Boulder pushes back against ACLU camping ban lawsuit

Boulder has filed another official response to the ACLU lawsuit challenging the city’s camping ban opposing plaintiffs’ request for a partial judgment on the pleadings of the case.

In a recent filing, lawyers representing Boulder and Police Chief Maris Herold, who are defendants in the lawsuit, disputed some of the major facts alleged in the lawsuit, which aims to block the city from enforcing the camping ban on the grounds that it violates a provision in the Colorado Constitution prohibiting “cruel and unusual punishment.” Other jurisdictions, such as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, have ruled that unhoused individuals can’t be penalized for sleeping outside if they have no viable options for shelter.

For example, the city denied that the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless turns people away on days when the weather makes it dangerous to be outside, or that the city has enforced the camping ban on many occasions when the BSH had no vacant beds.

“Although there exists on paper a 90-night per year limit at BSH, that limit does not apply to critical weather nights, and individuals can utilize additional nights through the reserved bed program,” the response read. “Defendants deny that they have enforced the camping ban on many nights when, or mornings after, BSH was full and had turned people away.”

In addition, the city denied other allegations, such as that BSH is not a safe or viable option for shelter for all unhoused residents in Boulder, or that, on any given night, there’s a risk that unhoused residents cannot find shelter.

The city’s response also contested the standing of the nonprofit plaintiff, Feet Forward, and the taxpayer plaintiffs, Mary Faltynski, Eric Budd and John Carlson, and disputed whether individual plaintiffs Jennifer Shurley, Jordan Whitten and Shawn Rhoades, who have all experienced homelessness, “remain homeless or face a credible threat of prosecution for violation of the camping ban.”

And if there is a preliminary injunction, the city’s attorneys have requested for it to apply only to the plaintiffs in the case rather than all unhoused residents in Boulder.

An attorney representing the plaintiffs could not immediately be reached for comment.

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