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City of Boulder Successfully Clears Multiple Encampments Over a Five-Day Period

Over the last five days, a coordinated, multi-departmental team has worked collaboratively to clear multiple encampments on the municipal campus, extending from the 9th Street Bridge to Broadway. 

The most recent encampment removal occurred this morning in the highly visible Sister City Plaza in front of the Municipal Building. Approximately 20 people were residing in this encampment, which some had dubbed “Occupy Boulder.” Of the inhabitants, six were connected to Coordinated Entry services to help them out of homelessness, and several accepted transportation to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. All personal property that people wanted to keep but could not move is being stored for their safekeeping and eventual return.

With this week’s activity, the city intensified an effort that began in February to address illegal and high-hazard campsites. The approach involves housing and human service employees, park operations staff and police, who come together to provide a balance of compassion, outreach and enforcement. All of the sites that have been cleared received both soft notices and a more official notice, urging residents to participate in services or voluntarily demobilize. The removals were the last step in a diligent and thorough process.

The encampments cleared today were full of hazardous material that was both dangerous for the occupants and the greater community. Some of the items removed include: remnants of methamphetamine, needles, propane tanks, large hatchets and knives, multiple five-gallon buckets of human feces and truckloads of trash. Temporary fencing was erected around Sister City Plaza that will remain in place until all biohazards are removed and the area is deemed safe.

“This is such a challenging issue for Boulder and cities around the country,” City Manager Jane Brautigam. “Many safety nets for individuals have been eroded. It is clear, however, that the kind of conditions these camps create are neither healthy nor safe. I believe careful planning and measured response achieved a peaceful result under very difficult circumstances. The city will continue to balance compassion with enforcement of local ordinances. I thank my city colleagues and their private sector partner, ServPro, for conducting this important work.”

The city considers dangerous encampments an ongoing challenge and expects new locations to emerge. There are also other existing locations that need to be addressed over the next several weeks. Community members are encouraged to report campsites using the Inquire Boulder website and choosing the topic that says “encampments.”  The city is committed to ensuring that dangerous campsites are removed and people experiencing homelessness are offered services through our community partners.

In addition to reporting encampments, community members can help by resisting the urge to give money to people experiencing homelessness in Boulder. Year-round sheltering programs provide residents with meals, showers, and other basic needs, and organizations such as Harvest of Hope and Bridge House’s Community Table provide anyone who is hungry with food and water. Additionally, the City of Boulder has made drinking water, hand washing stations, and restrooms available in public spaces.

The city strongly encourages the Boulder community to donate to area nonprofits who serve the unhoused rather than providing money or food directly. In this way, donations will go further in aiding people experiencing homelessness while reducing the likelihood of this money being used for alcohol, drugs, or other non-beneficial items. While there are many organizations that provide help to the unhoused, including many faith-based organizations, the following agencies provide the bulk of services and would be grateful for financial support: Harvest of Hope, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, and Bridge House.

Published: Aug. 28, 2020

Media Contact:

Shannon Aulabaugh, Media Relations, 720-484-9903