Opinion

No cruising, food trucks and graffiti | Q&A with Mr. Federal Way

A
A 'no cruising' sign in front of the Federal Way Barnes and Noble.
— image credit: Mr. Federal Way, the Mirror

Q: Mr. Federal Way, why don’t we see food trucks in town?

A: Well, KCDeez BBQ, a food truck, sells pork, chicken and ribs at the Saturday Federal Way Farmer’s Market, as well as food truck Johnny Pineapple’s, which sells shaved ice and corn on the cob. Last year and years prior, Lumpia World Cuisine sold Filipino-Chamorro-Japanese fusion food before opening their store in Federal Way.

Mirror staff also just informed Mr. Federal Way that event coordinators for the Wednesday Farmer’s Market are trying to get Lumpia to come back for their market during the Town Square Park debut in July, however, it seems their brick and mortar building has closed. Also, last summer the Northwest Global Fest featured food trucks, but it’s doubtful that event will return this summer.

So why not more food trucks, you ask? It could be the city code that stops more from wheeling on over, or maybe vendors don’t think there’s a market in Federal Way. Nonetheless, city code states food trucks and carts are more than welcome to serve at one location if it’s less than four hours a day. Business owners need only obtain a business registration or a temporary business registration. The city states that an example of this type of food truck would be an ice cream truck.

Any food truck owner who wants to operate more than four hours a day, permanently, is subject to the licensing a brick and mortar business has to undergo and abide by city zoning code.

A temporary food truck is allowed in a residential zoning district for not longer than seven days twice during a year. Food truck owners can get extensions and all that jazz, but it comes with hourly review and fees. For those who want to set up shop in a nonresidential zone, and are temporary, they can do so for no more than 45 days. Fifteen-day extensions are allowed but is also subject to the extra fees.

It’s a lot of code jargon that just means Federal Way welcomes food trucks, and Mr. Federal Way does too and is always hungry enough to visit them.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, what is ordinance 90.35 and why is it listed on a sign beneath the words “No cruising?” I saw the sign in front of the Federal Way Barnes and Noble and find it peculiar.

A: Mr. Federal Way’s first thought was that the city is trying to prohibit low riders looking to show off their custom Cadillacs, Chevrolets and Chryslers. Or the city is trying to prohibit prostitution, though Mr. Federal Way finds it hard to believe that pimps or prostitutes would hang out in front of a bookstore. But Mr. Federal Way found out it appears they’re just trying to control some traffic issues. And since there are no signs in the city that says “no code jargon,” Mr. Federal Way will throw some more of that your way.

According to the city of Federal Way Revised Code, chapter 8.35 explains “no cruising” areas are areas designated by the City Council. The areas typically have a “history of traffic congestion, obstruction of streets, sidewalks or parking lots, impediment access to shopping centers or other buildings open to the public, interference with the use of property or conduct of business in the area adjacent thereto or that emergency vehicles cannot respond to that area with a reasonable period of time.”

The chapter states there are exceptions to the law — hence ordinance 90.35 — which doesn’t apply to people who live in a “no cruising” area, as well as emergency vehicles, taxicabs for hire, buses and other vehicles driven for business purposes. People violate this “no cruising” law if they drive past a traffic control point more than two times in the same direction in a two-hour span in the no cruising area. The third time is considered a violation. The chapter doesn’t state the action taken for such a violation, but Mr. Federal Way assumes it’s some type of fine.

Bottom line, don’t get caught driving in that area more than two times in the same direction in the same two hours. If Mr. Federal Way wants to buy a book about golf or visit the H-Mart for some Korean noodles, Mr. Federal Way will make sure to find a good parking spot so Mr. Federal Way doesn’t have to keep circling the lot and risk violating the “no cruising” ordinance.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, there is so much graffiti around the city and it makes Federal Way look ugly. Do you think the city is doing enough to target taggers?

A: City officials have said there are two part-time employees dedicated to graffiti removal (Mei Nong and Jack Johnson). There’s also a new pilot program that the city is considering funding. The Utility Box Art Pilot Program would decorate utility boxes with art to deter taggers. And, yet, graffiti still shows up and taggers prevail.

Graffiti is a fact of life if you live in a city. While some pieces of “art” are just plain ugly, many can have an artistic spin or a deeper meaning. Look at world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy. If you don’t recognize him, a Google search should suffice.

Banksy’s work is now worth thousands for his thought provoking, politicized messages in the form of art on city walls. So, is the city doing enough to target taggers? Mr. Federal Way thinks the true question should be, “Is the city doing enough to create opportunities for public art, political messages and activism in the form of art?” Should city officials even be responsible for such an initiative? Mr. Federal Way thinks the Arts Commission probably should. A 2012 Mirror article touched on whether a legal graffiti art wall would be a viable option for Federal Way.

While Councilman Bob Celeski was open to the idea, Councilwoman Susan Honda said the research showed positive and negative outcomes. But Mr. Federal Way has to wonder, is Federal Way’s graffiti law stunting the potential of a local Banksy somewhere? Will he or she move to Seattle and could we lose a legend because of some overprotective city laws that don’t entirely work?

Q: Mr. Federal Way, what’s this Paradiso Festival I keep hearing about? Are you going?

A: None of your business.

Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com

 

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