CENTENNIAL — Leaders on this sprawling suburb south of Denver voted 9-Zero on Monday to ban tenting on city-owned property, becoming a member of a number of different cities within the metro space which have already made the controversial transfer.
Metropolis supervisor Bob Widner solid the necessity for the ordinance as a “public security concern” and several other Centennial owners took to the microphone to ask that metropolis leaders do one thing a few handful of impromptu trash-strewn campsites which have popped up within the metropolis currently.
“I don’t assume tenting in public areas is the correct method to take care of the homeless,” mentioned Pat Benhmida, a Centennial resident. “I stay right here and I need to maintain it secure.”
However a number of folks pleaded with council members to not go the ban, saying it primarily criminalizes homelessness.
“How can we penalize folks for doing what they have to to outlive whereas the federal government doesn’t present options?” mentioned Centennial resident Nick Swanson.
With town council vote Monday, Centennial turns into the fourth metropolis within the metro space to ban city tenting, following Boulder, Denver and Parker. Taken collectively, the 4 cities have a inhabitants of practically 1 million folks, that means roughly one-third of metro space residents now stay in a neighborhood the place city tenting will not be permitted.
That’s nothing to be pleased with, mentioned Cathy Alderman, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. She referred to as tenting bans “short-sighted and misguided.”
“We have now a housing affordability and availability disaster within the state and we must be figuring out methods to handle that fairly than losing assets punishing folks for being unhoused,” she mentioned. “Additional, there’s a critical lack of acceptable shelter areas for folks throughout the metro Denver space together with Centennial.”
Centennial took up the problem extra as a pre-emptive transfer than as a direct response to an intractable drawback. Metropolis employees famous to council members that whereas “there haven’t been massive encampments” discovered within the metropolis of 110,000, there have been “small camps positioned within the metropolis’s rights-of-way.”
“Tenting is inconsistent with the meant use of town’s property, together with metropolis sidewalks and trails, and parks and open area areas,” employees wrote in a memo accompanying the ordinance.
Glenn Thompson, a bureau chief with the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Workplace, mentioned his company will get 4 to 6 calls a yr concerning campers on public property in Centennial.
“The ban would offer deputies a cause to contact the campers who’re on public rights of manner,” he mentioned Monday. “Deputies would then have the ability to present referrals for any help if wanted or direct them to designated tenting places.”
Centennial’s choice to impose a tenting ban comes at a time when the problem of homelessness has intensified within the public eye. In Could, Denver voters overwhelmingly voted to maintain in place town’s 7-year-old tenting ban. Final month, police in Englewood eliminated campsites that had sprung up alongside the South Platte River.
Greater than 5,300 folks have been recognized as homeless in metro Denver within the 2018 Level-in-Time survey completed yearly to account for individuals who don’t have a everlasting residence. In Arapahoe County, which encompasses Centennial, the variety of folks experiencing homelessness was 198, in response to the survey.
That’s down from 562 recognized as homeless in Arapahoe County in 2017 and 456 in 2016. Centennial’s ordinance takes impact in 30 days.