PORTLAND -- The newest place to eat lunch in downtown Portland is Portland City Hall.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Charlie Hales welcomed three food carts to the courtyard in front of City Hall. “Al Forno Ferruzza,” “Saigon Noodle” and “Olympic Provisions.”
The small carts will be open for lunch daily during the week.
"What we saw here at City Hall is that if we don't use this public space as it was intended to be used, than anything could happen here," said Hales.
He was referring to several months of controversy and trouble surrounding dozens of homeless campers living in front of City Hall.
Members of the public complained about illicit activity, unsanitary conditions and arrests connected to the campers.
Hales said the food carts were part of a bigger plan to make the public feel welcome and safe at City Hall.
"It's a space that doesn't look like it's been used traditionally," said Robert Kieta, eating lunch outside City Hall. "To give it a purpose seems wonderful.”
The city plans to set up tables and a coffee stand inside City Hall.
They recently removed security barriers that greeted guests as they entered the building. Security guards continued to monitor City Hall, but in a more proactive way, said Hales.
"We think we will create enough critical mass here, that this will be a place to go downtown," Hales said.