Aurora tightens city’s urban camping ban by eliminating warning period before disbandment

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Wayne “Smokey” Wilkins, 42, sits inside a tent at his camp near I-225 and 17th Place in Aurora, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Wilkins, though employed for years, has recently faced joblessness and resulting housing insecurity. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Law enforcement officials in Aurora no longer will have to provide 72-hours notice to people camping illegally in the city before disassembling and clearing encampments, following a change Aurora’s elected leaders made to the city’s camping ban Monday night.

The council voted 6-3 to pass an ordinance that the measure’s proponents say will tighten Aurora’s 2-year-old urban camping ban so that people without a roof over their head can’t so quickly pitch a tent again in the city.

Aurora will target encampments — initially with plenty of no-camping and no-trespassing signs — in the Interstate 225 corridor. The ordinance allows the city to expand enforcement to other parts of the city, if needed. Violations of the updated camping ordinance could result in sanctions ranging from a warning, a ticket or even arrest, depending on whether police find another crime being committed.

The 2023 Point-in-Time survey from the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative counted 572 people without shelter in Aurora. The organization has yet to release numbers from the 2024 count.

Earlier this month, the City Council established the HEART court — Housing Employment Assistance Recovery Team — in Aurora Municipal Court. It’s geared at individuals experiencing homelessness who have been charged with low-level, non-violent offenses, which the city said will hold “participants accountable while connecting them to assistance and service providers.”

“The goal is not to punish — the goal is to get them into treatment,” Mayor Mike Coffman said before the vote.

The ordinance passed Monday and will take effect in 30 days.

This story was originally published by The Denver Post, a BusinessDen news partner.

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Wayne “Smokey” Wilkins, 42, sits inside a tent at his camp near I-225 and 17th Place in Aurora, Colorado on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Wilkins, though employed for years, has recently faced joblessness and resulting housing insecurity. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Law enforcement officials in Aurora no longer will have to provide 72-hours notice to people camping illegally in the city before disassembling and clearing encampments, following a change Aurora’s elected leaders made to the city’s camping ban Monday night.

The council voted 6-3 to pass an ordinance that the measure’s proponents say will tighten Aurora’s 2-year-old urban camping ban so that people without a roof over their head can’t so quickly pitch a tent again in the city.

Aurora will target encampments — initially with plenty of no-camping and no-trespassing signs — in the Interstate 225 corridor. The ordinance allows the city to expand enforcement to other parts of the city, if needed. Violations of the updated camping ordinance could result in sanctions ranging from a warning, a ticket or even arrest, depending on whether police find another crime being committed.

The 2023 Point-in-Time survey from the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative counted 572 people without shelter in Aurora. The organization has yet to release numbers from the 2024 count.

Earlier this month, the City Council established the HEART court — Housing Employment Assistance Recovery Team — in Aurora Municipal Court. It’s geared at individuals experiencing homelessness who have been charged with low-level, non-violent offenses, which the city said will hold “participants accountable while connecting them to assistance and service providers.”

“The goal is not to punish — the goal is to get them into treatment,” Mayor Mike Coffman said before the vote.

The ordinance passed Monday and will take effect in 30 days.

This story was originally published by The Denver Post, a BusinessDen news partner.

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