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Many cities and towns throughout the United States have adopted ordinances that prohibit unauthorized camping on public and private property. While camping restrictions have sometimes been subjected to legal challenges, state and federal courts (including the U.S. Supreme Court) have generally upheld laws prohibiting the act of camping on public property without a permit or other proper authorization. As recently as last year, the District Court in Boulder County upheld a Boulder ordinance prohibiting camping on any public property in that city. Also, in the last six months a number of federal district courts around the country have upheld local no-camping ordinances and similar laws in litigation arising out of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Municipal ordinances prohibiting unauthorized camping are adopted under the police power and are justified on the basis of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of the public. It is appropriate to prohibit camping upon property which is not intended or designed to be used for that purpose because: (1) it creates an unsafe and potentially disorderly environment for the persons engaged in the camping as well as persons coming into contact with the campers; (2) it creates unsanitary and unhealthful conditions that may affect both the campers and the general public; (3) it tends to degrade or even destroy the property upon which the camping is occurring, particularly where the encampment is large and ongoing; and (4) it detracts from the use of the property for its intended purpose. As explained below, there are currently a number of other state and city laws regulating the unauthorized use of public and private property generally. However, Denver has no existing law which specifically and directly prohibits the act of unauthorized camping on a city-wide basis. The proposed ordinance will do so, defining the word "camping" to include any temporary habitation on public or private property accompanied by the use of any form of shelter from the elements. The proposed ordinance would not prohibit the mere act of sleeping on public or private property. Note: The proposed ordinance includes special provisions which limit the authority of the police to cite or arrest anyone for violating the ordinance before: (A) issuing verbal and written warnings; and (B) invoking the assistance of a human services outreach. worker to assess the needs of the camper. These limitations are identical to the provisions of the 2005 "sit-lie" ordinance which restrict the act of sitting or lying on the surface of streets and sidewalks in the downtown area.
The following is a list of other related state and city laws that are already on the books: • Denver ordinances currently prohibit the act of unauthorized "camping" and overnight sleeping only "in or upon any park, parkway, mountain park, or other recreational facility." § 39-7, D.R.M.C. Denver parks are also subject to an overnight curfew in any event, without regard to whether or not a person may technically be "camping." § 39-3, D.R.M.C.
Other existing state and city laws, without specifically mentioning the act of camping, may be interpreted to apply to persons who would camp on public property, particularly when camping would interfere with the use of the public property by others. For example: o o City law prohibits any and all unauthorized "encumbrances" on streets and sidewalks. § 49-246, D.R.M.C. State and city laws prohibit any obstruction of any street or sidewalk ("to render impassable or to render passage unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous"). § 3886, D.R.M.C. It is generally unlawful to trespass on private property for the purpose of camping or any other purpose without the consent of the owner. § 38-115, D.R.M.C. It is also unlawful to trespass on public property whenever the property has been "closed" and notice of the closure is given with signs. § 38-86, D.R.M.C. (This law has been used to prohibit overnight camping and sleeping on the grounds of the City and County Building.) Under state law, it is generally unlawful to conduct any activity on public property in violation of any rule or regulation promulgated by "any officer or agency having the power of control, management or supervision of the building or property." § 18-9-117, C.R.S.
In 2005 Denver adopted an ordinance generally prohibiting the act of sitting or lying on
the surface of the public right-of-way in the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District only, and only between the hours of7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. § 38-86.1, D.R.M.C. No existing city ordinance specifically addresses overnight camping or sleeping on public property in the downtown area.
TITLE II - REVISED MUNICIPAL CODE Chapter 38 - OFFENSES, MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
Chapter 38 - OFFENSES, MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
(171) Case JawannotationViolation of an ordinance which is of the counterpart of a criminal statute should be tried and punished under the protection applicable to criminal cases even though prosecuted in a municipal court. Zerobnick v. Denver, 139 Colo. 139, 337 P. 2d 11 (1959)
Cross reference- Court, Ch. 14; environmental tobacco smoke control, § 24-301 et seq.; offenses affecting minors, § 34-41 et seq.; offenses by minors, § 34-61 et seq.; nuisances generally, Ch. 37; police, Ch. 42; traffic regulations, Ch. 54.
