Alright, the big one: Encampments. Or, as the city is calling it, "Update on Approaches to Safe Space Management of Public Areas and Sanctioned Camping"…
I see they've dispensed with "maintaining safe and welcoming open spaces," as it was being referred to previously.

Of course, this is an evolution of a conversation we've had at council before.
As Kurt Firnhaber is reminding us now.

You can read the recent story, which has links to past coverage in it.…
So what's being visited tonight? A $2.7M package of enforcement options, to more effectively remove camps and discourage new ones from forming. As the city said in its notes to council, they've not made a dent in encampments despite increased removals since August.
Some on council pushed for a look at more services (specifically, safe camping) rather than spending all the $$ on enforcement.

Step up our services, they argued, and there will be fewer camps to remove.
So there will be a small section on that.
Part 3 of this discussion will happen next week: What policy changes (new rules, tweaks, etc.) should Boulder look at to discourage encampments?
Homelessness is a national problem, Firnhaber says. We're having a local conversation.
If you want some great info on the driving forces behind homelessness nationally, and what's been / being done about it, I cannot recommend this podcast enough. Listened to it today while weeding:…
They were funnier and more informative and less self-righteous than I could ever be.
Joe Taddeucci, with Utilities, is going to be leading this first part.

Utilities has been dealing with the impacts of camps along waterways for quite a long time, but as a whole, the utilities dept is new to the encampment discussion.
335 reports from community members about encampments so far in 2021.

Multiple folks report the same camps — staff estimates that 100-150 ppl per night are camping in Boulder.
"There are so many complicated human and social aspects" in conversations on homelessness. "For every point, there's a counterpoint. But hopefully one thing we can agree on is the life safety issues of having ppl live" in our flood and stormwater systems, Taddeucci says.
Taddeucci: As I've been brought into this conversation, "I've learned" that there are safety issues for ppl living in encampments, who are victims of crime. "And while we can't say everyone" is involved in crime, it's an issue.
City currently contracting ServPro to remove camps.

Note: City calls them clean-ups, but they are removing the camps, not cleaning them. A judge in Denver ordered them to be called removals for the record, so that's what I'm using. Also, it's just more accurate.
Of course, lots of cleaning up does also occur. Much trash, and often hazardous materials such as needles, human waste, etc. All the things you'd expect from when people are living somewhere, just outside instead of inside.
City proposing bringing this in-house, by hiring an internal removal team. They've already started, hiring a removal manager that is housed in the utilities dept.…
"There really isn't an option to make the internal crew an option without the police support," Taddeucci says.
This gets to what I wrote in the story: Staff presented these things as "options" but they say that more police are needed no matter what. Police attend/assist on camp removals.
BPD currently down 27 officers. Hiring 15-17 this summer.

Staff asking for 6 additional cops specifically for homelessness: To assist removals, patrol downtown and on the Hill.
Cris Jones echoing Taddeucci: Anything we're proposing will require additional police presence.

He's presenting "Option 2" which is an "increase presence strategy" — more uniformed ppl.
That includes downtown ambassadors (like workers at a theme park, kinda) urban park rangers and police.
All these options are for an 18-month pilot, so costs are for 18 months as well. Half from the 2021 budget and half from 2022 budget.
Some more info:
Option 1: Internal cleanup team - $435,000 for 18 months
$230,000 one-time expense; $545,000 ongoing (minus $170,000 currently being spent on ServPro)
Option 2: Increased uniform presence - $2,276,588 total 18-month budget
Downtown ambassador program - $568K total
$10K startup costs; $660,000 for admin and ambassadors downtown; $108,000 for Hill ambassadors; $90,000 for Civic Area ambassadors; minus $300K from BDP
Urban park rangers - $206K total for 2 urban park rangers
$10K startup; $180K ongoing; minus $10K currently spent on security = $206K costs
Dedicated police officers - $1.5M total for 6 officers
$273K for startup costs; $1.229M ongoing = $1.5M total
Some more info on the downtown ambassadors: Downtown Boulder Partnership (the biz group down there) will kick in $300K for that
Like I said, these are kind of like theme park workers. (Sorry, I'm from Orlando; it's the best example I could think of.)

