Online survey invites input regarding future of food trucks and pods in the city

How do you feel about food carts setting up shop in Beaverton, or the creation of a mobile vendor gathering spot in town offering an array of food choices?

City planners want to hear from you.

A study to determine how mobile food vendors could best operate and serve the public in Beaverton will include input from business owners, property owners and potential customers through an online survey available through April 14.

The study seeks to determine the need and demand for food carts and/or pods in Beaverton, said Steven Sparks, manager of the city’s Planning Division.

The city of Beaverton’s economic development team will gather data on market demand, land availability, effects on business and local economy, the local regulatory framework, and policy options to bring to the Planning Commission this spring. The commission will also factor results from the survey, in which merchants, landlords and interested residents can take part by visiting

The city has about 50 locations suitable for food truck pods, although licensed vendors under current regulations can’t remain in one location for more than seven hours.

The study results from a Planning Commission work session last summer to discuss changing restrictions on food trucks, including hours of operation, how long a truck or cart could remain in one place and grouping multiple food trucks into a collective pod area on underutilized property.

The June 26, 2013, meeting was the first conversation on the topic since the commission in 2009 decided to restrict hours of mobile food cart operation to seven hours with no overnight parking. The more recent meeting set the wheels in motion to explore revamped regulations to encourage more mobile food vendors and possibly designate specific zones or pods where several could set up shop for extended periods of time.

“We’re exploring various options that could potentially expand mobile food vending in Beaverton, while minimizing negative impacts and ensuring the safety of pedestrian and vehicular traffic,” said Alma Flores, the city’s economic development manager. “We know food carts can help stimulate downtown business districts, support the local economy and increase small business growth, but we want to do our due diligence to truly understand what works here in the suburban context.”

In addition to the online survey, the department will conduct customer intercept surveys in and around the areas where mobile food vendors may locate as part of a pilot project to test the pod concept. City staff will compile research on best practices from around the country, along with the survey results into a report of recommendations for the Planning Commission.

Mayor Denny Doyle stressed the importance of involving the community in the decision-making process as regulation changes are considered.

“Beaverton supports business innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “Researching the issue of food carts and understanding ways the city can better support such opportunities is important. We hope the community participates in our online surveys and shares their opinion to help inform any potential policy change.”

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