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Food Cart Pods Aren’t Inspected as Closely as Food Carts, and According to Cart Owners, It Shows

Plus, a bunch of other food cart pods have opened in East Multnomah County, and more news

A group of diners sit around a concrete fire pit surrounded by food carts at Hawthorne Asylum in Portland, Oregon.
The fire pit at Hawthorne Asylum in 2019.
Nick Woo/Eater Portland
Brooke Jackson-Glidden is the editor of Eater Portland.

Some food cart owners at the Hawthorne Asylum pod are not happy with management, according to a new story from Willamette Week: Nine current and former tenants of the pod who spoke with reporter Sophie Peel have described issues with overflowing dumpsters, rodents, and unkempt restrooms (featuring human waste smeared on the floors, according to Willamette Week’s story). Ownership at Hawthorne Asylum told WW that the claims from tenants were exaggerated.

But the alt-weekly says that the conflict at Hawthorne Asylum is tied to a larger, systemic issue with how food cart pods are regulated: While food carts themselves are evaluated by county health inspectors and required to follow a strict set of safety protocols, pods themselves have not been subject to inspections or amenity requirements historically. In January 2022, Multnomah County’s new licensing rules for food cart pods went into effect, requiring pod owners to provide safe drinking water, garbage, recycling, and pest control. However, according to Willamette Week, many of the existing pods haven’t actually applied for a license, and have slipped through the cracks of enforcement. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services does conduct inspections of wastewater disposal, and found Hawthorne Asylum complied with the current city sanitation standards. Read the full story here.

Gresham Welcomes a New Food Cart Pod and Public Market

In less horrifying food cart pod news, East Multnomah County is in the midst of a food cart pod boom, the Oregonian reports. Right around the time Fairview Food Plaza planted its giant fork sculpture at its entrance, Troutdale Station opened its food cart pod with a shared bar and indoor seating area. Up next: Rockwood Market Hall, a food cart pod and public market slowly opening in Gresham. Rockwood will house both food vendors and grocery vendors, with a splash pad and community plaza. A few vendors have opened within the hall, and more are coming.

Oregonians Won’t Vote on Liquor Sales at Grocery Stores This Year

The Northwest Grocery Association has withdrawn Initiative Petition 35, its proposed ballot measure that would allow grocery stores to sell hard alcohol. The association says it would be unable to gather the 112,000 valid signatures required to get the petition on the November ballot.