They'll wear polos, answer qs, maybe do some light maintenance (graffiti removal, clean bathrooms) and intervene in low-priority issues instead of cops
Urban Park Rangers: These are common in other cities, and Boulder used to have them, too. But there was a combo of the open space and parks dept. back in the early 2000s, so these positions were absorbed/shifted.
And some were eliminated in the recession and 2014 city restructuring.

They'll patrol and write tickets. Not sure if they'll have arresting powers or not. Or be armed. I know OSMP rangers are / can be. Not sure about these.
"For threats on public safety, we would continue to rely on our police," says Ali Rhodes, parks and rec director.
"We've spent $15,000 this year so far to address graffiti," Rhodes says. "We think there will be direct and indirect savings" once we have park rangers, but that's something we'll track.
Police Chief Maris Herold: "BPD staffing levels are significantly down this year."
"We are really taking officers from already depleted units" to deal with encampments. This leads to a lack of specialized training, etc. Herold says.
Mentions specifically that officers get pulled from the "San Juan Team, Hill Impact Team, Mall Team, and Traffic Unit"

Anyone know what the San Juan team is? Surely not just a team for San Juan del Centro apartments...?
Herold mentions the San Juan community... so maybe so.

That's in my neighborhood, btw. Live right across the park from it.
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 1
Wallach: How are the downtown ambassadors going to interact with members of the homeless community? Is it simply for tourists and biz owners?
Jones: It is both.
Jones turning it over to Chip, from Downtown Boulder.

"The core focus of the ambassador program is to engage with everybody," Chip says.
With the unhoused community, ambassadors would "make sure ppl are safe and know what resources we have available. ... I think just building the relationships with folks downtown, biz owners and unhoused community, is the main focus."
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 2
Wallach: If we're using a contractor, what standards are we looking for?
Chip: We're working with Block by Block, which is a leader of these programs in the nation. We get a lot of info from peer cities (these are common elsewhere)
Wallach: What constitutes public safety support? Are the ambassadors supposed to intervene in
Chip: They will have extensive de-escalation training and "other ways to engage in the moment. ... We will be relying heavily on police for public safety."
"The ambassadors role is having a presence and knowing when to call the police but knowing when to use other resources as well," Chip says.
Missed a Wallach q to Herold.
Herold: These are my most proactive, problem-solving, crime-preventing officers (pretty sure she's talking about the Homeless Outreach Team, but I missed it)
Wallach: Will they be receiving dif training from other officers? (Before helping with encampment removals)
Herold: This is probably the riskiest work officers do, bc they're intervening in very low-level crimes, and if they were to use force "courts would frown on that."
Herold: "These officers really need to be trained in legal standards, crisis intervention and de-escalation. They should be the elite officers that don't allow for use-of-force situations."
Wallach asks about hiring.

Herold: We will prob have trouble recruiting, as we have with other positions. I hope we get service-oriented hires. It's part of the reform, making this much more about service-driven and ambassador policing than we have in the past.
I am hoping to "re-market this" and get officers that have a more service mind than in the past, Herold says.
Yates: We've budgeted for a certain # of sworn officers and you're down 27 from that, right?
Carey Weinheimer taking that one: We're currently authorized for 184 officers. Today, we have 145 fully operational.
Weinheimer: 14 vacancies; 10 in field training (will be operational in June) 6 in academy (will be on the job in November) and 9 ppl out on injury / extended leave
Yates: If we approve these 6 requested officers tonight, would that take our approved 184 officers to 190 authorized officers in the budget?
Yes, Weinheimer says.
Yates: Do you think these 6 officers will come from existing staff? And then you'd backfill their jobs.
Herold: "Yes, sir, that's what I'm thinking."
Yates: Would these 6 officers be added to HOT?
Herold: "That work is completely separate from this group, and for good reason."
"They've receive a lot of training from the HOT team, on services, how to interact .... but the work will be separate and much more robust" for crime prevention and policing strategies, Herold says.
Young: "I'm not sure who this question will be directed at."

Always a good sign.
Did not really follow it at all. "There seems to be some overlap among rangers, ambassadors and police officers.... What's the funnel and who does what?"

