It’s always important to understand the permanence of things. Not long after a problem is presumably solved, we must ask, “How long will our problem be solved? Will the problem be gone forever?”
As it relates to the problem of the Alder Street food cart pod in downtown Portland, answers to those two questions are as follows;
“At least until Autumn” and “No”.
Everyone involved in the effort to relocate the Alder Street food carts northward says the move is seen purely as a temporary remedy.
However, they hope — it can become a permanent solution by way of a separate project, called the Portland “Culinary Corridor.”
I’ll save that for another time.
According to the current plan, Alder Street food carts would go into the North Park Blocks and stay there through at least late September, or possibly mid October.
It’s not clear what could happen after that. The food trucks may be able to sustain themselves in the North Park Blocks or some (or all) of them may be forced to move again.
For the time being, the Alder Street food carts are getting relocation support from the Portland non-profit “Friends of The Green Loop”, which has launched a Go Fund Me Page.
Volunteers with the group hope to collect $300,000. Here’s a link for that.
They want to help Alder food carts pay for certain relocation expenses, particularly, installing reliable electricity in the North Park Blocks.
At the present time, there isn’t much reliable electrical access which food trucks, especially dozens of them, might use.
Also included the current plan for the North Park Blocks, PBOT would block all vehicle traffic along NW 8th Ave. and NW Park Ave. near West Burnside.
Of course, shutting down these vehicle lanes would accommodate heavy foot traffic around the food carts.
A PBOT spokesman tells me 8th Ave. and Park Ave. are both lightly traveled by vehicles in that area (most cars are going east and west to and from I-405, not north and south) and so shutting down those north-south lanes should not be a problem.
Here’s a look at some of the conceptual artwork. It’s what a new food cart pod at the North Park Blocks might look like;
The larger point for everyone to remember is — new food carts at the North Park Blocks may not stay in the North Park Blocks for long.
There are all kinds of different variables which might trigger another relocation.
There could be complaints. People may complain about how the food carts are trampling the park. People in the neighborhood may complain that the food carts are attracting more “undesirables” to the area. Drivers may loudly complain about the lane closures along 8th and Park.
From a business perspective, the location may just be bad. There aren’t MAX or Street Car stops as close to the North Park Blocks as there at Alder & 10th. People who have grown accustomed to associating the food truck pod — with Alder Street — may also not seek out the pod’s new location.
When I spoke to the representative with “Friends Of The Green Loop”, he told me, “this is an experiment”.
I suspect it will be useful for us all to remember that.