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Law Firms Recruited for Food Truck Fight

by Katie Pyzyk December 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm 8,227 126 Comments

Arlington’s food truck fight has stepped up a notch. Law firms are being recruited to help food truck vendors fight citations for staying in one spot longer than one hour.

At issue is a citation received by Seoul Food for violating the 60 minute rule, which police began enforcing over the summer. As noted in a CATO Institute post last week, the food truck owner told police he had moved to a different spot after one hour, but the ticketing officer didn’t believe the truck had moved far enough from its original position.

The Arlington-based Institute for Justice (901 N. Glebe Road) became involved after some of its workers heard about the legal issues while stopping at a food truck for lunch one day. They thought it fit perfectly into the organization’s National Street Vending Initiative, which aims to foster conditions that allow food trucks to thrive.

“We’ve been fighting on behalf of vendors across the nation and wanted to find a way for them [Seoul Food] to continue earning an honest living,” said Institute for Justice (IJ) attorney Robert Frommer, who also represented Arlington doggy daycare business Wag More Dogs in its unsuccessful fight against Arlington’s sign regulations.

Because it’s a criminal matter, the IJ didn’t take on the case itself, but instead requested assistance from law firms in the D.C. metro area that might be willing to work on the case pro bono. Frommer said a number of firms have come forward to assist Seoul Food and possibly other vendors that may be in a similar situation.

Besides fighting the citations, the goal is to work with Arlington County to change the 60 minute rule.

“Food trucks give people with big dreams, but not a lot of capital, a chance to work hard and succeed,” said Frommer. “They do that in a way that benefits the community. Arlington County should recognize that and rescind its one hour rule so food trucks can continue to thrive and serve the community.”

Frommer said workers at IJ believe the 60 minute rule is unconstitutional.

“The 60 minute rule furthers no legitimate government interest in safety. All it does is make the lives of vendors difficult and prevents them from being able to succeed,” he said. “It’s the government’s job to regulate health and safety, but it’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers. That’s the job of consumers.”

The IJ also believes the penalties for violating the 60 minute rule are too harsh. Per the Arlington County code, “Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.” A Class 1 offense is the most severe of Virginia’s four misdemeanor classifications and could bring penalties of jail time up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500. Other examples of Class 1 misdemeanors include DUI, assault and battery, possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license.

County code does not, however, list a specific distance food trucks are required to move after one hour, so it’s up to the interpretation of each officer enforcing the law. According to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, officers try to be consistent.

“Based upon how the county code is currently written, our officers use discretion in citing the food truck vendors,” said Sternbeck. “When the officers appear in court, they must be able to articulate a reason why they cited them [the vendors].”

The vendor in the Seoul Food case claims to have been given three different answers as to how far he was required to move his vehicle. Police say the vendor has been given the appropriate documentation regarding the rules on numerous occasions.

Sternbeck notes that police have been “flooded” with complaints about food trucks and officers merely are responding to the complaints. He said officers do not target food truck vendors unless responding to a complaint. A number of brick and mortar restaurants and other businesses consistently call to complain when food trucks are parked in front of their establishments, Sternbeck said.

Sternbeck said officers spent hours going around Arlington to educate the food truck vendors about the rules before enforcement efforts commenced. Currently, vendors are warned on their first offense and ticketed for any incidents after that.

“We have to respond to these complaints and that requires us to sit out there for at least one hour to see that vendors have not moved,” said Sternbeck. “It’s up to the courts once we present the information and facts on it, whether or not they want to proceed with the fine.”

The IJ believes the community will back the efforts to change the 60 minute rule, which could help the initiative gain steam.

“I think the people in Arlington love the food trucks. Every day I go out to lunch I see people lined up. People love choice, they love having the option to decide what they want for lunch,” Frommer said. “When they understand what the 60 minute rule is doing to food trucks, I think they’ll strongly support the reforms we believe the county should adopt.”

  • drax

    The rule sucks bad enough, but making it a Class 1 misdemeanor–for what’s basically a parking violation–is unconscionable.

    • larry


      • drax

        Larry, you think you should be subject to a year in jail for a parking ticket?

        • Josh S

          He doesn’t really care one way or another and just wanted to show off that he’s figured out how to do upsidedown exclamation points. Which is pretty cool.

    • R. Griffon

      Totally agree – a Class 1 demeanor parking ticket is absolutely insane. If they want to make it a bigger parking ticket b/c it’s a business, then fine – make it $100 or something. But the law as it stands is way out of whack.

      And what’s with not defining the distance they have to move? Granted, rolling forward 6″ shouldn’t count, but if they pull up into the next spot then I’d say they should be in the clear. So make it a car length (~10′?).

    • YourLogicSeverelyFlawed

      Couldn’t disagree more. These businesses are getting to do business on the cheap whereas brick/mortar places have to pay rent, overhead, etc. This is the commercial equivalent of illegal .

