Seattle City Council Approves Food Carts

 The Seattle City Council passed a much-discussed street food bill Monday that will allow food trucks to sell in public spaces.

So …will vendors now move to create a food scene to rival Portland’s?

Street food in Seattle had previously been limited to private property. But the popularity of local food trucks Skillet and Marination Mobile – along with the vibrant sidewalk foodie scene in Portland – prompted lawmakers here to explore taking vending into the public right-of-ways.

The bill was largely supported by business and neighborhood groups as a way to perk up streets and create more outlets for entry-level entrepreneurs. It was opposed by brick-and-mortar restaurants worried about competition by vendors who can now set up 50 feet away, sell similar food and pay fewer expenses.

The ordinance made some concessions to those concerns, by bumping up parking fees for  food trucks and capping the number of trucks and carts per block.

The bill also calls for vendors to stay at least 1,000 feet from schools, except in commercial zones. That was to create so-called “pizza-free zones” from kids, while allowing vendors to set up near light rail stations.

Vendors will also have to follow trash, noise and sidewalk buffer rules. And they’ll need a signed agreement to access to a bathroom within 200 feet.

The new food rules won’t apply to the Pike Place Market. Councilmember Sally Clark said the market had made a compelling argument that more food vendors would make the cobblestones too crowded.

“We hope this will be a good entry point for small-business people and provide some variety on the street, and do it in a way that’s good for neighborhoods, and in a way that provides healthy food for the city,” said Clark, who sponsored the legislation.

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