Seattle food truck, café regulations remain post pandemic

Dec 14, 2022, 12:29 PM | Updated: 12:47 pm
seattle neighborhood food truck...
Outdoor dining structures along Ballard Avenue Northwest in June 2021. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

Your favorite food truck and outdoor sidewalk café are officially sticking around.

The Seattle City Council has passed a proposal allowing for food trucks to operate on public streets permanently and restaurants to continue to operate in outdoor seating areas, as they have during the pandemic.

In 2011, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a law that allowed food trucks to operate on city streets. Prior to that, food vending was only permitted on private, off-street lots.

The new rules came with a slew of regulations to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants, including that food trucks could not operate within 50 feet of any permanent food service locations and two food trucks could not operate at the same time on the same block.

Seattle looks to make food truck outdoor dining regulation permanent

Other restrictions complicated business for food truck vendors. They had to be at least 1,000 feet away from a high school, and 50 feet away from a public park.

Food trucks were also not permitted adjacent to the vast majority of the parcels in the city that are zoned low-density residential, including single-family zoned housing.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) eased a lot of those requirements through their “Safe Start” outdoor dining and curb space use program.

The program, which started in June 2020, includes options for outdoor dining, vending, merchandise displays, and street closures. The city also has issued more than 300 permits under the Safe Start program.

Previously the program was a temporary solution to the fact that no one could eat inside restaurants, and set to end on Jan. 31, 2023.

It offered a life preserver to restaurants by making it easier to get permits for outdoor dining and food truck permits.

recent survey conducted by the Seattle Department of Transportation showed that 90% of respondents supported the city’s sidewalk cafés.

“There have been conversations about, ‘Does this privatize public space?’ For me, the answer is no, because we’re relying on small businesses and their entrepreneurial skills to make our neighborhoods more vibrant,” said councilmember Dan Strauss, who sponsored the bill.

The new measure signed by the council will create a fee structure for businesses to secure the permits for outdoor spaces, with the goal of making it cheaper for many restaurants and cafés to set up street and patio seating and new rules that “emphasize the public nature of the street.”

An outdoor dining permit would cost a restaurant $1,220 for its first year, and $588 to renew. A seasonal permit is also available for cheaper, costing $500.

The city will also create structural standards and design goals for the outdoor dining structures, specifically with regulations to require them to be “visually permeable, attractive, durable, graffiti-resistant, and easy to clean and maintain.” They will also be deemed public spaces outside of business hours.

The new legislation also adds back the requirement that all food trucks operate at least 50 feet away from all brick-and-mortar restaurants.

These regulations will go into effect next year.

Local News

pierce county...
Bill Kaczaraba

Woman arrested after carjacking attempt in Pierce County

Pierce County prosecutors charged the 27-year-old woman with attempted robbery in the first degree, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
18 hours ago
Howe Street Stairs...
Kathryn Stone

Seattle’s ‘Howe Street Stairs’ location of alleged female assaults

Emily, a woman who frequently jogs throughout Seattle, said she was punched in the face during her run near the "Howe Street Stairs."
18 hours ago
Bill Kaczaraba

New group would take a fresh look at Pierce, Thurston County airport sites

Ground Zero for the Puget Sound region is forecast to be 2050 when Sea-Tac airport will no longer be able to handle the number of passengers.
18 hours ago
Frank Sumrall

Federal Way mayor in full support of bills re-criminalizing drug possession

Multiple bills have flooded the state legislature in an attempt to reclassify possession of a drug — including fentanyl — as a felony offense.
18 hours ago
Bellevue school...
Nicole Jennings

Families rally ahead of Bellevue School District consolidation decision

Parents are rallying in protest as the Bellevue School District considers consolidating elementary schools due to dropping enrollment.
18 hours ago
FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard," a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Seattle food truck, café regulations remain post pandemic