After years of talk, Seattle's proposed street food ordinance has finally landed in the laps of Seattle City Council members. But don't expect the proposal—which would create parking zones for food trucks and allow up to two sidewalk vendors per block face in commercial areas—to get a quick pass. During a crowded May 11 meeting of the council's Committee on the Built Environment, residents and council members alike raised a number of questions sure to delay the process for a few more months.
Specifically, council members are considering imposing street food curfews and wider setbacks from restaurants, stadiums, and schools. The proposal, sent from Mayor Mike McGinn in late April, has no vending curfew, which means that food vendors could be out until 6:00 a.m. unless otherwise directed by the Seattle Department of Transportation. Council Member Tim Burgess called the lack of curfew a "huge problem," adding, "Why wouldn't we... just say [vendors] can't operate after 11:00 p.m. or midnight or something?" But Gary Johnson, a representative with the Department of Planning and Development, countered, "One person's attractive nuisance is another person's vibrant, active nightlife."
The proposal also replaces a 1,000-foot school setback rule with 200 feet, which a school janitor's union denounced would be an "absolute nightmare" to clean up after.
Finally, the council is exploring ways to streamline the permitting process, so that street vendors wouldn't have to acquire five permits and licenses from different city departments. The earliest the full council would vote on the ordinance—assuming these questions are quickly, smoothly hammered out—would be June 27.