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City of Loveland announces public meeting on outdoor encampment ban

Loveland Reporter-Herald logo Loveland Reporter-Herald 8/17/2022 Jocelyn Rowley, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Colo.

Aug. 16—Plans to build a transitional homeless shelter on Southeast Railroad Avenue in downtown Loveland came under fire from nearby property owners at a meeting with city representatives held at the library last week.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, deputy city manager Rod Wensing announced a community-wide meeting on Aug. 24 for "continued conversations" about the proposal and progress on the city's outdoor camping ban in general.

The meeting will be held at the Rialto Theater, starting at 5:30 p.m. It is open to all members of the public.

City of Loveland staff members involved in enforcing the outdoor camping ban will lead the meeting, and then be on hand to answer questions, as will representatives from the Loveland Police Department. City Council members are invited to attend, but won't be actively participating.

"There will be a short presentation, and then a lot of opportunity for interaction with city staff," Wensing said.

The city started seeking sites for an alternative overnight shelter in wake of the outdoor camping ban ordinance, passed by Loveland City Council on May 17. Staff identified the former wastewater treatment plant as the "most viable" site in late June, due in part to its proximity to other city services and favorable zoning, Nicole Yost, the city's engagement coordinator, said at the time.

In the weeks since, city crews have cleared and graded the site, which was formerly used for equipment storage, after it was taken out of service at the city's wastewater treatment plant in 1962.

According to the latest urban camping ban update posted on Aug. 10, the enforcement team has ordered six large "humanitarian" tents that will provide overnight shelter for up to 75 people displaced by the ban. The site will also have shower and restroom facilities, as well as a modular building for support services and a container unit for storage of personal items.

The city has also established overnight shelter services for 22 to 25 people at the 137 Lincoln Street facility, now known as the Loveland Resource Center. The facility also provides support services for individuals during daytime hours.

At a presentation to City Council on July 26, Wensing explained that widespread enforcement of the outdoor camping ban has been slow so far due to the lack of alternative shelter space in Loveland. He said the staff members are trying to balance speedy enforcement of the ordinance with "the guardrails of Martin versus Boise," a 2018 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which held that anti-camping ordinances without alternative shelters are a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

So far, there is no firm date for opening the facility on Railroad Avenue. Yost acknowledged in an email earlier this week that there are still "many unanswered questions" following the meeting with neighbors, and encouraged residents to share them in advance of next week's public townhall discussion.

Questions can be posed ahead of time to OCE@Cityofloveland.org, or by leaving a voicemail at 970-962-2302, calling the Encampment Hotline at 970-962-2150, or sharing your question with library staff during normal business hours. Answers to the questions will also be posted in the FAQ section of the city's dedicated webpage: lovgov.org/homelessness.

(c)2022 Loveland Reporter-Herald, Colo. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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