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Aurora mayor's proposed camping ban fails in city council

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Posted at 11:03 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 22:37:59-04

UPDATE | Aug. 23, 8:37 p.m. — The ordinance was voted on during the Aug. 23 Aurora City Council meeting, and it ended in a 5-5 tie again, which means Mayor Mike Coffman cannot reintroduce it for six months. In a statement on Twitter, the mayor said he was "deeply disappointed" and that he will "never give up fighting for our homeowners, small business owners, and all of our residents who care about our city and who are fed up with all of the trash and the filth from these encampments."

AURORA, Colo. — After approximately two hours of back and forth between Aurora City Council members, Mayor Mike Coffman's proposed citywide camping ban ultimately failed.

City council members were split down the middle with a 5-5 vote on the proposed ordinance to ban unauthorized camping on public or private property. It required a majority for the ordinance to pass.

The ordinance will reappear because council rules require that matters defeated by a tie vote be brought back to the next regularly-scheduled meeting, which is Aug. 23. If it ends in a tie vote again, it would be defeated, and it could not be reintroduced until six months later.

In a tweet a few hours before the meeting, Coffman said his proposed ordinance "does not criminalize homelessness" because there would be no fines or penalties for anyone who is at an encampment as long as they leave when ordered to do so. The ordinance also required the city to provide people staying at encampments an alternative location to stay, as well as requiring a 72-hour notice prior to sweeping an encampment.

"This proposal is both compassionate to those occupying encampments and fair to the homeowners who live by them," Coffman says in the tweet.

During the discussion, Council Member Crystal Murillo called the ordinance a political ploy, asserting that bans don't solve homeless problems and don't get unhoused people the services they need to get out of homelessness.

Aurora Police Department Chief Vanessa Wilson was also asked to weigh in on if she had enough staff to enforce the ban. She said she was vehemently opposed to asking her officers to be part of enforcement saying it's not their job. She also noted that her department is currently in a staffing crisis, and enforcing the ban would only stretch her officers further.

The ordinance was previously brought to a vote in the Housing, Neighborhood Services and Redevelopment Policy Committee in June, but it also failed in a 2-1 vote.