Denver has banned food trucks from a bustling area of downtown in the hope of limiting the number of shootings in the city.
The new policy began in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) section last weekend, when police blocked vendors from parking on a series of popular nightlife blocks in the city. Food trucks were already forbidden to operate in Denver’s Central Business District.
The move came in light of a spate of shootings in the area, and authorities believe that banning food trucks will cause crowds to disperse faster after they leave nightclubs and bars, reducing the chances of shootings.
“To increase safety for all who visit and work in the LoDo area, including the food truck vendors, DPD believes that having them operate in a different location is a solution to help facilitate people leaving downtown during the out-crowd and to curb large gatherings,” the Denver Police Department said in a statement.
Food truckers disagree.
“We did half of our normal sales on a Saturday night… There are better ways to solve this problem that doesn’t involve hurting the small businesses who are trying to perform a service for our community members,” Leilani Johnson, owner of RJ’s TacoWich, told KMGH-TV, the Denver ABC affiliate.
Longtime food truck operator Sanjin Mutic told the Denver Post, “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.’”
Mr. Mutic also claimed that many of the shootings, including one on July 20 that saw six bystanders injured by police gunfire, start in parking lots rather than around the food trucks.
Denver police, on the other hand, deny that the move had anything to do with the shooting on July 20, and say the new policy was being developed before that incident.
The new policy came suddenly, which has contributed to confusion among vendors.
“The biggest issue for us food truck owners right now is that we just had zero say. They just kind of threw it at us and said ‘deal with it’ basically, and haven’t given us an alternate solution or a new location,” Ms. Johnson told Fox News.
Ms. Johnson also argued that the move would do little to deter crime and increase safety, telling Fox News that “I’ve never felt threatened or unsafe working downtown with my female co-worker. We run shifts til 2-3:00 in the morning.”