Iowa City considers 21 bar ordinance - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City considers 21 bar ordinance

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IOWA CITY (KWWL)- Mayor Matt Hayek says Iowa City has become a Mecca for young people across the state looking to take part in underage drinking.

Mayor Hayek is now calling for the consideration of a 21 bar ordinance to combat this.

"My sense is staff and the city council are getting tired of spending so much time and so much resources to dealing with the issue," Hayek said. 

Binge drinking and other alcohol-related issues in Iowa City have been well-documented.

"This has been a problem for years, it's clearly not improving, we have lots and lots of instances of underage possession in town," Hayek said.

Bars are having difficulty effectively controlling underage possession in their establishments and law dictates there's nothing the city can do to hold these businesses accountable.

"It's leading us to this point I believe and the one tool we have not applied to situation is the biggest tool, and that is 21 only," Hayek said.

This isn't the first time this has come about in Iowa City.

In 2007, a group of citizens initiated momentum for a 21 or older ordinance but the measure was defeated by public vote.

This hot button issue is once again expected to be met with opposition.

"Binge drinking is a cultural affliction. There's nothing the city council can do to change that," Jeff Shipley, a University of Iowa senior and student liaison to the city council said.

Shipley worries not allowing people under 21 into bars could have unattended consequences.

"Kids aren't just going to stop drinking, that's not going to happen. You'll probably see more drinking in the dorms, more drinking in the neighborhoods," Shipley said.

It's an issue that will be debated heavily over the coming weeks, as a city tries to tackle an ongoing problem.

If the city council does pass the ordinance, the public would then have a window to gather a required amount of signatures to contest the vote.

The issue would then either be repealed or brought to a public vote.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epner

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