Loveland to ‘beta test’ camping ban enforcement starting Friday – Loveland Reporter-Herald

2022-06-16 03:24:37 By : Ms. Gacky Leung

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One month after adopting an emergency camping ban ordinance, the city of Loveland is tentatively scheduled to take its first enforcement action on Friday.

In what is being called a “beta test,” representatives from the city, the Loveland Police Department, and other partners will deliver notices to a small number of encampments in the King’s Crossing area, with clean-up efforts to start a week later, on June 24.

“This process will allow the city to more confidently scale up enforcement once a more robust shelter option is made available,” Nicole Yost, the city engagement coordinator wrote in an email interview.

Loveland City Council voted to enact the ban on May 17, after public outcry about the spread of encampments in King’s Crossing and other natural areas in the city.

Though the “emergency” designation made the ordinance effective immediately, enforcement has so far been delayed due to the city’s lack of alternative shelters.

At Tuesday’s city council study session, some councilors expressed their impatience with the delay.

Before a scheduled update on the issue from Alison Hade of the City Community Partnership Office, and David Rout of nonprofit agency Homeward Alliance, Councilor Dana Foley said that enforcing the ban should be the city’s first priority.

“I think rather than prepping and using that valuable time to come here and talk at a study session with the key players, they should be focusing their attention on that task and that task only until it’s done, because it seems very slow.”

Foley then made a motion to table the presentation from Hade and Rout, and five other members—Don Overcash, John Fogle, Steve Olson, and Jon Mallo—agreed. Those voting no were Mayor Jacki Marsh, and Councilors Andrea Samson and Patrick McFall.

The lack of a follow-up discussion was frustrating for Hade, who has been heading up the city’s efforts to address its unhoused population for several years. The presentation planned for the study session had been on the schedule for several months, and the council’s decision to table the update was puzzling.

“It sounds like they aren’t that interested in hearing from us anytime soon,” she said on Wednesday. “That’s what I got from that.”

Though enforcement has yet to formally begin, Hade and the team at Homeward Alliance have been making progress on establishing a short-term shelter for displaced encampment residents.

According to a report sent to councilors on Tuesday from Deputy City Manager Ron Wensing, the city is close to securing short-term shelter options in local motels and existing facilities, including House of Neighborly Services and 137 Homeless Connection.

The city has also secured storage carts that will be used to store any personal belongings removed from the encampments.

There has been less progress on efforts to find medium-term shelter solutions, which potentially include tents or modular units. And there has been almost no progress on finding a permanent shelter solution, according to Hade.

Hade and Rout were also set to update the council on the other initiatives underway to address homelessness in the city, including use of standardized data systems and street outreach.

For a majority of the Loveland City Council, however, those programs are less urgent than removing the encampments from city-owned properties.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Councilor Don Overcash said that the city owes it to residents to “restore public safety levels that we in Loveland expect and deserve” as soon as possible.

“I’m not as interested in action downstream, as much as I am at the moment in getting this issue addressed, because it’s reached a level of concern with our citizens such that a large number of them came to council to express their frustration,,” he continued. “I’m hoping that the city staff will prioritize a lot of the tasks that they’re working on and make this a high priority, as we indicated through the emergency ban, to expedite things and speed things up.”

Overcash then went on to acknowledge that addressing the encampments is a “very complicated issue.”

“We’ll continue to work on the issue, because it’s a long term issue,” he said. “If it was easy, we wouldn’t be struggling with this.”

According to Yost, details for Friday’s enforcement test are still being finalized, and there is not yet information available on how the test will be evaluated or when wider enforcement might begin.

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