      • Dan

        Your arguments wholly debunked here: http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/economic_liberty/vending/7-myths-and-realities.pdf

        To wit: “food-truck owners must purchase liability insurance and pay license and permit fees.35 Like other small business owners, truck owners must pay sales taxes, income taxes and payroll taxes.36 They must spend money to pay and train new employees, to purchase inventory and to market their business.37 Restaurants must either pay property taxes or rent, and the same is true for food trucks: Most cities require that food trucks associate with a commissary in which they can park and clean their truck, store their inventory and partially prepare their food.38 This means that food-truck owners must (in addition to paying taxes on their vehicle) either pay property taxes or rent on the commissary space.”

  • Deadite

    If cars are subject to a parking time restriction, why not food trucks? Why should they get an exemption? If anything, a food truck hogging a parking spot is much more of a nuisance than a car because it ends up clogging the sidewalk as well.

    • John Fontain

      Sounds like the food trucks are subject to a much more severe restriction than other vehicles. For example, in a non-time restricted metered space, I can park for 8 our 12 hours, etc. The food truck has to move after one hour. In a time restricted metered space, I may be able to park for 2 hours. The food truck again has to move after just one hour.

      This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If a food truck is willing to pay the meter, why shouldn’t it get the same time limit as anyone else (which is often no time limit)?

      I agree with Frommer’s statement that the 1 hour law serves no public interest, only a private interest. Namely, it serves to protect the private business interests of brick and mortar food retailers by restricting competition.

      • Deadite

        Tied up parking and sidewalk space is not in the public’s interest? Parking in front of (and undercutting the business of) tax-paying, employee-hiring brick and mortar restaurants for entire lunch times isn’t in the public’s interest?

        Listen I love food trucks as much as the next guy, but if you’re in favor of giving them free reign, don’t complain when you suddenly find there are a lot fewer restaurant options because the brick and mortar guys couldn’t compete on costs with the bare-bones trucks.

        • drax

          They are entitled to spend the same amount of time, for the same fee, as a car in the same space.

          As for your competition comment, it’s too absurd to believe. Food trucks will give us less food options because customers will like them? How awful! And your “logic” is just as good to justify shutting down a few brick and mortars to make sure the rest don’t suffer from competition too – you want that as well?

          • Deadite

            Don’t put words in my mouth. I never said food trucks will give us fewer food options. I said they have the potential to close down a lot of brick and mortar establishments. If we lose 10 restaurants and gain 15 food trucks, of course we will have more food options. But at what cost?

          • Dan

            “But at what cost?” is the sort of open-ended rhetorical question that one uses when one is all out of arguments. At what cost? You just stated it – at the cost of 10 lousy restaurants. So?

        • other side of the river

          If the meter limit is set to encourage turnover, all vehicles parked at that meter should turn over at that limit. There shouldn’t be two sets of rules depending on type of vehicle so one is not perceived as “tying up” any more than another. Nothing about using a parking space governed by a meter says the driver must patronize the business around the meter. They could go for a walk for that time.

          While I would try and park in front of, say, a bookstore instead of in front of a restaurant if I were a food truck driver, the brick-and-mortar restaurant does not have any sort of moral claim on capitalism. If they can’t compete, they go out of business. My consumer trade off for eating at a truck rather than a brick-and-mortar is pretty clear: Tables, weather, restrooms.

          Food trucks also have employees; follow the twitters for the number of them looking for cooks and servers. Food trucks have also become brick-and-mortars, like District Taco (multiple locations, many employees) and Sauca (one location, now out of business).

          If in some way they are not paying taxes, either payroll or receipts, that’s an issue for Mr. O’Leary. It’s not a parking meter issue.

        • Josh S

          All kinds of extraneous and simply not true statements here Deadite.
          “tax-paying?” Food trucks don’t pay taxes? “employee-hiring?” Food trucks don’t hire employees? How would you define “entire lunch times?” Is that even part of parking regulations anywhere?
          “free reign?” What does that mean? Who here is arguing anything remotely close to “free reign” for food trucks?
          As far as competition goes, why should it matter whether the competing businesses have a truck or a building? Both have their pros and cons. Also, please identify one brick and mortar restaurant that has gone out of business as a result of food truck activity in Arlington.

          • Deadite

            Tax-paying – food trucks often don’t collect (or pay to the state) sales tax, don’t pay property tax, etc.

            Hiring – how many employees does a food truck owner hire? 2? Oh wow, there goes the nation’s unemployment problem.

            Entire lunch time – food trucks want to expand the amount of time they can remain stationary. Did you not read the article? This implies a time of at least 2 hours. 12-2 is pretty much all of the lunch hour, no?

            Free reign – here I was saying we shouldn’t let food trucks park wherever they want for as long as they please, which seems to be what they’re shooting for.

