Coffman’s camping ban proposal benched for 6 months after final tie vote

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AURORA | Mayor Mike Coffman’s urban camping ban proposal has been couched for at least six months after the measure failed on a tie vote Monday evening. 

Council members Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins, Curtis Gardner, Dave Gruber and Coffman voted in favor of the proposal, which Coffman argued met legal muster because it would not direct city staff to abate homeless encampments unless there was enough shelter space to house the occupants of a camp. 

Throughout weeks of debate over the measure opponents have argued that the proposal wouldn’t change anything in Aurora, as there isn’t enough existing shelter space. 

Council members Juan Marcano, Allison Hiltz, Alison Coombs, Crystal Murillo and Angela Lawson voted against the ordinance. 

Per city council rules, an ordinance cannot return to the floor for a vote for six months after a tie vote. By the time Coffman is able to re-introduce the measure a new city council will be at the dais, possibly changing the course of the proposal. 

“I don’t want to see folks living out on the street either, and I believe this a point we all agree on.” Marcano said during the vote, addressing public commenters who cited health and safety concerns about the camps. 

“Where we don’t agree is that a ban actually addresses these issues. It doesn’t and if you believe otherwise, I implore you to go to Denver and see what their ban has achieved over the last decade, which is to say, ‘nothing.’ There are still giant camps full of trash and waste and all kinds of other things because there’s no place for these folks to actually land, or at least not enough places for this folks to land… these bans are so ineffective that our mayor went to Denver to pretend to be homeless and didn’t get swept,” he continued.

Coffman posed undercover as “Homeless Mike” in January with the help of a Denver CBS television crew. After a week on the street of the Denver metroplex, Coffman told the television station he believed that homelessness is a “lifestyle choice, and it is a very dangerous lifestyle choice.”

On Monday, Coffman reiterated to his colleagues that his proposal isn’t “criminalizing homelessness.” 

The proposal did not come with fines or penalties for unauthorized camping itself, but if a person disobeyed an order to leave the unauthorized site, they could be fined or jailed for violating the order.

Critics of such measures, including local jail and law enforcement officials, say fines and jail time imposed on homeless people for unauthorized camping essentially “criminalizes” them, compounding the problems and using public resources for their incarceration.

Tim Joyce, an assistant city attorney, told council members earlier this month that camping scofflaws ordered to move from camps during sweeps have not resisted and faced jail time or fines so far.

People living in encampments would have been given a 72-hour notice instead of a seven-day notice, like they currently are, to abandon an unlawful camping site, according to the ordinance.

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FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
3 months ago

CM Marcano continues to repeat the lie that Mayor Coffman’s ordinance criminalizes homelessness. It doesn’t. Any abatement is predicated on having a place for them to go. It’s just what the council needs to jump-start a solution. But the socialist council simply wants to deny the filth, refuse and danger that the homeless imposes on our city.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
3 months ago

Every week you write the same thing, which has only insults but no facts or information.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
3 months ago

Any abatement is predicated on having a place for them to go. Fact.

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
3 months ago

I continue to believe the Aurora homelessness is not Rocket Science. It’s not the duty of Aurora citizens to pay, in any way, for the homeless people’s problems.

Five cities in the Metro Area has passed bans, including Boulder, yes, that very politically liberal yet not socialistic city.

It seems then, most homeless will then go elsewhere to other Metro cities where no ban is in place. Aurora is now one of those places.

Aurora citizens pay attention in the next months before the election in November if you notice more and more encampments around Aurora. If you do, go vote in November and vote all the socialists out and don’t vote any new socialists onto our Council. Then next year we can be one of the banning cities.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
3 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Courts found Denver ban unconstitutional and Denver appealed or the ban would be gone. All experts on homelessness who testified at Denver Council about the ban presented evidence why it should never be passed, and even the World Health Organization weighed in, based on actual data and best practices. Denver passed it anyway to please Mall merchants and it has been a disaster. It is rocket science but we have the data to create real programs and a plan, and many of those have been doing great work for a decade in our area but funding often cut and social workers burn out because not enough resources, paid very low and programs often cut. Let’s learn from past mistakes with camping bans and do the harder work of real social services competence. I was there through it all, as a social worker at the Gathering Place and funded by Denver’s Road Home, and saw great work that was constantly sabotaged by GOP budget and program cuts.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
3 months ago

You keep blaming Denver’s runaway homeless problem on the conditional ban, ignoring the millions spent on Denver’s Road Home and other failed Housing First initiatives, here and in other liberal bastions.

The so-called experts, suspiciously, all are vested in perpetuating the problem. Without homelessness, they are out of a job. What you subsidize, you get more of. Go, Denver.

FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
3 months ago

For reference of the candidates to AVOID, all of which support the most extremely radical socialist policy.

Lindstrom and Fung are both dues-paying members of the self-described “largest socialist organization in the U.S.” (Democratic Socialists of America.) The others may be, as well, but choose not to publicize it, if they are.

They are all endorsed by Coombs and Marcano.

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Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
3 months ago

Coffman trying to criminalize homelessness AND distract from his unqualified, incompetent, uncaring, chaotic, hate-driven management approach in Aurora, that in a short time has divided Council and Aurorans in hate-filled ways so there is complete stalemate in governing, constant waste of time and money. Not that Coffman has any governing ideas, but he uses his stunt dressing up like “homeless” person and deciding he is then an expert on homelessness in America, to distract and inflame, and not have to actually be a decent, innovative, hard-working city manager. Has the City Council had one expert to come talk about the history and best practices around homelessness? NO, because that would be competent and intelligent, and Coffman will never offer either of those qualities to Aurora.