ANC Round Up: Food Fight Edition

Photo by Mr. T in DC.

Last night the ANC met for its February session (apparently they have a time machine that made last night actually February). GM couldn’t stay long due to his new paternal responsibilities, but the bits he caught are worth passing on.

DCRA

The ANC invited the Director of DCRA, Nicholas Majett, to speak about his agency. Majett took his time to describe all the ways in which DCRA touches on DC citizens’ lives. From building permits, to corporation licensing, to inspections, DCRA is likely the agency you need to call when you have a problem.

While Majett’s presentation was interesting, the main draw for Georgetown was the situation with 1424 Wisconsin Ave. This property, which until last year hosted Ashhik clothes, was undergoing construction to become a Z-Burger. But on Thanksgiving day, half the building collapsed. Some have suggested that the cause of the collapsed was unauthorized excavation. Majett, however, suggested that if it was excavation that caused the collapse, it wasn’t unauthorized since the owner had a permit to dig.

Right now the parties seems to be engaged in a blame-sorting exercise. The ANC was a bit alarmed to find out that the structural engineer hired to determine the cause of the collapse was to be hired by the building owner. Tom Birch wondered whether that wasn’t a huge conflict of interest and that won’t the engineer be inclined to say it’s not the fault of the guy who’s paying him. Majett responded that it was the opposite of a conflict of interest since it put the responsibility on the building owner, not the government, to determine the cause. GM’s not quite sure that counts as “the opposite of a conflict of interest”, and the ANC remained skeptical too. They asked Majett to consider using an independent engineer to evaluate the collapse (particularly considering that the building owner in question has a history of building collapses in Georgetown).

After wrapping up the discussion on 1424 Wisconsin Ave., the ANC noted that there was another item on their agenda that touched on DCRA: food trucks. DCRA has proposed regulations governing food trucks, which up to this point have operated under the rules for ice cream trucks. The new regulations would address food trucks more directly and allow them to operate in any legal parking spot, under certain restrictions.

Andrew Kline, who is one of the city’s biggest ABC lawyers, showed up at the ANC last night to push the case of his client, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. These brick-and-mortar restaurants hate food trucks because the trucks take a lot of the business away from the fixed restaurants and get to keep a lot more of their revenues since they don’t have any overhead and the city doesn’t make them pay sales tax (they just pay a flat $500$1500 fee every year [again, it’s because the rules the operate under assume they’re selling ice cream, not $15 lobster rolls]).

So the restaurants would like the food trucks to be lumped in with the hot dog vendors, which would mean sticking them in fixed locations, and at a very limited density. In other words, they want to kill vitality of the food truck business in DC.

Of course Kline swears up and down that squashing competition has absolutely nothing to do with it. “Restaurants don’t want to get rid of food trucks”, he asserts somehow with a straight face. They just really care about the public space of the city and don’t want the food trucks taking up too much of it. It’s aesthetics, not competition. (By the by, GM’s looking to unload an old stone bridge ideally located near Brooklyn, are you interested?)

Kline even threw out the horrible possibility that if these rules are adopted K St. could become a magnet for the food trucks. GM had to stand up and say, “God I hope so!” (in person, GM doesn’t speak in the third person).

But the ANC expressed concerns over food trucks being on the residential streets. GM doubts that’s likely, but the proposal to restrict food trucks from RPP spaces. GM thinks that’s probably a fair compromise, but it may be too late to change the proposed rule.

DCFDDCFEMS

Last year, the Chief of the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Kenneth Ellerbe, issued an order banning all firemen from wearing anything with the acronym “DCFD”. You see, the agency isn’t called the DC Fire Department anymore. And Ellerbe, who also spoke at the ANC meeting last night, seems to still be interested in this issue.

While we all still think of it as the fire department, putting out fires is a small part of the agency’s duties. According to Ellerbe, DCFEMS received 161,000 calls in 2011. Of those, 130,000 were medical related calls. Only 900 were fire related, and of those, only about 500 were house fires. So it’s probably more accurate to use the DCFEMS name. But GM still thinks it’s a bit of an overreaction to throw away the history of the DCFD name.

3 Comments

Filed under ANC

3 responses to “ANC Round Up: Food Fight Edition

  1. Pingback: Morning Links: Very Serious - Housing Complex

  2. Kline. Ray. Wilmot. Cooke. Crawford. Bolden.

    Remember the list. It’s why the city’s government is consistently bad.

  3. Rob

    you are an idiot. How could the restaurant assoc hate trucks? Don’t you know half their members have them? I think almost everyone likes the trucks, but just don’t see why they should be able to go anywhere, take over entire city blocks, leave their trash for others pick up, pay no taxes, and not even pay for parking. Until they get with the program, they are parasites.

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