          • Dan

            Deadite, your arguments on taxes/costs are debunked here: http://www.ij.org/images/pdf_folder/economic_liberty/vending/7-myths-and-realities.pdf

            “food-truck owners must purchase liability insurance and pay license and permit fees.35 Like other small business owners, truck owners must pay sales taxes, income taxes and payroll taxes.36 They must spend money to pay and train new employees, to purchase inventory and to market their business.37 Restaurants must either pay property taxes or rent, and the same is true for food trucks: Most cities require that food trucks associate with a commissary in which they can park and clean their truck, store their inventory and partially prepare their food.38 This means that food-truck owners must (in addition to paying taxes on their vehicle) either pay property taxes or rent on the commissary space.”

    • drax

      Food trucks aren’t asking for exemptions – only to follow the same rules as cars. Under this law, they can’t park as long as cars, and are subject to ridiculous penalties too.

      • Yep

        They need to follow the same rules as other BUSINESSES.
        All caps for the mentally impaired….

        • Josh S

          There are other businesses that drive around, park temporarily and sell their wares out of a truck?
          Actually, I wonder how that would work for other kinds of stores? Could you sell books out of a truck? Electronics? What about antiques?

          • janedough

            as a senior citizen, i’ve been warned about buying goods out of the back of a truck…..especially electronics 😉

        • Carol_R

          What about those businesses they allow on Saturdays near the Courthouse parking lot that impede traffic and that they shut down a street for – which to me is totally ridiculous?

          Bottom line is that people in the area ARE NOT going to eat at lousy expensive restaurants for lunch. They want cheap and good food that they can get quickly. The only real competition of food trucks are fast food places. The other restaurants aren’t going to get business from people who want food trucks or fast food.

      • Deadite

        “Food trucks aren’t asking for exemptions – only to follow the same rules as cars.”

        But they’re NOT cars, drax. Why is it so difficult for you to understand this?

        **I will grant you the penalty for a time violation is absolutely absurd, however 🙂

    • T

      Absolutely right. Just make all fines equal. Every motorist exceeding the meter should be fined the same $2500. Other fines should be adjusted accordingly too. Speeding tickets should start at $25,000. Public safety demands we get those criminal parkers and drivers off the roads.

    • CGull

      Because they add to the life of the street and the quality of the food offerings for office workers in the area. It’s an added amenity for people looking for variety in their
      Iunch choices. The food trucks are really only there around lunch hour, it’s not like they’re parked there all day.

      • Deadite

        So can any type of business qualify for a truck then? Can we have mobile shoe stores tying up parking spots and sidewalk space because, hey, we need more shoe options? Maybe I’ll run a convenience store out of a Winnebago and park it outside a CVS and undercut their business because I don’t have all that annoying overhead to pay for.

        • SteamboatWillie

          If you want to start any of those examples as mobile businesses, have at it. If they meet a consumer demand, the market will support them, so more power to you.

          Of course, those are not legitimate comparisons, but I suspect you are aware of that.

          • Josh S

            I wonder if you could sell pharmaceuticals or groceries out of a truck? I would think groceries would be OK, but I wonder about pharmaceuticals. But the problem is, why would a customer use the truck instead of the CVS/Rite Aid/Walgreens that is located on just about every corner?

          • Deadite

            Willie – you need to explain how a mobile shoe store or, say, a book store is not a legitimate comparison. It would sell small consumer goods without having to pay rent, etc.

            Josh – why would a customer use a food truck when there are restaurants on every corner? Oh wait a minute — THEY DO. Thanks for arguing my point.

          • mrsasx

            How many pairs of shoes would a shoe truck be able to carry around? “Sorry – I only have size 6 or size 9 in that style, and I can only carry three styles” – much different than “Sorry, out of the fried onions today”
            OR would they need to have a brick-and-mortar place to store the shoes (which would mean that they pay rent etc.)
            OR are they already paying personal property taxes on the truck (should we force the owners of the brick-and-mortar places to own expensive vehicles so they get taxed appropriately?)
            Feel free to try the Winnebago/CVS thing – I think you’d find that while you could undercut SOME of their business, the inability to offer the variety of products that CVS sold would mean people would STILL GO TO CVS. How many food trucks do you see selling good beer/wine with their porterhouse steaks?

          • Deadite

            Mr. Sax – food trucks generally only sell 4 or 5 different meals, so your point is weak. Saying “we don’t carry that shoe” is the same as saying “we don’t cook that meal”.

        • LK
  • Andy

    They need to follow the law unless it is changed.

    Parking is a premium in this area, and favorable treatment should not be given to the food trucks.

    • drax

      They are not getting favorable treatment – they are getting unfavorable treatment.

      A food truck must leave a space after one hour, even if cars could stay longer. Even if there is no limit on the parking at all in that space.

    • Catherine

      Everyone who is jumping up and saying simply “they should follow the law” or that they’re getting “favorable treatment” haven’t paid one ounce attention to this… and silly as it may seem to clarify it, perhaps ArlNow needs to have an asterisks at the bottom of the article stating something that the time limit being imposed on food trucks with a separate (new) county regulation is different than any parking rules for those who are not vendors/food trucks. They’re not asking for favorable treatment, they’re asking for the right to park in a PAID 2 hour spot for 2 hours. If a cop told you to move your car after an hour in a paid 2 hour spot, would you think that was fair??

