Last month we alerted readers to police ticketing food truck vendors at one of the most popular spots in Tysons, Solutions Drive. The public road is directly adjacent to a dozen mid-rise office buildings, housing thousands of employees who enjoyed the lunch time options. It was starting to exceed even more popular spots in DC and Arlington.
Since that time Fairfax County passed regulations that were touted as helping food trucks operate in the County. Unfortunately the regulations that passed did nothing to address the actual issue. Under the new regulation, permitted food trucks may operate in Fairfax so long as they have a written approval from a property owner, and as long as its not on a public road.
This new regulation is, of course, ignorant to the reality of food truck operations which always have a contentious battle with land owners who are beholden to their own food option brick and mortar leases. There are very few conditions in which a land owner would be amicable to allowing food trucks, certainly in Tysons atleast.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that the Solutions Drive hot spot has been all but shut down. Although the trucks are parking off of the private land which holds Booz Allen and SAIC, they are violating VDOT 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”.
Why VDOT should have any say on local business practices in Fairfax County (something completely out of the jurisdiction of VDOT) is beyond me. It would be one thing if these vehicles are blocking fire access or otherwise illegally parking, but they are not. Other than selling food from within the truck, those vehicles are legally allowed to park on the public street parking. In this case VDOT simply is injecting itself into an issue which it never should have jurisdiction about (let alone the other thousand things VDOT interferes with here in Fairfax which are against best practice and the safety of residents).
There are no good answers to this problem. VDOT is given the authority to do as they wish by the Dillon Rule, which requires the vast majority of decisions that jurisdictions in other states make themselves to first be granted authority by the state (in this case VDOT). So there is nothing Fairfax can do short of taking back all state maintained VDOT roads (that’s not a terrible idea in Tysons atleast).
Those who are harmed are the employees who want better lunch options, and the small business food truck operators who add a beneficial component to our community.