On Dec. 13, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed CB 120429, which makes permanent the Safe Start permit program that includes authorized vending, merchandise display, outdoor cafes, and street closures in the city.

Over the last two years, your local government affairs team advocated for broader access to outdoor dining. We successfully saw the implementation of free permits until January 2023. As SDOT reimagined its approach, we continued to work with them to implement a seasonal permit, the removal of the occupation fee and an overall reduced permit fee to ensure that the program is accessible and equitable for all those who wanted to participate. Our recommendations have been included in this council bill and the Seattle Restaurant Alliance fully supports these changes.

This legislation lowers the fees from pre-pandemic levels to allow for more equitable access to outdoor dining permits.

These outdoor dining permits will cost:

  • $1,220 for first-time issuance (This is substantially less than the pre-pandemic base rate of $3,176.)
  • $588 for renewal
  • NEW $500 seasonal permit issuance fee
  • Eliminating the occupation fee to offset parking

This legislation includes SDOT’s changes to vending, including food trucks. These changes include removing restrictions that prohibit vending within 50 feet of a brick-and-mortar business selling food or flowers, and removing the limit of two vendors per block face, although SDOT will continue to review for adequate curb-space loading and other site-specific factors before it issues permits. In instances where an application is approved for more than two vendors per block face, SDOT proposes a four-month trial permit before making a long-term decision.

Your local government affairs team held a series of meetings with SDOT to ensure these changes would have minimal impact on the restaurant community. SDOT assures us that one of the reasons it is placing this program under a director’s rule is to allow the department to evaluate the impact of the program and quickly pivot if there are issues. Restaurants can express their concerns about any potential permit during the notification process and have priority to activate their adjacent curb space if they choose. Additionally, food truck permits are site specific for four hours on a single day. We will continue to engage SDOT to ensure these proposed changes will not have unintended consequences for the restaurant community.

These food truck vending permits will cost:

  • $950 for issuance
  • $533 for site-specific renewal
  • $104 occupation fee for curb space in unpaid parking per four-hour slot/per day of the week/per year
  • $478 occupation fee for curb space in paid parking per four-hour slot/per day of the week/per year
  • $0.70 – $1.40 per square foot for a sidewalk, plaza or stadium district site per year

Public Notice followed by a two-week public comment period is required for new vending permits. The notice is required for all businesses, residences and property managers within a 100-foot radius of the vending site. This will be an opportunity for SODT to review community concerns and impacts before issuing any permit.

Finally, retail and food service businesses will have priority over the site to use for merchandise displays or outdoor cafés if the public comment period has not yet begun on a vending permit or if the permit has already been issued.