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Jersey City Food Truck Operators Upset About New Fees, Relocation

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - In Jersey City, lunch hour is about to get a major makeover.

The changes are frustrating for some owners of food trucks.

During the lunchtime rush in Jersey City, workers flood down from their offices to grab a quick bite to eat at the dozen or so food trucks on Grand Street. But this is the last week the trucks will be allowed next to the waterfront. A new ordinance is pushing them to other streets, where they will have to pay to park.

Nearby Sussex Street will cost $40 a day, and busy Montgomery Street is $200 a day.

Some truck owners say this will kill their small business.

"$200 a day to stand on Montgomery Street is a lot of money," said Jocelyn Alabana of Bubby's Burito's On Wheels. "Taking pretty much 50% of our profits and besides the other 50 that we make, we need it to buy ingredients for the food, gasoline, gas. You know, we're a small business. It's not like we make a huge amount of money."

"I'm here five days a week, it can be 15-18 hours a day," said Fayiz Khal of the Tradewinds truck. "We can't pay $1,000 a week to survive when we're not making that here a day. We're not even seeing $500 a day. We're not seeing those kind of money. I don't know why they came up with that number."

Stacey Flanagan, director of Health and Human Services in Jersey City, says offering Grand Street for free was a pilot program to drive businesses to the waterfront. Now the trucks are taking away business from brick and mortar restaurants that have fully invested in the community.

"Over the last year, more businesses have come to the waterfront, and as such we're seeing more and more food trucks, and they're starting to park on top of each other, too close together. So therefore we have some issues with some of the propane tanks being too close to engines of other trucks," Flanagan said.

She says the new price to park was based on general parking costs, as well as the real estate value of setting up shop in the space.

"We are trying to equal the playing ground of new business owners that are investing in community," Flanagan said.

CBSN New York's Meg Baker spoke to patrons who say the food trucks are all about convenience and having options in the neighborhood.

"I think it's messed up," said Mike Plaisant, who works in the area. "It's not right because there's not enough places to eat as it is."

"The variety. You can switch it up every time you come," food truck patron Matt Corrado said. "Probably not as often, but maybe once a week."

That's the fear of most of the owners that Baker spoke with: That their daily clientele may not have the time to walk around the block to pick up a quick meal.

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