ARTICLE ARTICLE ARTICLE ARTICLE ARTICLE ARTICLE
I. - IN GENERAL II. - OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE III. - OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY IV. - OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER AND SAFETY V. - OFFENSES RELATING TO MORALS VI. - OFFENSES RELATING TO RAILROADS AND BUS SYSTEMS
Denver, Colorado, Code of Ordinances Page 1 of 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDINANCE NO. SERIES OF _
BY AUTHORITY COUNCIL BILL NO. _
COMMITTEE OF REFERENCE:
For an ordinance prohibiting unauthorized camping on public or private property
WHEREAS, the act of unauthorized camping on public or private property tends to endanger
the health and safety of those engaged in such camping as well as the public at large; and
WHEREAS, the unauthorized use of public or private property for camping where the property
in question is neither intended nor designed as a camp site, campground, or site for temporary human habitation tends to impair, obstruct, and otherwise detract from the use of the property for its intended purpose.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER:
Section 1. That Article III of Chapter 38, D.R.M.C. shall be amended by adding a new section 38-86.1, to read as follows: Sec. 38-86.1. - Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any private property without the express written consent of the property owner or the owner's agent, and only in such locations where camping may be conducted in accordance with any other applicable city law.
30 31 32 33 (b) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any public property except in any location where camping has been expressly allowed by the officer or agency having the control, management and supervision of the public property in question.
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(c) No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation, make an arrest or otherwise enforce this section against any person unless: (1) The officer orally requests or orders the person to refrain from the alleged violation of this section and, if the person fails to comply after receiving the oral request or order, the officer tenders a written request or order to the person warning that if the person fails to comply the person may be cited or arrested for a violation of this section; and (2) The officer attempts to ascertain whether the person is in need of medical or human services assistance, including but not limited to mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or homeless services assistance. If the officer determines that the person may be in need of medical or human services assistance, the officer shall make reasonable efforts to contact and obtain the assistance of a designated human service outreach worker, who in turn shall assess the needs of the person and, if warranted, direct the person to an appropriate provider of medical or human services assistance in lieu of the person being cited or arrested for a violation of this section. If the officer is unable to obtain the assistance of a human services outreach worker, if the human services outreach worker determines that the person is not in need of medical or human services assistance, or if the person refuses to cooperate with the direction of the human services outreach worker, the officer may proceed to cite or arrest the person for a violation of this section so long as the warnings required by paragraph (1) of this subsection_havebeen previously given. (d) For purposes of this section: (1) "Camp" means to reside or dwell temporarily in a place, with shelter, and conduct activities of daily living such as eating, sleeping or the storage of personal possessions in such place. The term "shelter" includes, without limitation, any tent, tarpaulin, lean-to, sleeping bag, bedroll, blankets, or any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing. (2) "Designated human service outreach worker" shall mean any person designated in writing by the manager of the Denver Department of Human Services to assist law
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enforcement officers as provided in subsection (c), regardless of whether the person is an employee of the department of human services. (3) "Public property" means, by way of illustration, any street, alley, sidewalk, pedestrian or transit mall, bike path, greenway, or any other structure or area encompassed within the public right-of-way; any park, parkway, mountain park, or other recreation facility; or any other grounds, buildings, or other facilities owned or leased by the City or by any other public owner, regardless of whether such public property is vacant or occupied and actively used for any public purpose.
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COMMITTEE APPROVAL DATE: MAYOR-COUNCIL DATE: PASSED BY THE COUNCIL ____________________ APPROVED: ATTEST:
, 2012. , 2012. 2012 -PRESIDENT -MAYOR - CLERK AND RECORDER, EX-OFFICIO CLERK OF THE CITY AND COUNTY OF DENVER 2012; _ 2012 2012
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NOTICE PUBLISHED IN THE DAILY JOURNAL PREPARED BY:
David W. Broadwell, Asst. City Attorney; DATE:
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Pursuant to section 13-12, D.R.M.C., this proposed ordinance has been reviewed by the office of the City Attorney. We find no irregularity as to form, and have no legal objection to the proposed ordinance. The proposed ordinance is not submitted to the City Council for approval pursuant to § 3.2.6 of the Charter. Douglas J. Friednash City Attorney BY: DATE: _ City Attorney
SPONSORED BY: COUNCILMEMBERS BROOKS, NEVITT, BROWN, ROBB, FAATZ 3
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