Centennial, Like Denver And Boulder Before It, Has Banned Urban Camping

July 9, 2019
Robin Kendrick, who's homeless, stands amid shopping carts. bicycles and other homeless people's possessions near the South Platte River on Friday, April 1, 2016.Robin Kendrick, who's homeless, stands amid shopping carts. bicycles and other homeless people's possessions near the South Platte River on Friday, April 1, 2016.(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)
Robin Kendrick, who's homeless, stands amid shopping carts. bicycles and other homeless people's possessions near the South Platte River on Friday, April 1, 2016.

Centennial's city council voted Monday night to ban camping on city-owned property.

The move is intended to stop the homeless from sleeping in public places. Some worry it amounts to a ban on homelessness. People will be given warnings to move along before they are fined, according to city staff.

At Monday's city council meeting, councilmember Kathy Turley said the "ordinance is about protecting the safety of our citizens. Period."

The vote was unanimous. The south metro suburb joins three other cities to enact such bans, including Denver, Boulder and Parker.

Homeless advocate and Highlands Ranch resident Katie Etcheverry told the city council Monday night that she's seen the effects a camping ban has had in Denver. The Centennial Airport employee said the ban there has swept homeless people out of the city and places them in danger.

"We're not talking about a camping ban, we're talking about a ban on survival," she said. "Instead of looking into a camping ban, pour those resources into something that's actually going to help the situation, not just sweep them further out into the other districts and other cities that surround Centennial."

In Denver, a recent initiative to roll back the city's urban camping ban — which dates to 2012 — was shot down by voters.

In June, Englewood workers moved to clear a homeless camp along the South Platte River over what city officials saw as an issue of sanitation and safety.

In Grand Junction, the city council there amended their camping ordinance to no longer ticket people camping in parks and other public spaces when there is no space in nearby shelters.

A federal appeals court ruled in 2018 that punishing people for camping in those places when shelters are full violates the Eighth Amendment.

In Arapahoe County, home to Centennial, a recent survey found 198 people self-reported that they were experiencing homelessness. In Denver, that number was more than 3,400. The point-in-time survey is conducted annually by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative to give a snapshot of homelessness in the region.