DENVER (KDVR) — City officials are now rethinking a current food truck ban in the Lower Downtown neighborhood, which could have them return as soon as next weekend.
That’s where food trucks have been banned from operating for the past few weekends after safety concerns in that area. The Denver Police Department hopes the move will thin and calm the crowds at closing time.
The Problem Solvers learned that city officials are looking into lifting the ban as soon as next weekend, although city officials have not made any official announcements.
“The city is working on emergency rules that may allow for the issuance of some permits on blocks where meters have been red-bagged recently, but the details are not yet finalized,” said Nancy Kuhn, with the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.
This comes just days after a scathing letter from a nonprofit law firm called the ban unconstitutional.
However, attorneys representing food truck workers said DPD has already decided to let six food trucks return to that area as soon as next week. Those attorneys called the decision senseless, saying the city cannot just raffle off people’s constitutional rights.
LoDo food truck ban targeted as unconstitutional
The ban currently prohibits the trucks from operating between the 1900 and 2200 blocks of Blake, Market and Larimer streets on Friday and Saturday nights.
This comes in the wake of that shooting where police hurt six bystanders when opening fire on a suspect they say pointed a gun at them. That video was released just this week.
“The city needs to repeal this food truck ban entirely and it never should have been created to begin with,” Justin Pearson said. He is a senior attorney at the Institute For Justice, a nonprofit law firm that aims to end abuses of government power.
“The fact that the food truck owners are innocent, law-abiding business owners, but they’re being targeted while the brick-and-mortar bars and restaurants are being allowed to operate there — there is no constitutionally legitimate reason for that distinction,” Pearson said.
Attorney: Food trucks keep communities safer
It’s a distinction leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many food truck owners, including Mohammad Alissa, the owner of Gyros Town.
“It’s a good business,” Alissa said. “I serve my community, happy, we never close. Even during [coronavirus] time, we were open, serving from the window.”
“Whenever powerful people make a mistake, they try to blame less-powerful people,” Pearson said. “Food truck owners tend not to be politically connected, right? They tend to come from disadvantaged backgrounds. They’re trying to earn an honest living to support their families.”
Pearson also argued that food trucks keep communities safer.
“We’ve actually looked into this and time and time again: The research has shown that if you want neighborhoods to be safer, bring in food trucks,” Pearson said. “They are law-abiding citizens who are eyes on the street. Sometimes they’ll even help out police officers. So just, generally speaking, if you want the world to be a safer place, you should love food trucks. That’s doubly true in LoDo, where you have people who are intoxicated, leaving bars and heading home. You want those people to stop at food trucks and have a bite to eat and sober up before they drive home.”