ANC Round Up: Food Truck Edition

The ANC met last night for its March session. As with last month, GM’s new familial responsibilities meant he couldn’t stay for the whole meeting. But there was plenty in the first two hours he could attend.

Food Truck Regulations

Last month, the ANC adopted a rather hasty resolution requesting that in adopting final regulations for food trucks, DCRA should not allow food trucks on RPP streets (i.e. spots that require a RPP sticker to park more than two hours). After DCRA decided to open the regulations up for further comment, the ANC decided to make a more comprehensive resolution.

The commissioners ran through a litany of issues relating to the food trucks. While many of them, particularly those from Bill Starrels, could have been simply cribbed from press releases from the brick-and-mortar restaurants, who generally hate the food trucks and want to put as many roadblocks up to their success as possible, but some of the issues were valid beyond simply squashing competition.

After an occasionally fiesty back and forth, the ANC came around to a resolution that asked for three things. First, it repeated its request for a ban on food trucks on the residential streets. This is an expansion on its earlier request which was limited to RPP spots. This is an attempt to address the issue of trucks being parked in metered spaces right off of Wisconsin. Second, the ANC asked for a pilot period for the regulations, in order to allow a review before any permanent regulations go into effect. Finally, the ANC asked, quite rightly in GM’s opinion, that the final regulations call for proper trash disposal by the trucks.

Oh and GM would be remiss not to relate that Starrels twice made a point of objecting to the possibility that food trucks might park outside “$2 million condos” on Water Street. No explanation was offered why home price has anything to do with how the public space outside said home should be regulated.

Out of dismay that such rich people might wake up one day to see food trucks parked across the street from their $2 million condos serving people who don’t have $2 million condos, Starrels voted against the resolution for not being strong enough.

Traffic 

The ANC also addressed the issue of a right turn only light for eastbound M St. traffic at Wisconsin. Apparently there once was one there during the same light phase that allows northbound traffic on Wisconsin Ave. to turn left. When DDOT installed the new left turn light that allowed eastbound M St. traffic to turn left up Wisconsin, apparently it removed the right turn light. Normally in cases like this GM objects to putting drivers’ impatience ahead of pedestrian safety, but in this case pedestrians can’t cross the south side of Wisconsin or the west side of M, so adding the right turn won’t make a difference to pedestrians.  So it’s a win-win, or at least a win-no-loss.

Sticking with traffic issues, the ANC passed a resolution calling for the city to install red light cameras at M and Wisconsin and M and Key Bridge to address drivers that block the box. Resident Patrick Clawson made the reasonable recommendation that instead of red light cameras, the city could paint cross-hatches on the intersection. This has been very successful elsewhere, but Ron Lewis objected to it stating that Georgetown has special concerns and that street painting like that would be ugly. Tom Birch replied that it would be “urban” and that we live in a city. GM heard an audience member murmur that it’s not like the asphalt is historic or something.

Finally, the ANC joined with the Burleith Citizens Association’s request for the city to explore traffic calming steps for the side streets to address cut through traffic. The ANC expressed a position against speed bumps, but was nonetheless for the general idea of traffic calming.

GM personally thinks the key to significantly reduce cut-through traffic is to prohibit it during rush-hours. For instance, so much car traffic comes down Wisconsin Ave. in the evenings and turns off on to 34th to get to the Key Bridge. This causes blocks of traffic to back up on 34th. But so much of the back up is caused because the 34th St. traffic is simply re-merging with the cars it left on Wisconsin Ave. Merging causes “friction” in the traffic flow, which reduces the overall through-put. It would be better if that 34th St. traffic just never left the Wisconsin traffic flow. That way, since 34th St. would theoretically only be for local traffic, the light at 34th and M St. could be retimed to prioritize M St. traffic, thus improving the flow on Wisconsin. Anyway, just a thought.

The Rest

Officer Fitzpatrick of MPD related an amusing story about how an individual has been going around a scamming Georgetown hotels for free nights by presenting stolen credit cards. When the individual attempted his most recent escapade at the Four Seasons, the staff got wise to him and confronted him in his room. He ran away, but left a possibly innocent guest, plus some likely stolen laptops and iPhones. The police hope to make an arrest soon.

And finally, a group is planning an Easter Egg hunt in Rose Park. This apparently innocuous event nonetheless resulted in a resolution from the ANC with caveats: the organizers have to make sure all the eggs and candy get found so dogs and rats don’t find them instead. A somewhat dour response, but reasonable, GM supposes.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “ANC Round Up: Food Truck Edition

  1. JP

    Making the 1700 block of 34th (the northern top of 34th) one way north instead of south will dramatically help with the cut-through traffic issue. That also would take care of the issue that occurs when Wisconsin Ave northbound traffic stops to turn left onto 34th at Safeway.

