DENVER — After a weekend away from their typical spots, a handful of food truck vendors who normally operate in the Lower Downtown (LoDo) portion of Denver attended Monday's city council meeting to express their concerns about being relocated from the area.
The Denver Police Department believes moving the food trucks will increase safety while decreasing the crowds who gather around them after a night at the bars.
However, several food truck vendors do not believe this is the solution to the issue, and explained to Denver City Council why they think they are being unfairly targeted.
“It's feels horrible. And as a new business, woman in business, it's just hard. It's already hard. And now we're making it even harder," said Leilani Johnson, owner of RJ's TacoWich. “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.”
Johnson said spending a weekend in a new spot hurt their business, and they received complaints from residents in the area where they moved to. Plus, food trucks already cannot operate in the Central Business District.
Nancy Kuhn with Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) said they are working with vendors to find new locations along Market and Blake Streets, north of 22nd Street and south of 18th Street. Denver7 will publish further details regarding Larimer Street when received.
According to those with the Denver Police Department, the decision to move certain food trucks was not related to the police shooting at 20th and Larimer that injured six innocent bystanders. Police said the conversation surrounding food trucks and safety downtown was happening before the shooting.
In a statement, Denver police said the decision regarding food trucks downtown may become permanent.
The Denver Police Department recognizes that relocating food trucks may initially cause disruption for the food truck vendors. However, 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, during which DPD has seen conflicts and violence.
The department has been engaged with City partners for some time to find solutions to create a safer environment while being mindful of business operations. This current move is for overall safety in that area and it was not prompted by the recent officer-involved shooting incident at 20th and Larimer Streets, though it renewed conversations about ways in which the City could enhance safety. Moving forward, this may be a permanent change as the City works to find a solution to alleviate crowding and safety concerns and find the vendors a place to operate.
This spring/summer and last, DPD has used several strategies to help prevent crime and allow for quick response to issues that occur during the “out crowd”. Among those are:
- Portable lighting to increase visibility
- Closing vehicular traffic on streets/blocks that see a lot of pedestrian traffic during this time
- DUI patrols
- Limiting street parking
- Increased number of officers with high-visibility foot patrols
- Patrol cars parked in high-visibility locations with overhead lights on
- Command post set up in area (Large truck)
Again, conversations around food trucks, and issues that can happen as people congregate around them, have been taking place since the beginning of the above efforts.