The food trucks are coming: City council approves mobile vending ordinance

Local Burrito
Local Burrito owner Kyle Sieck says he supports the ordinance. — photo courtesy of Local Burrito

The Iowa City Council passed and adopted an ordinance Tuesday that greatly expands where and when mobile food vendors are allowed to operate in Iowa City.

Under the new ordinance, which passed 6-0 and comes on he heels of a summer 2014 pilot program, mobile vendors will be allowed to occupy metered parking spaces for up to three hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., with several stipulations.

Graphic via the City of Iowa City
Graphic via the City of Iowa City

Vendors will need to obtain a $1,000 city-issued permit — valid for one year — and will not be allowed to operate in the downtown area, Northside Marketplace, residential zones or within 150 feet of a brick and mortar restaurant. Participants will also be required to pay the parking meters for the spots they occupy. Additional off-limits areas include the Pentacrest and areas within 150 feet of food service operations within University of Iowa buildings.

The ordinance allows participants to sell any kind of food or non-alcoholic beverage. Vendors will be able to operate any day of the week, and for city parking spaces where more than three hours of parking is allowed, vendors may remain for as long as the space legally permits.

Despite the restrictions, vendors have been vocal about their support for the ordinance.

Kyle Sieck, owner of mobile food vendor Local Burrito, says the ordinance will create more options for people to “create a business and participate in culinary entrepreneurship.”

“It’s gone from a zero tolerance policy to a policy that, while not completely wide open, is way better than [before],” he said.

Sieck, who is also a member of Iowa City’s Mobile Vending Association, says he’s already identified some locations close to downtown and the University of Iowa’s campus that adhere to the ordinance’s stipulations.

He expects vendors to launch in mid-May under the ordinance’s new operating procedures, though the details are still unclear at this time, he says. In the mean time, Sieck is already thinking of ways to take advantage of the new guidelines, including hosting a taco-themed event every Tuesday dubbed — you guessed it — “Taco Tuesday.”

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Anthony Brown (formerly of Hillary’s Barbecue) also expressed his support for the ordinance. Councilors adopted the ordinance with a 6-0 vote (with Councilor Terry Dickens absent) without further discussion.

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