    • Josh S

      Andy, I’m pretty sure that is the whole point – change the law.

    • Carol_R

      Parking is being taken up by the stupid Zip Cars. They shouldn’t allow them to park there.

  • nom de guerre

    As a hat tip to Seoul Food, Sam’s Food Truck is offering a steak sandwich, featuring bulgogi, Korea’s signature thinly-sliced, spicy BBQ beef. It’s served on a hoagie roll that’s coated in sweet chili oil and accented by grilled hatch peppers, carmelized sweet onions and finished off with micro greens in a sesame vinaigrette.

    • SteamboatWillie

      Still not funny.

  • Hurley

    Does this rule apply to normal vehicles? If so then shouldn’t people who just feed the meter get ticketed? Do they? I’ve never heard of this rule until they started enforcing it against food trucks. This rule is stupid. This is brilliant insight by me. You are all welcome.

  • Bluto

    We need more Food Fight Trucks.

  • Dana

    Deadite and Andy, you all should do a little research before commenting (unless of course you are lobbying for local restaurants and intentionally misleading the public). The sixty minute rule actually applies ONLY to food trucks. So, a car parked at the same metered spot would be allowed to fill the meter to its time limit (2 or 3 hours or whatever it may be), while a food truck can park for only 60 minutes regardless of the meter limit. Clearly, no “favorable treatment” or “exemption” is being given to the food trucks. To make matters worse, violation of this 60 minute rule constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by jail time. What is the penalty for a car that goes over time on the meter? Right. Obviously, local restaurants have launched a massive assault against food truck vendors because, let’s face it, they don’t want to deal with the competition. In response, Arlington County puts into place an arbitrary, small business-stifling, difficult to enforce, possibly unconstitutional regulation that does nothing to further any legitimate government interest. Disclosure: I am neither a restaurant owner or a food truck vendor and have no personal interest in either side. Just an Arlington County resident with some common sense and legal background.

    • Deadite

      “In response, Arlington County puts into place an arbitrary, small business-stifling, difficult to enforce, possibly unconstitutional regulation that does nothing to further any legitimate government interest.”

      A lot of the brick and mortar restaurants around here are small businesses too. And they pay a ton of taxes to the county and state, so yeah, this restricition does have a legitimate government interest.

      • drax

        Not for the food trucks.

        Why are brick and mortar restaurants special? Why do they need special treatment? Why should food trucks be persecuted for that? Are you saying the government should actively try to suppress businesses that don’t pay as much in taxes and favor those that do, just for revenue? Wow.

        • Deadite

          Based on your comments here, a perfect Arlington would be one devoid of restaurants and overflowing with food trucks. Think about that for a second.

          • Hollywood

            I’m sorry, explain to me why the govt has an interest in protecting some businesses but not others? If Arlington citizens want to support more food trucks and less brick and mortar stores, why are you allowed to get in the way of their preference???

          • Deadite

            Because restaurants hire 10x the number of employees and pay 10x the amount of taxes as food trucks. What part of that do you people not understand? If the county doesn’t protect restaurants in some way, there will be fewer restaurants, thus fewer jobs, tax revenue, and an overall decline in neighborhood appeal, night life, etc.

          • CGull

            Deadite the thing that a thriving urban environment brings is a multiplicity of experiences; brick & mortar restaurants can thrive next to food trucks. There is nothing wrong with a little competition. Quality raises all boats.

          • RuthsChris

            Maybe someone can’t afford to go to these restaurants – hence all of the FLAME.

          • Dan

            Deadite’s argument appears to be that governments should favor the least efficient business models that employ the largest number of people to provide the same type of (albeit lesser quality) service. Hmmm…

      • Josh S

        What is the legitimate government interest?

        • Deadite

          As I’ve said numerous times – tax revenue, employment, and neighborhood.

          • Josh S

            I’m not sure that tax revenues, in and of themselves, are a legitimate government interest.
            Also, while Arlington County may be happy when ARlington County unemployment is low, and they may promote economic activity in general, they don’t regulate businesses based on the number of employees they might hire, or somehow make a qualitative judgment that a restaurant employee is more important than a food truck employee.
            Neighborhood? What does that mean? Food trucks are bad for the neighborhood? How?

          • Deadite

            “I’m not sure that tax revenues, in and of themselves, are a legitimate government interest.”

            Um, what?

            And food trucks, in and of themselves, are not bad for the neighborhood. I love food trucks. Restaurant closings, however, are bad for the neighborhood. All I’m saying is the County needs to come up with a real solution like DC has over by Union Station, rather than just extending the amount of time trucks can remain idle in a parking space.

    • Andy


      I have common sense too. A food truck and a car are obviously not the same and both are parking for different reasons. Thus, there are different rules for a MOBILE food truck and cars. Why, you ask. The food trucks are making a profit using the public area and should be required to be mobile not stationary. Now if the law changes to allow them to stay longer. NO PROBLEM.

