AURORA | City Council members voted for a second time on Monday to create a specific ban on unauthorized camping in Aurora, including new language providing for temporary storage of homeless campers’ belongings.
The group cleaved to the same 6-5 split they voted along Feb. 28, with unaffiliated Councilmember Angela Lawson expressing opposition next to self-proclaimed Democratic progressives Alison Coombs, Juan Marcano, Ruben Medina and Crystal Murillo. Republican Mayor Mike Coffman, who reintroduced the ban six months after it was shelved by a past divided council, again broke the tie in favor.
For the past few years, partisan politics has often overshadowed the polarized city council on controversial issues and during elections.
Murillo earned the support of Coffman, Republican Curtis Gardner and Lawson to amend the camping ban ordinance so City Manager Jim Twombly would be directed to create a policy for storing campers’ personal property left over when camps are swept.
“We are taking away everything that people have in this world with this ordinance,” Murillo said. “How dare we not even provide an opportunity to store that safely for people. … This is everything that people own.”
Gardner said he was sympathetic with homeless people having their property seized by the state.
“I don’t like the idea of someone facing their camp being abated and the government taking their property and destroying it,” he said. “It’s just like when somebody goes to jail. We don’t take their property and destroy it.”
The amendment, which passed 6-4, would be triggered once campers are given at least 72 hours to clear out of a campsite, after which the camp could be cleared and anyone refusing to relocate to city-sanction shelter space could be arrested or fined up to $2,650, according to the rest of the language of the ban.
Coffman offered his own amendment to the ban he sponsored, which would have prevented homeless people from being adjudicated on violating the ban, in effect prohibiting them from incarceration and court fines. The amendment, which failed, would have instead directed police to ticket camping scofflaws with trespassing, which would create a criminal charge.
Coffman has consistently said the ban does not “criminalize” homelessness, as opponents have charged, even though the ban specifically outlines incarceration and court fines for violators.
Opponents of Murillo’s amendment questioned why it wasn’t more detailed and what might happen if items such as clothing or sleeping bags were stored by the city.
“Bed bugs come in with those items. Lice have come in with those items,” Councilmember Danielle Jurinsky said. “I think that city staff are already very committed to preserving personal documents, identification and medication. … I understand this is vague, but they are already storing those items.”
Jurinsky was told by city staffers that items which are obviously valuable, such as IDs, are not thrown away currently when camps are cleared, and that developing a policy could take around five or six weeks. Providing storage would likely cost the city an undetermined amount of money and would require space beyond the limited storage at the Aurora Day Resource Center.
Another opponent, Dustin Zvonek, said he would not support Murillo’s amendment as such because of its lack of specificity but might support it as a companion resolution. Murillo declined to bring the change forward as a resolution.
“This felt like the most appropriate way to move forward, to give our subject matter experts the ability to craft what that looks like,” Murillo said of the broad language of the amendment. She also said that she considered adding language about handling of hazardous materials to the amendment, but wanted to leave the crafting of specifics to staff.
The scope of the changes accomplished by Murillo’s amendment to the ban means the council will have to vote on the ordinance one more time on March 28 before it’s finalized.
For this reason, Jurinsky accused Murillo of using “delay tactics” to stall the ban two weeks — Murillo pointed out that the failed amendment proposed by the mayor would also have postponed the implementation of the ban, which will be 30 days after the final vote.
From the article: “self-proclaimed Democratic progressives Alison Coombs, Juan Marcano”. Marcano is a self-proclaimed Democratic SOCIALIST. Why would the Sentinel alter Marcano’s own description of himself? Marcano even wore the red rose of socialism pin for his counsel photo. Socialist has a bad ring so I’m sure the Sentinel is covering for the extreme Left as it is always doing.
When did Juan call himself a “socialist?” Do you know, for a fact, that he is a member of the American Socialist Party? That’s the only way one can be a real “socialist.” Someone who advocates for kindness to other people is not automatically a “socialist.” Socialism is a form of government which we can never have in this country per our Constitution, so I don’t fear anyone, even if they are a member of the Socialist Party.
