On July 21 Mayor Mike McGinn signed into law an ordinance to create jobs and improve neighborhood vitality by allowing more mobile food vending in Seattle. The ordinance, developed in consultation with vendors, restaurants, and neighbors, was approved by an 8-0 vote of the City Council on Monday. The mayor held a signing ceremony at Lake Union Park as part of the Seattle Parks Foundation’s Mobile Food Chowdown.
“Mobile food vending is a great way to help create jobs and new businesses in Seattle,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “Many other cities have seen that mobile food vending creates vibrant neighborhoods and brings foot traffic to nearby businesses. I’m looking forward to having more options on the street for some good, healthy food.”
The ordinance reforms existing regulations to provide more options for mobile food vendors. Under rules dating back to the 1980s, mobile food vendors had been restricted to parking on private property. The mobile food vending ordinance allows the Seattle Department of Transportation to designate “food vehicle zones” that will allow food trucks, with a permit, to vend curbside in commercial areas. Vendors will be restricted from parking within 50 feet of an existing restaurant, and cannot park within 1,000 feet of a school (unless in a commercial area, where the restriction will be 200 feet). This will help create more mobile food vending and bring more foot traffic to other businesses in commercial areas.
The old rules limited cart food to hotdogs, popcorn and coffee. Seattle King County Public Health has announced that it will allow a much broader range of food types, as long as the vendor can demonstrate to Public Health that it can be done safely.
Mobile food vending supports Mayor McGinn’s Jobs Plan by helping create jobs and business opportunities. For a modest investment, an entrepreneur can develop a track record and build loyal clientele. For many immigrant and refugee communities, food vending offers a point-of-entry into the economy and a way to learn the food-service industry. Several street food vendors, including Skillet and Marination, are now opening brick and mortar restaurants.
The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from signing, and the City expects to begin taking applications for new mobile food vending permits shortly afterward.