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Boulder City Council Takes Important Steps Towards Safe & Welcoming Public Spaces

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

Over the course of two city council meetings in the last month the city took steps towards ensuring Boulder’s public spaces are safe and welcoming for everyone.

Approved New Programs:

On April 27, 2021, city council heard an update from city staff on Approaches to Safe Space Management of Public Areas and Sanctioned Camping in which staff requested approval of (1) an internal clean-up team, (2a) a downtown and University Hill Ambassador Program, (2b) an Urban Rangers program, and (2c) a dedicated Boulder Police Unit for camp cleanups. All of the program requests were supported, and only proposal 2c drew any dissenting opinions. The Ambassador Program will be co-funded with Downtown Business Partners in response to escalating downtown crime. The Park Rangers program reinvigorates a lapsed Boulder initiative and follows the lead of several other front range cities. The six additional police officers will be hired and specifically trained to interact with illegal campers and encourage them to seek supportive services through Coordinated Entry. These new officers will coordinate with BPD's existing Homeless Outreach Team ( HOT).

Also at the April 27th meeting, the city council again rejected proposals of sanctioned camping.

Proposed Camping Ordinances:

On May 11th, staff presented the Health and Safety Regulations in Public Spaces and Annual Homelessness Update. There was unanimous support from city council for two new municipal ordinances to improve enforcement of the camping ban. One ordinance seeks to prohibit or limit the use of propane tanks in city parks , and the other prohibits tents, both of which are already prohibited on Open Space.

Once these ordinances are drafted and a date is set for approval by city council, we'll be encouraging strong support from Safer Boulder members. These measures are an important step towards improved public safety.

Councilman Bob Yates has taken a leading role in addressing the impacts of homelessness and illegal encampments on our community and recently spoke at the Highland Club on solutions to homelessness. Bob was instrumental in getting council approval for these new enforcement measures and the proposed municipal ordinances drafted. Mark Wallach, Mary Young, and Mirabai Nagle have also been very responsive to community concerns about escalating crime and public safety hazards, and have consistently supported Bob in this effort. We owe them all our appreciation.

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