By Gigi Wood
IOWA CITY – Doug Boothroy, Iowa City’s director of housing and inspection services, outlined potential changes to tailgating vendors at Monday night’s informal planning and zoning commission meeting.
The commission plans to further discuss the changes at their Thursday night formal meeting.
Triggered by a number of factors, including attempts by vendors to convert residential homes into commercial uses, alcohol sales and consumption at some vendor sites, an increase in vendors, the disruption of gas lines along Melrose Avenue by vendors and complaints by neighbors about trash, the city council directed the commission to discuss changes to the decades-long tradition of allowing vendors to sell goods along the southern perimeter of Kinnick Stadium during University of Iowa home football games.
The most likely outcome will be a temporary use permit that will be required of the roughly 25 vendors that sell clothing and food along Melrose Avenue for seven Saturdays each fall. The permits will have higher fees than the city’s typical temporary permits and will require a site map of the tent, cooking equipment and other items. Vendors will be required to set up outside of the city’s right-of-way, in order to keep sidewalks and areas between sidewalks and the street clear.
The permit will allow police to enforce the rule changes on game days and ensure that vendors are in compliance.
“If there is abuse of the rules, the permit can be revoked,” Mr. Boothroy said.
Property owners will be allowed to host more than one vendor on a lot and will be required to sign temporary permits. Each vendor will also be required to maintain trash bins and clean up litter when taking down tents and booths.
The city is also in discussions with the UI about possibly moving the vendors in future years, adding additional trash receptacles and portable toilets to the Melrose Avenue area.
Next door to the meeting last night, city councilors discussed the future of downtown at their work session. Recently, the bar-entry age changed from 19 years old to 21 after 10 p.m. The change has led to a handful of large bars shutting down, leaving commercial vacancies in the downtown district. The council is discussing ways to encourage other businesses to occupy those spaces. Councilors will further discuss related issues at their formal meeting tonight, such as decreasing fines for underage drinking at downtown bars.