Lahaina is booming and the ever increasing cost of office space has many entrepreneurs turning to unconventional ways to save money. Every day dozens of workers are now using Veilcorp’s spacious public parking lots as makeshift co-working spaces. The practice has raised questions about car-centric city design in the age of veil travel, and the high cost of living in West Maui. Veilcorp says they don’t condone the practice, and are taking steps to remove anyone found doing business in the lots. Those working between the lines say they are not breaking any laws, and are leading a public space revolution.
It’s a typical Monday morning in Lahaina and the long term parking lots at Veilcorp’s flagship facility are starting to fill up. While some will soon find themselves thousands of miles away on pleasure trips, an increasing number are staying put for business. Veilcorp’s extended parking lots are becoming one of the hottest business and networking spots on the island.
Most work and plan from the comfort of their car, but by lunch, dozens are taking calls from clients while sitting in folding chairs, using card tables and in some cases coolers, for tables. The air is filled with the smells of food cooking from a communal grilling area someone has set-up in area F. The whole scene is more reminiscent of a family reunion than a high pressure boardroom, and that according to Veilcorp spokesperson Lisa Hunt is the problem. “It has become a safety issue and it has to come to an end,” she says.
“The problem has gotten way out of hand. We’ve seen people fight over their favorite “office” spaces, and even a case where someone set their car on fire trying to grill in their back seat. There are people talking on their phones or ceremplants wandering out into traffic, and people running over office supplies while trying to park. We understand that it’s hard to find affordable space in Lahaina but using our parking lot is not a viable option. Our public network is free and accessible to everyone inside at one of our many cafes. Unfortunately we’ve a hard time convincing some of these people to leave our lots for our lounges.”
One such lot lover is Gary Puniwale. Gary says he appreciates Hunt’s position but says he plans to keep using the lot to conduct his business. He says, “The long term lot may not be the most breathtaking spot on the island but it easily beats sitting in a cubicle under fluorescent lights all day.” Gary says that he’s been working from the lot for a few weeks, and thinks it’s time for the public and city planners to rethink their car-centric view of utilizing space.
“We live in a time where cars are becoming less and less important to many people. If you look at an aerial view of any city it’s hard not to notice how much space is taken up by parking lots. It just makes sense that we start opening up some of these valuable areas for the public good. Since Veilcorp is directly responsible for this shift in how we all get from one place to another, I think it’s fitting that they are at the front of this new workspace revolution, even if they don’t want to lead the charge. The truth of the matter is that the lot is awesome! The price can’t be beat and the speed of the public Veilcorp network is comparable to what I was getting from my old ISP. To me, working from the parking lot has been a revelation. I just hope we can come to some kind of agreement with Veilcorp because I don’t think I can make it through a meeting unless I get to do a little tailgating at the same time now.”
While both sides seem to be entrenched in their positions, local author and amateur sociologist Kevin Marrow claims he has a solution to the problem that can make both parties happy. “After a deep dive into the socioeconomic factors and safety issues at play here, I’ve written a manual that addresses everyone’s concerns, and can work as a roadmap to cooperation in the future,” he says.
“My manual, “A Lot of Rules” is a comprehensive guide of best practices for turning any parking lot into a safe work environment. In addition to covering all the forms of harassment and unacceptable actions one might expect in your typical workplace, A Lot of Rules answers many lot-specific questions and offers numerous illustrated guidelines. I cover how to safely grill in your car, with rules like always keeping a window open. I give tips on: how to stay aware of moving vehicles when you’re in a meeting, a list of common office products that can absorb oil or other automotive fluids, why you should always share food if you cook out in the open, and what to do when a coworker keeps stretching their legs over the painted lines and into your spot. I’m trying to create a good parking lot culture and a HR handbook that works for everyone doing business in a parking space. If they would only start responding to my inquiries, I’m sure Veilcorp would see the wisdom and solutions held inside my blue binder.”