Portland Commissioner halts odor complaints after closure of pho restaurant

Portland Commissioner halts odor complaints after closure of pho restaurant
via KGW News. KOIN 6
Ryan General
March 7, 2024
A city commissioner in Portland has paused odor complaints tied to restaurants after a Vietnamese eatery was forced to close due to fines.
Driving the news:  Pho Gabo, a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Northeast Portland, was forced to close after escalating odor complaints from a neighbor led to mounting fines. The city’s odor code prohibits “continuous, frequent or repetitive odors” from restaurants. Despite efforts to mitigate the issue — including attempting to grill meat at other locations — the financial strain forced Eddie Dong to shut down his business.
How the community reacted: The closure prompted concerns about the fairness and objectivity of Portland’s odor code, reported KATU. Critics argue that it disproportionately affects minority-owned small businesses and undermines the city’s cultural diversity.
“We believe…the city’s odor code is discriminatory…and not objective by any known standards,” said a joint statement by Rep. Daniel Nguyen, Rep. Hai Pham, Rep. Thuy Tran, Rep. Hoa Nguyen and Rep. Knanh Pham of the Oregon House of Representatives.
How the city responded: In response to the criticism, Commissioner Carmen Rubio’s office met with Dong and initiated an evaluation of the city’s odor codes, reported WW. While any proposed change will need to go through the Planning Commission and City Council for final approval, Rubio’s office has pledged to expedite this review process to address the issue as soon as possible.
This week, Rubio ordered an immediate suspension of odor complaint inspections against restaurants. Jillian Schoene, Rubio’s chief of staff, said the commissioner was “concerned and is raising serious questions about the negative impacts of this policy.”
What’s next: Rep. Nguyen, who is also a restaurant owner, welcomed the temporary pause, saying “I’m glad to see this and Commissioner Rubio is looking at addressing this; this was quite concerning.”
Meanwhile, Dong has decided to not reopen his Northeast restaurant and instead focus on two other locations in the area: one in Happy Valley and another in Hillsboro.
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