Seattle plans to encourage more food trucks by eliminating fees

When it comes to Seattle's food truck scene, locals have long admired Portland's diverse array of compact eateries serving up everything from noodles and pizza to burritos and more.

Now, as part of Mayor Bruce Harrell's efforts to revitalize downtown, Seattle is offering a reprieve on fees for food trucks and food carts until 2026, with the hope of fostering a greater presence of these mobile eateries in the Emerald City.

Seattle plans to encourage more food trucks by eliminating fees

In a significant development, an ordinance signed by Harrell on Wednesday will suspend street permit fees for food trucks and food carts, as well as certain public outdoor events, until January 1, 2026.

This fee exemption could potentially save individual food trucks up to $4,296 annually, according to the city. Presently, there are 40 different vendors with permits to operate along Seattle's curbsides.

Why it matters: The food truck initiative is one of several measures that Harrell has endorsed as part of his plan to rejuvenate the downtown area.

According to Harrell, this legislation "will create opportunities for small businesses and workers" and "cultivate community through enjoyable activities for residents and visitors," as he stated during a press conference on Wednesday.

In particular, Harrell believes that waiving the fees will help increase foot traffic in city neighborhoods, which can enhance the overall sense of safety.

Lori Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington State Food Truck Association, expressed her support for the move, saying, "Any reduction or waiver of fees is always welcome news for local small business owners" in an email to Axios.

However, safety remains a concern for many food truck vendors in Seattle, Johnson noted. Earlier in the year, a Ballard food truck was burglarized four times between April and September, as reported by KING 5.

It's worth mentioning that Seattle's new food truck legislation builds upon a 2011 measure that permitted food trucks to operate on city streets and sidewalks. Before that, food trucks were limited to private property.

Among other bills signed on Wednesday by the mayor were measures to allow taller residential buildings along part of Third Avenue and to stimulate the expansion of hotel accommodations in Belltown."

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