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Portland Food Cart Regulation


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#1 Jamesongrrl

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Posted 31 October 2010 - 01:12 PM

KATU Food Truck Segment
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#2 TastyTidbits1

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 06:22 PM

This is picking up momentum. Today's news segment said the city is looking into this and is concerned with some of the construction and possibly fire safety issues. I like the little patios and covers around the carts, but while some are extremely well built, others do look pretty sketchy.

I agree structures should be safe but think most of this is unwarranted. Let the carts co-exist with B&M operations. For me, they serve different culinary desires and in the end, is it cool to stamp out your competition? Who is next?

#3 ExtraMSG

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 06:53 PM

Truth is that carts compete with McDonald's, Subway, and Taco Bell more than anything. I think it's part of the reason why Portland-proper has so few of these places and because Portland has so few of the big fast food chains is why carts do well. As per usual, the "outrage" is always late anyway. I've noticed that a few spots trying to encourage cart pods are having problems now and I really think there's going to be a lot of fall-out this year. I keep talking to carts who are way off their expectations. It's a cart-bubble.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#4 superdog

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 08:58 AM

Hot Dog Vendor Jailed for Operating without a licnese...


This guy went on Roadfood.com forum and want to fight the Health Dept. for forcing him into a contact with a commisary before his cart will get inspected, and brought up his constitutional right about being forced into a contract, and therefore the contract is void. The road food forum is here:

http://www.roadfood....utional&mpage=1


I guess he ain't kidding when he says he wants to fight the health department. Come to OR, you will be able to do whatever you want!
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#5 ExtraMSG

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 04:29 PM

Unable to build a box-on-wheels that satisfied city planners, Pruner ended up purchasing a “professional” pushcart for $2,500. Next, he set out to get a vending permit from the city, but found out he also would need to get a health permit from the county. Total cost: $150.

Before he could get a health permit, however, he’d need an inspection. To get an inspection, he would have to enter into a “commissary agreement,” requiring him to prepare his food, wash his cart, and store his supplies in a permitted restaurant or commissary.

Pruner claims it’s nearly impossible to convince a restaurant owner to enter into such an agreement, unless you are a friend or family member. Those who do make the agreements hardly ever honor them, he said.

“They’re supposed to go there every morning before they open and in every evening after they close, but no one does,” Pruner said. “It’s just a piece of paper. Once they get it signed, they’re cleaning their carts at home just like I did.”

Finding the rule an “undue restriction” on what he deems his “constitutional right to work,” Pruner chose to ignore it and to open his business — Outlaw Dogs — without permits about nine months ago.

Since then, the health department has tried to shut him down three times — first politely asking him to leave his vending spot, then issuing a cease and desist order and suing to have him declared a “public health hazard,” and finally having him jailed for 24 hours on Oct. 27.


He has a point. It seems what he's asking for is fair and reasonable. And I can't knock a guy for being willing to go to jail to get his point heard, as long as he's not being violent.

But then, there are more than a few laws/policies here in Oregon that unfairly burden brick & mortar restaurants that I'd like to see changed. I just am not going to get in the way of a food cart trying to unburden themselves from bad laws just because I have to deal with bad laws.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#6 superdog

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 06:42 PM

For what it is worth, everyone goes thru it, what makes him especial?
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#7 ExtraMSG

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 07:28 PM

It appears that he's not just trying to get out of it himself, but also wants the rules changed.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#8 gturillo

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 09:36 AM

"Portland city inspectors are reviewing the electrical and structural safety of food carts and the decks, patios and rooftops that owners have added. City Commissioner Randy Leonard said Wednesday that he vaulted them to the top of building inspectors' priority list after touring a downtown food cart pod.

"I was very alarmed by what appeared to be illegal structures popping up as appendages to food carts, which no longer make them food carts but illegal restaurants," Leonard, who oversees building codes, said in an interview.

