Burien restaurants and food trucks clash over newly-approved pilot program

Mar 16, 2021, 8:42 AM | Updated: 10:24 am

Burien food trucks...

Restaurants and food trucks are at odds in Burien. (KIRO 7 TV)


Burien City Council has approved a one year pilot program that allows food trucks to operate in the city, over the objections of restaurant owners.

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The program makes it so food truck operators can park on city and residential streets to serve customers. The trucks have to park at least 50 feet away from existing eateries. The pilot program will run from now until May 1, 2022.

The city’s restaurants told KIRO 7 TV that the trucks will hurt sales already damaged by the pandemic over the past year. Over 50 Burien restaurants signed a petition begging the council to delay the pilot program.

Restaurant owners say the program is unfair because food trucks don’t have property leases, property taxes, site maintenance expenses, and large labor costs. They also say the food truck operators will make $800 to $1,200 a day during the lunch rush, but then won’t spend the money in Burien to boost the local economy.

A coalition of BIPOC businesses also argued that they weren’t given adequate input into the pilot program.

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“It is difficult and disappointing to witness how tone deaf the council majority is to our concerns,” the coalition’s President Alfredo Covarrubias said in a written release. “What makes this especially offensive is that they have zero experience operating a restaurant during a catastrophic pandemic. We were left out of the process altogether for months because we don’t matter to them.”

The Washington Food Truck Association takes issue with many of the claims levied by Burien restaurants, saying that they “pay all the same business and payroll taxes that brick-and-mortar restaurants pay, and generate revenue for cities.”

The group also points out that food trucks are already limited by shortened operating hours, arguing that further restrictions would make it difficult to stay afloat.

Despite the pilot program getting approved Monday, Burien councilmembers still plan to revisit and review the plan on April 5.

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Burien restaurants and food trucks clash over newly-approved pilot program