Food trucks: a solution to endless parking lots

Utah’s major cities are filled with oversized parking lots.  They’re ugly, hot and reduce walkability. And sometimes they even take up entire city blocks:

A massive parking lot in downtown Salt Lake City.

A massive parking lot in downtown Salt Lake City.

In an ideal world we’d fix these spots by building on them. But until that happens, how can we solve the problems they pose?

During a recent trip to Portland I saw one cheap and easy solution: food trucks. Portland’s food trucks are famous, of course, but I didn’t realize until I went there that they often ring parking lots:

IMG_2557

A front view of food trucks in Portland.

A rear view of those same trucks.

A rear view of those same trucks.

The picture above shows that behind the food trucks lies a large and ugly parking lot. Walking along the front side of those trucks, however, is fairly pleasant; the street feels comfortable, engaging and varied. It’s obviously a far superior experience to walking along the side of a sea of asphault.

The great thing about this idea is that it’s fairly quick and cheap to do, and it can be changed with relatively minimal work. If a developer wanted to build on the lot in the picture above, for example, there wouldn’t be many physical barriers. Much like Granary Row in Salt Lake City, this shows the potential and flexibility of pop up urbanism.

This idea is already being tested occasionally in Salt Lake City:

A food cart in a Salt Lake City Parking lot.

A food cart temporarily set up in a Salt Lake City Parking lot.

Utah’s urban centers have so many parking lots and such a dispersed population that there’s no way we could immediately achieve the same effect I experienced in Portland. But we could use this idea to fill in some of our dead spaces. And in the end, that would be a huge improvement.

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6 comments

  1. Pingback: Here’s a Provo food truck making a parking lot awesome | About Town

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