Iowa City's 21-only ordinance heads back to the ballot - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City's 21-only ordinance heads back to the ballot

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Iowa City's 21 and older ordinance prohibits people under 21-years-old from entering most bars after 10 p.m.

Some argue the ordinance brought a decline in underage drinking, but others say it brought a decline in their revenue.

"I'm only 19," said Breanna Harmon, an Iowa City resident. "So for me, all my friends are older so I want to go hang with them, but at the same time I think it's a protection for people my age."

However, bar owners say the ordinance forces them to lose half their market base.

"Honestly I went to Iowa, I grew up here so I'd like to see it turn back to 19," said Brian Rorris, Quinton's general manager. " I think it's great for the kids to get the experience of the bar scene before they're 21. So for us it's not so much the drinking aspect, we'd like to serve food later."

Rorris says he's not looking to fill his bar with 19-year-olds to get them drinking. He just thinks they should be able to come in, have a meal, and hang out.

Bar owners say if the ordinance is altered, it will allow more business into the Iowa City downtown area.

"I actually feel like there's plenty of restaurants and if they're deemed restaurants you don't have to be 21 to be in there after 10," added Harmon. "So if I want good food and my friends want to hang with me I'm going to go to the other choices."

Harmon says the ordinance helps keep peer pressure down from having to go and drink.

"If there are more people that can get into the bar, means we can get more bars here," said University of Iowa student Yuchang Liu. "And the government can benefit because they get more tax."

In November, only Iowa City residents will vote on the issue. The city is one of two cities in the state that allows residents to put issues like this on the ballots.

Johnson County auditor Travis Weipert says some students have never experienced the bar life and actually have no interest in city council.

"We've had probably, I would say, about half the students; we did last time this was on the ballot," said Weipert.

Weipert reminds voters to read the question carefully before filling out the oval on the ballot. He says they've seen some confusion on the ballot on this issue.

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