Wednesday, October 07, 2015

MoCo Council passes weak food truck bill; Riemer admits trucks were "driven out"


The Montgomery County Council passed a weak food truck bill Tuesday, which "expands" the hours during which trucks can operate from today's 9:00 AM to "sunset" hours, to 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. This was hyped to you as a major step, but in reality, it doesn't even restore the hours to what they were just a few years ago.

Such trucks had been known to serve breakfast to day laborers at dawn in some parts of the county, or Jamaican fare to Bethesda bar patrons in the middle of the night. So 10:00 PM is still hours short of when trucks were operating in the county just a few years ago.

One interesting moment in yesterday's discussion was Councilmember Hans Riemer's acknowledgement that the County has actually driven food trucks out. Usually, the Council PR suggests that they are going to bring us this new thing called "food trucks", which we don't have now because we taxpayers are stodgy and not as forward-thinking as our hip and enlightened councilmembers. And they're going to give 'em to us.

In referring to perceived problems caused by food trucks, Riemer said, “You don’t see a lot of problems with food trucks in the county right now, because we really don’t have many, because the way that the rules have been enforced has driven them out.”

So true. But those supposed rules weren't being enforced prior to Mr. Riemer's election to the council. What Riemer didn't acknowledge was that his own political operative, Dan Hoffman, was part of the County effort that was marketed to the public as "improving food truck locations". In reality, by the end of that effort, food trucks had vanished from the streets of downtown Bethesda. Workers seeking their favorite food trucks in lunchtime hot spots like the Veterans Park area of the Woodmont Triangle, or Bethesda Avenue at Woodmont Avenue, or 7700 Wisconsin Avenue, were coming up empty.

In fact, whereas my @BethesdaRow Twitter account was usually being tagged by dozens of food truck operators eager for me to share their locations that day, I instead began to get panicked messages from truck owners saying they were in the process of being booted from the spot where they had parked. 96% of food trucks either went out of business, or fled back to friendlier places like the District.

For a County political machine that rips off almost every one of its initiatives from places like Berkeley, CA and New York City and Portland, OR, it's remarkable that it doesn't subscribe to the overwhelming consensus among new urbanists that food trucks help make urban areas vibrant.

Of course, this same political cartel supports Barwood Cab over more recent transportation innovations, so it maybe isn't that surprising. But I digress.

When Council President George Leventhal says food trucks are one way to "make Montgomery County friendlier for young people, more interesting and dynamic," I couldn't agree more.

So why did they drive out those very food trucks, which can be found steps over the County line in DC on Wisconsin Avenue every day at lunch?

No trucks are coming back to the public streets of MoCo just because they have longer hours to operate - they can't park in profitable hotspots, so what's the point?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dyer's exactly right on this. I work from home in Bethesda so like to get out of the house and grab lunch. It used to be I could pick from 1-2 food trucks every day in Bethesda. They parked at Veteran's Park, in front of B&N, at the Women's Market, in Rockledge, in front of Discovery, and even at APMA. Even a few DC trucks like Red Hook Lobster would come to Bethesda now and then.

Now, it's almost nothing. 1-2 trucks, 1 day a week at the Women's Market, then a bunch of trucks at Rockledge on Thursdays, and that's it. Meanwhile, as Dyer stated, drive a few feet past Western Ave on Wisconsin into DC, and you'll see half a block of food trucks lined up there.

Some of the debate about this was that it would hurt local restaurants. I hardly see how it would do that -- there aren't many food trucks left in Moco!

Anonymous said...

"County political machine that rips off almost every one of its initiatives from places like Berkeley, CA and New York City and Portland, OR"

You say that like it's a bad thing. The opposite also applies as well

Anonymous said...

No blame for the lobbying of restaurant groups complaints and lobbying?

Anonymous said...

Just blame for the councilman who acknowledges the problem and tires to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

"But I digress."

Truer words have never been spoken by Dyer.

Anonymous said...

Right about now, Dyer's shill will pop in and start babbling about "you just want relentlessly positive coverage of the MoCo, 24/7".

Oh, and "glossy magazine!" and "no mobile version!"

Anonymous said...

Never noticed that Dyer has the @BethesdaRow twitter handle. Haha the long troll, good for him.

Bourbon said...

Seems like an issue the everyone can agree needs work. Hans Riemer and Robert Dyer agree that a lack of food trucks is an issue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's all go to Bethesda Beaters for the latest news.
The last headline tweeted from that account today was "What is your favorite Fall dish?"

Not exactly a source for hard news guys...more a glossy mag. I read it twice a year while waiting for my dentist appointment.

Anonymous said...

I read dyer for the comments.

Robert Dyer said...

7:16: Good God, you guys are desperate, spamming up a storm on here to get readers. Are you talking about the same site that didn't cover the Transit Task Force public hearing at all last week? Sounds like you're the one with the fever.

Robert Dyer said...

7:23: You are clearly in need of a psychiatric hold.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:09 PM:

"The last headline tweeted from that account today was 'What is your favorite Fall dish?'

"Not exactly a source for hard news guys...more a glossy mag. I read it twice a year while waiting for my dentist appointment."

I love how you both claim to not care about what is published there and then in the next breath claim to follow it obsessively.

Anonymous said...

Like many, I read multiple sites for local news. That's why I am comfortable in calling out Hull when he plagiarizes Dyer, aggregates other's reporting (i.e. The Post every morning) and when he misses major Bethesda stories.

I used to read the glossy magazine print version as well back in the day along with the Gazette. :)

Anonymous said...

Dyer gets scooped like ice cream every day. Go take some more pictures of cars in parking garages, that's the best story you've written all year.

Anonymous said...

Yes, if you consider favorite Fall dishes and summarizing Post articles "scoops".
If I didn't already read the Post and Dyer, I might be fooled by Hull's aggregation and plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

"Favorite fall dishes" is now Shill's new talking point, along with "glossy magazine".

Anonymous said...

What's your favorite Fall dish? Discuss.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in hearing recommendations on favorite food trucks and specific menu items. (Would love to refer to them all as "local." Don't know why the night hours need to be capped for the food trucks when ongoing construction noise is allowed in the wee small hours.)

Anonymous said...

Didn't Dan Hoffman develop a scheme where he was going to tell food trucks where to go? Mostly to office parks. He ran them out. Government really shouldn't be telling food trucks where to go.

Anonymous said...

You are criticizing a favorite fall dishes feature on a blog where he reviews of high class food like hostess cupcakes and malt liquor?

Anonymous said...

Dyer's position on the parking issue seems to be, "if a food truck wants to park there, absolutely no one else should be able to park there."

Anonymous said...

Plenty of parking in downtown Bethesda with new garage....

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