Urban camping: A timeline of how the ban began -- and where it's headed

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Although there have been rumblings about it for months, Denver's proposed urban camping ordinance has only been circulated in draft form for the past few weeks. In this week's feature, "For the homeless, 'urban camping' is no picnic," Jef Otte took a look at its direct implications by spending a night on the 16th Street Mall. But a lot of action took place in meetings before he even hit the pavement. Below, see an abridged version of the ban's history -- and the steps involved before its proposed implementation date of May 29.

July 2011: Propelled by complaints about the homeless from his district, city councilman Albus Brooks makes a trip to the 16th Street Mall at night. Wearing a hoodie and walking with his wife, he counts 178 homeless people on the mall. This inspires both his awareness and the future ban. (Later, at a meeting with the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, he tells area representatives the couple once discovered a homeless man sleeping in the garage.)

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Britt Chester
October 2011: The rumblings begin. Early opponents of the ban, which is supported by Mayor Michael Hancock before it is officially released, suggest it is aimed at Occupy Denver. The mayor's office denies this, as does Brooks, who says it was inspired by an event in July, months before the occupation began.

December to January 2011: Brooks and others begin to craft the official language of the bill, which you can read in full below. Much of the terminology comes straight from Denver's sit-lie ordinance, which was inspired by a similar law in Seattle. Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell aided in the construction of the ban, which is also sponsored by the council's Jeanne Robb, Jeanne Faatz, Charlie Brown and Chris Nevitt. In Colorado, similar bans already exist in Aspen, Colorado Springs and Boulder.

March 27, 2012: News breaks that the ban is forthcoming. Later, Councilwoman Judy Montero says she first got access to the ordinance the day the Denver Post announced it.

April 3: The council's Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure committee conducts the first public meeting to discuss the ordinance. Reactions are predictably mixed, and attendance is so large the meeting room violates fire code. Among its supporters are the Downtown Denver Partnership, while the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and the Colorado ACLU publicly denounce it as a means of criminalizing the homeless. In the following weeks, both sides continue to develop their stances, pushing several councilmembers to comment publicly on how split the discussion has become.

April 19: Denver's 41-member Commission on Homelessness meets for the first time since November. Before the meeting ends, organizers call for an additional four weeks to consider the ban before the City Council's final vote.

April 24: Members of council's Land Use committee vote 4-3 to push the bill to the full council, delaying its final vote by only one week, according to the original schedule.

April 30: Council will host a courtesy public hearing about the ban, with speakers limited to three minutes each. Although one councilwoman called the meeting inadequate early on, it is still limited to two hours.

May 14: The council will take a final vote on the topic.

May 15: If it is approved, Mayor Hancock will sign the ordinance the following day.

May 29: After two weeks of additional outreach and training on how to enforce it, the ban will go into effect.

Read the ordinance in its entirety:
Denver Camping Ordinance Draft

More from our Politics archive: "Urban camping ban: Denver City Council delays vote -- for a week."


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