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Vending in Public Right-of-Way

Permit Counter Temporary Closures

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we closed our public-facing customer service counters on Monday, March 16, 2020. Our counters remain closed until further notice. This includes both the Street Use and the Traffic and Parking permit counters at the Seattle Municipal Tower on floors 23 and 37. We are still processing permit applications.

You can submit applications for all permit types online through the Seattle Services Portal.

Our staff will be available to provide application coaching and assist with issuing permits by phone or e-mail.

Update 12/16/2022: Timeline for Submission of New Applications for Vending in 2023

All current Vending Permits expire on January 31, 2023. This includes our standard one-year vending permits which have been extended throughout the pandemic, and our temporary Safe Start vending permits.

Vendors interested in vending in public right-of-way after January 31, 2023 will be required to submit new applications on the Seattle Services Portal. The Seattle City Council has recently approved our proposed changes and we are working toward fully transitioning to our standard vending program.

Our updated permitting timeline for the upcoming vending year is below.

12/15/2022 FIRST day to submit NEW applications for open days and times for existing sites (as listed on our Vending Site Map) and for any new sites you identify
01/03/2023 LAST day to apply for open days and times for established sites (as listed on our Vending Site Map) before we hold a lottery
01/15/2023 4-month site trial permit options will become available on the Seattle Services Portal applications
01/31/2023 All current standard one-year and temporary Safe Start permits expire
02/01/2023 FIRST day of the 2023 vending year!

Apply for a Vending Permit

If you want to vend food or flowers from the public right-of-way (streets, sidewalks, and public plazas), you’ve come to the right place! Vending from the public right-of-way requires a Street Use Vending Permit. For the Applicant Guide with details on permit requirements and how to apply, click the link below for the type of vending unit and location you prefer. 

Please note: Each separate Applicant Guide will provide you with information on available permit durations for that vending type (for example, standard one-year permits, 4-month trial site permits, and temporary event permits). 


Take your Pick!

Wait! Is a Street Use Vending Permit all I need? 

No! To vend on a public street, sidewalk, or plaza, you must have a current City of Seattle business license (also called a business license tax certificate). Almost all food vendors will need a mobile food service business permit from Public Health - Seattle & King County and a Seattle Fire Marshal permit to use LPG (propane) for food preparation. You can let us know if you are exempt from Public Health and/or Seattle Fire Marshal permitting requirements during your permit review process. Regardless of the type of vending unit you own or type of goods you sell, you will need to have current liability insurance throughout the length of your permitted period, and the insurance must name the City of Seattle as an “additional insured.”  For this last piece, please see our Client Assistance Memo 2102 which you can share directly with your insurer or broker. 

Welcome to the Vending Site Map!

We have replaced our old Vendor Bulletin with a new Vending Site Map! This new map displays all existing one-year vending sites. It also currently shows the days of the week and times of day that have already been assigned to renewing vendors for the 2/1/2023 - 1/31/2024 vending year.

When you first open the map, please read the ‘About This Map’ section to learn how to navigate the map and how to find information about existing sites and issued permits and applications.

You are welcome to apply for any days of the week or times of day at an existing site that are not currently permitted or under review as shown on the map. Below are some additional tips to understand what is available.

  • If you identify a new site that is not on the map and it meets our siting standards, you are welcome to apply
  • If a site is on the map, but there are no associated permits or applications shown, you can apply
  • If a site is on the map, and there are associated permits or applications shown, you can only apply for the days of the week and times of day that are not covered by those permits or applications. Any unpermitted times are available for you to apply

This map is newly developed, and we are already working on improvements to make it more user-friendly. If you have questions or need help understanding what existing sites are available, please email publicspace@seattle.gov or set up a coaching appointment with one of our reviewers.

I think I need help!

It can be complicated especially when you’re just beginning the process. Seattle’s Office of Economic Development is ready and willing to help you and has some excellent guidance for mobile food service businesses. If you’re new to street vending, we recommend you take a look at their “Steps for Opening or Expanding a Mobile Food Business." 

I want to vend in a Seattle Park!  

Seattle Parks and Recreation has their own permitting system. Please see their Seasonal Food Truck, Activities, and Fitness Concessions webpage for more information about vending in a Seattle Park.

I want to vend on a private property location!

If you’re interested in vending on private property, such as in a parking lot or on a private plaza, please talk to the property owner. For more information, please visit the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections webpage for Street Food Carts or Trucks.  

Still interested in vending from the public right-of-way (streets, sidewalks, and public plazas)? Then scroll back up and take your pick of your preferred vending type and location to learn more.  

