Photo by Anokarina.
Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:
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. Continue reading
The ANC meets for its next meeting on Monday. One of the bigger items on the agenda is our old friend Tudor Place.
As covered here in the past, Tudor Place needs to dramatically renovate its facilities to protect its collection of documents and thrive in the 21st century. Their proposals have been objected to by some neighbors who don’t like the scale of the changes. This is particularly the case with the 32nd St. neighbors who object to the proposed changes to the garage along the west side of the property.
Since Tudor Place last made a public proposal, they have hired a new architect and produced plans that have addressed most of the neighbors’ concerns. But some neighbors still object to the proposed changes to the garage. GM personally thinks the concerns are overwrought and that the proposal is not materially different than the current structure. But the neighbors are tenacious and will put up a fight. So come check it out.
Another interesting item on the agenda is on the topic of food trucks. DCRA release rules for comment a while back that would allow food trucks to continue to thrive while finally operating under rules designed for them. When DCRA director Bill Howland was at the ANC meeting last month, he was somewhat blindsided by a presentation by brick-and-mortar restaurant lawyer Andrew Kline, who railed against the proposed rules and requested that the ANC take a position against them. The ANC didn’t take all the bait that Kline laid out, but they indicated that they would probably object to allowing food trucks to operate on residential streets. The ANC is scheduled to talk about food trucks again on Monday, so expect a formal resolution on the matter of trucks on the residential streets.
Here’s the rest of the agenda:
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.
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. Continue reading
Photo by a loves DC.
GM has received several requests lately asking what’s the deal with food vendors and Georgetown, more specifically why aren’t they any food vendors in Georgetown?
Well, there are several reasons, and despite changes on the horizon to the applicable rules, it seems unlikely that we’ll be seeing many or even any food vendors in Georgetown soon.
The District has a bit of a spotty history when it comes to street vendors. Prior to 1998, an old fashioned first-come-first-serve street-justice ruled. In that year, however, the District adopted new regulations clamping down on the market and instituting a moratorium for new food vendor licenses. This situation puttered along, with the quantity (and arguably the quality) of vendors slowly declining over the years. In 2006, the Coucil passed legislation to lift the moratorium and order DCRA to design new regulations addressing the marketplace. Continue reading