Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Springs' RV parking ban heads for December vote

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge RVs like this one have proliferated on city streets, triggering an ordinance to bar them from parking on the streets of Colorado Springs. - GREG GJERDINGEN ON FLICKR
  • Greg Gjerdingen on Flickr
  • RVs like this one have proliferated on city streets, triggering an ordinance to bar them from parking on the streets of Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs has long banned parking RVs on city streets in residential neighborhoods, but soon, City Council will cast a vote on whether to expand that prohibition to all city streets.

The proposed ordinance is part of the city's efforts to address the city's homeless problem, with Police Commander Sean Mandel telling Council that many of the complaints received over the last year involve homeless people living in RVs parked all over the city.

The biggest issues are safety of drivers and pedestrians, environmental impact from RV occupants dumping human waste and other refuse on city streets or into storm sewers and quality of life of residents who observe such activity.

Mandel said during a Council work session on Nov. 26 the Colorado Springs Police Department has seen "a dramatic increase" in complaints over the last year.

"What we’re hoping for is to enable ourselves to go out and contact these owners of vehicles and inform them of the fines associated with the ordinance change," he said. "With the possibility of fines, we can get these vehicles to move and park somewhere outside the city limits."

Those fines are $75 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $125 for the third. It would be a non-jailable offense, but officers could impound the RV, although that would be a last resort.

Councilor David Geislinger, who said he opposes the ordinance as currently written, said he foresees creating a "Whack-a-mole" situation where RV dwellers would merely move the problem from place to place.

He also said he views the ordinance as criminalizing homelessness, though the city's legal advisor said the offense is a parking violation, not a criminal charge.

"I would like to see this ordinance and this problem addressed as part of the ambit of homeless diversion program in our city courts," he said. "The first approach is to bring these families, these individuals into the ambit of services. We heard that the homeless community is expressing frustration that every time they move, they’re losing all their possessions. So with this ordinance, the RV is impounded because of a violation of this statute, and all of a sudden we’ve taken that situation for that family and made it worse."

Mandel told Council the Homeless Outreach Team would likely carry out checks on RVs seen as breaking the ordinance, although all officers could issue citations.

But Geislinger was adamant that the ordinance doesn't truly hit the homeless problem head on. "This is part of the homeless issue that many people are not aware of," he said. "Now that it is out in the open, it is our job collectively to do what we can to address it."

Council is set to vote on the ordinance on Dec. 11.

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