Seattle has a few food trucks, a few carts, a few trailers. There's Marination and there's Skillet, there's the Top Pot donut trailer and the giant metal pig of Maximus Minimus and a few (so very few . . . ) taco trucks making the occasional rounds of the neighborhoods. Where Ya At Matt hit town with the force of a bomb not too long ago, and there are maybe a couple dozen other mobile operations working the streets in our fair city.
Food trucks: now maybe more than just in your imagination.
But really, for a city the size of Seattle, that's not many food trucks. And one of the reasons we're lagging behind cities like Portland and Austin when it comes to the science of delivering mobile deliciousness is that Seattle's street-food laws haven't been changed since some time in the '80s, when they were designed basically to keep hot-dog carts and loncheras out of busy (or nice) areas of the city because, back then, most people looked at them as nuisances and eyesores where poor people and immigrants ate, not as cool and innovative extensions of the cutting-edge dining culture where yuppies congregate for lunch.
But oh, how things have changed . . .The Seattle Times wrote today about a whole new batch of changes to the existing street-food legislation which will soon be up for debate:
"New legislation is expected to go before the City Council by the end of the month, detailing changes that would make it easier for street-food vendors to set up shop and, in the process, help bring more economic vitality to neighborhoods.
'Urban neighborhoods are where we want our growth,' said Gary Johnson, center-city coordinator for the Department of Planning and Development, which helped craft the proposal. 'A street-food scene can help brand a neighborhood in a positive way.'"
Which is a big change from the way food trucks and carts were looked at 20 years ago.
Some of the changes being considered would completely alter the way street-food operators do business. The Council will be looking at the rules governing both what a cart or truck can sell and where it can sell it. The proposal is looking to open things all the way, allowing carts to sell just about anything short of sushi and carpaccio, and trucks to actually make their way into the city center and park (gasp!) curbside.
The proposal is scheduled to go before the Council by the end of the month, and I for one am hoping that they basically allow the truck-and-cart crowd to do whatever they want--to cook what they like and congregate wherever they can find space.
And once we get all the basic stuff out of the way? Then someone can start working on getting us hawker centers and sushi carts.
To check out the specific language of the new proposal (plus a summary of the proposed changes), check out this link to the seattle.gov home of all the legal back-and-forth.