Portland, Ore. — Portland State University (PSU) vendors are rallying to prevent the closure of a popular food cart pod located on Southwest Harrison by the Millar Library. The pod, consisting of four carts – Asian Fusion, Home Taste, Khao Niew Lao Street Food, and Sheesh Shawarma – faces closure by July 1, 2024, due to the university’s decision to sever ties, citing wastewater disposal concerns.

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The closure threat has prompted strong resistance from vendors like Faisal Obeidi, owner of Sheesh Shawarma and a PSU student. Obeidi expressed concerns about the potential shutdown, stating, “As a business student here, I’m trying to thrive my business. Slowly, I feel like they’re trying to take that away from me.”

University officials highlighted the lack of infrastructure, specifically the absence of a connection to the sewer system, as the primary reason for the impending closure. Currently, the pod relies on gray water tanks, requiring regular disposal by haulers. However, the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services issued a compliance order to PSU after documenting improper disposal of grease and debris, mandating either connection to the sewer system or closure.

Jeff Martin, interim environmental health director with Multnomah County, emphasized ongoing efforts to transition food cart pods to sewer connections, though no definitive timeline for enforcement exists. In response, Obeidi initiated a GoFundMe campaign, aiming to raise over $40,000 to cover sewer connection costs for each cart and resist closure.

PSU vendors view the potential closure as detrimental to campus vibrancy and are actively seeking alternatives to remain in their current location.

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