Increase of complaints leads to crackdown on camping in vehicles on County property

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - El Paso County Commissioners are cracking down on people camping and living in vehicles on County-owned property and it's all stemming from an increase of complaints.

"It is most definitely a source of frustration for our residents. I have received several phone calls from residents on the west side who are dealing with people living in camper-style vehicles and parking along curbs in the County jurisdiction," District 3 Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said.

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, Commissioners unanimously voted to do something about it.
Back in 2010, a resolution was put in place prohibiting camping on County-owned property. This decision now includes camping in any type of cars, campers, or recreational vehicles for more than 48 hours.

"They're trying to corral all the homeless people and trying to run them out," Joseph Pierce, who lives in a RV, said.

In April, Pierce moved to Colorado Springs from Omaha, Nebraska because he has family here.

"I came up here and I tried to get on a lot and it costs you $50 just to get a background check and no openings at this time because of all the tourists and everything else, there's no places for us other people," said Pierce.

Now he parks his RV on Conejos Street near America the Beautiful Park, which is a no-parking zone between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. To avoid citations, Pierce is constantly on the move.

"During the daytime I'm here from 5:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening." Pierce said. "Then I move several blocks over to my night spot where I stay there until 5:00 in the morning and then I come right back over here again."

Pierce says he has multiple medical issues and between paying for treatment and finding his next meal, it's either this or sleeping out on the streets.

Pierce believes resolutions like this will only add to the homelessness problem.

"Please give me some space. Let me take and get my life together. Let me get my medical done," said Pierce. "I can't save enough money to get on a lot to get off these streets. This bugs me."

Sheriff's Deputies will be the ones determining whether or not people are illegally camping. If after 48 hours people are still in their cars or RVs in the same location, law enforcement will ask them to move elsewhere. Deputies will then follow up and hand out citations if necessary.

An encroachment permit can be issued to anyone having visitors come to town in large recreational vehicles that may not fit in driveways and need to park along roads for longer than 48 hours.



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