LIHUE — Kauai County Council unanimously voted to defer a bill on Wednesday that would allow vending on county-owned streets.
“We have meetings set up with business owners in Kapaa, Koloa and Hanapepe, and I want to be able to come up with a happy medium,” said Kauai County Councilman Ross Kagawa.
Bill No. 2628 seeks to allow people, through a revocable permit, to set up shop on county-owned streets during events like Kapaa First Saturday, Hanapepe Art Night and Truck Stop Thursday.
“We wanted to make it more equitable for everyone across the island,” said Lee Steinmetz, transportation planner for Kauai County. “The county felt there is a value to having these types of events; they stir economic development and are fun for both residents and visitors. So, from the county’s perspective, it’s about how can we support the people who want to organize the event so they can control their event while making sure they are safe.”
The bill was drafted using existing laws and ordinances, like the peddlers and concessionaires permitting process, as examples, Steinmetz said.
If passed, the bill would give organizers of events control over who sets up and where, he said.
“There’s an existing state law that prohibits vending on state roads when it’s unsafe to do so,” he said.
The bill requires organizations, like the Kapaa Business Association and the Hanapepe Economic Alliance to pay $100 for a permit. The permit requires a site plan and certificates for each vendor.
During public comment, several members of the HEA spoke in favor of the bill, saying it would allow them to keep people from setting up wherever they want.
“The importance of this bill is that right now, there’s no one in charge of Hanapepe Art Night, which opens us up to liability,” said JoAnna Caroline. “When someone calls us about wanting to be a vendor, all we can tell them is there is no vending allowed on county property, and if they want to set up something, they have to work it out with a private property owner.”
Sometimes, they do that. But at other times, vendors set up on streets because no one tells them they can’t, she said.
HEA never expected for Hanapepe Art Night to expand the way it did, she added.
“Without authority, anything goes, and people will set up wherever,” she said.
Judy Page added: “We cannot go out into the streets and tell people they can’t set up somewhere.”
But Lonnie Sykos believes the language of the bill needs to be cleaned up.
“It’s very poorly written, and I’m grateful it’s going to be re-worked,” he said. “It’s full of ambiguity, and I’m concerned about unintended consequences.”
One of those consequences is picking “winners and losers,” he said.
“The language is so vague about whose eligible to use the property,” he said.
Bill No. 2628 will be discussed in committee again on July 27.