That's about all I got.
"What does it look like right now? What would it look like with these interventions in place for a given scenario?" Young says, trying to sum it up.
LOL Firnhaber calls it a "very challenging question."
Firnhaber: The HOT team (it drives me crazy, bc that's essentially saying the Homeless Outreach Team Team) works with individuals. Sometimes it's connecting them to services; driving them to a lease signing or to get a social security card.
Firnhaber: The court navigators work somewhat in collaboration with those who have a high frequency with the court system.

The BTHERE program (new) informs individuals about services
"There's coordination" between all these programs, Firnhaber says, "but I would argue more coordination is needed."
Firnhaber: "Outreach is intentionally separate from encampment (removals). If we know there's a (removal) coming in a few days, we also make sure there's outreach."
Rhodes: "Right now, what happens in the parks. There is growing visitation. Council is well aware of our regular struggles in Eben G. Fine ... Without the eyes on the sites and ability to enforce, we end up with situations that are out. ofour control."
Up at Eben, rangers could write tickets for open containers, which could be a deterrent. ... "We are pulling staff from across our system" to deal with encampments. "One, because of burnout."
Rhodes: The problem keeps growing but our resources don't. The hope in the future is that our resources grow.
Chip: The situation right now is when there's criminal behavior or even anti-social behavior, the tool biz owners have is 911. The ambassadors would help decide if it is a 911 issue, or if there's a more appropriate response.
Young: Where would new cops fit into that?
Herold: "Basically they (ambassadors) just become more eyes and ears for the police dept. ... They can tell us when something worse is happening that we can rapidly deploy to those areas."
Herold: They go into biz that are having unruly patrons, etc. We had a lot of success with that in Cincinnati (where she worked before) but it would have been difficult to deploy without the support of police.
Urban park rangers, meanwhile, would focus on "quality of life" issues, handing out tickets for those.
Young: It sounds like police officers would be spread throughout the city so that the "primary intervention is a lighter touch." Is that fair?

Rhodes: "That's exactly it, Mary."
Rhodes: "There would always be that backstop" of the police.
Young: And they would be trained in that new model (of use of force)?
Yes, Herold says.

More on that here:…
Herold: They would get additional training specific to homeless ppl. My hope is that we'd eventually give this training to all officers, but this group is the priority.
"The work is very risky. I would put this at the top to get done so we can do this work compassionately and ethnically and so that ppl, all ppl, remain safe," Herold says.
Swetlik, coming in hot: What's the expected % decrease in camping these interventions will result in?

Long silence.
"I think it would be unfair for us to put a percentage," Firnhaber says.
Rhodes also doesn't give a %: The evidence suggests that this approach impacts ppl's "perception of and comfort in public spaces, including the unhoused."
Herold: We'd have to collect that data. That's a very fair q. We should be outcome-oriented with v specific goals in mind. That's why we're suggesting this as a pilot.
Swetlik: With such large sums of $$, having a goal would sort of need to be a requirement.

How much will this approach decrease our overall crime rate? he asks.

Another big silence in response.
Herold: There's just so much going on right now. I have to go with basic research, which suggests more eyes and ears always reduce crime.

"All I can tell you right now is crime is not going in the right direction."
Herold: "I'm very hopeful we'll have a positive impact on crime ... especially as we move out of the pandemic. More ppl are out. ... I do think this will be positive."
Swetlik: If these policies are enacted and camping continues, will you come back and ask for MORE enforcement?

ANOTHER long silence.
Rhodes: That's the intent of the 18-month pilot, to see what works in Boulder, what's helpful. Communities across the country are dealing with this. I know we're all hoping for national practices" that improve things.
These solutions are geared toward local issues, Rhodes says. Conditions on the ground.
The hope is to come back in 11 months and see what's working, and tweak as needed, Rhodes says.

Swetlik: I'm interested to see what the numbers-based outcomes we're hoping for are.
Yates: Fort Collins has had an ambassador program for 5 years. They break down each interaction, ID them, classify them (was there safety concern? mental health issue? etc.) by outcomes, resolutions.

