When Fairfax County announced they would be pursuing sensible regulations to allow food truck operation in Tysons last year, it seemed like a brewing problem between local police and permit carrying food truck vendors was avoided. The issue was stirred up again yesterday as several food trucks were told to move on by Fairfax County police due to infractions of selling commercial merchandise on a public road. All of them complied in order to avoid a $50 ticket but many food truck vendors remain confused on why they were asked to leave.
The issue stems from a Fairfax County ordinance which states
“VDOT regulations and Chapter 82-1-30 of County Code prohibit the sales from vehicles parked along roads, highways or streets. Food trucks may not sell food while parked along any street in the County. Violators may be ticketed by Fairfax County Police Department”
That’s pretty straight forward, except several times the County has noted they are changing these regulations. We are now getting more information on this issue. The proposed rules would allow food trucks to operate in commercial areas of the County. However, and it’s a big however, they will still not be allowed to operate on any public road. Private roads will be allowed, but it requires the consent of the property owner. These new rules, which really don’t address the problem, will be presented to the public on October 7th.
This is particularly contradictory to the public stance of regional leaders towards food trucks, after all Tysons literally just held a Music and Food Truck Festival this past Saturday. The core of this matter is Dillon Rule, that pesky dominating element of our commonwealth that seemingly puts a thorn in all of our sides at every turn.
In fact, Fairfax County has no jurisdiction to change ANY use within ANY VDOT road. Yes, this is also why making substantial urban reforms to our horribly designed infrastructure network in Tysons has been like pulling teeth (ah it’s one big circle of cookie cutter Richmond guided garbage).
One might think that a state with a Republican House of Delegates and Senate wouldn’t be pro-regulation killing small business? But in reality, many of those delegates and senators come from other parts of Virginia, and those other parts of Virginia really hate us northerners.
So there it is. From now on consider VDOT streets a dead zone for business, people, activity, and anything that is actually beneficial to the community.
The victims of VDOT’s endless over reaching into our lives? Well, for one, us residents and employees who love the food truck options, many of us stuck in a food desert of fast food and over priced office park cafes. The most affected would be the small businesses who no longer have viable places to serve customers.
“We have been operating at Tyson’s Corner for the past 3 years as one of our regular weekly stops. In the past, we never had any issues with police, police have come on days we have not been there, and ticketed and kicked out trucks so we have heard.” That’s Manuel Alfaro, Chef/Owner/Operator of El Fuego food truck. “[I] will continue my service to that area, as long as I am not fined/arrested or such for trying to make a living, provide jobs and paying my taxes.”
For many like Manuel they are stuck between a VDOT regulation and property owners who may see a conflict in allowing food trucks while also often leasing their own food tenants. Finding a private venue to operate will not be as simple as Fairfax County is anticipating. More likely, many of the food trucks will simply stop coming to Fairfax, instead vying to operate in Arlington or DC who have already gone through the growth pains of bad regulations being over turned, and who don’t have to deal with Richmond bureaucracy.
The absence of the food trucks could mean thousands of employees in Tysons who enjoyed anything from tofu tacos to famous lobsta rolls on a regular basis could have to return to the bagged lunch and mega-franchise fast food options they had before food trucks came around, if they don’t speak up and voice their displeasure.