City Cast

Local Civics: Should Food Trucks Be Allowed?

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 1   |   Updated on June 5
Food trucks lined up on 14th Street on the National Mall. (Tim Brown/Getty Images)

Food trucks lined up on 14th Street on the National Mall. (Tim Brown/Getty Images)

We’re all familiar with the food trucks lining the National Mall, keeping the tourists’ hunger at bay. But none of them are technically legal. Special parking zone laws mean that any food trucks on the National Mall face hefty fines. But they’d rather pay them than work in a deserted downtown.

While many of the food trucks do pay for permits (which cost upwards of $10,000), those are limited to D.C.’s business district. But with so few people working downtown post-pandemic, the trucks have been forced to find new customers, even if it costs them thousands in tickets. Specifically, they are fined for not feeding the meters, parking in one spot for too long, or selling on federal sidewalks.

With few food options nearby, tourists say they appreciate the quick bite. But locals don’t seem so keen, saying that the food is bad, the noise (you know the one) is obnoxious, and it ruins the city landscape.

“I’d love for these trucks to be off the National Mall. I’m not a fan of them parking illegally and blocking crosswalks and views across the mall. Additionally, the sound pollution sucks, and all the trash they and their customers leave everywhere,” said Reddit user PicardAtTanagra.

Another user — picodot — complains that, “The smell of constantly burning diesel from their generators is quite unpleasant, particularly if you frequently run around the mall.”

Some locals pitched some solutions, like getting electric outlets on the sidewalks, providing trash cans, or building a food court.

Do you think food trucks should stay on the National Mall?

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