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Beaverton approves food cart pods

City moves from prohibiting to embracing groups of mobile restaurants.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - For now, one of the nearest places for most Beaverton residents to enjoy the food cart pod experience is The Eating Place at Aloha Mall. New rules in Beaverton could bring similar mobile restaurant clusters to the city by next year.As expected, the Beaverton City Council on Tuesday gave its final OK to allowing food carts to gather in the city.

“Food carts can really add to the vibrancy of a city,” Mayor Denny Doyle said in a press release. “Beaverton has some of the best ethnic restaurants in the region—and with the addition of even more choices, residents and visitors will choose Beaverton when deciding where to eat.”

At the meeting, the council quickly adopted the amendments after a required second reading, making the rule changes official without further comment, but Doyle and council members previously had expressed strong support.

In fact, those amendments have been discussed for years, and a 2014 survey showed that more than 90 percent of potential customers and more than 70 percent of business owners said more food carts would help Beaverton.

Don’t expect the first food cart pod to spring up immediately, however. The new rules will take effect in mid-September, when property owners can begin applying to host mobile food servers.

However, it may take owners time to prepare property to meet city requirements. Also, mobile restaurants often do better business in warmer months due to their lack of indoor seating.

Unlike Portland and several other jurisdictions, including unincorporated Aloha, Beaverton currently bans food cart pods by prohibiting mobile restaurants to remain in one location more than seven hours or to locate more than one cart on a site.

Under the amended rules, multiple food carts could remain on a single site continuously.

However, the city’s rules do have additional health, safety and livability standards, including:

• Pods must be located on asphalt or concrete surfaces for sanitation and access purposes

• Food cart pods that provide seating must provide access to restrooms on site or on an adjacent parcel

• Structures for customer use must remain under 200 square feet and 15 feet in height

• Pods must be set at least 20 feet from residential zoning districts

• A minimum of one parking space per cart is required in commercial and office industrial zones. There are no parking minimums for food cart pods in multiple-use zones

• Potable and wastewater connections must meet state plumbing code

• Carts must use electrical hookups (no generators allowed)

• All utilities must be located underground

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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