DC's Terrible New Food Truck Regs

A blog about business and economics.
March 28 2013 11:32 AM

What Problem Are DC's New Food Truck Regulations Trying To Solve?


Jessica Sidman offers the above map from the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington which shows how much of downtown trucks would be exluded from under proposed new regulations. What kind of regulations? Well the idea is to establish "23 mobile vending zones throughout the city where limited numbers of food trucks would be allowed to sell food" with each zone featuring at least three trucks and assignment to different zones auctioned by lottery. She also wrote a longer column featuring interviews with many truck owners about the problems this will cause for their businesses.

But my question is what problem is this proposal intended to solve? I don't hear any clear rationale for these rules and the only real beneficiaries would seem to be owners of non-mobile downtown lunch businesses.


That would hardly be the first time that a city government adopted irrational vendor rules designed to benefit incumbents but it's not good.

I know some people of a market urbanist persuasion take the view that trucks' very existence is a sign of the failure of zoning codes and regulations, but I actually think trucks are an important lunch solution on the merits. Office workers like a diverse array of lunch choices, but they also like to get lunch very close to their office. Food vendors, meanwhile, offer better product when they can specialize. The right solution is for mobile food vendors to be an important part of the mix. The trucks come to you, so over the course of a given week you can sample a range of options without needing to move very far.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
Oct. 2 2014 12:58 PM Why Can’t States Do More to Protect Patients From Surprise Medical Bills? It’s complicated.
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 2 2014 1:05 PM What's Wrong With "America's Ugliest Accent"
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 1:29 PM Want to Know What Makes David Fincher Great? Focus on What He Doesn’t Do.
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 1:22 PM If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would You Notice? What cyranoid experiments reveal about how people act.  
  Health & Science
Oct. 2 2014 12:53 PM The Panic Virus How public health officials are keeping Americans calm about the Ebola threat.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?