Denver lifts LoDo food truck ban, but imposes new restrictions

Food trucks will be allowed back into Lower Downtown starting this weekend — on a limited basis — after a roughly month-long ban that Denver officials enforced in the name of public safety.

The food truck prohibition came on the heels of a shooting in which Denver police officers wounded an armed man and six bystanders earlier this summer, though city officials denied a direct connection between the shooting and the policy.

City officials on Thursday released a set of temporary rules that will govern food trucks in LoDo for the next 180 days.

Beginning this weekend, the mobile vendors of tacos, gyros and other eats will be allowed back into the neighborhood between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday and on select holidays, including Labor Day.

After 9 p.m., the rules get more restrictive. The city will provide seven spots for licensed food trucks. Four of those spots will be located in the 1900 block of Blake Street and three more will be available in the 2000 block of Market Street. The vendors who use those spots must shut down at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, according to the city news release.

Operators of food trucks and carts found to be in violation of the rules could face fines, sanctions on their licenses or criminal citations, according to the city.

The weekend food truck ban was enacted because public safety officials said the tucks were contributing to crowding and conflict on the streets of the popular nightlife area as bars closed for the night around 2 a.m. The new rules mean there will be no trucks on the street when bars let out, at least for the next four months.

Food truck vendors argued they were being used as a scapegoat after the July 17 shooting in which Denver police officers confronted an armed man, later identified as Jacob Waddy, outside the Larimer Beer Hall at 2012 Larimer St. Three Denver police officers fired shots at Waddy, wounding him and injuring six other people nearby.

“The timing does seem like the guys lowest on the totem pole are getting kicked out and somebody is going to write a memo somewhere that says, ‘Look what I did, I solved crime in LoDo,’” Sanjin Mutic said of the ban at a City Council meeting earlier this month. Mutic’s family owns a food truck that frequently set up shop in LoDo.

The temporary food truck prohibition drew a warning from a Virginia-based nonprofit law firm that argued it was likely unconstitutional.

Denver officials denied that the ban was directly related to the shooting outside the Larimer Beer Hall and that a rules change for the neighborhood was under consideration before that incident.

No food trucks will be allowed on Larimer Street after 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays under the temporary rules.

“We believe the temporary rules strike the right balance in our efforts to keep people safe and allow mobile food vendors to operate,” Denver Director of Public Safety Armando Saldate said in a statement Thursday.

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