HomeAsian AmericansPotentially discriminatory code will be updated after Pho restaurant closure in Portland

Potentially discriminatory code will be updated after Pho restaurant closure in Portland

The City of Portland is working to update its odor code after a pho restaurant closed because of smell complaints, KOIN 5 reports.

According to NBC News, Pho Gabo’s northeast Portland location closed on Feb. 3 after several anonymous odor complaints were made against the restaurant. The business was facing a substantial fine due to the complaints.

The complaints have all been filed by one person, a neighbor who lives nearby Pho Gabo NBC News reports.

Eddie Dong, the owner of Pho Gabo, first learned of the complaints in September 2022.

“They complained to the city, and the city came down,” Dong told NBC News. “They say ‘odor,’ but it’s just food, grilling meat.”

The city stopped all investigations of odor code violations related to food businesses in March after learning of Pho Gabo’s closure.

Asian American lawmakers expressed concern about the neighbor’s motivations when filing the complaints.

Reps. Daniel Nguyen, Hoa Nguyen, Hai Pham, Khanh Pham and Thuy Tran wrote in a statement that the current code is discriminatory and unfair.

“We believe that, as currently written and enforced, the city’s odor code is discriminatory and not objective by any known standards, leaving out certain, minority-owned small businesses,” the lawmakers wrote, according to NBC News.

“Policies may start with good intent, but they may have some of these unintended consequences,” Nguyen said, per NBC News. “They also could come from a place of implicit bias and trying to — not overtly — but indirectly trying to limit certain communities from doing business activity in certain areas.”

Portland Commissioner Carmen Rubio said Wednesday that her office will be updating the policy through the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

“I am very concerned and am raising serious questions about the negative impacts of this policy,” Commissioner Rubio said per KOIN 5. “After my staff met with the impacted business owner, it became clear that the City’s regulation and enforcement of odor issues is outdated and needs a more fair, practical, and equitable approach. My goal is to see the code changes happen as soon as possible.”

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