Aug 3, 2022 - News

Denver's ban on LoDo food trucks may be permanent to curb crime

Illustration of a bowl and fork forming a "no" symbol
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

You may need to trek a bit farther to find a food truck if you leave downtown Denver's buzziest bars hungry.

What's happening: The city has temporarily banned truck operators from serving late-night bites along certain stretches of LoDo to break up crowds and crack down on downtown crime.

  • Blocks included fall between 19th and 20th streets along Blake Street, 19th and 21st on Market Street, and 20th and 21st on Larimer Street.
  • The ban, which has spurred backlash from business owners, could be a "permanent change," a spokesperson for the Denver Police Department tells Axios Denver.

Why it matters: The move marks another blow to a struggling downtown that appears to have lost its luster, and another strike for small-business owners still struggling thanks to the pandemic.

What they're saying: DPD claims that relocating food trucks will help push people to leave downtown after closing time and keep large gatherings from creating safety concerns.

  • In the meantime, the city is working with food truck owners to find new spots or refund their permits, says Mayor Michael Hancock's spokesperson Mike Strott.

Of note: The city's decision comes just weeks after Denver police shot an armed man in LoDo and injured six bystanders exiting area bars. DPD and the mayor's office say the new policy was not prompted by the incident.

The other side: Food truck owners are infuriated, and industry leaders say operators have been unfairly "targeted."

  • The city's decision "affects us big time — this is our life, our income," Mohammad Alissa, ​​a five-year LoDo food truck operator of Gyros Town, told 9News.
  • "[N]o food trucks have caused any problem for any reason," said Osama Abdol, owner of Gyro King, per Denver7.
  • "After two-plus years of ... pandemic-related restrictions, and now skyrocketing food and labor costs, these foodservice operators do not deserve to be shut out of viable marketplaces where they are simply trying to ... earn a living," Colorado Restaurant Association's spokesperson Denise Mickelsen tells Axios Denver.

The big picture: Crime continues to soar in Denver, and downtown remains one of the city's violent hotspots.

  • The latest policy experiment is one of a slew of solutions city leaders are trying out to tamp down crime.
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