‘Boulder has an obligation to enforce camping ban’

Read the Guest Opinion by Josh Shoenfeld in the Daily Camera. Copied below in its entirety:

Fire burns while crews battle the Sunshine Fire in the Sunshine canyon area of Boulder, on Sunday, March 19.

Fire burns while crews battle the Sunshine Fire in the Sunshine canyon area of Boulder, on Sunday, March 19. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

“You can’t have enforcement without the alternative,” said Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Shoemaker (“Sunshine fire reignites debate about homeless camping in Boulder,” Daily Camera, March 26).

The mayor pro tem is referring to the fact that you cannot enforce the camping ban if we do not have an alternative to house the homeless. I would say that enforcing the law to no[t] allow camping is of prime importance regardless of an alternative for the homeless. I have lived on Four Mile Canyon for 20 years. Why is my health, safety, and welfare, secondary to allowing homeless people to camp in the woods bordering the city of Boulder? Why is it that the rights of homeless people who came here a few months ago, or even yesterday, are above my rights? The city should be required to properly manage their park lands so that they do not become a ticking time bomb to those of us who live in the foothills, and now, even the city itself? I have spoken to many police and rangers about this and their response is that they do not have the budget.

If I purchase a home too large for my income and cannot afford to maintain and it becomes a hazard to myself and the neighborhood, the city will condemn it and it will be taken away from me. The city has clearly purchased more land than it can competently afford to manage. It is time that they be required to hire subcontractors to properly manage it. The recent fire cost close to $1 million to suppress. This is the second fire in this immediate vicinity in less than 10 years started by the homeless. It will certainly not be the last.

The costs to the city and county are enormous beyond the million dollars to suppress the fire. Recreation areas are damaged and destroyed, erosion and flooding become a far more serious issue, insurance rates go up, stress for both residents and safety personnel, direct risk for the safety personnel and volunteers fighting the fires, and reforestation, are a few of the many costs associated with these fires.

Regardless of whether we have an alternative for the homeless, it is well known by City Council, the mayor, and many others that they camp and make fires in the bordering park lands of Boulder. When a more significant fire burns down thousands of acres and hundreds of homes and possibly kills residents and safety personnel, the fault will clearly be on those in authority who chose to put the desires of homeless people to move to Boulder and camp illegally, and light fires, even during a fire ban, over the residents of Boulder and Boulder County. If the city cannot afford to properly manage the lands they purchase for our recreation, then they should be required to hire someone who can. If they cannot afford to hire someone, then they need to realign their budget to do so. And if they cannot do that then they should no longer be allowed to own the land.

Josh Shoenfeld lives in Four Mile Canyon.

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I agree 100%, but the fact is that Boulder Bubble government — both city and county — continually bites off more than it can chew . . .

BTW, I’ve NEVER had anything other than a “cold camp” in the 9+ years I’ve lived outdoors here, including every single night since last October 7th (those below-zero degree nights did get my attention, I must admit). I don’t need lying apologists / enablers for the worst-behaved transients to tell me that homeless camping can’t be done without the risk of burning down the countryside; I do it all the time!

I’m looking forward to a supper of cold pork and beans tonight, straight from the can. If your name is Mariska Hargitay, you’re invited to join me at my not-so-secret campsite in north Boulder.

— MRW 

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