Points Swetlik to that dashboard.
Friend: One data q I have. I've read that it's pretty important communities know ever single unhoused community member. I think we don't get good info on ppl who are outside of coordinated entry. Is that accurate?
Firnhaber: v long answer that basically amounts to: "That is something we're working on."
Firnhaber: There's a high-utilizer team meant to address people who aren't accessing services. ... The HOT team knows the names of many individuals, many who have not engaged in services. ... "We are working in that direction."
Friend: But right now, we don't know if the 100-150 ppl camping tonight are the same who were here last week, or last year, or cyclically?
Correct, Firnhaber says.
Friend: I think it's important to know if we're moving the same ppl around town. Is it all new ppl? Without that data, how do we know if whatever steps we're taking are working?
"If that's not part of this, how can we have any measurable outcomes?" Friend asks.
Herold: Such a great q and I couldn't agree more.

City testing some app, used in San Diego, to accomplish this. "I think it will be an easy lift for us to do this."
"You're absolutely right. We need a lot more data," Herold says.
Friend: "Frankly, clearing encampments doesn't seem to be directly tied to getting people housed. ... What are the targets? ... Is it ppl just not visibly camping in Boulder? If they're camping elsewhere in the county, is that considered a success?"
Rhodes: "With each of the options, we ID'd what the problems are. I'd want to be tracking vandalism, graffiti. ... A reduce in trash just left around the park. I'm thinking of Eben G. Fine, not encampments."
"Those are all thins a park ranger can impact," Rhodes says.
Herold: Community complaints... are we lessening the complaints. Community perception of cleanliness and safety. "Ideally, less citations and less interactions with the police."
Chip: Quality of life issues are somewhat more measurable. ... Often there's really good data once ambassador programs are in place. We just don't know where we're starting from.
Jones: We do know that we've been having challenges in this area (clean, safe and welcoming public spaces)
Jones: We'll be counting the number of stickers removed and pounds of trash picked up. I anticipate we'll have a lot more to report back on once we've gotten this underway.
Friend: Do we expect that the number of public encampments will decrease? Are we doing this with the hope we have fewer ppl camping in public spaces a year from now?
Firnhaber: Yes. Our expectation is that there would be a decrease in camping in our public spaces.
Firnhaber: But we'll also be looking at the number of individuals who are engaging in services and understanding better why ppl aren't engaging in services.
"There's an expectation in the community" that camping will decrease," Firnhaber says.
Friend: Officers attend removals. Anywhere from 3-12 officers, right?
Correct, Herold says.
Friend: Why do you feel we need 3-12 officers there?
"If I visualize a lot of going through the world, I don't have any officers nearby. ... I'm prob not particularly inclined to a militaristic world or city. I just want to understand why when faces with a tent we need more than one," Friend says.
Friend: "Why do we need any? And why is it more than 12?"

Herold: It's based on the size of the encampment and reports of weapons / ppl with a propensity for violence. Or residents saying they will not leave. "We get that constantly."
"When we're not present, ppl just tell staff they're not leaving," Herold says.
"Staff members have been assaulted, Herold says. Behavior toward officers has even been assaultive."

"I will always side on the safety of not only staff members, community members, but encampment members themselves.
Herold: "If I have enough officers on scene to deter that, that's the ethical thing to do in my opinion."
Friend: "I still don't understand. If you've got a single tent and the person doesn't decline to leave, why there would have to be 3 officers there automatically. It seems like a lot."
Herold: "It's really not. I think the presence deters us using force."
Herold: "This happens frequently" describing a removal where a resident had a metal pole and "went after" staff. "My training will just tell you to have an ample supply of officers there usually deters this behavior and makes it safe for everybody."
Friend: If we're down 27 officers now, when we get back to full, and the pandemic ends (which increased crime) why do we need to add officers, in your opinion?
Herold: I'm trying to staff this adequately and safely, and getting my other specialized units staffed back up.
"That's all I'm trying to do. I don't know any way around it. If the expectation is we are requested to do this type of work. I don't think it gets done adequately and safely without police there," Herold says.
Taddeucci: "I'm sort of on my learning curve with all this, but it can just escalate real quickly. ... It's just not safe to put (staff) in that position without that support there. I don't think we lead with police, but the presence matters."
Rhodes: "Our staff has been assaulted, threatened. It is traumatic."

Recently, police had to leave for a more important call, and staff reported that the tone changed. Residents became combative. Staff had to leave.
Friend: Would park rangers be armed?
No, Rhodes says.