  • larry

    funny they’re doing all this enforcement elsewhere but there’s one that’s basically a permanent fixture parked along pershing. i think the spots it takes up (multiple) are private but interesting they’re allowed to set up shop here almost round the clock, serve food and have a crowd standing around in a residential area.

    • CW

      How about down on Four Mile Run? There are food trucks that havent moved in years.

      • James

        Because there aren’t restaurants right within the immediate vicinity of them so they aren’t taking business away from them.

        I guarantee you if they were set up in Shirlington on the main drag there would be issues.

        The issue is that restaurants have to pay rent for their property and location. Parking spots are not made for ‘food vendors’ they are there for patrons of the stores and restaurants in that area/location.

        • John Fontain

          james said: “Parking spots are not made for ‘food vendors’ they are there for patrons of the stores and restaurants in that area/location.”

          Most metered parking spots are public property. They don’t exist to serve nearby businesses. They exist to serve those who want to park vehicles.

          • Dana

            Couldn’t have said it better John Fontain.

          • James

            Um completely wrong. Meters do exist and depending on the area do exist to server local businesses. Per the ArlCou website…#3

            -balance competing needs (transit, customers, residents, delivery vehicles)
            -move people and goods efficiently
            -support business district vitality
            -create livable neighborhoods

            Parking a vehicle is not the same as running a business out of that spot. Parking spots are made so the public or vendors can park and shop, run errands, drop off packages or do business with vendors in the area.

            They are NOT for ‘running’ a business out of the spot and never were made/created for that purpose. And now since Food Trucks are a common thing, they are adapting the rules for them.


          • drax


            Just because the county website declares something doesn’t mean it’s right. It doesn’t justify regulations designed specifically to harm businesses. If they have a good reason for keeping food trucks away from a place that has nothing to do with competition, fine, but this is obviously about limiting their business. And if they were “adapting” to them, this law wouldn’t exist.

          • John Fontain

            James, what is the “Per the ArlCou website…#3” to which you refer?

          • B Walsh

            To go a step further, I would argue that food trucks are making better use of parking spaces than are parked passenger vehicles. Food trucks are generating economic activity, while parked vehicles are sitting doing nothing. Now, you could say that the activity of the vehicle owners should be attributed to their being able to park their vehicles in street spots, but I think that need is better served (disregarding the potential price difference) by garage parking. Street parking for passenger vehicles is only really needed for loading/unloading items such as furniture that would be difficult to navigate through a garage. Otherwise, street parking is a waste of space. More food trucks and mobile vendors, fewer empty parked passenger vehicles please!

          • Josh S

            James, does the ArlCou website #3 have the force of law?
            And how would a food truck not fit into “support business district vitality”,
            “create livable neighborhoods”, and/or “move people and goods efficiently.” Maybe that’s not what the person who wrote those words meant, but it would not take a very talented lawyer to argue that food trucks fall into those categories.

          • Andy


            Do the metered parking spots exist to run a business from?

          • 7-11-bum

            John Fontain said: “Most metered parking spots are public property. They don’t exist to serve nearby businesses. They exist to serve those who want to park vehicles.”

            This is ridiculous. People are parking in those spots to patronize businesses. People don’t just park in metered spots to pass the time. There is no real reason to park in a metered space unless you are somewhere conducting business. And without those businesses, metered parking spots wouldn’t exist,. Meters provide more customers the opportunity to shop, etc by limiting time in those spaces, in addition to providing a steady flow of access to those businesses.

          • Carol_R

            Parking spots are not for the patrons of the stores and restaurants in that location. They’re public property and available to ANYONE who wants to park there. Whether they’re metered or not. They are for the public.

        • CW

          Right, so you’re basically conceding that anyone with a loud enough voice or powerful enough lobby can have laws selectively enforced, even ones that would otherwise be ignored.

        • Ed

          The restaurants really don’t have the power to get this type of action from the county and police. Their landlords, on the other hand….

        • Josh S

          Is your explanation of who parking spaces are “for” codified anywhere? Like, in the country?
          I’m going to suggest that the answer is no. Nowhere does it say anything about who parking spaces are “for.” Parking garages – sure. Parking lots – sure. These are private property and so you can designate certain spots only for those who drive Lexus cars (to cite a particularly infamous local example) if you want. But spots on the street are strictly first come, first serve. This is actually a huge risk for the food trucks as compared to brick and mortar restaurants. If you own a restaurant, you don’t exactly have to worry if your place of business will be able to locate in a favorable spot each day.

  • 7-11-bum

    I support the 60 minute rule and I don’t blame local businesses for being anti-food vendor. Food vendors sit on prime real estate without paying a dime in rent (which generates real estate tax revenue). Many just take cash and don’t pay income taxes. Is this fair when businesses who rent space are doing both?