Respectfully, Mr. Felice, Council member Marcano is a dues-paying member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), along with CM Coombs, Denver Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, and Denver School board member Tay Anderson. This is just fact. Does that make them socialists? According to the first sentence of the DSA website, yes. “The Democratic Socialists of America is the largest socialist organization in the United States, with over 92,000 members and chapters in all 50 states.”
Also, for your edification, there is no “American Socialist Party” as it dissolved and split in the 70s into Socialist Party USA and the organization known today as DSA (again, the one Marcano is affiliated with.)
So a hard-working person will get a ticket for parking his vehicle in a no-parking zone but the homeless person will not get a ticket for parking his tent in a no-camping zone? Do the homeless also get ticket-free immunity to defecate, pee, and litter anywhere?
I saw this happen in Denver and it’s despicable. Criminalize homelessness with a camping ban with no efforts at all to improve services and housing for this vulnerable population that has no voice, nor are experts who work with homeless called to teach the Council with facts and data. This will cause the numbers of homeless to grow as housing is even more unaffordable today, and just move elsewhere or into dangerous shadow. Tacking on that Aurora will store their belongings is not helpful because again I saw what happened in Denver. Items mostly destroyed when the temporary shelters of the homeless dismantled and thrown away, a lot of their stuff goes with it, whatever is saved is mangled and not labeled. Now the homeless who have no transportation or money for it, have to try to get to the storage area where they stuff probably isn’t even there, or in bad shape, or not labeled and can’t be found. Then the unhoused must figure out how to get it out of there if there’s anything, with no transport to haul it and can’t just carry it out and for miles to wherever they now are…could be in jail because they can get tickets/fines/jail for “camping” – meaning trying to live. Aurora is good at punishment and making life harder, but seems to have no capacity for compassion and trying to fund services, social and outreach workers, and accessible, affordable housing. SHAMEFUL. The camping ban in Denver is in the courts – it was struck down as unconstitutional and Denver appealed. I hope it is struck down for good and same in Aurora. But I’m sure that won’t get Aurora to actually be leaders and work as a team to find solutions for our most vulnerable, as the new majority and Coffman seem incapable and disinterested.
Allow me to ‘edit’ your statement if I may? “
AuroraThe Conservatives on the City Council are showing how good at punishment and making life harder [they can make if for down and out citizens] , but seems to have no capacity for compassion and trying to fund services, social and outreach workers, and accessible, affordable housing. Their solutions are always: arrest AND incarceration and DAMN the costs!
Thank you Aurora Sentinel for keeping us well informed about this vital issue. I’m grateful that Council Members Murillo, Coombs, Lawson, Marcano and Medina have the compassion and decency to speak out for that which reduces suffering among our poor and low income neighbors, rather than only for those lucky people with steady incomes who can afford the obscenely expensive rents.
Technically, elected representatives are supposed to represent all the people, as best they can, even if they don’t have homes.
“Lucky” people with steady income, you say. Actually, luck plays very little in earning a steady income. Luck does not get people out of their warm bed, showered, dressed, and commuting to work early in the morning. Luck does not get people paid for supplying a service or a product in a timely way and with a certain level of expertise.
Reduced suffering would happen if the homeless themselves would repair relationships with their families, settle in a more affordable area, and/or accept the intervention services that are offered from local churches, government agencies, and nonprofits.
Where is this mythical affordable area in the Denver Metro area? Are you aware that a large number of people with no homes hold one or more jobs?? They’ll likely lose them due to this criminalization of homelessness, though, so yay for that?
This is going to be an administrative and logistical nightmare, if it can even be done, but carry on.
“The amendment, which passed 6-4, would be triggered once campers are given at least 72 hours to clear out of a campsite, after which the camp could be cleared and anyone refusing to relocate to city-sanction shelter space could be arrested or fined up to $2,650, according to the rest of the language of the ban.” These people are homeless. If they had $2000+ they wouldn’t be on the street! We need more places like the Comitis Crisis Center and Aurora Warms the Night. And we need more compassion for people who are in such tough situations.
If Jurinsky is concerned that “providing storage would likely cost the city an undetermined amount of money”, perhaps she should try not suing the city?