  2. RNM

    Regarding 34th Street. While I understand the utility of JP’s suggestion (sort of laughed a bit to type JP’s thinking of the former business by that name) it would be more of a relocation of the problem. People would just hook down 35th instead. In fact, even though I generally park on 34th Street (I know such an evil menace to society that I am since I drive a car), when coming down Wisconsin I generally peel off at 35th if not all the way up at 37th Street. Traffic and water will find the path of least resistance and let me assure you Wisconsin Ave is not it.

    Oh, and as one of the people who frequently parks during the 34th Street rush hour back up, it really helps as there is almost always a spot given that people are loath to get in traffic hunting for a parking spot.

    People will always look to take short cuts. How would one enforce traffic restrictions on 34th? Would I as a resident be barred? In the suggested model, no…so are we going to need to produce ID as we once did to drive back into Georgetown 15 years ago on Halloween night? Are we going to have police stationed pulling people over and manning checkpoints to check papers? Does anyone other than the anti car zealots think that taking roads out of use is going to make traffic flow easier? Again, we live in a city…and we live in an area with easy access to a river crossing…the traffic is the trade off for that.

    Then again, maybe I have just given GM his new crusade to screw with the traffic on 34th Street and the light timing on M at 34th and the Key Bridge in such a way as to personally infuriate me. 😉

  3. andy2

    Wouldn’t the easiest thing to do would make the 1200 of 34th (between M and Prospect) one way (similar to the intersection of Wisconsin and Idaho)? That way local traffic would still be able to navigate 34th but it would cease to be a shortcut as you’d have to treck all the way to Potomac (provided Bank street is similarly restricted. Creating such a lenghty detour would make 34th less attractive and force traffic to Wisconsin and Foxhall.
    The best thing to reduce thru-traffic in Georgetown is to replace the current signs suggesting people coming from Virginia take the Key Bridge and M street to get into the District. Pushing that traffic onto Whitehaven or Teddy Roosevelt would do so much more in making M street Main Street for Georgetown instead of the thuroughfare it currently is.

  4. Jake

    For all the brick & mortar businesses (ie. restaurants) that have heavily invested for the privilege of doing business in Georgetown, contribute to the tax base, provide employment and an operational venue to attract people, it is commendable that Bill Starrels objects to food trucks. Georgetown’s restaurants are never particularly busy during lunch. The restaurants are put in a position to compete for what lunch time business there is in Georgetown. Perhaps, Vornado should make the mall one big parking lot and rent spaces for food trucks and trailers providing pop-up stores. Georgetown needs to decide if it is a unique village providing a vibrant restaurant, nightlife and shopping experience and build on that “brand.” Why would an entrepreneur want to come along and invest in one of the many available spaces in Georgetown if they could minimize their exposure by getting a food truck or a trailer?

  5. asuka

    Really? You have no idea why the price of real estate should dictate how the street bordering that property should be regulated? So I assume you’d welcome a food truck parked in front of your home on a regular basis? Don’t be silly.

  6. Everyone should be treated equally in the eyes of the law regardless if they have a $2 million home or a $200,000 home.

  7. Q St Neighbor

    I can imagine nothing I’d like more than a food truck parked in front of my home! Preferably a rotating group of them, so that the menu changes regularly.

    The Farmers Market features a truck each weekend, it would be nice to see more of them around, and more often. Places in Georgetown where food trucks would really add to the sense of vibrancy (and be able to sell enough to make it worth their while, though probably more on weekends and in warmer months): Rose Park (either north or south end, or near the tennis courts), Montrose Park, near the Waterfront along K St, near GU.

    Georgetown already has a reputation for being stale and for tourists only, particularly in terms of food, and keeping out the food trucks will only reinforce that idea (and make it more true).

  8. Allison

    Can someone explain what the phrase “don’t block the box” means? I see it on signs, and I see it in this post, but in my years of living here, I’ve never figured out its meaning.

  9. RNM

    Allison,

    “Don’t Block the Box” is a short hand for don’t pull into the intersection before being able to clear it. This is to allow for traffic to flow smoothly on the cross street when the light changes, as opposed to the all too frequent cars that get stuck in the middle of the “box” and thus restrict flow of both cars and pedestrians. One day, I am going to have the courage to just go through a car that blocks the crosswalks, just open the rear doors slide on through. I think the phrase originated in NYC, only because I first encountered it there about 20 some years ago.

  10. Pingback: The Food Truck Conundrum: Urban Politics and Mobile Eats – Tropics of Meta

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