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LoDo food truck ban lifted this weekend

The City of Denver issued temporary rules allowing mobile food retailers to apply for a permit to set up in Lower Downtown.

DENVER — A food truck ban in Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver put in place last month has been lifted, the city said Thursday.

The City and County of Denver issued temporary rules starting this weekend that will remain in effect for 180 days that allow mobile food vendors on Friday and Saturday nights.

>Video above from Aug. 11: LoDo bar owners look for solutions to rising violence.

The temporary rules establish a "Restricted Area" in LoDo (pictured below), where food trucks, peddlers and pushcarts can operate on weekends with restricted hours of operation. No food trucks will be allowed in the Central Business District.

Credit: DOTI

PREVIOUS: Denver bans food trucks on LoDo's busiest streets

Food trucks in the LoDo Restricted Area

  • Food trucks with permits will be allowed to operate in the restricted area between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays listed in the emergency rules.
  • Up to seven spots will be available for food trucks with expanded operating hours from 5 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays in the following locations:
    • 1900 block of Blake Street (up to 4 food trucks will be permitted)
    • 2000 block of Market Street (up to 3 food trucks will be permitted).
  • No changes are being made to Sundays or weekday permit requests.

Licensed food peddlers and pushcarts can operate from 5 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and certain holidays. No changes were made to Sunday or weekday operations.

Mobile retail food establishments should submit an application to the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) for a meter permit between 14 days and 72 hours prior to the beginning date for the permit.

The city said it will begin creating and updating permanent rules and regulations governing mobile food vendors.

“We believe the temporary rules strike the right balance in our efforts to keep people safe and allow mobile food vendors to operate,” said Armando Saldate, executive director of Denver’s Department of Public Safety. “The rules are intended to prevent large gatherings of individuals on the sidewalks and in the streets when the bars let out on Friday and Saturday nights to reduce the potential for conflict and facilitate the movement of people headed home.”

PREVIOUS: Food trucks fight back after LoDo ban prevents them from operating

In response to a significant increase of violence in LoDo this year, and in an effort to reduce the number of people gathering, especially when the bars let out on Friday and Saturday nights, the city banned food trucks between 19th and 20th on Blake Street, 19th and 21st on Market Street, and 20th and 21st on Larimer Street; essentially, the busiest streets in LoDo.

The move came about two weeks after Denver police officers shot a man who allegedly pulled a gun on them on Larimer Street. Six innocent bystanders were also shot.

The shooting happened not far from where Sanjin Mutic used to set up his food truck every weekend to sell gyros to the late-night crowd.

"We’ve all seen the video," Mutic said, referring to the police body cam video recently released. "Very unfortunate situation. What is really frustrating is that it feels like we are the sort of secondary victim of that shooting.”

Mutic is used to selling most of his gyros when the bars let out. He estimates two-thirds of his business comes after midnight, so closing at midnight or earlier is less than ideal.

“Obviously, 1:30 a.m. when everyone rolls out of the bar, it is perfect drunk food," he said. "After midnight is where the real, kind of where the money is."

Mutic said he understands why the city came up with emergency rules for food truck owners, but he doesn't understand the logic.

“If the idea is that there’s going to be less people hanging around here because the food trucks aren’t here, I disagree with that," he said. “There’s a line to get in a bar. There’s a line to get food from a couple of sandwich places that are brick and mortar. There are lines down here.”

Selene Nestor, co-founder of the Hispanic Restaurant Association (HRA), advocated for food truck owners and worked with the city to reach Thursday's compromise.

“Some business is better than no business," Nestor said. “This is not permanent. It might be a temporary solution until something else comes along and we can have everybody back.”

Nestor said she expects to have an open dialogue with the city during the next six months while the emergency rules are in effect.

“Things will get better," she said. "That’s what we’re hoping for.”

PREVIOUS: Bystanders injured in LoDo shooting upset by what body camera video shows

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PREVIOUS: LoDo bar owners look for solutions to rising violence


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