    Proposed Changes: Vending (July 2022 DRAFT)

    Our Vending Program has grown over time, offering steady opportunities to new and established small businesses. Most of our vending permits are issued for a specific location for a one-year period. To support these businesses as they build their customer base over time, we give preference to currently permitted vendors who submit on-time applications for their same site and same permitted days and hours for subsequent years.

    For currently unpermitted sites, we use a simple lottery system when more than one application is received for the same site, days, and hours. This relieves vendors of the stress of a first come/first serve system and diminishes subjectivity during the permit review process.

    One challenge we had before the recent pandemic, however, was how to increase opportunities for new vendors, particularly those with limited resources to commit to the uncertainty of a new site for a full year. We included one idea to meet this challenge into our 2023 transition plans – a 4-month trial permit. The idea was offered by one of our current vendors who took part in a small vendor advisory group in 2021.

    What we’re proposing for 2023

    Vendors experienced significant disruption to their business operations due to the pandemic. When the temporary Safe Start Program ends, we want to help vendors re-enter the new normal. To do this we will continue to offer one-on-one coaching while we streamline our application requirements. We plan to offer new temporary vending opportunities and remove some current restrictions to provide more opportunities for vending in Seattle. In addition, we will begin to allow vending of goods beyond food and flowers as a part of events with our Market Streets program.

    What you need to know

    Key Permit Details

    Updated detailed permit requirements will be available on our permit webpages prior to the conclusion of the temporary Safe Start Program.

    Our proposal removes limitations in code and provides for more discretion in our review process so we can consider applications in their context and allow vending where it will benefit the community. Specifically, we plan to:

    • Remove restrictions that prohibit vending within 50’ of a brick-and-mortar business selling food or flowers.
    • Remove limit of two vendors per block face, although we will continue to review for adequate curbspace loading and other site-specific factors before issuing permits.
    • Remove restrictions on vending that prohibit applications in Neighborhood Residential zones and within 1,000 feet of high schools, although we will review applications and may limit vending based on site context and based on feedback from nearby schools.

    Application Timeline and Requirements

    In addition to issuing temporary Safe Start Vending Permits, we extended previously-issued and active one-year vending permits to the Safe Start Program end date of January 31, 2023. We will provide more details on the application submittal timeframe in the upcoming months. Vendors wishing to renew their extended pre-COVID permits can expect to apply in early Fall 2022. Vendors seeking new sites or new days or times at established sites, can expect to apply in late Fall or early Winter of 2022.

    Public Comment Period

    Public Notice followed by a 2-week public comment period is required for new vending permits. Notice will not be required in subsequent years for unchanged permits, and notice will not be required for temporary permits, including our new 4-month site trial permit.

    Program Costs and Permit Fees

    Fees for an approved vending unit are delineated by permit type below. While the issuance fees shown below are significantly higher than 2020, this is because they now include review fees that were previously charged separately.

    One-year site-specific vending (first year for vendor at site)

    • Issuance fee (one-time fee for first year for vendor at site)
      • $950
      • Hourly-rate review fees for secondary review by SDOT and other departmental subject matter experts may be charged when required (Current 2022 hourly rate is $305)
    • Occupation fee (charged at issuance first year at site, no changes proposed from current 2022 rates)
      • $104 for curbspace in unpaid parking per 4-hour slot/per day of week/per year
      • $478 for curbspace in paid parking per 4-hour slot/per day of week/per year
      • $0.70 - $1.40 per square foot for a sidewalk, plaza, or stadium district site per year

    One-year site-specific vending “Renewal” (subsequent years for vendor at site)

      • $553 (charged in lieu of issuance fee for returning vendors)
    • Occupation fee (same as first year)
      • $104 for curbspace in unpaid parking per 4-hour slot/per day of week/per year
      • $478 for curbspace in paid parking per 4-hour slot/per day of week/per year
      • $0.70 - $1.40 per square foot for a sidewalk, plaza, or stadium district site per year

    Temporary site-trial vending (4-month trial for new vendor-identified sites)

    • Issuance fee
      • $200
      • No occupation fees

    Temporary event-based vending (daily)

    • Issuance fee
      • $75 (for up to 4 separate days on one permit)
      • Note: there is a waiver option for charitable events where food is given away free.

    Route Vending

    • Issuance Fee
      • $275

    We are currently accepting feedback on the draft of our proposed Director's Rule which you can find on our Director's Rules and Ordinances page. If you would like to provide feedback please email us at publicspace@seattle.gov by Monday, August 15, 2022.

    Transportation

    Greg Spotts, Director
    Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
    Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
    Phone: (206) 684-7623
    684-Road@seattle.gov

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