Glad Friend asked that.
Joseph: To me, the (removal) part is about conflict mitigation, and ensuring ppl will have access to housing. Spending time talking about the outcome piece is so important.
Joseph: What is the San Juan team? (omg, so glad she asked that)
Herold: It's v important and should be a priority of this dept. My hope is we get a Spanish-speaking officer. We are trying to build relationships there. It's an area that is neglected. It's a community that's v deserving. They want to understand policing.
OK, so it *is* a police unit JUST for this low-income, majority Spanish-speaking apartment complex.

Young: This is a community that has been neglected for a long, long time. It's something that a group of us has been working on for a long, long time. Definitely the police presence is part of the solution.
"It's a police presence that would be building community," Young says. Getting ppl access to services, etc.

Can't think of any other way to do that than with cops?? What the actual F.
Joseph: "We have issues of over-policing. We have issues of under-policing in America as well."
Weaver: I think for me "absolutely I would like to see an internal (removal) team."
"They would be able to do additional things aside from encampment cleanup," Weaver says. Including police support, which Herold provided "compelling" arguments for.
Weaver: Police on patrol often don't have militaristic equipment and don't often need to participate in encampment removals.
Weaver: "If we're talking about outcomes, I think absolutely. we want less ppl camping on our public lands."
Nagle: "Absolutely I support (an internal removal team) 100%."
Nagle: "There's a lot to say on this discussion. .. Having our natural lands damaged ... That's just beyond sad. ... Our natural lands are getting destroyed by humans."
Friend: I certainly support efforts to keep our public spaces safe and clean.

"I'm not supportive of additional police being hired. I can understand police support as needed. ... Ambassadors and park rangers were pitched to me as alternatives to policing."
Friend: My daughter and husband work in emergency rooms. They often go into rooms with ppl who are violent. They get spit on and peed on. They do not go in with 3 police officers. Certainly there's an officer nearby.
Friend: "I don't understand why we need armed ppl there without something having escalated. ... I'm not saying we should have no police ever."
I don't understand why we automatically need police when we're dealing with unhoused people. That seems like targeting a certain population, Friend says.
Wallach: In a better world, I would agree that we would not add police. But I'm not sure that's the world we live in.
"I am impressed by Chief Herold's explanation about why they are necessary. ... I take some comfort from the fact their training will be different and specialized," Wallach says.
Echoes Friend's comments on the need to track outcomes. "It's not a cheap program," Wallach says.
Young: I appreciate Friend's request for good metrics.
"Idk that council determines what those metrics should be. Staff should come up with those," Young says. "How do we know that a decrease in camping here isn't driving an increase in camping elsewhere?"
Young: Those police officers are needed because "they will be trained differently. In a direction we should be moving in this country. ... It's not only a pilot project for the (removal) team, it's a pilot project for reformed policing."
Young: Ppl in these encampments often have meth addiction and mental illness. There's a higher likelihood that behavior could escalate.

So police officers with dif training "are essential."
Yates: "The decision to bring the (removal) team in-house is a no-brainer."
Yates: "You either trust your staff or you get new staff. I trust this staff. ... It's our job to ask hard questions. I heard a lot of hard questions tonight."

Not from you, boo.
"When they say they need protection when they're out doing this dangerous work, I'm not going to second-guess that," Yates says.
Yates: "We have never been anywhere close to full staff" in the police dept. So the extra 6 officers "is almost a paper number."
Yates: I don't think Herold is asking for more officers, really. She's asking to put them on new tasks, with new training.
"I don't think the chief needs our permissions to redeploy her officers or to retrain her officers. That's a micromanagement I don't think we want to get into."
Brockett also in favor of bringing the removal team in-house. Everyone has been so far.
Likes downtown ambassadors, too. Likens them to the DIA "friendly older ppl." Prob a better analogy than Disney World workers.
And urban park rangers. Brockett likes those, too. The point is to "take the load off" police officers.
"It is important we lend additional police resources to the downtown for regular patrols," Brockett says, BUT not adding extra officers above the 184 currently approved.
"I would look to fully staffing the police dept," he says. It's $1M extra per year. "That would mean other city services that have been discontinued" would stay unfunded.

