City delays camping ordinance vote after fierce backlash from community

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Grand Junction City Council has postponed a vote that would have changed the camping ordinance in city limits. They say the amendment would bring the ordinance into compliance with case law, but they're getting backlash.

Several local groups are worried that the City is taking aim at the homeless population and taking away their chance of survival.

"It's not okay to say they can't exist," Jessica Freier, a protester before the meeting, said. "Where are they going to go? They have nowhere to go."

They say this is Grand Junction overstepping their boundaries, again.

"Grand Junction did take aim at panhandling, that got shut down through legal action that was taken against it, so this is just kind of in addition to something that has already taken place," Freier said.

In a staff report put before City Council, the City says the ordinance is necessary because, "camping in public areas like parks, streets and the riverfront interfere with the rights of others to use those areas for the purposes for which they were intended."

They also say this will clean up the ordinance we already have in terms of assuring folks will not be kicked out of the parks if the shelters are full and they don't have anywhere else to go.

Protesters took aim at that too.

"There's specific reasons why people don't want to be in that environment," Freier said. "If you think about PTSD, if you think about some of the trauma that these people have experienced, that's not always the best environment for them to be."

Other folks in the community say they are all for the amendment, and the ordinance we already have in place.

"I think it's a very good ordinance to have. There are so many problems with people that are sleeping out," Bill Lintott, a Grand Junction man, said. "It's driving business away from here and business away from the core of the town."

The City will bring this before Council again in less than 90 days. They hope more education will be done before then to show the public what this amendment would really do.

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