The City of Fort Collins on Wednesday conducted an enforcement action to address illegal camping in public areas after watching the problem grow - and complaints increase - over the summer months.
Police officers, Natural Area Rangers and Park Rangers were joined by City Manager Darin Atteberry and several Councilmembers early Wednesday to patrol areas along the Poudre River, Old Town and along the MAX transit corridor. As part of the enforcement action, officials located campsites, addressed municipal and criminal violations, conducted trash cleanup and educated illegal campers about laws and available resources.
On Wednesday, officials located 54 illegal campsites, issued 32 summonses for municipal or criminal violations and arrested one person on an outstanding warrant. There were 26 active but unattended campsites that were tagged with warnings, and four truckloads of garbage collected. Officials will return to the campsites that were tagged with warnings in the coming days to make sure the property has been removed.
The City’s Social Sustainability Department and Police Services continue to work with homeless providers and the faith community to address illegal camping and find compassionate solutions that may include expanding shelter capacity.
“This is a very complex issue that affects our entire community,” said Mary Atchison, director of Social Sustainability. “We want to help those homeless individuals who do not want to be camping get back on their feet and find the resources they need. We are also collaborating with homeless service providers and faith communities about how we can help people in a humane way while also enforcing our laws for the benefit of all.”
A similar effort was conducted on May 7: Officers found 31 illegal campsites and issued 32 summonses largely related to public camping.
Since May 14, police calls for service regarding the behavior of homeless and transient people have quadrupled. In general, over the past two or three years, the City has experienced a dramatic increase in homeless camping within the city limits. Said Deputy Chief Jerry Schiager, “The focus of these enforcement actions is on addressing illegal behavior, not on the status of the offenders. People may be camping in the city limits for a variety of reasons, and this behavior is against local ordinance.”