Earlier this week Boulder City Council passed an emergency measure meant to address tents and propane tanks primarily used by people experiencing homelessness who are living in encampments in and near the city. As of now the tents and propane tanks are now prohibited in public spaces and city parks due to a 6-3 vote. Councilmembers Adam Swetlik, Rachel Friend, and Mayor Pro Tem Junie Joseph were the dissenting vote.s
Council made a decision to spend $2.7 million over the next 18 months on efforts to enforce a current camping ban. This includes an internal cleanup team to clear encampments and an extra Boulder Police Department unit.
The Boulder Police Department (along with other city officials) have stated that prohibiting tents and propane tanks is a necessary step in the city's efforts to enforce its urban camping ban. Earlier this year the City Council expressed its intent to continue with this enforcement even though a report from the National Homelessness Law Center states that criminalization is the "most expensive and left effective" way to address homelessness.
According to Interim City Attorney Sandra Llanes, “(The emergency measure) will allow the police department to remove a tent right away, not just after sunset, to further clarify that parks and public spaces are not for camping."
Mayor Pro Tem Junie Joseph asked if it made more sense to enforce use rather than possession, a change that may have allowed for her to get on board with the measure.
According to Deputy Chief Carey Weinheimer, the answer to the mayor's question is no, stating, "It’s much more difficult to enforce use because we have to actually catch the person in use as opposed to being in possession."
Propane tanks are a fire safety hazard according to Sandra Llanes who says, "since typically there’s an open flame component to them and they’re used near tents or temporary structures."
Several people spoke during the public hearing this past Tuesday and they were all in favor of the emergency measure.
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