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Aurora mayor proposing citywide homeless camping ban

Posted at 5:01 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 19:32:01-04

AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman made it clear Monday morning he's working on a citywide camping ban.

"One option, in my view, that isn't acceptable is to do nothing," he said in an interview with Denver7 several hours later after his announcement about the idea on social media.

The mayor plans to introduce the proposal at a city council meeting on Thursday. And already, people have weighed in on Coffman's social media accounts, with most of them opposing it.

Some are calling the idea "cruel and sick" and "heartless and nonsensical." But Coffman says this is what the majority of people want.

"I get more complaints as a result of the trash and things like that that are left around, so it's a problem that people want action on," he said.

It's estimated there are at least 462 homeless people in Aurora this year. That's a nearly 30 percent increase from 2018.

But with only about 150 shelter beds available, the city is currently looking at other options to add more space. Those options include tiny homes or safe outdoor spaces, like the ones in Denver.

Coffman says any of these options are crucial for his camping ban to work.

"In terms of having a formal adopted camping ban in order to survive a court challenge, you have to have an alternative for them to go to within your city," he said.

Several council members have already indicated they oppose a camping ban, including councilmember Alison Coombs.

"I think that it's very clear that it's a policy failure from Denver," she said.

Not only is it expensive, she says, but it's also traumatizing to the people who get moved around.

"Even our residents recognize that when we just move people along from one place, they just go to another place," Coombs said.

Coffman is positive his camping ban will pass city council.

"I think that we will get the votes for it," he said.

But Coombs says, even if it does pass, it still won't solve Aurora's homelessness problem.