Mayor Greg Nickels has teamed up with county health officials in an effort to revise the city’s strict street-food regulations. Since 2003, a city-wide ban on street food has made it difficult for vendors to open up shop in the University District and from Westlake to the stadiums in Sodo, reported The Stranger last week. They went further to say:
In 2003, because of what it called overcrowded streets, the city council passed legislation cracking down on mobile vendors, banning food carts in the University District and from Westlake to the stadiums in Sodo. Also banned: vendors selling food near parks and schools. According to the city, hordes of largely unregulated street vendors had popped up along the monorail line downtown and near Seattle's ballparks in the 1980s, skirting health codes and jamming city streets. In addition to the bans, the city's tough street-permitting process—which requires consent of neighboring businesses—and additional county restrictions on types of servable foods pretty much made opening a cart more trouble than it was worth.
The new regulations could result in a breezier permitting process for local street food vendors and fewer hoops to jump through once new businesses are up and running. Here are a few of the current regulations:
- Food trucks must have refrigerators, propane heaters and three dishwashing sinks among other equipment. (Why three?)
- Those who cannot comply with these standards are limited to selling precooked foods like popcorn or hotdogs.
- A letter of permission and the location’s address must be provided if water-waste disposal tanks are to be emptied at an RV dump site. (Seriously?)
If the city and county successfully revamp local street-food regulations, Seattle could soon flourish with options when it comes to dining on-the-go.