"Things like reopening the libraries," or parks and rec.
Swetlik agrees with Brockett.
"I'm looking for new solutions, and additional police is not a new solution."
If we're spending $1.5M on more cops, I would much rather balance this and add that to services.

"Start eliminating the reasons why ppl can't go to shelter or won't go to shelter."
There's still holes in health care, in addiction services, in our sheltering, in transitional housing, Swetlik says.
Ambassadors and park rangers "are new ideas. They're something we haven't tried," Swetlik says.
Herold: Yates is right. It's going to take a long time for me to get back up to full staffing. "It's going to take me every bit of 2 years. ... We have so many people living the dept."
"I'm trying to support the work the city" wants us to engage in, Herold says.

"If we want to enforce the camping ban, have clean and safe spaces, I need additional resources."
Weinheimer: Even if we were given the go-ahead for 6, that mean we'd hire 20 in July. It would take us 1.5 yrs. "We have constant turnover. ... We have to be always over-hiring."
Forgot to say that HAB and HRC's recommendations were included in staff notes *finally*

Also, HRC has consistently opposed enforcement as a means of dealing with homelessness.
"We consider the police and criminal justice systems to be ineffective, inappropriate, and dangerous mechanisms to use to respond to homelessness," they wrote in their annual letter to council.
Nagle supports everything (more cops, urban park rangers, ambassadors, internal removal team)

Wallach, too.
And Weaver.
With a caveat: "I would defer to the chief and the entire team that's setting this up as to what the necessary staffing level is."
Realized I used some acronyms earlier that ppl may not know.
HAB = Housing Advisory Board
HRC = Human Relations Commission (the city's human rights group)
Weaver: "If you're going to have a law, you have to enforce it. If not, you should take the law off the books."

That's RE: the camping ban and removals.
Young supports the whole package, too.
As does Joseph.
Joseph: "For me it goes back to the under-policing of certain areas. Safety and security for me means providing safety and security for all, not just in some areas."
I don't want Herold to have to make that choice to pull police from one area to keep the mall feeling safe, Joseph says.
"This is an opportunity for her to show us that (police) reform," Joseph says.
Straw poll time. Friend, Brockett, Swetlik opposed to hiring more police officers.
Brockett: if it's going to take awhile to hire these officers anyway, can we spend the $$ in the meantime on services?
Meschuk: We will bring that back in adjustment to base.
Young echoing Joseph's comments on being under-policed: "Some folks are provided with safety and others are provided with neglect."
5 min break. I will spend mine crying.
Part 2: Sanctioned encampments.
Staff not super hot on this. The $$ will have to come from housing and human services, so it will take $$ away from the shelter and/or housing, they said.
$39,800 startup costs; $42/tent/night x 25 tents = $477,750

