Sometimes the best solutions to urban problems are the simplest. Portland, Oregon is allowing unused parking space to be used for food vendors, increasing economic activity in otherwise dead spaces.

“Outside of downtown, carts are forming neighborhood-oriented clusters” on vacant parking lots, McInelly points out. “At SERA we have promoted food carts as a low-cost urban design solution” — an interim idea for locations where there is no market for buildings.

via Food carts take the curse off Portland’s parking lots.

This is a similar phenomenon as the weekend farmers market taking over a church parking lot. Potentially, the City could authorize through zoning bylaws, sections of parking areas to be managed under a lease arrangement . The manager could then rent space to vendors, and be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the site. Unfortunately, many established businesses see this as a threat to their economic wellbeing, rather than potentially increasing the overall activity in an area. Remember, competition is only a threat if you fail to(a)  innovate or (b) offer a quality product at a reasonable price.

Here’s some other links about Portland’s Food Cart scene.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.