Iowa City to Expand Food Cart Offerings

By Gregg Hennigan, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — In response to growing popularity nationally and some quarrels locally, Iowa City plans to allow more mobile food vendors on a trial basis.

The City Council in a work session Tuesday night gave its OK to a pilot program to run from mid-July through October expanding the number of permits for food carts and trucks and where they can be located.

“I like the experimental nature of it,” council member Jim Throgmorton said. “I’m all for it.”

Interest in food trucks is high enough across the nation that there are shows about them on cable TV channels.

In Iowa City, six food carts are allowed on the downtown’s Pedestrian Mall, with grilled cheese sandwiches and gyros among the offerings.

There are permits for use on private property, but the limited number for public space has on occasion led to objections from others who want a spot. One person even sued the city in 2012 over its denial of his application, although a judge eventually dismissed the case.

The Iowa City pilot program will allow for three food trucks and two mobile vendors in Chauncey Swan Park Thursdays and Fridays, two mobile vendors in City Park on Saturdays and Sundays and an undetermined number on undetermined days at the city’s East Side Recycling Center.

Seeing how things go in the trial period this year will help the city in deciding how to move forward on a long-term basis, Assistant City Manager Geoff Fruin said.

A resolution will be ready for the City Council’s consideration June 3.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; gregg.hennigan@sourcemedia.net

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