Public camping in Colorado Springs now illegal
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Homeless people who camp at parks and along city creeks in Colorado Springs will be cited under an ordinance passed Tuesday by the City Council.The only council member to vote against the proposal was Tom Gallagher, who says he was nearly homeless years ago. More than two dozen people testified on the ordinance, which makes it illegal to be in a tent or other temporary shelter on public property.City officials believe there are between 300 to 500 homeless people who camp in the city and businesses say they scare away customers. Supporters of the new law say the camps are unsanitary and attract crime and drugs.Homeless advocates who worried that there are not enough shelter beds wanted officials to delay the vote.Police Commander Kurt Pillard told city officials Monday that officers would not aggressively pursue citations and said that if there are no shelter beds available, police would not issue tickets.Patrick Ayers, an executive with the Colorado Springs Homeless Outreach Program & Empowerment, told the City Council last month his group didn’t believe there were enough shelter beds for the homeless. Ayers said the vote should be delayed so his group could get an estimate of the number of beds available, which he believes is less than 175. That was the estimate given to the city by the homeless services agency Homeward Pikes Peak.Homeless people and students from Colorado College were among those who spoke against the ordinance before the vote.The city of Boulder already tickets people who camp on public property without a permit, and homeless advocates there have called for a stop to the practice.Last year, Boulder police issued 353 tickets for camping without a permit on public property. The tickets come with a $100 fine, and homeless activists say that usually translates to jail time for homeless people because they can’t afford to pay.
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