$517,550 + $197,300 (case management services) = $714,850
Firnhaber: There are some communities that have successfully implemented camping options for ppl experiencing homelessness.
Feels like it doesn't matter, bc staff still not really recommending this, but this is the first time staff has admitted that safe camping CAN be a part of housing first.
Confirming what national and regional experts have been saying.
Firnhaber on why Boulder's cost estimates are so much higher than Denver's ($28/tent/night vs. $42/tent/night): Denver didn't include the full cost, he says.
Firnhaber sharing examples of failed and successful camps. The key, as with anything, is management. Are ppl connected to services? Do they have what they need? (bathrooms, showers, laundry, food) Is it managed and secure?
As every national and regional expert has told me, it's about what services you are providing to folks.
Helping unhoused folks is about
1. Keeping them safe and stable while unhoused,
2. Getting them housed as quickly as possible and
3. Helping them stay housed with supportive services
Any good system should have all three. I'm gonna quote Steve Berg, bc city staff quoted him to justify not taking $$ away from housing for other things, and I just find that ironic given how critical he was of Boulder.
"That doesn't mean you ignore the fact that homelessness is dangerous for people. There are things you can do to keep ppl safe while they’re homeless while understanding that no one is safe while they’re homeless."
"As quickly as possible getting them housed is the main thing. It’s not instantaneous. You can’t snap your fingers. So you have to keep them safe (in the meantime)."
"Homeless systems everywhere are not funded sufficiently to do their job. Always, communities that don’t have the $$ on the table, the ppl in the systems are told do these 3 things. "
"You decide which of them your’e going to do and not going to do, then take the heat for whatever it is you’ve decided."
"Many communities, the fact that the community is doing more re-housing and less shelter, not going along with things like safe camping and safe parking. It’s not bc those aren’t good things, it’s bc they don’t (have the $$)"
"And they’ve decided they can improve the most people’s lives by focusing on getting into housing. It’s infuriating bc all of these things are important to do. "
That's all Steve Berg, btw, of the National Alliance To End Homelessness.
Back to Firnhaber: If we want to do sanctioned camping, we need to know what the goal is. What are we trying to accomplish?
If it's to end illegal camping, Firnhaber says, that's not likely to happen. If it's to accommodate ppl who don't want to follow Shelter rules, that's challenging, bc these places have rules, too — "very similar to those of a Shelter."
Maybe it's to accommodate ppl who have criminal records and can't get into housing. We're working on that, Firnhaber says.
Some other challenges to sanctioned encampments: Where it will go. Particularly in Boulder, where citing housing and any services for unhoused folks is always a big fight.
Firnhaber talking about the increased capacity for sheltering Boulder had this year. The hotel rooms paid by the feds have already ended, per an HHS spokesperson today.
And the COVID recovery center is expected to close by June.
When both those go, Boulder will have exactly 140 beds at the Shelter — half what it did last year.
Back to sanctioned camping: HHS staff can't take that on with all its current work, so if council wants to do this, they'll have to delay/stop other work.

BIG freaking hurdle there. Council hardly ever does that when staff says they will have to delay other work.
Brockett: Denver's per-day cost is substantially lower bc they got nonprofit support. So our costs could go down, too, right?
Firnhaber: It could, yes.
Swetlik: "We're spending $1.5M on additional cops. That's 25,000 nights of hotel stays. ... We're spending a whole lot of $$ on enforcement and not a whole lot of money on alternatives to enforcement."
Friend: "I still don't think I have a good answer to the q where do ppl go. We've just voted to spend a lot of $$ to enforce you can't camp here... I don't think we have a solution for where we expect ppl to go."
"We're not looking at both sides of the coin," Friend says.
Friend: "We need to at least pilot trying something. ... Without trying it, I think we're missing an element of the data."
Supports a safe camping pilot.
Yates: "I'm opposed to sanctioned campground for 5 reasons. We have more than an adequate number of Shelter beds available."
We had 282 beds during the sinter. The most used per night was 137. "Many, many nights, we had far fewer" ppl seeking shelter, Yates. "I really struggle with why we'd have a sanctioned campground and ask ppl to sleep outside when we have perfectly good shelter beds."
"I do understand there's some reasons why some ppl won't go to the shelter. Some issues are specious. Some are a little more legitimate," Yates says.
PTSD is a legit one, he says. But let's address that head-on.
"I puzzle to understand why someone who wouldn't go to a shelter" bc they don't like the rules, would go to a campground with similar rules, Yates says.
Yates: "Idk why we would undertake a program that city after city has found to be unsuccessful," Yates says. I often ask peers at the National League of Cities who have done this, should we. And they all say no. Don't do it.
Yates: "Every hour we ask staff to spend on this, every dollar, is an hour and dollar lost on helping ppl get out of homelessness."
Brockett to Yates: We don't know that it won't work. There are examples where it does; most recently in Denver.
Brockett: "We need to also have answers for where can you go? The Shelter is obviously a really good one but it does not work for everyone. We do have ppl who fall through the cracks."
Supports exploring this more.
Weaver: "I thought this was a good idea years ago. I have changed my mind." Bc we couldn't find a nonprofit partner.
"We're missing that key element that we've tried to find. Without that, I just don't think there's any legs to this," Weaver says.
"Every $1 we spend on our affordable housing program is keeping ppl from being homeless and is exits for experiencing homelessness," Weaver. "If I had dollars to spend .... we're talking about things holistically, as we said we would."
Staff is working on solutions for hard-to-house populations, like drug users and those with criminal history.

