Food truck task force’s work was cut short by City Hall

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By Katy Cannady, Alexandria (File photo)

The recent Alexandria Times article on food trucks (“Digging into Alexandria’s food truck initiative”, November 6) stated that members of the city council-appointed food truck task force “claimed” they were not allowed to finish their work and draft a report.  That is an irrefutable fact, not a claim.  The task force was cut short.

I attended most of its meetings.  At its last meeting, the group made plans to hold a subsequent meeting and issue a final report.  Instead of waiting for that subsequent meeting, members of the city staff, evidently at the city manager’s direction, issued their own report with recommendations that differed in several ways from decisions that had been made by the task force.

The members of the food truck task force included two food truck operators and others who were generally sympathetic to having food trucks operate in the city, especially in the West End.  The group was severely handicapped in its work by receiving too little factual information from the city staff and, in one very important matter, glaringly incorrect information.  Representatives from the city attorney’s office stated over and over that the city had no right to regulate food trucks beyond basic health and safety standards.

Fortunately we live in the internet age and private citizens researched food truck regulation in other cities, especially cities in Virginia where the same state law is applicable.  The best example came from Norfolk.  Their rules for food trucks are clearly stated on the city’s web site.  The rules we are operating under today are actually patterned on Norfolk’s.

If there are really numerous citizens who want food trucks, they did not choose to come to the city council public hearing.  The only testimony in favor of “roaming food trucks” came from food truck operators.  Essentially it is a demand that they be allowed to capitalize on the number of potential customers that are already drawn to an area by existing brick and mortar businesses and employment sites.  Once there, they will exacerbate the problems of congestion and lack of parking that already exist in the city.

These operators are only interested in their unique business model that creates inconvenience for others but generates profits for them because of the relatively low investment.  As for their claim that they provide fresh food at low prices, that is just an advertising claim.  It is not accurate for every food truck.

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