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People living in vehicles can no longer park on El Paso County roads

December 13, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017 at 1:28 pm
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People living in vehicles can no longer park on El Paso County roads (Gazette file photo)

People living in their cars, trucks or recreational vehicles have one less place to park the vehicles they call home.

The El Paso County Commissioners this week banned anyone from parking on county rights-of-way whom sheriff's deputies suspect are camping in their vehicles.

The move - which the Commissioners approved unanimously Tuesday - tightened the county's 2010 ban concerning camping on public property. And it came after commissioners received complaints from residents about people camping in vehicles, said Commissioner Stan VanderWerf.

"They could potentially drive a public safety issue," VanderWerf said. "And we already have places where these folks can go, and they're called RV parks."

He expressed empathy for people experiencing homelessness, and he suggested they visit nonprofits for suggestions on alternative locations to park.

The decision comes as several nonprofits race to find new ways to shelter people experiencing homelessness amid a bed shortage.

The Springs Rescue Mission - the largest shelter in Colorado Springs - has routinely operated at or near its capacity of about 300 people.

Empty beds routinely exist at The Salvation Army's Sierra Madre Street location, though that shelter differs from its Springs Rescue Mission counterpart in that sobriety is required for admission.

The shortage is such that Salvation Army leaders are considering creating another shelter at 505 S. Weber St. that would only open its doors when the overnight temperature dips to 38 degrees or colder. Admission there would not be based on sobriety.

The only exceptions to the county's new law are "emergency" situations, such as "adverse weather conditions or vehicle interoperability," according to the resolution.

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