"We've done a whole bunch to improve services," Weaver says. "There's more to be done."
"I just think this is a wrong answer."
"The right solution isn't to turn our parks into campgrounds," Weaver says. "It is to give ppl pathways to exit homelessness."
Young just stopping by to correct Swetlik's math when he said we could put ppl in hotels for the $$ we're spending on policing.
It's about 100 nights for 25 ppl, she says.
Young: "Providing camping isn't going to help ppl with addiction and mental illness."

So she doesn't support.
Good point from a reader: One big dif between shelter and safe camping is having your own space, vs. congregate setting. And shelters kick you out in the morning: You can stay in your tent during the day.
Nagle doesn't support either. Shocker.
"I would like some work" on "alternative options for those who have PTSD as well as those who have animals," Nagle says. "It seems unfair" to be denied shelter just because you have a pet in your care.
And more work on "the addiction side."
Wallach: "We're attempting to solve a much larger problem with a micro solution."
Wallach: "We don't have the resources for it, we need more resources, and we have to get them elsewhere."
Friend: "I agree we need to work to push some of this upstream to the federal gov't level."

"This should be about progress, not perfection."
"Not everybody has to benefit from every solution we come up with," Friend says.
"The fact that there are open shelter beds doesn't mean we are adequately serving our unhoused community," Friend says. Notes the 6-month residency requirement for any services, which likely resulted in more ppl camping.
Friend: We're talking a lot about how it's not humane to live outside. But it's more humane to live in one safe spot outside than to be moved around constantly outside.
Yates to Friend: While there is a 6-month residency requirement for shelter, there isn't during the winter.

Yes, but experts have noted that there is confusion and that this in itself discourages ppl from seeking shelter any time.
Yates to Friend: Would you change the 6-month residency requirement?
Friend: It's my understanding we're in the minority on this among communities with housing-first principles.
Joseph doesn't want to do a straw poll bc she's already heard 5 no's. Convenient, bc we don't know where she stands on this
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More from @shayshinecastle

28 Apr
Oh, well now she's addressing it.
Making an equity argument about where this campground will go. Prob not where there are million-dollar homes, but where the working-class ppl live which will "lower that area further."
That's a Young talking point that Joseph was persuaded by, she says.
Read 17 tweets
28 Apr
Time for our spring financial update. Presentation here:…
As you may remember, Boulder cut $29M from its 2020 spending plan due to COVID.…
And the 2021 budget had a further $28.6M in reductions, including 70 jobs being cut.…
Read 92 tweets
28 Apr
Starting with the YOAB stuff. Mayor pro tem Junie Joseph is leading tonight's study session.

Here's the YOAB presentation. It's delightful, ya'll.…
Lots of color and mismatch-y fonts. Exactly what you'd want in a Youth Opportunities Advisory Board power point.
What's YOAB been up to? Encouraging folks to complete the Census, doing education on social distancing during COVID, and gathering youth input for Parks & Rec and Police master planning.
Read 15 tweets
27 Apr
Hey, #Boulder. About to get started on an important study session. We're talking homelessness and budget today, which coincides nicely, bc council is discussing a potential $2.7M increase in spending on enforcement (removing homeless camps).
You can read more here. LOTS more info to add to what's in this story, which I'll thread for you once we get started.…
I don't have a story for you on the budget stuff, as it wasn't included in the packet. But looking through the presentation, it looks like 2020 revenue was higher than expected, but Boulder will likely still have a deficit in 2021.
Read 4 tweets
21 Apr
This is it: The big one. CU South Annexation. Here's staff's presentation:…
And my story, which is an easier and quicker read (not as comprehensive, but helpful):…
I'll prob tweet mostly what staff says, and add in extras as I think of it. I have So. Much. Notes. on this — stretching over 3 years — so it's a bit like trying to drink from a firehose.
Read 164 tweets
21 Apr
A few things on consent that are interesting: The aforementioned gun violence prevention resolution, and the fifth or sixth expansion of the 2015 height limit moratorium, through August, so the community benefit work can be completed.
I believe council will be accepting suggested edits to the gun violence prevention resolution. I'll find a copy for ya'll and include it on or my newsletter, if you're interested.
Some council members offering their thoughts now. Joseph feels some of the language is too passive.
Read 34 tweets

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