Denver police and city workers clear encampment at California St. and Park Ave.

The stretch of California Street in Five Points where people staying in tents were forced to move along. Dec. 3, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The stretch of California Street in Five Points where people staying in tents were forced to move along. Dec. 3, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

At least for the next week, Kenyatta Macklin knows where she’ll be after she was asked to move along from a stretch of California Street in Five Points where she had been camping.

“I got a motel voucher today,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “So I’m going to my motel tonight.”

Macklin sat with a bicycle, several suitcases and other bags and her Chihuahua mix Alexander the Great awaiting a ride from police officers to a motel on Colfax. Early Tuesday, she said, police had awakened her and about a dozen others who had erected tents and other shelters on California just off Park. City workers arrived later to clear the street.

“They work with you,” Macklin said of police officers.

Under Denver’s urban camping ban, police are required to first try getting people to comply simply by asking and to offer help — which can include motel vouchers — to those who need it. Citations are written or arrests made only as a last resort, according to police and other city officials. People experiencing homelessness often complain that interactions with police under the camping ban are nonetheless stressful.

The California Street encampment had been her home for several weeks, Macklin said. She and others in the camp had received written notice a week ago that they would have to move, she said. That complies with the terms of a settlement a federal judge approved in September that ended a class action suit over how the city has handled such street clean-ups.

Under the agreement, the city must give written notice a week before clearing large-scale encampments; attach written notices to unattended personal property in areas it clears regularly and wait 48 hours before removing those items; and enact policies to ensure the return of property confiscated during clearances.

Macklin got a receipt Tuesday for some belongings city workers were hauling to a storage facility where they would be kept for 60 days. She said it was the first time she had used the city’s storage.

Her motel voucher was good for a week.

“After that, I don’t know,” she said.

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