Initiative 303 — the one about the camping ban — results: 55 percent of voters have said no

The measure would cap how many sanctioned outdoor camping locations the city can put on public property to four.

Denver's first safe outdoor camping site next to First Baptist Church in Capitol Hill. Dec. 4, 2020.

Denver's first safe outdoor camping site next to First Baptist Church in Capitol Hill. Dec. 4, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Desiree

Results as of 11:30 p.m.: 55.34% of Denverites have voted against initiated Ordinance 303. With 81,413 votes counted, 45,050 have voted against the ordinance, while 36,363 voters have voted “Yes.”

Initiated Ordinance 303 initially sought to add two measures to the existing unauthorized camping ordinance, or urban camping ban: additional enforcement through community complaints and city liability, and additional authorized camping sites.

The first portion of the ballot measure would have required the city to enforce the ordinance within 72 hours of a complaint. If the city didn’t clear the encampment within the three-day time frame, residents could have sued the city.

However, the 72-hour portion of the ballot measure went directly against federal court orders that require encampments receive a seven-day notice. City attorneys filed a lawsuit in October against Garrett Flicker, chairman of the Denver Republican Party and the ordinance’s petitioner. The provision was ruled unlawful by Denver District Court Judge Darryl Shockley on Oct. 31, just days before the election.

“Accordingly, Initiative 303 improperly infringes on the discretion of law enforcement to prioritize its response to citizen complaints of illegal activity and seeks to manage the manner in which Denver enforces the [Unauthorized Camping Ordinance],” Shockley wrote in his opinion.

Now, if 303 is passed, that portion of the ballot won’t be written into law.

The second portion, which will be written into law if passed, would cap how many sanctioned outdoor camping locations the city can put on public property to four.

Currently, the city can already legally build these sites and build as many as they choose. Two camps of that nature already exist through Safe Outdoor Spaces, partially funded by the city and run by the Colorado Village Collaborative nonprofit.

The ban, passed in May 2012, prohibits unauthorized camping on private property and was supported by Mayor Michael Hancock and several then-council members. “Camping” is defined as residing “temporarily in a place, with shelter,” which can include tents, sleeping bags or a blanket.

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