City Council bill would put bidding on the menu for lunch wagons

City Council bill would put bidding on the menu for lunch wagons

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At noon, three food trucks were tucked into parking stalls and serving customers on Mililani Street. Even on the stretch known as "Lunch Wagon Street," lunch wagon operators said it's a daily grind to secure open parking stalls for their mobile eateries.

"Right now we just feed the meter and we can get by with that," said Scott Kurosu of All Kind Grinds.

The City Council is introducing a new item on the food truck menu. Council Chair Ernie Martin has introduced Bill 1 that calls for designating certain parking spaces in the city and outlying areas specifically for lunch wagons. Vendors would bid on the spaces.

Carol Laheny of Ronnie's Express lunch wagon worries about how high a bidding process could go.

"If they charge a lot - forget it," she said.

High bidder would get the parking stall for the length of the permit period. Trucks could park in a designated stall from 10:30 a.m. To 1:30 p.m.

"I think if they have reserve stalls for the wagons, then it's not so bad for the public. We're not cheating them out of stalls at the same time," Kurosu said.

But downtown businessman Byron Graper thinks reserving parking stalls for lunch trucks is a bad idea.

"They want a place to park that's busy. That just happens to be where the general public wants to park also," he said.

Street Grindz organizes Eat the Street events. It supports the permit plan if it includes flexibility.

"They like to move around a lot. So maybe they can have permits that allow them to move to certain spots," Adam Lock said.

Vendor Vicki Siu of Nicky Lunch Wagon said reserved stalls need to be where business is brisk, like Mililani Street.

"If it's over here it's an easy street. Over here it's an hour parking so everybody is rotating," Siu said.

Food truck operators said a bidding process would have to balance against their profit margin which is razor thin.

"I guess that would be the question, whether or not it would be affordable at all," Kurosu said.

The City Council will take public input on the bill in the coming weeks.

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