Portland will be gathering feedback on its food truck pilot program in East Park this fall as some food truck operators say they haven’t been up and running and are looking for changes before next season.
Danielle West, the city’s interim manager, said Monday that the city aims to launch a survey on October 3 to gather feedback from the public. The program, which began this spring, has moved food trucks from a Picnic Road to a Cutter Street parking lot to better manage concerns about litter, pedestrian safety and traffic around the trucks.
“The food truck program was a pilot program,” West said at a city council meeting Monday night. “We did not charge a fee and were balancing a range of different interests, including those of all the different users of the park and the food trucks themselves. With this in mind, we will be running a survey and I encourage everyone to reach out to me and give me feedback.”
Several food truck operators also spoke at Monday’s meeting, saying the program was not working and encouraging the city to make changes.
“Within a week of being forced to relocate, we saw everything we had built vanish before our eyes,” said Jordan Rubin, owner of Mr. Tuna, a mobile sushi restaurant that has been operating on Eastern Prom for the past few years. “Truck transportation did not address any of the issues at hand and actually caused more issues with safety and parking. The sad truth is that this move negatively impacted small businesses like ours.”
Rubin said he was forced to cut business hours and staff because of the lack of foot traffic at the new location and asked the city to allow trucks to operate again on the prom route. “We as small business owners have been willing to work with the city to make prom a safe, clean, and beautiful destination for years to come,” said Robin.
La Mega owner Joe Radano, another vendor on the show, said he understood concerns about things like garbage from trucks, but said he thought a “happy broker” could be reached, and asked to add the issue to an upcoming agenda.
“Right now we don’t have the same view we had before (when the trucks were at the prom),” Radano said. “People don’t even know we’re there. They say, ‘Oh, we thought you were gone.’ It was hard for us.”
West said October 14 would likely be the deadline for a response to the survey. “Then we will have some time to review all the materials and make a recommendation to the staff,” West said. “Our goal is to review this in November with the Parks and Sustainability Commission and to eventually formulate a program that could be in place before next season.”
West also presented to the board on Monday the results of a financial analysis that she and staff conducted at an estimated cost of $6.5 million to implement a list of citizen referendums and proposals from the Charter Committee to be considered by voters in November.
Mayor Kate Snyder, who requested the analysis, said she did so because while such analysis is not required at the local level, it is part of the state’s process of putting citizens’ initiatives on the ballot.
“Since 2020, there have been questions about[the election portion of the city code]how we do it locally, and whether we would benefit from any changes and it would cost us anything,” Snyder said. “That is why I asked him. I hope this is useful for us and useful for the voters.”
Chancellor Tai Chung was the only chancellor who spoke in referendums on Monday night. While the financial note notes a cost of $6.5 million for the city, the cost to the broader economy could be much more, he said.
“It could be the number of tourist dollars that don’t come into town because Airbnb is[restricted]or because minimum wages force servers to leave if restaurants close, or because cruise ships decide not to come here,” Chung said.
In other news Monday, the council voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the city’s pesticide use law – now renamed the Land Welfare Act – that would largely ban the use of synthetic fertilizers and require property owners to follow best management practices when using organic fertilizers. . The Council also agreed to amend the decree submitted by Snyder to delay implementation for a period of six months.
Sustainability director Troy Moon told the board that if synthetic fertilizers are used in larger quantities than necessary, they can be a major contributor to water pollution and that many of them are also made from fossil fuels.
“The intent of the commission is to focus on soil health and organic land practices, so adding chemicals to soil does not generally promote improved soil health,” Moon said.
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