Denver Council Discusses Camping Ban

April 2, 2012

A proposed ban on sleeping in public gets a first hearing in Denver's City Council Tuesday. The measure is meant to address concerns over an increasingly visible homeless population, but critics say Denver's proposed camping ban would make criminals out of people who have no other place to go.

Here is a transcript of Mike Lamp's report:

Reporter Mike Lamp: First-term City Councilman Albus Brooks is a co-sponsor of the proposal. His north Denver district includes downtown businesses whose owners want something done about people sleeping near their storefronts.

Albus Brooks: I think it's incredibly important for us to protect our public and private spaces. Especially around downtown where millions of dollars have been invested into our Lodo and downtown 16th Street Mall.

Reporter: The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless is against the ban. Coalition President John Parvensky says turning homelessness into a criminal problem just makes it harder for the homeless to get back on their feet.  But he acknowledges that many Denverites are fed up with seeing people sleeping on the sidewalk.

John Parvensky: I don't think it's appropriate for people to have to sleep on the streets or in the parks. The answer isn't to cite them and arrest them and put them in jail. What we need to do is come up with those real solutions and reduce the need for people to sleep on the streets.

Reporter: Councilman Brooks says the city is looking to have more shelter space and other services available if the ban on public sleeping takes effect. Tuesday's City Council committee meeting is the start of a debate that will last at least a few weeks. A final vote on the camping ban could come in early May. 

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