Leonard's move was prompted by a KATU report on the illegal additions and comes as Portland's food carts continue to attract national attention. The carts have become a symbol of Portland's creative-class twist on tasty food. ..."

Full Article Here:
http://www.oregonliv...eonard_tar.html

#9 Amanda

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 12:54 PM

He's always got a bug up his ass about something. First the Made in Oregon sign, safety codes, etc., etc. I used to like the guy, but the way he muscles with his power ticks me off. Even though he may be in the right and may have the law on his side I'm not likely to vote for him again.

Best regards,

Amanda

#10 Angelhair

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:11 PM

I think there needs to be some safety regulation with the structures. Perhaps not as much as with a sit-down restaurant, but a happy medium between that and a cart.

#11 John DePaula

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 02:17 PM

Agreed. I mean, you don't want to see these structures tumble at the first strong gust of wind.
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You cannot legislate compassion into your fellow man (or woman, as the case may be), but we should at least attempt to create a society in which each individual has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. If we meet our citizens' needs for Health Care and Education, everything else will take care of itself. --Me

#12 superdog

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 03:02 PM

Standing on a small wooden deck in front of a food cart waiting for a tasty Vietnamese Banh mi sandwich -- two for $6! -- it's hard to see the harm in the ragtag line of decks, patios and roofs that front the row of carts on Fourth Avenue near Portland State University.

It seems a stretch to claim there's something inherently unsafe about the ad-hoc structures, most of which are made of pressure-treated lumber and are nothing more than small places to step up, out of the Portland rain, and wait for your order.

But if you look closer, there is something unfair about the seating areas and other unpermitted add-ons tacked on to many of the nearly 600 food carts in and around Portland.

Sit-down restaurants in Portland and other Multnomah County cities face a raft of taxes, fees and regulations right down to how many inches of sidewalk they can take with any outside chairs. That given, it hardly seems fair that a food cart, or "Mobile Food Unit" in the terminology of Multnomah County health inspectors, be allowed to knock together a few benches, tack on a roof and invite customers to sit down for a steaming plate of pad thai.

Prompted by a recent report on KATU on what seem to be illegal additions onto food carts, Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard, who oversees the city's building inspectors, has promised a complete review of the electric and structural safety of food carts, especially their add-ons. Leonard's governing style and record of code enforcement does not generally lend itself to subtlety and fine distinctions, but that's what's needed here.

Under the relaxed regulations in Portland and Multnomah County, food carts are considered "vehicles" and the owners aren't required to pay personal property taxes on the value of kitchen equipment in the way that restaurants do. But a food cart fronted by a cedar deck and covered seating area hardly seems a "vehicle" any longer.

Leonard has ordered the city's building inspectors, whose offices happen to face the 17 food carts stacked on the parking lot on Fourth Avenue, to focus on decks, patios and electrical connections installed without permits. Leonard's right to look first at any possible issues of public safety, but eventually he'll have to address the more difficult questions of fairness and equity in the city's treatment of food carts and restaurants.

The city's regulatory approach should be to let carts be carts, and restaurants be restaurants. The problem here is that many cart owners seem to have stepped over the line by illegally building semi-permanent structures onto what, after all, are supposed to be mobile carts.

There's never going to be an "even" playing field between food carts and restaurants. They are different businesses even though they often compete for the same customers.

However, Portland, which has encouraged the growth of food carts through regulations far more generous than those in most cities, has an obligation to enforce the bare minimum of rules meant to encourage a food cart culture, not a restaurant shantytown.

Seating areas and other unpermitted structures should be removed. We'll take our Banh mi sandwiches to go.


Link to original article...
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#13 superdog

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 05:34 PM

Recently The Oregonian and the Portland City Council have concerned themselves with the food carts populating our streets and neighborhoods. With some 583 now in Multnomah County, and more in the rest of the metropolitan region, food carts have become a newsworthy and praiseworthy bright spot in difficult times.


