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After having spent the past month in Portland, Oregon, it was interesting to read a study on the food truck economy prepared by the Urban Vitality Group (UVG) in partnership with the City of Portland's Bureau of Planning.

Among the conclusions:
• "Food carts have positive impacts on street vitality and neighborhood life in lower density residential neighborhoods as well as in the high density downtown area."

• "When a cluster of carts is located on a private site, the heightened intensity of use can negatively impact the surrounding community, primarily from the lack of trash cans."

• "A cart’s exterior appearance does not affect social interactions or the public’s overall opinion of the carts; seating availability is more important for promoting social interaction than the appearance of the cart’s exterior."

• "The presence of food carts on a site does not appear to hinder its development. "

• "Food carts represent beneficial employment opportunities because they provide an improved quality of life and promote social interactions between owners and customers."

The study goes on to recommend that the city should a) "identify additional locations for food carts.," b) increase awareness of informational resources for stakeholders in the food cart industry by connecting them with existing programs.," and c) "promote innovative urban design elements that support food carts."
KC's View:
I had a long conversation with a retailer in Portland who has real problems with the food truck culture, feeling that it is unfair to people and companies trying to build more traditional and sustainable enterprises. I get that, and am sympathetic.

But I have to tell you, in visiting and patronizing several food trucks during my time in Portland, I've found that they represent a kind of entrepreneurial fervor and food-driven culture that I find to be refreshing. Whether it was pulled pork or beignets, the food was good, affordable, an the people in the trucks were enthusiastic about what they were doing. I was impressed.