Clarendon

    I’m mixed on the whole issue. I like brick and mortar, they invested in the neighborhood and are some of my favorites. I like the food trucks as they bring in different, cheap (although not cheap enough sometimes) offerings. I’d be pissed if I had a coffee shop that did my big business in the morning only to have a mobile coffee truck park in front of my place and undercut my prices and put me out of business. I’d be pissed as a consumer if that was my favorite coffee shop.

    The free market would say let them do what they want (as long as laws are obeyed, but not impose onerous laws). But then what should happen is that brick and mortar becomes devalued and what should happen is that landlords have to lower their rents to the point where fixed costs for brick and mortar are on par with mobile. That could be a long and painful process though.

    • Josh S

      When someone can dig up a restaurant that actually went out of business because of a food truck, this argument might hold a tiny bit of water. Until then, it’s complete scare-mongering.

      Besides, even if a food truck did put a restaurant out of business – so what? What is unfair about it? People aren’t allowed to innovate? People aren’t allowed to compete? And spare me the lecture about permits and costs, etc. Every business has a different list of strengths and weaknesses. And the customer who is willing to stand in a line, outside in the weather, for food in a styrofoam container that they have to take to go may be a different customer than the one who wants to sit down inside when they eat, with a table, a bathroom, maybe free wi-fi, etc. Other than consuming food, the two experiences are quite different.

  • RanomDude

    It’s the rules of the game. You get to set up a business for a small fraction of the cost of bricks and mortar and est up close to high density demand. If Arlington has a ruling on parking or any other restrictions for a roll-in business then they’re your operating rules. The fact they were even notified in advance that PD would soon start enforcing it, to me means PD were pretty decent about things and the food trucks didn’t take it seriously or just decided it was worth it.

    On that note, depending on how much the ticket is, it may still be worth staying there over the hour to serve if you’ve a lot of demand..

  • Noisecomplaint

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit…rossylnBiD and ballstonBID provide alot of direct funding to the PD in form of off duty jobs and overtime for cops. Whenever the brick and mortar businesses have issues like this it is not unusual for them to treat the PD (and other county depts) like their personal enforcement arms. Upper management in the pd don’t like losing money, hence the sudden “upholding” of the laws that haven’t been enforced in decades.

    • CommonCents

      You’re spouting off about something you clearly know nothing about. The push for regulation is coming from brick and mortar stores via the Arlington Economic Development. The police are enforcing the ordinances that the County board makes by taking input from all the business owners and economic advisors. As much as people love to blame the cops for all their problems, they are just writing the tickets based on what the County decides is appropriate for food trucks. If you think a cop really cares if District Taco makes a few extra dollars or if Silver Diner makes the few extra dollars, you are out of your mind. All the dollars and no cents.

  • John

    60 minutes is definitely not enough time for a food vendor. Seems pretty draconian to impose hours like that. What are limitations on traditional establishment hours?

  • Westover2

    Food trucks need to be regulated. There are no bathrooms (for workers or patrons), little trash collection, the lines clog sidewalks, and they steal revenue for surrounding brick and mortar eateries. I think food trucks are great, but jurisdictions really need to figure out how to encourage this type of business without discouraging brick and mortar businesses. Brick and mortar eateries should be protected as valuable, responsible business owners that have invested in and have given back to their communities.

    • Clarendon

      Good points. Allowing mobile vendors in the ideal, should be that a businessperson has a viable way to get started but that the ultimate goal is to establish themselves so that they can take on a permanent brick and mortar location (call it the District Taco model).

  • Marlo Stanfield

    Just pull up to a new spot….simple

    • drax

      Because empty parking spots in high-traffic areas with customers walking around looking for your truck are so easy to find!

  • Westover

    The county needs to create Food Truck parking spots in the office districts, good M-F 11am-3pm.

    • CommonCents

      Yes, because that would be a PERFECT balance between local brick restaurants and the food vendors– to allow the food trucks to take up all the parking that customers would use for the brick and mortar restaurants during the peak lunch hour. I’m not for one side or the other, I see the argument for both– but it just baffles me how everyone here sees it one way or the other and can’t even comprehend both points of viewing. Ponderous.


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