Food truck trend rolling out east

Food trucks have been rolling around Auckland for a while now, but they’ve recently been making their way out east and causing debate around the Howick Local Board table.

With an increasing number of mobile coffee vendors and food truck operators asking the board for permission to operate in Barry Curtis Park and Lloyd Elsmore Park, Garry Boles lead of the parks portfolio, says this is something worth discussing.

Boles says while he sees the value in embracing the urban food truck trend in east Auckland, which can bring a “real vibrancy and fun” to the community, there are many other considerations.

He says we have to look at how food trucks will impact traffic, how it will affect business for surrounding restaurants and how to keep the parks clean.

“One of the most important [considerations] is understanding the potential impacts it might have on local businesses,” Boles says.

“The guys running a business up the road say ‘we have to pay rates, pay for staff and water and all the rest of it whereas these guys set up down the road, they don’t pay any rent, they don’t have any expenses, but they can undercut the living daylights out of us which is really unfair because I’ve got a business to run’. And you can see their point.”

However, Boles says he is worried that if vendors aren’t given permission they will set up illegally, which he has seen happen many times as a police officer.

“In the past I have had a lot of people who are doing it illegally and what they were doing is they were causing a lot of damage to the parks by driving their cars up onto the reserve and things like that,” he says.

“So you have a catch 22. Either you give these people a designated area where they can sell stuff and it’s a controlled environment, or you don’t and they just set up and go where they please.”

In a controlled environment, Boles says, mobile food vendors will help create a hub of activity in the Howick Botany ward that will bring the community together, particularly over the summer months.

“They can perhaps pay for a spot to be there which covers the cost of taking the rubbish away and cleaning or providing a toilet and water and those things,” he says.

“And once we start to set this up, the possibilities are endless. We can have a sound booth with bands set up down there and the whole thing and turn it into a real heart of the community.”

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