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The Leesburg Town Council should seriously reconsider its protectionist approach to regulating food trucks (“Leesburg food trucks still in limbo,” Nov. 15). It is both wrong and unconstitutional for local governments to place burdensome restrictions on food trucks merely to protect brick-and-mortar businesses from competition.

Food trucks pose no threat to public health or safety. They promote safety as eyes on the street, increase foot traffic (for restaurants, too!), activate underused spaces and enliven the culinary scene. Routine partnerships between local breweries and food trucks, moreover, only benefit Leesburg small businesses and their patrons as well as Leesburg as a whole.

There is no reason for Leesburg to forgo something the rest of Loudoun County welcomes and enjoys: tasty eats served by thriving mobile vendors. Town councilmembers should encourage local business by embracing food trucks and letting Leesburg residents choose where to eat.

Zack Voell, Maffucci Fellow at the Institute for Justice



Couldn’t disagree more, Zack. The MFV is a land use that undercuts the investments of the Town (roads, utilities, stormwater system) and those of the private sector who build upon/improve real property (brick-and-mortar) and then pay ad valorem taxes and impact/utility fees/rates to operate as a legal land use.  The MFV is personal property, and pays that tax, but no ad valorem taxes.
The MFV has operational advantages that a B&M doesn’t, like being mobile, and going to where the people are, rather than being stationary, and relying on the people coming to it.  And the aspect of drawing people is something the Town has spent enormous amounts of $$ and efforts to do, to make the town (downtown specifically) a draw and destination as a place, which only occurs with the B&M elements of the historic buildings, the public sidewalks, the private or public parking lots/garages, etc.  The MFV takes advantage of all of that, without being an invested partner in it.

Now that a market exists, created by the B&M and the Town’s efforts, the MFVs want to come in and profit from it. Yes, the MFVs can add some value to the synergy, but they don’t bare any of the costs NOR risks that have been and will continue to be taken by the B&M and Town.

MFVs fill the void of food service where the investment and risk of B&M is not warranted. Attending an event at a western County brewery or winery is exactly where they excel. Multiple MFVs at a downtown street close event can, in a single-day scenario, offer the huge crowds the “choice” the author promotes, without completely competing with the B&M.

The Town should wade slowly into loosening the regulations on MFVs. This is a national, not local trend, and much research and variety in regulation exists that can be consulted.

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