A group seeking to make it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to be in Iowa City bars after ten P.M. has gathered enough signatures to force a city council vote on the measure. The age limit is now 19-years-old. Members of the Committee for Healthy Choices delivered more than 4,200 signatures to the city clerk’s office.
Committee member Mark Martin says communities across the country have adopted similar measures with successful results. Martin says all the research they looked at showed raising the age to 21 was the first step to reducing underage drinking and binge drinking.
Martin says it seems like a natural solution to underage drinking problems. "I find it hard to understand why it’s a difficult move to make, because it’s simply common sense," Martins says, "when you give underage folks access to alcohol, they’re going to drink. And the first way to stop that drinking, and all the problems it causes, is to keep them out of the bars."
Iowa City bar owners say if the measure passes, it will have a noticeable affect on downtown business. Doug Grewe of Quitons Bar and Grill says students will seek other options. He thinks a lot of kids would stay off campus and throw house parties to stay away from cops. Todd Barnes of the Sports Column Bar says if the measure passes, it would be catastrophic for the downtown Iowa City area.
Once the signatures on the petition are verified, the City council can adopt the measure or call for a special election. Mayor Ross Wilburn anticipates a vote on 21-and-older ordinance in November.