    Hell, if the 60 minute rule seems unconstitutional, maybe every business should just start vending out of trucks on every street corner and public parking space to avoid paying taxes. Then maybe the county can pull the streetcar funding that would have been generated from those businesses’ real estate and sales taxes from our income and property taxes.

    • BrownFlipFlopsa

      “Many just take cash and don’t pay income taxes…” That’s a pretty serious accusation there, Chief. Do you have any proof, are are you just casting aspersions?

      • James

        Heck there are lots of restaurants that are brick and mortar that don’t pay taxes.


        • drax

          Touché. And some are probably bytching about food trucks.

          • Josh S

            drax, are you admitting that you also post under the 7-11 bum username? Cause otherwise, you just stole his “touche.”

    • drax

      Since when is the government supposed to impose “fairness” in business competition?

      A business found a way to reduce its costs. That’s a good thing. “Fairness” has nothing to do with it.

      • Deadite

        So in order to compete, all restaurants should just close down and operate out of trucks instead. That’s a brilliant idea.

        • drax

          If that’s what it takes, yes. The customers get to decide what they prefer.

          Remember how that works? The customers decide, not the government.

          • 7-11-bum

            The customers can support whomever or whatever they wish. Maybe the food trucks can just start putting up tables and chairs in parking lots and sidewalks. But what happens when revenue from property tax dries up when all food establishments decide to operate out of trucks? Money for various county services and projects has to come from somewhere.

          • Deadite

            Fine. I’m going to set up a screen and projector on the sidewalk outside the Ballston theater and charge people $3 cash to see a movie. At the one-hour mark we’ll have an intermission and move the screen about 30 feet down the block. Then I’ll pocket the cash and hit up the Courthouse AMC the next day.

            See how that works?

          • Josh S

            7-11, your stance leads to all sorts of incredible places. You’re saying Arlington County should take steps to preserve one form of business over another because of concerns about tax revenue? There used to be many video rental stores in ARlington. Should the county have taken steps to prevent video on demand services be offered by cable providers in ARlington? Book stores are a dying breed. Should ARlington be trying to stop Amazon from delivering packages in Arlington?

          • Andy

            Josh S,

            They should be collecting taxes from Amazon. This is their unfair advantage to regular retail establishments.

          • 7-11-bum

            Andy, FYI – Most states, including VA, have Use Tax which requires consumers to pay their state sales tax on purchases they make online that are not taxed by the business. And VA will be collecting sales tax on Internet purchases later next year.

      • James

        The issue is zoning. Parking spots are not zoned to operate a business out of. Buildings are. So are certain locations.

        Parking spots are not there to server/operate a business out of that requires usually a B&M location or sidewalk permit.

        • drax

          Parking spots aren’t zoned at all. So you could just as easily say food trucks should have no restrictions.

          • Solomon

            I beg to differ. The county establishes “zoned parking” across the entire region. We have some parking reserved just for residents….some for delivery trucks…..some for zip cars…..some for county vehicles…..etc., etc.. Unfortunately, the “zoning” for open public parking does not clearly restrict it for running a business; however, I see no reason the county couldn’t decide to establish such a “zoning” restriction.

          • Josh S

            Solomon – Absolutely right. If they want to designate certain spaces as not available for food trucks, I think that would be possible. Or maybe vice versa – reserve certain spots for food trucks – you see spots like that for tour buses, for example. The point is, they haven’t done this and are instead using unworkable and possibly unfair enforcement of existing laws / regulations.

      • Josh S

        I understand your point, but I think that many government laws and regulations are intended to do exactly that – impose fairness on the marketplace. But perhaps that’s another subject for another day….

    • Dana

      Sorry, this is a pretty ridiculous argument. 1. You are making a hell of an assumption that food trucks don’t pay income tax just because they only take cash. 2. You should do some research on the brick and mortar restaurants in Arlington that have gotten into trouble for evading taxes. Yes, there are brick and mortar restaurants that only take cash.

      • nom de guerre

        Caribbean Grill for example-they write your order on a small piece of paper and throw it away after they give you your food. And every order totals $6.25, $7.50, $8.00, etc. Mighty suspicious.

    • Josh S

      Your concerns seem a bit exagerated, to say the least.
      Vending out of stalls / carts, etc is not new and not limited to Arlington, the DC area, or even the US. For a variety of reasons, though, the standard retail mechanism currently seems to be brick and mortar stores, with the internet obviously making serious inroads on this.
      My point is – so what? Why should we care if restaurants find it more profitable, more advantageous, etc to sell out of a truck versus owning a building? You seem to be concerned that property tax revenue is threatened by the existence of these food trucks? Why? Again, as I have posted elsewhere, where has there ever been a restaurant in Arlington that has gone out of business as a result of a food truck?

