Letter to the editor: Time has come to welcome food trucks near ferry terminal

Dear Editor:

It’s time to explore the idea of food trucks near the ferry terminal.

It’s easy to make the case that Edmonds is a destination city for a number of reasons, one being that is a commuting hub: Community Transit, Sounder and the ferries. The Edmonds/Kingston ferry had the second highest ridership in 2018, just behind the Seattle-Bainbridge Island route (4,225,624 and 6,355,278, respectively). By default, we have a captive audience twice a day for those going to and from work. There was also a report recently that passengers are experiencing longer wait times due to a rotation of smaller vessels being used.

Yet, local businesses haven’t been able to capitalize on the opportunity to benefit from this.

I would argue that there are a couple of businesses that may have experience an uptick due to convenience and location: the drive-thru Starbucks on Edmonds Way and Spud Fish and Chips. There are not many fast-casual restaurants along the route from I-5 to the terminal. There are great restaurants in and around Harbor Square, but the limited time riders may have doesn’t create many viable options.

Over the past couple of years, several local food vendors with brick-and-mortar locations and/or that offer catering have expanded their services with food trucks. Having the option to have these trucks located near the ferry offers time-friendly options for commuters as well as provide opportunities to promote their larger businesses. It also provides options for those who live in the area to partake in the selections. Other businesses in the area could also partner with the food truck vendors to have promotional materials available with a “stay longer” message for the Friday commute home.

With the closure of the Copper Pot (and the rumor that a Mexican restaurant could move in to that space), this would be a great time to pilot a food truck program, with “express” items to help prevent vehicle-loading delays. A rotation of two to three trucks during the 4 p.m.-7 p.m. commute time for 60 days perhaps? Though some permissions will need to be granted to make this happen, it is certainly an executable idea.

Alicia Crank
Edmonds

31 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Time has come to welcome food trucks near ferry terminal”

  1. As I’ve stated previously, the Copper Pot location needs a “fast food” restaurant; it is highly unlikely that another specialized restaurant will succeed there.

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  2. Amazing idea Alicia! Great way to support the blossoming industry of food truck folks and satisfy some untapped demand of ferry line folks frustrated in long lines! Love it!

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  3. This is a great idea! Edmonds offers wonderful restaurants but this offers another type of food experience that is quick and convenient.

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  4. Wow! More blight upon the land. Maybe we should have the new “Welcome” sign include some food trucks in its design. What we need is to make the waterfront more “tacky”. Also, I assume the city will extract fees and sales tax from the vendors, as our brick and mortar establishments have already have an unfair disadvantage based on the cost of real property. Will we charge vending trucks “rent”?And, just how well will the brick and mortar along the ferry line do after all this added and more closer service is available.

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      1. Hug. Guess the South Lake Unión área in Seattle didn’t get the memo. You know, where all the tech companies and the Tesla dealership is? Streets are lined with those “tacky” trucks every day. High tech workers making $200k+/year don’t seem to think they’re too good to eat from a food truck.

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        1. This is a gross generalization, most of which isn’t true for a number of reasons. I have worked mere blocks from the South Lake Union area for the last 19 years and have watched it steadily devolve and deteriorate into the current frantic, anxiety-producing mess it now is- firstly, do we really want the Edmonds water front to look like/end up looking like South Lake Union? Please. Next, the vast majority of the workers at the high-tech companies in this area do not make anywhere near $200k+/year, nor do they make $100k+/year, nor do they make even $75k+/year – over the years I’ve chatted with many, many of them and the real figure is $50k+/year or less – for example, due to media coverage, it should be well known by now that the average wage at Amazon is closer to $30k+/year. I also suggest food truck boosters do their homework/research re: the issue of sanitation and food contamination & food borne illnesses here & in large cities across the US where food trucks have become popular – for example, a number of the SLU area company workers whom I have come to know over the years have told me they no longer eat at at the food trucks because of this very issue.

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      2. Profitable for whom? You miss the point, these revenue centers add nothing to the tax base, compete with local business that do. Will they be charged to park here for a few hours? Utilities? Or are they supposed to use carbon producing generators. Who pays for trash pick up, not just at the truck, but that which liters.

