SDOT Street Use Vending Permits
What’s New: Thinking of starting a new vending business? Requirements vary based on what and where you are selling. See the new Vending in Public Spaces brochure for more information.
Updated May 27, 2015
The City of Seattle encourages street-food vending to increase public use, enjoyment, and safety of our public right of way. With proper design and management, street-food vending can be a great way to encourage walking, add vitality to the street, and promote local economic development.
The City Council and the Mayor adopted Ordinance 123659 regarding street-food vending in July of 2011. This legislation streamlined the rules and regulations for street-food vending, making it easier to be a street-food vendor in Seattle.
Vending in public right of way requires a Street Use Permit from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). There are several different types of Street Use vending permits: Sidewalk or Plaza Vending, Curb Space Vending (Designated Food-Vehicle Zone or Temporary Curb Space Activity), Stadium and Event Center Vending, Mobile Food Vending, and First Amendment Vending. For more information on these types, see below. To learn more about vending in public spaces overall, please view our Vending in Public Spaces brochure.
VENDING PERMIT TYPES
Read the following summary and decide which type of vending permit is right for your business.
- Sidewalk or Plaza Vending This type of Street Use permit is valid for one year and is issued based on daytime (6 AM – 8 PM) or nighttime (8 PM – 6 AM) use.
- Vending of food or flowers from a vending cart:
- Allowed at a specific site on a public sidewalk or plaza; and
- Maximum limit of two vending carts on sidewalk per block face.
- Vending of food from a food vehicle:
- Allowed at a specific site on a public plaza.
See CAM 2501, Sidewalk and Plaza Street-Food Vending, for additional information.
- Curb Space Vending Vending of food from a food vehicle is also allowed in a curb space with a valid Street Use vending permit for a specific location and time period. The curb space vending may occur from a designated Food-Vehicle Zone or as a temporary special activity associated with an event on the adjoining property.
- Designated Food-Vehicle Zone. A food vehicle vendor may vend from a curb space that has been signed and designated by SDOT as a Food-Vehicle Zone.
- Allowed only for permitted days and times. This type of permit is issued in 4-hour weekly increments. (For example, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 AM – 2 PM.)
- This type of Street Use permit is valid for one year and is issued based on daytime (6 AM – 8 PM) or nighttime (8 PM – 6 AM) use.
- Maximum limit of one food-vehicle zone per block face and no more than two food vehicles may be allowed in any one food-vehicle zone unless more is authorized by the SDOT Director.
See CAM 2507, Curb Space Food-Vehicle Zone Vending, for additional information.
- Temporary Curb Space Activity. A food-vehicle vendor may vend from a curb space in conjunction with an event located on private property abutting the curb space or an event occurring in the public place.
- Allowed only for permitted days and times. The vendor may only vend from the curb space during the allowable times on their Street Use permit.
- This type of Street Use permit may be obtained by the vendor, adjacent property owner, or a public entity for no more than four days during a 6-month period for the adjoining address in commercial zones or for no more than one day during a calendar year for a block in a residential zone.
- Additional Street Use permits may be required if the adjoining public place (sidewalk or street) is proposed to be closed for the special activity.
See CAM 2510, Temporary Curb Space Vending, for additional information.
- Stadium and Event Center Vending. A vendor may vend goods, things, services, food, or nonalcoholic beverages of any kind from a temporary display table, tent, vending cart, or food vehicle during event days at a specific site in the authorized Stadium Event Vending area.
- This type of Street Use permit may be issued on a monthly basis or for a 6-month season (April-September or October-March).
See CAM 2508, Stadium & Event Center Vending, for additional information.
- Mobile-Food Vending. A vendor may vend food that is exempt from a King County Health Department Mobile Food Unit permit in the public place (for example, pre-packaged ice cream).
- This type of Street Use vending permit is not location specific and the vendor is allowed to move around from place to place, but is restricted from certain parts of the city.
- In addition, mobile-food vending is not allowed within 50 feet of any public park, as defined in SMC Chapter 18.12; 1,000 feet of any public or private school containing a Kindergarten through 12th-grade class; 50 feet from any food-service business; or within loading zones.
- The mobile-food vendor shall obey all traffic rules, Title 11, and comply with the Noise Ordinance, SMC Chapter 25.08.
- The mobile food vendor shall not stop the food vehicle or vending cart in a curb space or other public place for any longer than necessary to vend to waiting customers.
- This type of Street Use permit is valid for one calendar year.
See CAM 2509 (coming soon), Mobile-Food Vending, for additional information.
- First Amendment Vending. A nonprofit organization may vend merchandise in which the organization’s political, religious, sociological, or ideological message is inextricably intertwined. The vending may be from a specific site designated by SDOT, the Parks Department, or Seattle Center. For more information regarding the requirements for applying for this type of permit, see Director’s Rule 94-2.
For more information about vending in the right-of-way please contact:
Street Use Division
Seattle Municipal Tower, 23rd Floor
700 5th Avenue
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, Washington 98124-4996