DES MOINES, IA – Food trucks still face a bumpy road for downtown street access, based on conversation at Des Moines City Council chambers Monday morning.

Four City Council members at a work session voiced concerns about a pilot program that would allow food vendors to set up shop in metered parking spaces downtown.

The staff proposal would welcome licensed mobile vendors, except between the hours of 1:30 and 5:30 a.m., subject to a list of stipulations and restrictions – like limiting food preparation to a designated professional kitchen and restricting vendors within 100 feet of restaurant entrances.

Councilman Joe Gatto, who owns Baratta’s Italian restaurant and catering, voiced the most firm opposition.

“You are directly letting these folks go down and compete, especially for lunch, with people who are paying property taxes,” Gatto said. “This is basically opening Pandora’s box to a free-for-all.”

Baratta’s restaurant and catering business includes two downtown locations and one on the south side.

Gatto said he would only consider a food truck program that targets hours when traditional restaurants are closed.

With Gatto, council members Bill Gray, Chris Coleman and Bob Mahaffey voiced similar concerns for welcoming mobile vendors while brick-and-mortar restaurants contribute all the tax revenue for city operations and neighborhoods.

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