City votes to crackdown on homeless camping

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - In an effort to crackdown on homeless camps for health and safety reasons, the Colorado Springs City Council voted to ban camping near streams.

Now, those violating the law have about two weeks to pick up and move.

An ordinance passed its final reading on Tuesday by a vote of 6-2 that will make it illegal to camp within 100 feet of a stream. The ordinance says anyone camped near a stream could "urinate, defecate, bathe in, or otherwise contaminate stream waters."

Supporters of the ordinance say the issue is both a public health concern and safety concern. Those in favor also say there are worries for the safety of those camping near the streams in cases of flash floods. The ordinance also relates to other city waterways and concrete drainage canals.

"We've got this rainy season, at least historically, that has come in August and September," Councilmember Tom Strand stated. "We've had people swept up into the waterways, injured or worse. We're looking at there safety and want to provide for people who are in a homeless situation."

One of the people concerned with the ordinance questioned the implementation of enforcement and the timeline.

"We understand that the ordinance will have them move on, but we want it to happen in a fair way," said Pastor Michael Tassler. "We work with people and agencies who work with these folks who are camping, and we need a period of time to help them move."

There was a vote to push the ordinance effective date out to Aug. 10, but that amendment failed by a vote of 5-3. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect on July 23.

Violators of the new ordinance would get a warning but could face a fine up to $2,500 and 189 days in jail if they are a repeat offender.