Park Police cracking down on food trucks on National Mall - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Park Police cracking down on food trucks on National Mall

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WASHINGTON -

Finding food or a quick lunch on the go might become more difficult along the National Mall. D.C. food truck owners say they have been warned to leave the area or face a $300 fine or worse -- we talked to one food truck operator on the phone who told us he was arrested by Park Police and taken to jail.

It all has to do with federal regulations prohibiting trucks without permits on the National Mall.

Park Police are handing out a warning to operators parked on the mall. Food truck operators are confused. They have proper D.C. permits, but Park Police say those permits don't hold up on the mall.

“When they came to the truck, they came and issued us a warning saying we can no longer be at these locations,” said food truck operator Will Salama.

He couldn't believe it when Park Police told him he would go to jail if he didn't comply.

“It didn't sound right,” he said. “It sounded very strange. 90 days in jail? I'm not selling crack. I’m selling food.”

Park Police told us by phone the National Mall is off limits to food trucks unless they have a special permit from the National Park Service. It doesn't care about proper permits from D.C.

“We have a permit, we pay taxes, we do everything what they ask us for,” said food truck operator Sam Wanis.

But food trucks are upset about this and say police turn a blind eye to street vendors without permits on the mall.

We found one street vendor who says police don’t give him any trouble. He admits he does need a permit, but doesn't bother to get one. As we are there, guess who drove by as the vendor sells drinks? Yep. A Park Police officer.

But food truck operators say they believe the streets that run through the National Mall shouldn’t have to comply with federal regulations. Instead, they believe it should be under the District’s jurisdiction.

They point to several things like parking meters. They are put in place by the D.C. government and most of the tickets handed out here along the National Mall are from District parking enforcement employees.

But the Park Police don't see it that way.

The food truck workers have collected 1,200 petitions so far hoping to change that policy and are planning a food truck protest along the National Mall Saturday.

Some of the food truck vendors say they have attempted to obtain permits, similar to the ones D.C. issues, from the National Park Service, but they were told none were available.


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