Unanimous vote! Food trucks (almost) legal

Good news and more good news for food trucks this week: The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to lift the 15-minute stranglehold on doing business on city streets, and that change is fast-tracked for a final vote in two weeks!

What does this mean? When the changes to Bill 59 pass, food trucks will be allowed to park, cook and sell to customers on any city street on the island, not for the current 15 minutes — not even enough time to heat up a fryer — but for the full time allowed by the meter. If the meter has no time limit, trucks can do business in that parking stall for up to three hours.

And barring any opposition at the final hearing on April 3, the mayor will sign the change into law. There was zero opposition at the City Council hearing Wednesday, zero at the last hearing on March 1st.

Which means (not to get ahead of myself, not to bachi, pleasepleaseplease) welcome back Tacoako Tuesday! Welcome back Tiki Truck’s fusion tacos and gyros by the court building, welcome back eggy Puffettes waffles on Ward Avenue, welcome back Fairycakes to the heart of town! Welcome back food trucks all over this town, welcome back to all the hungry places you fled when police began enforcing Bill 59!

And for Abe Jazzmin, owner of Tiki Truck, the vote means he won’t go down in history as a criminal. Cited for violating Bill 59 early on when no truck knew it existed, Jazzmin showed up for his court date Feb. 29 and was told prosecutors would drop the charges if the City Council amended Bill 59 by April 8. A guilty verdict could have cost him fines and jail time, on top of the lost income he’s already suffered by staying off the streets. This is Jazzmin immediately after the City Council vote.

Those trucks and supporters who showed up at Honolulu Hale waited three hours beyond the predicted time for Bill 59’s hearing. Others tuned in to the livestream on Olelo. And then when Bill 59 came up, suddenly bumped up ahead of its scheduled place as the last item on the agenda, many very nearly weren’t there. People ran in, about half wearing the truck movement’s signature teal, the rest without enough time to pull on the teal T-shirts Poni Askew lugged in with her, and filled a corner of the cavernous chambers just in time for the show.

Cafe Truck testified that the 15-minute limit is hurting jobs the trucks provide. Askew testified that without changes to the bill, the burgeoning food truck industry could die. Councilman Nestor Garcia said support for the food trucks has only been growing. Council member Tulsi Gabbard, who spearheaded the changes to Bill 59, said action is urgently needed because the food trucks are hurting.

And then there was a vote, and it was unanimous, and the food truck bill was put on the fast track for final passage, and then it was over. Ten minutes. It was very good day.

Photos courtesy of Chuco Townsend @darqlabs