PSU Food Cart Pod Lives

The carts near Millar Library won’t have to close July 1 after all, university leaders say.

Nong Phimmoungkhoun at Khao Niew (Rachel Saslow)

After announcing earlier this year that the food cart pod near Millar Library would have to close over wastewater disposal costs, Portland State University has reversed course and told the carts they can stay after all.

“The PSU community made it clear that the library carts are an important part of our campus, and we agree,” said Jason Franklin, associate vice president for PSU’s Planning, Construction and Real Estate in a press release. “We received a lot of feedback and advocacy for the food carts and appreciate all of the support. We’re happy that after careful consideration and assistance from the city of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services, we found a cost-effective solution that protects public health.”

The carts are a mainstay for PSU students, who petitioned to let them stay on campus despite changing state and city regulations for wastewater disposal. The tightening rules come after years of concerns and Multnomah County meetings about rat infestations and wastewater spills at food cart pods, going back to 2017. (Food carts call the dirty dishwater “graywater.”) The rules have been affecting food cart pods across the state since January 2023.

PSU will begin construction this summer to install a new grease interceptor system, bringing the pod into compliance with the graywater regulations.

The food cart owners will foot a rent increase to cover the cost of maintenance and oversight of the new system. The food cart owners were notified of the news earlier this month. Carts in the pod include Khao Niew Lao Street Food, Home Taste Chinese food, and Sheesh Shawarma.

Millar Library itself remains closed “indefinitely” due to major damage and loss from pro-Palestinian and other protesters three weeks ago. The university hopes the library can welcome students again in the fall.

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