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The City of Portland, Oregon

Development Services

From Concept to Construction

Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

I want to operate a vending cart on private property

The building and zoning codes regulate vending carts on private property like new buildings that must meet all building and zoning regulations. EXCEPT carts that meet certain criteria can be considered vehicles exempt from regulation as buildings.

Meeting building and zoning regulations for a building may be very expensive or impractical.

The criteria to be considered an exempt vehicle:

  1. The cart will sit on an existing paved parking area that is zoned to allow retail uses
  2. The cart will not be more than 16' in length
  3. The cart has wheels, and the wheels will not be removed
  4. Any canopies, awnings or any other attachments are supported entirely by the cart and do not touch the ground
  5. The unit is self contained, with no plumbing connections

Vending carts that are exempt from building or zoning permit may still need an electrical permit, and any electrical work done on or to a cart must be done by a licensed electrical contractor. No electrical permit would be required if the unit is already completely wired and can simply be plugged in to the power source, similar to an appliance. An extension cord cannot be used to connect to a power source.

If your vending cart cannot be considered a vehicle because it would not meet one or more of the above conditions, please visit our Development Services Center (DSC) to talk to staff. Or, you can call (503) 823-7542 and talk to a small business liaison who, can put you in touch with the appropriate technical staff. It can be very difficult to get a development permits for a cart, on private property when the cart can't qualify as an exempt vehicle.

The DSC is on the ground floor of the building at 1900 SW 4th (4th and Harrison). We encourage you to get in to the DSC earlier in the day rather than later. The wait times get longer as the day goes by.