At last count, Portland has 596 food carts. Yikes. In recent weeks, KATU news has been hammering away at food carts' unpermitted building boom—food carts around town are expanding with patios and seating areas and many of them don't go through the proper city building code process. This has pissed off some bricks-and-mortar restaurant owners (like Hubers, the oldest bar in town) and, as one city investigator states in a KATU segment, could lead to fires, wind load, and "potential exiting issues." Here's the clip:
Well yesterday Brett Burmeister over at Portland Food Carts responded, worried that cracking down on unpermitted patios could lead the city to shut down carts or draft a new series of rules for food carts. The cart scene thrives in a large part because Portland has steered clear of the hysterical over-regulation places like Seattle slap on their street food.
"I credit and thank the inspectors and hard working individuals at Multnomah County for that success. We have 600 carts because we as a city and a community have chosen not to regulate them in the ways other cities do," writes Burmeister, "I hope the city leaders don’t use this one issue with structures/decks to shutdown or over-regulate a thriving industry that employs many and has become part of our city’s culture, persona and history."
So is this something we should be worried about? I've never feared for my life on a food cart patio, but I do think the city should fairly enforce building codes for all restaurants.