Ryan Nielsen fixes food inside Mr. Tuna food truck on the Eastern Prom in May 2022 as pedestrian walk by. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Portland plans to continue restricting food trucks at the popular Eastern Promenade to a parking lot on Cutter Street this summer, though after a contentious first year of a pilot program, the city is planning several changes.

The number of food trucks allowed to use the lot each day will be cut in half – seven rather than 14 – to increase space for customers and other park users. The city also plans to add two spots for food trucks at the Amethyst Lot on the eastern waterfront, in addition to the two that are already there.

The city will use separate lotteries to award the spaces in each lot. Food trucks that are in good standing with the city and used the Cutter Street lot in 2022 will be prioritized for a spot on the prom in the upcoming season.

There will also be a seasonal $3,900 fee for the Cutter Street lot, on top of the $546 annual food truck licensing fee.

The plan was announced Friday in a memo from Interim City Manager Danielle West to Mayor Kate Snyder and the City Council. It will be presented to the council Monday, though no council action is needed.

Last year’s pilot program removed trucks from the Eastern Prom roadway to better manage trash, safety and environmental concerns.


But it was also hotly debated, with several food truck operators complaining it was bad for business and staging a protest outside City Hall after the initial lottery excluded some trucks from operating in the park.

West said the new plans are based on two surveys the city conducted, other public feedback, staff observations and input from food truck operators.

Jordan Rubin, owner of Mr. Tuna, which operated on the prom last year, said Friday he is happy to see the priority lottery system as well as plans for some accessibility and safety upgrades.

West’s plans call for installing a walkway and stairs from the Cleeves Monument to the parking lot, a change she said can be paid for with capital improvement funds and which has already been approved by the Historic Preservation Board. The city also plans to install larger trash cans and is considering adding electricity to reduce noise and emissions.

Rubin said he will most likely apply for a spot again this year, though he noted that the added $3,900 fee is a lot to consider.

“If we do it we will go into it with an open mind and try to stay positive,” Rubin said. “We want this to work. All the food trucks want it to work and we’re hopeful the changes the city makes will help with some of the issues we saw last year.”

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