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Bill to give lunch wagons more time heads for final vote

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    A City Council bill that would allow vendors to operate on city roads and highways for up to three hours at a time advanced Thursday. Ronnie's Express Wagon was open for business in Kakaako in December.

A bill designed to allow lunch trucks more time to sell food along city streets is poised for a final vote after the City Council voted unanimously today to give Bill 59 the second of three necessary approvals.

Under the latest version of the bill, introduced by Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard, food trucks and other street vendors would be allowed to park as long as is allowed in a zone with parking limits, or up to three hours.

Food truck owners said police officers were citing them using an ordinance that allows vendors to sell their food and other items only for 15 minutes when stationary on a city street or highway.

Many have left the downtown area where enforcement has been most severe. Food truck owners and supporters warn many will shut down without the bill.

Robert Anderson, owner of The Café Truck, said the recent popularity of food trucks has put many people to work. He recently hired two full-time employees, but those people will be laid off for a week during spring break because they park on a private lot in the university area. That wouldn’t happen if he were allowed to operate on a city street for longer than 15 minutes, he said.

"It may not seem like much but this bill affects a lot of people," Anderson said.

Some have raised concerns that food trucks unfairly take away business from "brick and mortar" restaurants because they do not have the same kind of operating costs.

Council Chairman Ernie Martin said a final vote on the bill will be held on April 3 to speed the process. Usually, bills return to committee for additional work before returning to the Council for a final vote but that step is being waived.

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