Why Advocate for Food Trucks?

Governor Jay Inslee signs HB 2639 on behalf of food truck owners in Washington! 03/22/2018 (Find the updated RCW here.)

Dear elected officials,

Food trucks are an important source of economic opportunity for entrepreneurs of all types. They can enhance the culinary culture of your city, increase employment, enliven streets, and provide food options in underserved areas – if you let them.

Lobbying for Change

 Tim Johnson, a registered lobbyist and consultant from the Northwest Policy Group LLC, is our full-time Policy Director.  He provides the Washington State Food Truck Association insight regarding the current political climate in Olympia and assists us in the development of specific legislative goals and objectives.  Tim lobbies the state legislature and state agencies on our behalf, oversees our local government lobbying efforts, and helps us train and organize our statewide grassroots advocacy team.  

Lobby Day

Washington's first "Food Truck Lobby Day" in Olympia was  held on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 from 11am to 2pm.  This new event incorporated 13-food trucks and trailers parked at the state capitol to introduce all of our legislators, staff, lobbyists, and more to the greatness of food truck owners as passionate culinary artists.  Mobile food vending continues to grow as an industry here in Washington and this community has real issues to still be addressed.  This was such a great opportunity for food truck owners to meet their legislative representatives in person and show them we are an important small business industry growing in their communities.  


City of  Sea-Tac - Food Truck regulations proposal for a new city ordinance was submitted to the city council, accepted and passed 03/27/2018.  The new ordinance creates a business license for mobile food vendors and changes the land use & zoning code.  The Association's director spoke at the land use committee meeting and  was supported by several other food truck owners over 4-months in subsequest committee and council meetings.   

City of  Yelm - Food Truck regulations proposal for an new city ordinance was submitted to the city council by the Yelm Business Assn. (YBA) in November 2016. Our Director, Lori Johnson spoke at the town hall and was supported by Turan Wright of the Silver Spork food truck.  A new ordinance was passed on 06/2017 allowing food trucks. 

City of  Bellingham Planning and Community Development Department had reported (March 2016) that they are currently updating their sidewalk vendor regulations, to include food trucks with a new ordinance pending after a succesful pilot program. 

City of  Ferndale Planning and Community Development Department held a commitee meeting in January 2018 and was attended by the WSFTA Director and the owner of Something Cheesey.  City council voted to change existing policy to allow food trucks on public property, in local parks and removed the distance restriction to schools. 

City of  Lynnwood  -  Ordinance passed with a 7-0 vote on 03/22/16.  The City now allows mobile food vending with a city license.  The Association worked with the City of Lynnwood for 3-months providing comments and guidance. 

City of Shelton -  had asked for public comments  on updating their Food Truck laws back in Sep 2015, and the State Association submitted comments and supporting information from the National League of Cities.   October 12, 2015, the city amended the municipal  code to no longer prohibit food trucks from staying in one location for more than two hours per day,  and they are now able to sell near schools. 

City of Renton -  after a year of partnership and collecting public and food truck owner comments, the city has decided to change their code affecting food trucks and to reduce the need for a costly and time-consuming Tier-2 permit in commerically zoned areas.   

City of Puyallup -  the city management has decided to approve a pilot program we have proposed, allowing food trucks to operate for a limited period of time outside of the current municipal code; food trucks may now operate on private property without the additional vendor's license that required a criminal background check and on public property with a permit.

Snohomish County - Health district has approved a new policy that allows vendors with a King or Pierce County permit to skip the redundant and costly Plan Review process in 04/2017 as we pointed this out to be unnecessary and a costly process to vendors who were already annually permitted in a neighboring county. Vendors can also request a commisary "in County" exemption, approved on a case by case basis.   

State Department of Liquor and Cannabis -  via agency proposal, we were successful in getting the Caterer's License redefined for mobile food vendors who want to apply for a liquor license, to include mobile food vendors sharing commissary kitchen space 02/2017.  

Amended Section. WAC 314-02-112: added language allowing the caterer’s licensees to share a commissary kitchen under certain conditions.  

Washington State Labor & Industries -  we were succesful in redefining the risk classification codes for the modern day food truck 06/2017 which resulted in many refunds.  If your food truck is not moving to different locations during the day, all operations are reported under code 3905, with a base rate of .41.   Food trucks had been erroneously reporting under Code 1101 - (base rate = 2.15), which is for route food services that travel to various locations throughout the day.   

State Department of Health -  many examples of uneven application from one county to the next of the state health food code. As of  11/01/2017 - we have brought enough issues to the state health department that they have agreed to open up the code for change, a stakeholder committee was formed and meetings have begun leading to a multi-county pilot program to look at multiple policy changes.  We have also been succesful, through an agency rule petition, in changing the 200-foot restroom rule to 500-feet and this will become effective January 2019. 

Washington State Legislature -  we proposed bill HB 2639, and it passed through the state legislature 03/2017 unanimously, allowing mobiles who meet certain conditions to operate without the costly addition of a full commissary kitchen, which brings us up to date with the 2017 FDA food code.

Issues we are working on now:

Parking prohibitions in multiple citiescurrent code only allows mobile food vending for special events (e.g. Liberty Lake near Spokane, Marysville, etc), limited amount of permits being issued (e.g. Edmonds), no parking on public   property (e.g. Bellevue) etc.

High Event FeesMost event hosts are over charging food trucks to participate in special events. Food trucks are a huge draw to the public and increase foot traffic to their venues.  We aim to protect and defend our members in educating those who organize events to the unique logistics of using food trucks and have a page for this purpose found here.

Department of Transportation Permits - Current SDOT applications for annual curbside vending are very lengthy, costly and not guaranteed, causing a lot of food truck owners not to pursue SDOT vending locations.   Open up Park & Ride/commuter lots and ferry terminals to mobile food vending. (SDOT, Sound Transit, & County owned) 

Lack of fire inspection standards and permit reciprocityNo single NFPA code or standard addressed all the fire protection and life safety challenges inherent in mobile food preparation and service until June 2017.  04/2017 Update - membership has voted to legislate for state-wide fire permitting and to streamline inspections.


Unequal application of state health codes from one county to the next -   

Liquor infused pre-packaged food items -  board needs to define for mobile. 

Washington cities with overly- restrictive parking:

  • Olympia
  • Liberty Lake
  • Marysville
  • Edmonds
  • Everett
  • Lake Stevens
  • Burien
  • Rustin
  • Lakewood
  • Tacoma
  • Renton
  • Kent
  • Auburn
  • Puyallup
  • Bellingham
  • Des Moines

The Washington Constitution protects individuals from economic protectionism. Article I, section 12 of the state constitution—the “Privileges or Immunities” Clause—provides, “No law shall be passed granting to any citizen, class of citizens, or corporation other than municipal, privileges or immunities which upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens, or corporations.”


The purpose of the Privileges or Immunities Clause is to “prevent people from seeking certain privileges or benefits to the disadvantage of others.” From the earliest days of statehood, the Washington Supreme Court counted the right to earn a living among the “privileges” with respect to which the government cannot play favorites. Thus, throughout the early 20th century, the court routinely struck down regulations that burdened the economic liberty of some citizens while granting special favors to others.