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Discusses food cart ordinance and overwhelming community approach to allowing them inside the city

The roundabout on Highway 213 and Toliver Road is nearly a done deal. Not that it will fully appear in that area in the near future, it's not likely to be fully constructed before 2023, but Council members decided by a 4-1 vote that they authorize City Manager Dan Huff to sign an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT for the project.

The discussion itself was actually in two parts. One is the IGA authorization for the roundabout. The other is the city will have to take out a loan to cover its part of the project. There were concerns, mostly because the city doesn't have $2.2 million it will have to take out a loan to pay its part of the project.

But Huff and his staff had done their homework and provided several methods the city could use for payback.

"ODOT is adamant to make the project happen," said Huff. He cited an infrastructure loan because "you don't have to make payments until you actually withdraw the money."

Another method would be an advance financing district causing nearby residents and businesses to pay a percentage of the trips they make on the highway or Toliver Road. That will depend on the number of properties that would be assessed.

He also suggested SDC payments or gas tax funding. While Huff thinks it might be the worst case used to cover the loan, the money is there through the gas tax and the upcoming payments from the Vehicle Registration Funds could cover most or all of the repayments.

It wasn't necessary at this point to decide on the repayment method. Huff expects the council members to spend time looking over the methods and choosing later.

But there were some serious questions. DeLise Palumbo asked what happens when there are overruns, especially because the city needs to rebuild its wastewater treatment plant. ODOT's Tova Peltz told Council members the staff already has built inflation—labor and materials--into the rate.

"We safeguard overruns," Peltz said. "ODOT is committed to see every point to construction in order to keep the project on target budget wise," she added.

"We need to do this, it may be difficult, but Molalla is growing up and the loan will be attainable," said Council member Jody Newland.

Food Carts

PMG FILE PHOTO: DEBORAH GUINTHER - A taco food cart/truck in Molalla.Recent discussions have led the city to look into a Food Cart ordinance for Molalla. Planning Director Alice Cannon designed and offered a survey to 268 community members and sent out another to 18 Molalla restaurants. The survey opened on Sept. 18 and closed Oct. 15.

Council members appeared in favor of providing food carts/trucks but want Cannon to bring several draft ordinances to them. Cannon hopes to bring back such ordinances in the winter early spring time.

She also discussed the survey responses. The city received 240 responses from the community and only eight from the 18 restaurants. With a response of 97.49 percent the community felt the city should allow food carts or trucks inside the city; only 2.51 percent were against it.

The largest percentage of the community, 87.72 percent said they thought food carts/trucks would be okay in downtown, with 63.16 percent for commercial areas outside downtown and 42.11 percent preferring industrial areas. A large percentage of the community, 75.76 percent, said if a business owner, they would support a food cart/truck in their parking lot. Only 24.24 percent said they wouldn't. And, 97.45 percent said they would purchase food from a food cart or truck.

Most, 75.74 percent of answering residents said they would drive to get food while 15.32 percent they would walk and 8.9 percent said they would use other means.

Stay away

Several of those opposed to food carts were concerned about them taking away from the small town feeling Molalla has. Another suggested that residents can't support the current brick and mortar restaurants. And another claimed that food cart pods in other cities don't have enough parking and create traffic congestion. "Leave the food carts in Portland," a person suggested.

Those in favor were "super excited," "food cart pods would work best rather than individual food trucks here and there," "Molalla needs more dining options." Others suggested they should look good, not be an eyesore, food safety regulations are just as important for food carts and trucks and another suggested the city keep it modest with only a couple of trucks offering different varieties.

Eighty percent of the eight restaurateurs advocated the trucks be in commercial areas outside downtown. Forty percent each suggested they be either downtown or in industrial areas. But 60 percent of those answering replied they preferred food carts/trucks stay away from their parking lots while 40 percent said it would be okay.

The restaurant owners were concerned food carts would negatively impact their current business while others complained they don't have the same operating costs and aren't required to provide restrooms or other amenities. "It seems unfair," one said.


Carol Rosen
Reporter
503-266-7507
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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