Council to move on food trucks

BY EFE AYANRUOH | MARCH 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City City Council will vote today on expanding food trucks in Iowa City based on proposed staff changes.

“There have been requests from members of the public for food vendors to operate in Iowa City,” Councilor Jim Throgmorton said.

For around a year, Kyle Sieck, the owner of the Local Burrito food truck, and Elizabeth Wohlford, the owner of the Box Lunch food truck, have worked with the City Council in order to create an expansion for food trucks in Iowa City.

“Iowa City has worked with us,” Wohlford said. “It has been a great experience.”

The proposed changes would allow vendors to obtain a city permit to sell food in parking stalls.

The vendors would have to be outside of “downtown” as defined in the ordinance, more than 150 feet away from any restaurant, and outside of areas zoned as residential.

The city councilors chose not to allow vendors in downtown because they don’t want to hurt businesses in the area.

“We choose not to increase the number of food vendors because restaurants pay property taxes to operate in the area,” Throgmorton said. “It is unfair, because it will take business away from them.”

The expansion of the food trucks is expected to result in an increase in food traffic in the Iowa City area, Sieck said.

Previously, food trucks were allowed on private property and had a pilot program at city parks, but with the proposed changes, they would be allowed to vend on city streets but only in specific areas.

The city permit would allow trucks and other vendors to operate for a maximum of three hours within a two-hour metered parking space, Sieck said.

Currently, there are six food vendors permitted to operate downtown.

Sieck said the expansion of the food trucks might see an influx of food vendors to Iowa City.

“Usually, when you create a system for people to participate in, they almost always join,” he said.

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