The mission of LUN is to enhance the quality of life and build a sense of community in Lowry by engaging neighbors and representing community voice when working with local organizations and the City of Denver.
Please partner with us by voting NO on Initiative 300 in the May 2019 election.
The Board of Lowry United Neighborhoods (LUN) aims to enhance the quality of life in Lowry. The LUN Board also believes in supporting homeless individuals through best practice solutions and adequate funding. After careful research and consideration of Initiative 300, which will be on the May ballot, the LUN Board opposes this initiative because it doesn’t support either of these goals.
What is Initiative 300?
Initiative 300, entitled “The Right to Survive,” is a proposed city ordinance that would allow anyone to camp, rest, sleep, and shelter in any outdoor public places within the City and County of Denver, including in parks and open spaces, 24/7, indefinitely. Initiative 300 is commonly thought to merely be overturning Denver’s “camping ban”.
Initiative 300 goes way beyond overturning the camping ban. The language on the ballot does not accurately reflect its potential impact on the city. The City Attorney has explained that the ordinance will have serious unintended consequences.
Specifically, the full text of Initiative 300 states that it is pre-emptive of all other city policies and ordinances related to public space. This overturns a long list of existing laws that protect health and public safety, including park curfews. Ordinances intended to provide clean and safe public spaces for all of Denver’s citizens will not be able to be enforced by the Denver Police, Denver Parks and Recreation, and Denver Public Works.
For example, if encampments were built in the Great Lawn, Crescent Park, Bayaud Park, or Sunset Park, there would be no way to remove the encampments and maintain those public spaces. Denver Parks and Recreation does not have the infrastructure, nor does the Initiative have additional funding, to provide running water, toilets, and trash collection to prevent parks with long-term human habitation from becoming spaces with the potential for serious public health issues.
In addition, Initiative 300 states that it is unlawful for anyone to “harass” or “intimidate” someone exercising her/his rights under this ordinance. There is no clear definition of “harass” or “intimidate” and there is no Good Samaritan clause to protect first responders, Denver Police, or Lowry citizens who are trying to render aid. This has led to concern that first responders and homeless outreach organizations may be hesitant to approach people in need of help for fear of being prosecuted.
Impact on Homeless Individuals and Lowry
Denver’s Homeless Leadership Council, comprised of longstanding community experts on homelessness, explains in this statement why Initiative 300 does not help homeless individuals in an effective way. On the contrary, it will make it more difficult to support individuals and help them obtain the services they need.
The Lowry community has hundreds of acres of land that would be subject to camping by anyone, not just individuals experiencing homelessness. Lowry locations impacted by Initiative 300 include most of Lowry’s larger parks, boulevards, medians, all residential and commercial tree lawns, some alleys, the Lowry Sports Fields, both Kelly Road & Westerly Creek Dams and open space, the Lowry Dog Park, and the baseball stadium, to name a few. Public camping will result in trash, human waste, water contamination, and possible drug paraphernalia. Because homeless individuals often camp together for support, an average encampment houses 30 individuals.
In recent years, multiple encampments have been established in Lowry’s Great Lawn Park and adjacent open space, as well as Ulaanbaatar Park. Denver Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, Denver Parks and Recreation, and Denver Public Works were able to clean up these sites, which had hazardous materials such as human waste, used needles, and trash. Arrests were also made at these sites of individuals who were selling opioids.
The LUN Board asks you to consider the health and safety of all community members when you vote in May: homeless individuals throughout Denver who deserve to receive services and support that can help, children walking to school, people walking their dogs, residents driving down alleys, and youth soccer teams at the Lowry Sports Park. Initiative 300 will impact us all.
Please join us in voting NO on Initiative 300.