Food

Governor Terry McAuliffe Lifts Ban on Food Truck Operations in Virginia

The new bill opens a large number of state-maintained roadways to mobile vending.
Governor Terry McAuliffe signs a promising bill for Virginia's food trucks. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Good news today for Virginia food truck operators and their many customers: governor Terry McAuliffe will sign a bill at 3 o’clock that lifts the ban on food trucks serving from state-maintained roadways. Previously mobile vendors were confined to operating on private property, which excludes many of the streets in the Washington area.

“The way that Virginia has developed, that majority of the streets are state-maintained,” says Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the DMV Food Truck Association. “Arlington is a good example—if VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] is plowing the snow, there’s no vending.”

The signing ceremony with governor McAuliffe, sponsor delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, and several food truck operators will be held in Tyson’s Corner on Greensboro Drive—formerly an area of contention, where operators were sporadically fined by police, despite public demand for their presence in an area with many offices and few walkable dining options. Vending regulations have gradually improved up to this date; a 2014 rule in Fairfax County allowed trucks to do business in office parks and shopping centers like Tysons, lowering zoning fees from over $16,000 to $100. The latest bill represents another step forward, both locally and nationally.

“The governor is the highest-ranking official in more than a generation to lift a barrier on food truck operation, and spur action for growth,” says Ruddell-Tabisola. “It sets the stage of us to pass better vending laws all over.”

Though Monday marks a victory for Virginia food trucks, don’t expect to see changes right away. The new bill doesn’t automtically open roadways to mobile vending–laws are determined by county, and in Fairfax, codes are pending. Still it’s a promising sign for the small businesses, allowing much more flexibility on the part of local governments to create street food-friendly regulations going forward.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.