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Friday, May 23, 2014

Cartopia, Fear of Change, and the Need to Get More Awesome

Posted by Alex Falcone on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 10:59 AM

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  • Photo: Shanti Braford (Flickr)
The cart pod on SE 12th and Hawthorne is going to become something else. Pretty much everybody on Facebook and Twitter is pissed (to my surprise, Google+ seems to have largely missed this story).

Are we throwing away everything that made this city great? Are we gentrifying ourselves to death? Are we becoming (welp) Seattle?

I find it hard to get upset about a parking lot getting turned into apartments, because the rental market is INSANE and large parking lots are awful. But I'm especially unmoved by a parking lot full of food trucks changing because they're food TRUCKS. They're movable. If we had a culture of food obelisks, that would be different. But these are mobile, they can find a new parking lot.

It's not the only parking lot ON THAT CORNER. If the owners of the empty lot across the street wanted to become instant city heroes, they could offer to move the carts as soon as development starts.

Or the new developers could announce that the apartment complex will have stalls that food trucks can plug into and pledge to keep the leases affordable for current tenants.

Or the trucks could announce they're moving together to a new cool location without all that pesky housing around. Or all getting brick and mortar locations in a micro-restaurant space. Or starting a ska band. It doesn't matter. The point is, the culture of a city doesn't die when eight carts and a tent have to move. The culture is made up of people who want to do cool things and find ways to do them. It's about taking worthless parking lots and turning them into outdoor restaurant/party spaces. Can't that same ingenuity be applied to new buildings?

Of course it can. Portland is an awesome city, but it's also a city that is constantly patting itself on the back for the awesome things it's already done (not to mention the mediocre things it's done). Instead, let's talk about ways to get more awesome.

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