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Letter: Thoughts on Food Trucks

Letter to the Editor:

— These are some thoughts and questions on the advent of food trucks in Alexandria.

Food truck service on public property is a new use that is not fully covered in City Code as to taxes, food safety, fire safety and public assembly, hence a hybrid use.

What is the perceived benefit to the city?

Where will bathrooms for patrons be located? The tables and chairs installed on the Market Square (one proposed location for food trucks) were placed there for food service patrons. The Building Code requires bathrooms for restaurants. Will the needs of patrons here in this new class of use be different?

Will there be a Special Use hearing as required for restaurants, outdoor food and crafts markets and carryouts, to consider use issues such as traffic, parking, trash and other potential effects on the surrounding community? Will the new use be compatible with the goals of the Old Town Restaurant Policy?

Will the interior cooking (heating) apparatus be inspected for approval and will they pay the Alexandria commercial business Fire Protection Permit fee?

Will the Alexandria Food Code be applied and how will the public be assured that food sources, preparation and storage sites will be included in inspections? What bathroom facilities will be used by workers? Will they pay the Alexandria Health Department oversight fee as food service establishments do?

How will this new class of commercial use be a contributing part of the tax base? It is clear that a Business License tax, state sales tax and Alexandria meals tax are straight forward and can and should be collected.

Trucks will pay a personal property tax on vehicle and equipment, but not necessarily to Alexandria — maybe to Prince William, Fairfax, or Prince George’s.

As to business personal property (equipment for food service): that equipment may or may not be declared and tax revenue may or may not be collected by Alexandria. This depends on where the vehicle is registered and how diligent the enforcement agents in that jurisdiction are in enforcement and inspection.

A fee or bid process for food truck licenses could be an answer to ensuring that this new form of commercial property will participate on an equitable basis to the tax base of Alexandria in a manner comparable to that of commercial properties and businesses.

Charlie Lindsey

Alexandria