    • Dan

      Your claims debunked here:

      “food-truck owners must purchase liability insurance and pay license and permit fees.35 Like other small business owners, truck owners must pay sales taxes, income taxes and payroll taxes.36 They must spend money to pay and train new employees, to purchase inventory and to market their business.37 Restaurants must either pay property taxes or rent, and the same is true for food trucks: Most cities require that food trucks associate with a commissary in which they can park and clean their truck, store their inventory and partially prepare their food.38 This means that food-truck owners must (in addition to paying taxes on their vehicle) either pay property taxes or rent on the commissary space.”

  • Solomon

    Both brick and mortar restaurants and food trucks are valuable and welcome elements of the community and the County needs to work very hard to come to an accomadation for both.

    The brick and mortar restaurants made very substantial commitments when they decided to locate in the county, and the direct and indirect property taxes that they pay should entitle them to some special protections as county “residents.” The food trucks, however, offer a terrific service and are a means for entrepreneurs to enter a very expensive and challenging business. They deserve respect and an opportunity as well.

    Why can’t the County find an area of on street parking, or sections of County owned parking lots (e.g., Courthouse), and designate some set of spaces specifically for the food trucks. These locations could be somewhat removed from the restaurant strips to prevent direct conflict, but close enough to populated areas to provide an alternative for those that are interested.

    Seems the only problem is a lack of interest or will on the part of the County Board.

    • James

      Think about it…are you going to walk to a location that is out of the way from the main strip of restaurants and shops to go to a food truck? Many won’t and most food trucks wouldn’t survive that way.

      They basically ‘park’ near heavy foot traffic locations where individuals are already going to grab meals.

      That’s why you see the food trucks parked in Arlington in front of the Arlington restaurant blocks (near courthouse chains and near clarendon chains and up at Ballston mall chains).

      • Solomon

        Yes, I have thought about it, and I have done it. When the community knows that multiple food trucks congregate in a common area, it becomes a “destination” location. A prime example is Portland, Oregon (where I used to live). There is a section of downtown Portland, near PSU where all the food trucks gather every day for lunch. It’s probalby 5-6 blocks from the central business district, but folks are willing to go there because it’s a fixture in the area. It works.

        • WLO

          They have tried that in Crystal City, making them congregate in a separate area. The food truck people don’t like that because they are all too close and creates too much competition. Oh, the irony.

        • Deadite

          There’s a good example of that right here in DC. At the intersection of Mass Ave and N Capitol there are at least 7 or 8 food trucks (usually 10 or more) parked there every weekday. People (including myself) walk from all over to buy their food. And here’s the really smart part – the parking spots are DESIGNATED food truck spots for the lunch hours. I see no reason why Arlington can’t find a similarly suitable area in the R-B corridor .

        • bulb

          Portland also has some more or less permanent food truck “pods” where the trucks are parked all the time and operate. Small old parking lots, vacant lots, etc.

        • foodtruck

          Rosslyn – The park section at the corner of Wilson Blvd and North Moore Street. near the metro entrance as it seems not many people are using the real estate
          Courthouse – Parking lot of the Saturday’s Farmers Market
          Clarendon – Assign street parking spots around the metro
          Ballston – Assign Parking Spots on N. Stewart Street
          Crystal City – Parking Lot used for Food Truck Thursday’s at the metro entrance
          Everybody wins and case closed!!!

    • Andy


      Very well said.

  • Tyson

    7-11-bum.. Don’t we live in free market where businesses can compete with each other. You are making a very stereotypical judgment about food trucks not paying income taxes. Just because someone only excepts cash doesn’t mean they are trying to avoid paying income tax. There could be other reason behind it i.e. credit card fees…etc.. These food trucks are run with low budget and they sometimes cannot afford to pay these high credit card fees.
    We should encourage these little businesses to do well and grow and this is how our economy is going to get better.
    I am in favor of everyone getting an equal opportunity whether it is restaurant owner, food trucks, or a local resident.

    Just a thought of Arlington resident.

    • 7-11-bum

      I’m all in favor of small business, except when its a food truck that parks themselves across the street from a brick and mortar small business who is also struggling to make ends meet but is providing revenue through the property tax assessed as part of their their rent.

      • Josh S

        Why? Is it just a matter of sympathies? The food truck owner is presumably also struggling to make ends meet. Yes, they aren’t paying property tax on their truck. But the truck doesn’t require as many services from the county as does a building. Do you also resent the farmers who sell at the farmer’s market? Do you resent the dealers who sell out of stalls at the weekly flea market at Courthouse? It’s just a different model, and I think the county’s tax structure / budget can easily accomodate these alternative models.

      • Dan

        Food trucks DO pay all sorts of taxes, including sales, income & payroll taxes, taxes on their vehicle and many pay property tax (or rent) for the commissary locationwhere they park their vehicle, store/prepare food, etc.

        Restaurants compete with each other all the time by opening up near other restaurants – nothing new about that. And there’s nothing to prevent a struggling brick-and-mortar business from changing it’s business model and reopening as a food truck.

  • zimmie

    Just hire me as a consultant. I will ‘fix’ this.

