Food trucks are now officially allowed to operate in Bothell, thanks to an ordinance the Bothell City Council passed last week.
Dave Boyd, senior planner for the City of Bothell, said the city gets inquiries from vendors who are interested in setting up food trucks in Bothell, so the city wanted to create a way to license them.
Representatives from the UW Bothell/Cascadia Community College and the North Creek Business Park, where food trucks already set up at lunchtime to serve students and office workers, asked the city to formally allow the trucks in the city. Several local business owners worried the food trucks would compete unfairly with brick-and-mortar restaurants, while a few other business owners welcomed food trucks bringing more people to Bothell.
Anthony Stillman, a student at UW Bothell, told the Bothell City Council during a public hearing that food trucks should be allowed on campus, since they provide more options for people with food allergies.
“I am allergic to gluten and dairy, so my food options were limited, before the food trucks, [to} trail mix, gluten-free brownies and bananas — sometimes. If I stayed at the school for a long time, I just wouldn’t have any food, and I’d go hungry,” he said. “...But when the food trucks arrived, they provided a lot more variety in our food, and this variety came up with options that were available for people with allergies. So it would be very nice if you could keep the food trucks on campus so we could keep on eating and not be hungry.”
Lezlie Plastino, president of the North Creek Maintenance District and general manager for Schnitzer West, wrote in a letter to the city that the North Creek office park started inviting food trucks after a survey showed people wanted more food options there. She, along with staff from UW Bothell and Cascadia, urged Bothell to allow food trucks within 100 feet of businesses as long as those businesses gave permission, a rule the Council ultimately adopted.
Under the new ordinance, food trucks or vendor trucks that operate in Bothell must get a Bothell business license — the cost of which ranges from $59 to $103 per year for most food trucks, said Boyd — and must comply with state and county health regulations.
Trucks that operate on private property must get written permission from the property owner. On public property or streets, trucks must get a public area use permit — although that doesn’t apply to private streets such as those on campus and in business parks. Trucks also can’t be placed in public areas within 100 feet of an existing eating establishment, unless the owner of that establishment gives written permission.
Vendor trucks, defined as motorized vehicles or trailers from which food, beverages or other goods are sold, are allowed in all zones of the city except residential areas. Ice cream trucks that sell prepackaged treats aren’t subject to the rules for vendor trucks, and can still operate in residential areas.
Other rules include maintaining sidewalk space, not blocking sight lines in the street and limits on vehicle size.
Special rules apply for festivals and events. In those cases, the person or entity planning the event gets a single permit and coordinates vendors, but the food trucks don’t have to get individual Bothell business licenses.
Until now, there have been no licensed food trucks in the city, Boyd said. Food trucks would previously have been licensed under “an archaic section of the code” that regulates “peddlers,” he said. Business owners applying for a peddlers’ license had to get fingerprinted at the police station and get a letter from a physician stating they were in good health, among other requirements.
The City Council repealed the provisions for peddlers in April, and since then has been working to replace it with specific regulations for food trucks, Boyd said.
“I think that food trucks are actually a great trend in cuisine. They’re something that’s moving across America,” Councilmember Mark Lamb said. “...They bring great options to our city that we wouldn’t otherwise have, and they provide a great variety of cuisine that enhances the quality of life in the city of Bothell. So I don’t think we should be afraid. I don’t think we should try to clamp down on these things; I think we ought to encourage them.”