Loveland City Council seeks clarification on ‘homeless campers on wheels’ – Loveland Reporter-Herald


Nearly 70 unauthorized encampments have been removed from public property since active enforcement of the emergency camping ban ordinance started in June, according to the city of Loveland.

But when it comes to people living in their cars or recreational vehicles, the situation is not so straightforward. Though the city successfully moved several from the Fairgrounds Park area in August, residents are reporting an increase in the number of vehicles parked long-term around the city.

At Tuesday’s Loveland City Council meeting, Councilor Jon Mallo said he had noticed the increase too, and asked for an explanation on how such situations are handled by the city and Loveland Police.

“It’s a problem on the west coast that I don’t want to come here,” he said. “So I basically want to know what’s legal and what’s not. …Is the camping ban applicable to these vehicles?”

His question was addressed by Deputy City Manager Rod Wensing, who heads the city’s internal homelessness response team, and interim Loveland Police Chief Eric Stewart.

Wensing said that the short answer is yes, people sleeping overnight in their vehicles are subject to enforcement — of trespassing statutes if they’re on private property and the camping ban if on public property.

“If they’re in a public parking lot, let’s say at Civic Center, or a park or trail, those lots are for parking, not for staying overnight, so those can be reported, and the PD will respond,” Wensing said.

However, under further questioning by council, both he and Stewart acknowledged that if the vehicle is parked on a public street, or if it moves frequently, it can be a challenge for LPD officers or city staff to identify it in a timely manner.

“It would really come down to building a probable cause determination,” Stewart explained. “If the car or RV is moving around from one place to another, after a point in time, we’re going to figure out that that is exactly what that individual is doing. ”

As of now, there is no formal LPD procedure or database for tracking vehicles suspected of camping, but that capability could be added in the future, according to Stewart.

In the meantime, LPD officers often enlist their colleagues for assistance in keeping tabs on potential campers.

“If officers are looking for individuals, then they will send out emails to the department,” Stewart said. “So other officers are now aware of the vehicle that they’re looking for in this category.”

Once a vehicle is identified as camping, officers contact the occupants, offer shelter at the Loveland Resource Center, and then ask them to move along. Officers also have the option of issuing a citation.

If the occupants choose to go to the shelter, their vehicle often stays where it is, Stewart explained, until it is reclaimed and moved by the owner, or declared abandoned and impounded by the city, a process that could cost up to $10,000.

“The $10,000 number actually is to tow, store and mitigate,” Wensing said. “We’ve done some of those recently, of several that were at Fairgrounds Park, and what we’re finding is that those RVs were very contaminated.”

Further discussion of the issue yielded a suggestion from Councilor John Fogle that the city invoke noise ordinances or pass emissions restrictions to target motorhomes with oversized generators.

Councilor Andrea Samson voiced concerns about the dangers of encounters between the police and people sleeping in their vehicles, and suggested either leaving a notice or using a boot-type restraint.

City Manager Steve Adams concluded the discussion by encouraging council members to tell their constituents to report any suspected unauthorized encampments at the LPD non-emergency number: 970-667-2151, extension 4.


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