    • JamesE

      I look forward to the Street Food Car

      • zimmie

        For a $10,000 consulting fee I can make that possible, just don’t tell the restaurants I took consulting fees from about this — they expect the food trucks to be obliterated. Please don’t tell Garvey, she already hates my guts.

  • Deep Thinker

    Solution: food trolleys.

    • Dave D

      The County Board. Food trucks provide variety that B&M restaurants can’t match. Why can’t the board simply impose a reasonable fee to operate a food truck in Arlington? This would provide some offset to the “they don’t pay property taxes” argument. Guess what, other organizations that serve Arlington customers don’t pay property tax. Petro Oil Company is located in Falls Church, yet they server many customers in Arlington. Property tax is not based on how much revenue is generated by a business. It is based on the value of the property. I believe that food trucks in the Metro corridor make the properties more valuable, no matter what business is operating.

  • novasteve

    Since the Board are corrupt criminals, why not offer a payoff to them that is 80% of what their legal fees will be?

    • Curious George

      Based on an earlier article I would think $20 would be enough…..

  • mickey_

    “didn’t think he moved far enough”? What’s up with that? It’s a dumb regulation/law and Arl County should be ashamed. Check out NYC….the workers there HAVE to have street food since there aren’t enough restaurants to feed everyone. Ask yourself, what do the people want? To move the food truck every 60 minutes is ridiculous

  • Lloyd

    The government knows what’s best for the common good. We elect these people to do just that. I support their approach to food trucks. If you don’t like it, vote for someone else.

    • Barfman

      “The government knows what’s best for the common good.”

      This, this sickens me….*BARF*

    • zimmie

      Thank you, Lloyd. I appreciate you encouraging people to get out the vote… as if it matters *maniacal laughter*.

  • R. Griffon

    You know what’d be awesome? If the County (or some enterprising private landowner) would set aside space for all these trucks to operate in at lunch every day. Imagine a farmers market around lunchtime every day, but with food trucks instead of tents and booths. Heck – in Clarendon they could do it right @ the Metro with easy access to office workers and foot traffic without taking up a single parking space. Trucks could pay the County like $20/day to be there and it’d bring some extra revenue for the County while providing a real benefit to the community. Plus people would know where to find them every day. Everybody wins.

    • Deadite

      Thank you R. Griffon I couldn’t agree more.

    • 7-11-bum

      Good idea. I can’t imagine where the space would come from, but if there’s an empty lot, why not.

  • Walter Cronkite

    1 – Set aside parking zones where these trucks can and cannot park.
    2- impose a limit on the number of truck licenses to ensure those who pay for the license will have a place to park.

    BTW, love the idea mentioned above in setting up a food truck park.

  • foodtruck

    Rosslyn – The park section at the corner of Wilson Blvd and North Moore Street. near the metro entrance as it seems not many people are using the real estate
    Courthouse – Parking lot of the Saturday’s Farmers Market
    Clarendon – Assign street parking spots around the metro
    Ballston – Assign Parking Spots on N. Stewart Street
    Crystal City – Parking Lot used for Food Truck Thursday’s at the metro entrance
    Everybody wins and case closed!!!

  • Jen

    When will people learn that government is not here to help, but to rule with an iron fist, in a manner that will make it easier for ITSELF and anyone else in its pockets. Since local governments all seem to be in bed with brick and mortar restaurants, they make ridiculous laws that do nothing but make life difficult for smaller entrepreneurs to operate and make a living. They don’t care that the food trucks bring in revenue and jobs, if their friends in the restaurant biz whine, they jump to what they do best.. harrassment.

  • Arlington Resident

    Dear Arlington County Board, Enforcement and Tax Authorities:

    Are you giving all business owners an equal playing field to conduct business?

    Is there discriminatory practices against small business owners?

    Should ICE be required to conduct more audits on Arlington County Brick & Mortar restaurants to bring them into compliance and fines?

    How about the Arlington Board /Taxation taking action to close loopholes enjoyed by Farmers Markets who don”t appear to pay franchise or sales taxes? The Tax Authorities go out of the way to ensure other small business owners pay taxes quarterly…..And the residents are required to pay taxes too. So why not the out of county Farmers who collect a chunk of our money?

    Can we promote diversity at Farmers Markets and improve minority own businesses in the county?

    • john

      Very True. Food Trucks have to operate outside the Farmers Markets while the Farmers do not appear to pay for permits, licenses or any other county taxes and get an almost free parking spot. Some Farmers run at multiple Farmers Market locations reaping multiple revenue pots.

      Why should these privilege not offered to other small business owners? For instance, food trucks are forced to pay at least 75 bucks per day to sell from a private parking lot, require to get licensing and permits for each food truck they operate and pay taxes as any other local business.

  • Brian

    DC manages to do this food truck/brick and mortar restaurant balance pretty well.

    At least near my office. There is a section on 4th St SW and D Street that a bunch of food trucks set up every day from 11-130 or so.

    They are about a block or two from a building with many food options. People can choose to go to either areas and pick from their choices.

    Seems to work well.


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