DENVER (CBS4) – The City of Boulder has taken new steps to enforce its camping ban. It is no longer allowing tents or propane tanks on public grounds. Currently, law enforcement officers are giving out warnings, but removal will begin on Aug. 9.
The new ordinance passed by the city council makes it illegal to have tents or structures without openings. In other words, structures that could be utilized for camping in open spaces within city limits.
The homeless issue is a hotly debated topic, criticism for the new ordinance takes aim at the lack of new services to help people into permanent housing. Focus Re-Entry, a non-profit that helps many transition from being unhoused, believes the change will contribute to criminalizing homelessness, and building up a criminal record that disqualifies some people from getting housing vouchers.
“Smaller crimes specifically related to due to the fact that they are under stress and homeless on the street. And then they go to jail and they get a criminal record, and then a lot of the resources that are available for unhoused clients for housing require or ask that they don’t have a criminal record,” Lani Gordon, Focus Re-Entry Program Director.
Gordon also questions why there no safe open spaces were added to give those who are forced to be homeless to have some place to go.
Boulder Deputy Chief Carey Weinheimer told CBS4, the change helps to codify an existing law that did not include open spaces within city limits and this opens up an opportunity to do better intervention.
“Our goal is always compliance and we hope that the people comply with the change in the ordinance. We want our public spaces to be safe for everyone, we don’t want people to have to live in encampments. The City provides a whole suite of services, has a strategic plan to address homelessness, we always offer services anytime we encounter unhoused folks, and we hope that they comply with this new ordinance,” he explained.
The council also voted to ban propane tanks. Weinheimer said there were several fires this past winter in encampments this could potentially reduce the incidents.
The tent ban was modeled similarly to one in San Luis Obispo California that passed earlier this year.