Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


Urban Ecology -- Food carts


We partnered with Friends of Green Loop (FOGL) and City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to conduct a study on the status of the food cart industry in Portland. This was intended to focus on factors contributing to economic resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and other changes to the city’s landscape, as well as barriers to accessibility within the industry for individual vendors. Friends of Green Loop intended this study to be an update to the 2008 MURP workshop Food Cartology, which explored the then recent emergence of the food cart industry in Portland and served as a key business model for recovering from the concurrent recession. ECP conducted an existing conditions analysis, policy review, case studies, and an expansive community engagement process to explore food carts as they exist in Portland today, with the intention of understanding barriers for historically marginalized groups, as well as exploring the potential for adding food carts into the public right-of-way. ECP conducted interviews with community organizations, food cart vendors, and public agency officials to gather input from a wealth of different sources. The results of these interviews indicated that while food carts are celebrated within the city for their placemaking qualities and displays of cultural diversity, vendors often do not have the personal, public, or community resources to easily start their businesses, be successful and respond to threats of displacement. This report addresses this disparity by examining the existing policies and regulations surrounding food carts and identifying strategies that City agencies could adopt to better support this industry. Key recommendations outline details pertaining to the need for better cross-bureau collaboration and plans to mitigate displacement impacts.


Team: Evergreen Community Planning


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