For a few bucks, city residents, employees and employers, visitors and lucky passersby can find food worth eating. What would ordinarily be urban dead zones -- vacant lots, parking lots and empty sidewalks -- get new life in a down economy without public subsidy. Small entrepreneurs get a chance to ply their craft. Established restaurants and nearby businesses get walk-by traffic that would never be there otherwise.

Opinions differ about the aesthetic appeal of our food cart pods. The Oregonian's editorial board warned of them turning into "restaurant shantytowns," while we'd join Jane Jacobs and William Whyte in calling them the kind of urban street life that other communities can only dream of. In short, food carts are helping to make Portland distinctive among its peers and more engaging for its residents. These are real accomplishments in an economic hard time in need of stronger communities and civic life.

Nonetheless, we couldn't agree more with important concerns for safety. No one should risk health and wellbeing either preparing a $5 sandwich or consuming it. Building codes exist for a reason, and they should be followed. Keep in mind that few people start out to make life dangerous for others, and codes exist to ensure that it doesn't happen by accident.

Most food cart owners, in fact, want to make the experience of city life a positive one. Food carts that don't do so work against their highest aim: repeat customers. However, building code enforcement can also be a blunt tool, one-size-fits-all prescriptions that snuff the creativity and passion that's helping to make Portland vibrant on a shoe-string in the midst of the recession.

Interestingly, we've been here before. For years homeowners were adding decks, sheds and other code-invoking improvements to their homes. Many of these were created without permits and represented the potential for real harm to residents, their visitors and subsequent owners. Rather than relying solely on code enforcement, the city recognized that lowering barriers to handy homeowners was a better solution than simply shutting them down. Homeowners Night at the Permit Center was born to make it easier to do the right thing, and many did.

Today, the city is at a similar crossroads. It could send in the enforcers and demand solutions, or it could work with the food carts to create solutions that keep the public safe while acknowledging a public desire to keep the food cart phenomenon rolling. Fundamentally, food carts are run by small entrepreneurs with limited time and expertise. Like homeowners circumventing the permitting process, a collaborative solution would be a better path to achieving the results we all need and want to see.

Simply stated, this is first a problem-solving not a code-enforcement opportunity. Why not try a collaborative approach first? Why not convene inspectors, owners and cart pod landowners together to identify the problems and come up with solutions with as much creativity as the cart phenomenon itself? Why not simply show as much intelligence and commitment as was demonstrated with the institution of homeowners night many years ago? And, yes, why not continue with a light touch as food carts evolve both in form and function as part of a vibrant city?

No one should expect to get any kind of pass from complying with building codes. But how we implement those codes really matters. Portland is a better place because at various points in our history, we've chosen to do things a little differently. This is one of those points in time where a little different will go a long way toward sustaining a lot of good.

Ethan Seltzer is a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University and is a former president of the Portland Planning Commission. Chris Smith is a member of the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission.


Link to the original article
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#14 superdog

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 07:26 AM

"One of the questions that came out of Commissioner Randy Leonard's focus on food carts last week was whether he would pursue an overhaul of how the city regulates the parking lot pods.

The city treats the carts as vehicles and Leonard could explore a specific code to more tightly regulate the carts, as some fire inspectors would like to see. Leonard said Monday that he has no plans for such an overhaul given that his Bureau of Development Services is half the size it used to be and has other priorities.


For now, Leonard and BDS are focused on bringing the carts' illegal decks and patios up to code. The city sent violation notices to the owners of two downtown food cart lots: The Saltzman family lot on Southwest Fourth Avenue and the Goodman family lot on Southwest Third Avenue.

City Center Parking, the Goodman family company that manages both lots, sent notices to cart owners on both lots asking them to apply for building permits by Dec. 15 or risk being evicted.

The city's permit folks are hosting a meeting with the food cart owners from those two lots on Wednesday. Food cart owners with permitting questions can call BDS at 503-823-1456."