        Then there are the safety and ferry line delays caused by the folks enjoying the fare.

        I am not against food trucks, and yes have tried several. I am in favor of them continuing on a limited basis at event as they are now -Waterfront festival, Taste of Edmonds, and Artfest are examples.

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        1. The Copper Pot is private property and you can not park tucks on it because you fell like it, regardless of ZONING.
          For those who think this is a great idea, go open a restaurant, see how expensive it is to do.
          Food trucks are an eyesore.

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    1. How are food trucks a “blight”? They are a transient service serving a transient customer base. They are in and out in a few hours. They offer a mobile, pop-up convenience that is easy to test. You should be intrigued by the chance to deliver a win-win for your community, instead of making up imaginary scenarios. Work on your collaboration skills, bruh.

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  5. I’m trying to figure out how this would work, in terms of space. If the goal is to get ferry riders to buy food as they wait to load, then the trucks could only really be in the parking lot across the street. But most of that is now committed to Sound Transit riders, and when I’ve tried to go for pizza, Thai, or donuts, finding parking is a challenge. To put food trucks in that lot at the cost of parking for the patrons of those restaurants seems like it’s only going to hurt the restaurants.
    I guess I’d rather see some enterprising individual(s) start a business running orders from these restaurants across to the people waiting in line (yes, there are safety concerns with the crossing.) Perhaps in conjunction with those restaurants having a specific “Ferry-fast” menu of items. But that would be more a matter of enterprising businesses, the city need do nothing.

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    1. The term “roach coach” is a prejudiced term that needs to be retired. Food truck is the correct term. Other cities have villages of food trucks.

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      1. Prejudice term according to who…you? Actually it is a term widely used and with endearment…had some of the best tacos, burritos, etc. from food(roach) trucks(coaches)…no PC here!!

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  6. How would food trucks help those waiting on Edmonds Way as for up the hill as 1st Security Bank and further. The actual wait near the terminal is usually no longer that 45 minutes but up the hill it could be up to 2 to 3 hours whilst winding their way down to the terminal holding area.

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    1. Hi Robert. It wouldn’t. However, restaurants in that area could decide to come up with their own enterprise for catering to those waiting in that area by offering express options, for example. There isn’t a solution that would accommodate all commuters, especially those in vehicles. You’d also need to factor in a public safety concern of people running/walking across traffic in both instances, though I’d hope people would cross at an intersection.

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  7. Simply put, this is a bad idea for a number of reasons. I travel over to the Peninsula frequently via this ferry crossing, and I have witnessed *numerous* repeated instances of people not getting back to their cars soon enough to board the ferry when it is their turn and thus blocking everyone behind them & holding everything up. The main reason is almost always obvious: they rush to their car food in hand (Top Pot/whatever) – and I can tell you I’ve never seen any of these folks use a legal intersection – never. They always cross illegally, dodging traffic, aka an accident waiting to happen Do we need more of this? Also, why do we need to provide food options for those waiting in ferry lines? Drivers of nearly every vehicle I see in line are adults – adults can plan ahead and take some food with them – if not, well, too bad for them – they can plan ahead or get food on the ferry. Also, why do local businesses need to “capitalize on the opportunity to benefit from this”? Really? Why? Why does this need to be capitalized on? So we can clutter up the waterfront even more? As another person has pointed out, this is just plain tacky. What’s next – popcorn, cotton candy, and funnel cake vendors? And Edmonds is already way too much of a “destination city” to a very large number of us residents, especially long-time residents – why do we need to make it more so? For the sake of the shallow, empty, and false god “Growth” or sheer capitalistic greed? C’mon – really??

