Council comments tilt in favor of proposed waterway camping setback lawMay 8, 2018
Although no vote was taken and may not be for some time, five of the nine Colorado Springs City Council members are leaning toward a proposal to disallow camping within 100 feet of the edge of a stream.
This was evident from council comments at a work session May 7 on a draft ordinance that was introduced by Councilmember Tom Strand and City Stormwater Manager Richard Mulledy.
According to both men, the ordinance's goal is to improve public health (because of camps causing downstream pollution) and safety (because camps are
However, Council President Richard Skorman (who did not express ordinance support) concluded the roughly one-hour discussion by describing the plan as “very preliminary,” and said public meetings will need to be held.
Skorman, whose District 3 includes the southern part of the Westside, also noted that, even though a recent water quality study has found evidence of human waste in Fountain Creek, there's no proof yet that it's from the campers. And regarding flash floods, he suggested that the city could find a way to warn campers when one is known to be coming.
Unlike the city's no-camping law, the law (if approved as written) would be enforced whether or not there's space at shelters and would not require a 24-hour notification.
Strand said the 100-foot distance was chosen because “that seemed to be something that the court system has supported.”
The legal penalty for violators would be fines or jail, but Strand said that police officers would have the option to warn people, “and they will do that."
No comments from the public at large were taken during the discussion, which is the usual protocol for council at work sessions.
In addition to Strand, the other councilmembers who spoke positively about the concept of a 100-foot waterway setback were Merv Bennett, Andy Pico, David Geislinger and Jill Gaebler.
Here are representative comments from them:
In addition to Skorman, opposing the ordinance and/or asking pointed questions about it were Bill Murray and Yolanda Avila.
Here are representative comments from Murray and Avila:
Don Knight, whose District 1 includes the northern part of the Westside, did not speak for or against the 100-foot camping setback, asking only how much of the city's waterways are on public property.
Mulledy replied that citywide most of them are private, but “the downtown has significant reaches that are public.”
The ordinance idea originated from discussions between the mayor and council, according to City Attorney Wynetta Massey. “This ordinance specifically addresses water quality, which we don't have in code currently,” she told council.
Another point that came up at the work session, which a consensus of council appeared to support, was involving El Paso County in the issue, as it takes in many miles of the Monument and Fountain creeks and has related expertise through two of its departments (Human Services and Health).
Westside Pioneer article