Link to the original article

I wonder how long does it take for the City and the landlord to completely just drop this. Too bad if someone get hurt then and made it to 6 o'clock news, then the City will do something about this.
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#15 superdog

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:35 PM

They filed in, picked up a pair of city handouts, and then sat down with their notebooks and grumbles. One guy, reviewing the papers in his hand, had this to say: "This is bullshit."

He was one of nearly 100 food cart operators who packed a city conference room this afternoon to learn more about Commissioner Randy Leonard's crackdown on illegal porches and decks that have flourished in a pair of food cart pods downtown.

That crackdown was rumored for weeks, an issue first broken by KATU. But it got rolling this month after Leonard announced at city council that he was making the structures—worried about the chances of fire and collapse—a higher priority for the city's building inspectors than checking nuisance houses.

At times, the session grew slightly heated—no surprise given the popularity and passion over the city's food carts. Letters went out last week to landlords at two pods where complaints have been lodged, at SW 4th and Hall and SW 3rd and Washington, and vendors have been worried they might lose their spots.

But aside from the occasional mutters, vendors mostly came with questions. They wanted to know how many hoops they'd need to run through if they wanted to make their structures legal. They asked about details like clearance between the carts, or what kinds of awnings and ramps are permissible without needing a permit.

"This is an unusual meeting," Leonard told the room, noting the city was forgoing fines, typically the first step in any enforcement push. "But normally you don't build a house and then seek a permit and find out if it's okay. We're trying to help you succeed while trying to find out if your structures are legal."

Want more wonky food cart details? Keep reading!

Before the Q&A portion of the afternoon started, officials from the Bureau of Development Services a primer on the city's complaint and enforcement process and then laid out how and why cities have building codes and the various other inspection cart owners would have to endure to get legal.

In Portland, the definition of what's a building—and thus covered by the permit process—is "very broad." In short, It's almost anything that touches the ground. Among the exceptions: the carts themselves, provided they keep the wheels on. Same for small storage sheds and awnings physically connected to a cart. Tents are okay, provided they don't stay up permanently, meaning no more than 180 days a year.

But while officials said operators were welcome to try to get permits for the porches they've already built, some of them incredibly elaborate structures containing benches and tables, they also basically urged them not to bother trying and to tear them down instead. (They have until early January to get legit, but may get more time if they attempt to tackle the permitting process.)

It can cost hundreds of dollars, they said, and not work out in the end. Owners need to show BDS inspectors their carts won't won't collapse under the weight of snow, or in an earthquake or a bad windstorm (that means digging a foundation). Then there's the approval from the fire marshal and possibly other city bureaus, like the Bureau of Transportation, if a cart or its paraphernalia block the sidewalk.

"If you try to permit these, it will be very difficult," says Terry Whitehill, the BDS official who oversees the team that reviews building plans. "It is not an easy thing to do."

Greg Goodman owns City Center Parking and controls the lot hosting the 3rd and Washington pod. He spoke toward the end of the meeting and acknowledged that his staff could have done a better job monitoring his lots before cart operators sunk their hard-won profits into restaurant-like additions. But he also said carts, by definition, are supposed to be noblemobile, no matter how much business they do.

"To a certain extent, you guys are a victim of your own success," he said. "We want to work with you."

Reid Barrett, who slings Asian dumplings at Dump Truck over at 11th and Alder said something to Leonard after the meeting that he acknowledged wouldn't make him very popular. With other vendors, that is.

"I don't think people appreciate the leeway they're getting."


Link of the Original Story

Some of the comments from the readers I found pretty entertaining, very self serving and self entitled.
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#16 ExtraMSG

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:43 PM

I'm merging all the food cart regulation threads to have one on-going discussion thread on the subject. Please post new links or comments here as well, please.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#17 superdog

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 11:05 AM

Thx ExtraMSG, it is a lot less clutter now.
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