By Megan Kehoe
A dispute involving dumpling carts downtown and the city of Bend has prompted the city to work more closely with Bend Police to ensure downtown street vendors are complying with city code.
“We’re working more with the police to help with enforcement so they’re aware of where vendors are supposed to be,” said Terri Shepherd, the city’s street vendor program coordinator.
The effort comes shortly after Dump City Dumplings, a food cart that has been a presence in downtown for four years, had its downtown vending license temporarily suspended by the city for not complying with city regulations. Carolyn Eagan, the city of Bend’s business advocate, said the suspension occurred after reports the food cart was selling in a location it wasn’t assigned by the city.
Eagan said the owners of Dump City Dumplings missed the lottery deadline earlier in the year and lost their location on NW Bond Street and Oregon Avenue for 2014. The license has since been reinstated, and Dump City Dumplings was selling Dumplings Friday on its assigned corner of NW Wall Street and Oregon Avenue.
“Like any good business, they had a strong affiliation with their old corner,” Eagan said. “From what I understand, they were not happy with the corner they were assigned and started vending from where they wanted.”
Dump City Dumplings, owned by Keith Shayon and Dan Butters, had operated on the corner of NW Bond Street and Oregon Avenue since 2010. After missing the lottery deadline in January, which allows vendors to list preferred corner locations before a drawing, the cart was assigned to the corner of NW Wall Street and Oregon Avenue.
According to Shayon, Dump City continued selling dumplings on its original corner, subletting it from the vendor who won the spot in the lottery, Jingshi Lin. Lin owns The Manchurian, a new food cart that also sells dumplings. The Manchurian began to occupy its assigned spot in May, said Lin’s husband, Mark Davidson. Dump City Dumplings moved shortly thereafter.
But the new location also proved to be a problem. The Bend Fire Department responded to a fire code complaint lodged June 13 about Dump City Dumplings operating too close to the eaves of La Magie Bakery, 945 NW Bond St. The responding fire marshal asked Dump City to move to avoid a fire hazard, and the cart complied, according to the report. Dump City Dumplings was not cited by the fire department in the incident.
Di Long, the owner of La Magie Bakery and Cafe, wrote in an email that Dump City Dumplings had permission to operate in front of the bakery.
“We have an agreement with La Magie to use some of their private property to operate from and were indeed notified, but not cited, by the fire marshal on one of the handful of nights we were there that we needed to make some changes to ensure a safe environment, and we promptly complied,” Shayon said in an email.
In the fire department report, responding Deputy Fire Marshal Susie Maniscalco noted, “Apparently there is a dispute amongst the owners of this food cart, the city of Bend, and another on the corner of Oregon and Bond.”
The fire department report did not list the reporting party of the possible fire code violation, though Davidson wrote in an email sent to the city June 24: “I checked with the fire department … to see if it was legal to have propane powered burners under the second floor. They told me it was not and requested that (Dump City Dumplings) vacate the spot when he set up there the next week.”
Calls to the fire department about the issue were not immediately returned.
“If they (the fire department) say there’s a dispute between myself and Dump City Dumplings, they are incorrect,” said Davidson. “My dispute was with the city. The city, in my view, apparently wasn’t enforcing code.”
In Davidson’s June 24 email to the city , he listed a series of city codes he believes Dump City Dumplings violated, including those related to noise, electrical cord and generator issues, and food cart operations. Davidson also expressed his frustration that the operation was not cited by police officers for these alleged infractions.
“It appears that at every opportunity, Keith made the decision to not follow the codes and has put his cart where he wants to put it, after paying for the permit allowing him to operate only at NW Wall and Oregon,” Davidson said in the email. “A point of contention for the other sidewalk vendors is simply this, if the rules are not enforced, can we not also go where we want?”
Shayon declined to speak about any possible dispute between the food cart owners. He also said his cart’s vending license being suspended resulted from a misunderstanding between Dump City Dumplings and the city.
Davidson said he saw Dump City Dumplings in the past month operate in several locations downtown that he did not believe it had city permission for. He also said he’s seen food carts downtown plugging into city electrical outlets when they weren’t supposed to per city code.
Food carts that have permission from private property owners to operate do not need the city’s permission, but they must comply with city and fire codes, said Eagan.
Dump City Dumplings’ permit license was suspended by the city June 26, but Shayon said Wednesday that the business owners sat down with city officials and resolved the issue , and its permit for its 2014 assigned location has been reinstated. Shayon said the dumpling cart would begin operating in its assigned spot again on July 4 during First Friday Art Walk festivities. Eagan confirmed Thursday that the permit had been reinstated.
Eagan said it’s the first time something like this has occurred with the program and that vendors moving from their assigned locations hasn’t ever been an issue.
Partially in response to the incident, the city has created a vendor map, and Eagan said the city is distributing it to the police and fire department to clear up any confusion about who is supposed to be where.
“Food carts have become a real viable food option for people, and we’re looking at the best way to manage this business practice,” Eagan said. “We’re working with all the vendors to have the best relationships possible.”
Shepherd, the vendor program coordinator, also said she has never heard any complaints about vendors setting up in places they weren’t supposed to until the recent incident.
Davidson said he believes the city has addressed his concerns.
“I think they’re doing a better job of (enforcing codes),” said Davidson. “My dispute with the city was resolved.”
Shayon said he has never had issues in the past with city code regulations other than one noise complaint two years ago, which cart owners complied with when asked by police.
Shayon said he looks forward to operating the dumpling cart again in its assigned spot downtown. He also said he’s happy to see the growth in Bend’s food cart scene.
“The (street vendor) program is continuously evolving, and the city has been tremendously receptive to it,” Shayon said. “It lets people pursue their dreams, and we’re grateful for that kind of environment.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0354, email@example.com .