Colorado Springs City Council considering Pedestrian Access Act expansion

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COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs city council is considering expanding an ordinance in downtown Colorado Springs that prevents people from sitting, kneeling and lying down on public sidewalks.

Those for the expansion believe it gets the homeless population off of the sidewalks in high foot traffic areas but those against it claim the city is violating people’s civil rights.

“This is not to punish people. It is to educate people and to provide services and to ensure that people are safe both to those people on the ground in one way or another, and those people who are trying to walk and navigate,” Colorado Springs City Council President Tom Strand said.

The Pedestrian Access Act was initially passed in 2016 but since the downtown area has grown so much the Colorado Springs Police Department is requesting the ordinance area expand. The revised ordinance would cover areas north and south from the current zone near Weidner Field, Robson Arena and the Springs Rescue Mission.

“With the development of the downtown area and the urban renewal area, we’ve seen a significant expansion of those problems and that is why we are requesting this expansion through this ordinance,” CSPD Commander John Koch said. “We are basing the specifics here on the data that we pose about the problems we are addressing while considering the reality of the staffing challenges that we are facing and our ability to police and affectively enforce this ordinance to these areas.”

Some people who are against the ordinance believe there could be more done to help find places for the homeless to stay rather than kick them out and serve them with a ticket.

“We’ve run this through our city attorneys to ensure that it doesn’t affect our first amendment rights of demonstrating or protesting,” Strand added. “We’ve done a tremendous amount in my seven years on city council with providing opportunities for those who may consider themselves homeless or without a home.”

CSPD said the data collected downtown is based on calls for service and citations from October 2019 until September of 2021. Police said officers will give warnings before citations and also offer them resources like the Springs Rescue Mission.

“We will celebrate any efforts that will bring people to the right resources and we might not even be the right resource but there are so many resources available to individuals who need help,” Springs Rescue Mission Chief Development Officer Travis Williams said.

City council members are scheduled to vote on the ordinance revision on Tuesday, Jan. 25.

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