Des Moines, IA: Des Moines Leaders to Review Law on Downtown Food Vendors
The taco trucks, ice cream carts and other food vendors often seen at downtown festivals could become commonplace if Des Moines leaders move forward with plans to make the area more food-truck friendly.
Council member Brian Meyer on Monday asked staff to review whether the ordinance governing food trucks and wagons could be modified for a designated area of downtown.
Meyer first promoted regulations for such businesses about six years ago. He said he’s been rethinking what needs to be done downtown after hearing from residents and interested operators and reading about frustrations at the lack of vendors in The Des Moines Register’s Juice magazine.
“I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Why aren’t they downtown?’ And I can’t give them an answer,” Meyer said Monday night. “The regulations we have on the books may cause a little bit of an issue with them starting up and operating out of the downtown area.”
Food truck vendors are required to obtain a permit. There are 18 in Des Moines right now, Meyer said.
Operators also must set up in the same location every day but move for a certain amount of time daily and provide a restroom within 500 feet for workers and customers.
Meyer and council member Chris Hensley, who represents downtown, both expressed support for creating an overlay district from the East Village to the Western Gateway that would have different requirements from elsewhere in the city.
Hensley said it’s important to make sure police concerns are taken into consideration. Two years ago food trucks were banned in the downtown area between the hours of 1:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. because of police concerns about unruly crowds at bar close.
David Slinker of Des Moines came to Monday’s meeting as someone “just starting to explore” the possibility of operating a food truck.
“I think it would enhance downtown nightlife and make a good addition to the area,” Slinker said after the meeting.
Also Monday, Bill Lillis, an attorney for St. Augustin Catholic Church, told the council those interested in moving two houses from church property will have until Aug. 15 to submit relocation proposals.
St. Augustin sued the city in June after staff didn’t immediately issue demolition permits for the houses.
City staff said they had not determined if the church had met a requirement to offer the houses for relocation before they were torn down.
The lawsuit was dismissed last week.
Lillis said the church is working with its insurance company to offer two dates in the next month when interested parties can visit the homes at 4005 Grand Avenue and 4011 Grand Avenue.
He said St. Augustin leaders never intended to keep and maintain the houses as residences and has been upfront with plans to redevelop the property.
Though there are no immediate redevelopment plans, Lillis said the property would not be used for parking.
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