NEWS GLEAMS | Food Truck Restrictions May Ease, Robert Lightfeather Inquest Hearing Postponed

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

✨Gleaming This Week✨

Photo depicting three packaged takeout meals containing Vietnamese food from Mami Tran.
Packaged meals from Mami Tran, a Vietnamese food truck. (Photo: Mami Tran)

Seattle Department of Transportation Considers Removing Restrictions on Food Trucks

Since the City began allowing food trucks in 2011, Seattle has been a relatively difficult market for these vendors to navigate. In 2019, a 12-month “Food Truck Nation” study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation ranked Seattle and 19 other cities based on the ease of obtaining permits and licenses, complying with restrictions and operating a food truck. Seattle was among the top five most difficult when all factors were considered, though it came in second when it came to high fees for permitting and licensing, as well as involved bureaucratic processes. 

According to The Urbanist, food truck operators presently face many restrictions operating in Seattle, including but not limited to: being 50 feet away from other food establishments and public parks; 1,000 feet away from schools; and limited to two food trucks per each side of any street. They also cannot vend near parcels of land zoned as low-density residential.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is now considering changes to the City’s approach to food trucks, as Seattle recovers from the pandemic.

“Most notably, the requirement that trucks be 50 feet away from other food service businesses would be removed, as would the cap on the number of food trucks per block. The department may still impose a cap on a case-by-case basis, however, ‘depending on site conditions, and to ensure an appropriate balance between private activation use and public access and mobility,’ according to the draft regulations,” The Urbanist writes.

The distance from schools and low-density residential zones would also potentially be eliminated, though in all instances, SDOT would retain the right to deny vendors based on their discretion.

Vintage 90s photo depicting the old neon sign of the Pink Elephant Car Wash.
33-year-old Robert Lightfeather was shot by Federal Way Police in 2017, outside of an Elephant Car Wash. (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, 135473.)

Inquest Hearing Into Fatal Shooting of Robert Lightfeather Postponed After Officer Tests Positive for COVID

Monday, Aug. 22, was originally slated to be the King County inquest hearing into the 2017 killing of 33-year-old Robert Lightfeather by Federal Way police officers, but the hearing has been postponed after one of the officers tested positive for COVID-19.

Lightfeather was shot by officers and died from multiple gunshot wounds after he reportedly pulled a gun on two men outside of Elephant Car Wash on Pacific Highway South in Federal Way. Detectives said he later pulled the gun on police who arrived on the scene; they shot him as a result.

King County is unique in Washington in that it requires an inquest jury be convened for every death caused by law enforcement. The Lightfeather inquest is the third of at least 56 pending inquests into police-related deaths in the county. County Executive Dow Constantine halted the inquest in 2018, following complaints from families of police officers who felt that the process was unfair and biased against police. Following a reexamination of the inquest process and the implementation of some changes, Constantine resumed them in June 2019.

South Seattle Emerald extensively covered the previous inquest hearing into the death of Charleena Lyles in July; the inquest hearing into Lightfeather’s death can be expected to follow a similar format.

Photo depicting construction workers in orange and yellow high visibility vests and white helmets gathered around on an under-construction West Seattle Bridge.
Construction crew gathers on the West Seattle Bridge. (Photo: Tim Durkan, courtesy of SDOT Photos under a Creative Commons, CC BY-NC 2.0 license).

West Seattle Bridge on Track to Reopen Sept. 18

In a press release issued on Aug. 11, the Seattle Deparment of Transportation (SDOT) shared that crews working on the West Seattle Bridge are in their final stages of renovation.

“This will depend on the successful completion of remaining work including a final set of epoxy injections and carbon fiber wrapping, paving, installing safety inspection platforms inside the bridge, and robust safety testing. All restrictions on the Spokane Street Swing Bridge (also known as the West Seattle low bridge) will end on the same day,” writes SDOT.

The West Seattle Bridge closed in March 2020 when bridge inspectors discovered cracks growing rapidly on the 40-year-old structure.
Follow updated on the SDOT blog, YouTube, or Flickr.

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