Two people were cited for trespassing early Tuesday during the start of a new camping ban at Pikes Peak Library District campuses.
The homeless campers were ticketed between 6 and 8 a.m. at the downtown Penrose Library by members of the Colorado Springs Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, said Lt. Mike Lux, who oversees the unit.
No details about the citations were released.
The citations marked the latest chapter in the library district’s efforts to juggle homelessness-related issues at the Penrose Library.
On Jan. 7, library officials announced that camping would be banned at all four district campuses: the Penrose, East and Old Colorado City libraries and Library 21c. They gave campers one week to leave before letting police ticket anyone caught on library property between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The decision came as overnight camping skyrocketed at the Penrose Library during November and December, with campers leaving more trash and human waste in their wake. As many as 90 campers occasionally were on the library’s grounds.
Trespassing penalties carry up to $2,500 in fines, 189 days in jail and probation.
Tuesday’s citations also came as library officials implemented a new policy to limit what personal belongings visitors can bring into the libraries.
The policy, which the library’s Board of Trustees approved last week, bars visitors from bringing in anything that restricts access to furniture, shelving, computers or other resources. Shopping carts, wagons, trash cans and “uncontained bedding” no longer are allowed, and neither is “spreading out personal belongings unrelated to the use of library services.”
Visitors also cannot leave personal belongings on any city library’s grounds. But a new outdoor storage area was created at Penrose for visitors to store their belongings, said John Spears, the library district’s CEO and chief librarian.
Twenty-six bins, which do not lock, have been placed in the lower parking lot, along with space for shopping carts.
The storage area’s popularity remains to be seen. Homeless people across the city long have complained of rampant theft of unattended belongings. Some have cited those concerns as reason to bring their possessions into the library every day.
Spears said the new policies are meant to ensure that all visitors can access the libraries’ resources.
“We don’t want to make things more difficult for people,” Spears said. “It’s not being done to punish the homeless (people). It’s being done so that we can make sure that just like any other resources we have, that it can be used equally by everyone.”