Aurora lawmakers take up homeless camping ban Monday amid unanswered

Aurora lawmakers take up homeless camping ban Monday amid unanswered questions


Aurora lawmakers will take up a proposed ban on homeless tenting within the metropolis Feb. 28. The proposal would give these tenting inside the metropolis limits seven days to relocate, on the situation there’s an alternate location, offered by town, out there to relocate.
Picture by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | A ban on city tenting pitched by Mayor Mike Coffman is up for a vote once more, splitting Aurora Metropolis Council members on whether or not a ban would hold residents secure or unfairly goal town’s homeless.

As proponents and critics on metropolis council commerce contradicting prices concerning the impact of the laws and a few elements are undefined, metropolis employees charged with implementing the measure didn’t present The Sentinel with particulars about invoice as of Friday regardless of repeated requests.

For six months, Coffman’s proposal was shelved, after failing on a tied vote in August. It has since been revived and got here earlier than the brand new, majority-conservative council for debate on Feb. 7, the place council progressives blasted it as pointless and merciless.

The shortage of a ban didn’t cease town from sweeping practically 80 encampments in 2021, based on homelessness applications supervisor Lana Dalton.

A memorandum outlining town’s present coverage on sweeps enumerates dozens of legal guidelines and laws that town believes might be used to interrupt up encampments on public property. Grounds for abatement embody the whole lot from open fires and free hypodermic needles to discarded clothes, uneaten meals and “unsanitary” bedding.

As for personal property, the definition of “trespassing” in Aurora’s municipal code addresses remaining on a non-public and public property with out the proprietor’s permission or the authorized proper to be there, metropolis officers have lengthy maintained.

Critics of the measure have repeatedly stated the measure doesn’t element how homeless campers could be faraway from unauthorized public camps and what would occur to them if the voluntarily transfer on.

Metropolis officers declined to reply a listing of questions on these particulars and didn’t say what powers the ban would give town that present legal guidelines don’t already afford.

A companion decision, additionally sponsored by Coffman, would direct town supervisor to “search for, create and preserve ample shelter choices to supply a secure house for people and households in an unauthorized camp that need to make use of a shelter possibility.”

The town declined to say how further shelter could be created to accommodate town’s unhoused inhabitants. No funds could be allotted particularly alongside the decision. The ban, nevertheless, as written, couldn’t be enforced until there have been shelter assets out there for individuals who could be displaced.

Coffman indicated in an electronic mail that his proposal may expedite the method of abating camps on personal land. The measure would give campers a minimum of 72 hours discover earlier than a camp is swept, which is according to town’s present coverage.

“Underneath present legislation, a property proprietor has to file a criticism and watch for (the Aurora Police Division) to ticket the campers earlier than they are often eliminated,” the mayor wrote. “There isn’t a restrict to how lengthy the method can take between the submitting of the criticism, the campers being ticketed, and an abatement occurring.”

It’s unclear from the invoice and metropolis corridor response how the proposed measure would perform elimination from campsites.

In response to the query of how shelter is likely to be created to assist the companion decision, Coffman wrote that town had “given me a quantity however since they aren’t releasing it till after the proposal passes, I cannot launch it.” It’s unclear why metropolis staffers and Coffman would withhold the data till after the invoice is permitted, or if Coffman was referring to a projected price or wanted shelter spots so the ban might be activated.

Dalton has instructed the council that there are as much as 285 beds out there amongst all the metropolis’s shelter assets, or as many as 360 beds throughout winter climate.

In 2020, the final time Aurora’s unsheltered and sheltered homeless inhabitants was counted on behalf of the U.S. Division of Housing and City Improvement, 427 folks have been stated to be sleeping on the streets, in emergency shelters and in transitional housing. Service suppliers typically contemplate HUD surveys to be an undercount.

The ban may not increase town’s authorized authority essentially, however each supporters and opponents of the ban imagine it will lay the groundwork for a extra aggressive posture towards camps.

Staffers have beforehand stated town has restricted camp abatements in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic to conditions that pose a direct well being or security danger.

“What we’ll push for on council is constant enforcement,” stated Councilmember Dustin Zvonek, who spoke up in favor of the ban on Feb. 7. “Having these encampments, whether or not they’re behind houses or subsequent to the freeway, they’re a major public security difficulty.”

Zvonek stated irregular enforcement of Denver’s tenting ban was responsible for the prevalence of encampments in that metropolis and insisted a ban would push campers towards companies that might finally assist them escape homelessness.

Councilmember Alison Coombs, alternatively, questioned how severe the sponsors of the ban have been about connecting the homeless with companies when there probably aren’t sufficient beds to accommodate town’s homeless inhabitants to start with.

“My concern is we’re going to cycle folks by a small variety of shelter beds over, and over, and over once more,” she stated. “These bans destroy folks’s lives, take their stuff and make it more durable for them to get housing. … It doesn’t look like it really modifications the powers that town has, but it surely takes away employees discretion.”

Coffman additionally wrote that his proposal “applies equally to all private and non-private properties and requires town to take motion in abating encampments.”

Campers might be arrested or face fines as much as $2,650 in the event that they fail to go away a campsite after the discover interval is up, based on Assistant Metropolis Legal professional Tim Joyce.

Aurora’s Metropolis Council will vote on the ban throughout their subsequent assembly, which is able to start at 6:30 p.m. on Monday on the Aurora Municipal Heart, situated at 15151 E. Alameda Parkway.

Not less than one activist group, the Get together for Socialism and Liberation, has introduced it’s rallying the general public to attend the assembly and communicate in protest towards the ban. Details about taking part remotely and in-person is offered at www.auroragov.org/city_hall/mayor___city_council/council_meetings.





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