On Dec. 6, the Transportation & Seattle Public Utilities Committee discussed and voted 4-0 on CB 120429, which makes permanent the Safe Start permit program that includes authorized vending, merchandise display, outdoor cafes, and street closures in the city. The committee additionally passed Amendment 3 which requires the Seattle Department of Transportation to report back to the council on the implementation of this legislation in 2024.  

Over the last two years, your Government Affairs team has advocated for broader access to outdoor dining. We successfully saw the implementation of free permits until January 2023. As SDOT’s approach was reimagined, 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 was 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 also 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. SDOT will continue to review for adequate curb space, loading and other site-specific factors before issuing permits. In instances when an application is approved for more than two vendors per block face, SDOT is proposing a four-month trial permit before making a long-term decision. 

Your Government Affairs team held a series of meetings with SDOT to ensure these changes would have minimal impact on the restaurant community. We have received assurances that one of the reasons SDOT 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. Restaurant operators can express 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 or per year 
  • $478 occupation fee for curb space in paid parking per four-hour slot, per day of the week or 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 SDOT to review community concerns and impacts before any permit is issued. 

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. 

On Tuesday Dec. 13 at 2 p.m., a final vote by the council is expected to pass this legislation. If you would like to give public comment you can register here. 

Online registration to speak will begin two hours before the meeting start time, and registration will end at the conclusion of the public comment period during the meeting. 

Please reach out to austinm@wahospitality.org if you have questions or concerns.