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  8. As much as I like Alicia for a possible future city official, I have to agree with Scott on this one. Looks to me like a solution looking for a problem. If you think you might get hungry or thirsty waiting for the ferry, just pack some sandwiches, cookies and a thermos. Or buy a snack at the grocery store with a large parking lot on the way. (Assuming you aren’t running late for the next sailing, which you probably are). Unless the City bought the old Copper Pot/Skippers location Ron referred to, and made a food truck parking lot for the purpose, this doesn’t look too promising to me. Not likely to happen without use of eminent domain which would be totally unfair and unacceptable to whoever owns that property which has to be worth a small fortune.

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    1. Clifton,
      A great comment.
      For everyone’s edification, stealing land from people is nothing new for the City of Edmonds. They took my father in laws property on the waterfront, after he applied to build the building Arnies is located in. The City said it was for parking and then turned around and built what he filed to build.
      They are attempting to steal the property in front of the condos on the waterfront, taking them to court and costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
      Other citizens have had buildings destroyed on their property, all by the City.
      The City of Edmonds does not care about Citizen rights, only what they want. And then they use tax payer dollars to fight you in court.
      This is your City government at work.

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  9. How much fun would it be to have a gathering of food trucks whilst enjoying a sunset stroll to Brackett’s Landing, the waterfront, the downtown and/or waiting for a ferry? It would be fun to explore these ideas more.
    Of course, safe street crossings would be strongly encouraged.
    I appreciate your creative thoughts, Alicia.

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    1. Food trucks for people visiting the waterfront to watch the sunset would be relatively easy. They could park along the road west of the railroad tracks. But that won’t serve ferry drivers.

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  10. I love this idea! Almost every time I’m waiting for the ferry on the Kingston side, I go to the little crepe place. It’s quick and delicious. It would be nice to have something comparable on the Edmonds side too. There have been many times when I’ve hoped to get on one ferry to get out to the peninsula and have had to wait for the next one.

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  11. As someone who worked on the Amazon campus for a couple months, I loved having the food trucks as a meal option. Food was actually quite tasty. However, they all needed a place to plug in the generators.

    The only place that might work is the former Copper Pot parking lot…. but that would add to the noise level near the ferry terminal. If ferry riders are that concerned about being hungry, either eat before you head to the ferry, pack a picnic lunch, get in line early so you can safely get to/from the existing places to eat, or just plan on eating on the ferry or once you’re in Kingston. There are plenty of options once you’re there.

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  12. One of the things that is not yet clear is how the WSF system plans to handle the new reservation system and how it will impact where people wait for the ferry. The could for example allow people into the current holding lanes only if they have a reservation on the next boat. They would then have to decide where they want others to wait before their sailing time. The state owns or will own other large areas in the area where folks could wait until their allotted time.

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  13. As an FYI: City Code 4.12.055 already allows for food trucks (aka mobile vending units) to operate in the area. https://www.codepublishing.com/WA/Edmonds/

    “Mobile vending units may be allowed to operate within the following commercially zoned areas including unzoned property or right-of-way adjacent to or abutting commercially zoned areas:

    1. Motorized and nonmotorized mobile vending units: neighborhood business (BN), community business (BC), planned business (BP), downtown business zones (BD1, BD2, BD3, BD4 and BD5), commercial waterfront (CW), general commercial (CG, CG2), Firdale Village mixed-use (FVMU), medical use (MU) and public use (P).”

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  14. I love this idea. I’ve seen dozens of food trucks with express/ready-to-go items that people enjoy and locating them near the ferry dock creates a welcoming audience.

    I like Alicia’s idea of giving it a trial run — see how it works, refine it if necessary.

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  15. Hello Brent. I have a good friend living in that condo and I can confirm the City action is causing them great concern. Personally, I’m not sure what the big deal is about walking around the street side of the building anyway. You are on a walk; a little detour is just going to increase the benefit of the walk. Another thing not worth spending tax payer money on, in my opinion. When the tide is way out, I think the public has the right to walk on the beach when it is more interesting anyway. Ownership is out to the mean tide line or something like that I believe. They don’t own all the way to the peninsula for sure.

    After the parking controversy at the park, I’m starting to think I need to eat a little crow about Woodway. Maybe they had it right after all. At least they make decisions and don’t rethink the process over and over; and they haven’t paved and built on every square inch of their available space.

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