Headlines Jan. 24, 2022
AG Warns Of Landlords Price Gouging After Marshall Fire
The Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is warning that some landlords may be gouging their prices in the wake of so many people losing their homes in the Marshall Fire.
The state’s chief law enforcement official sent letters last week to Airbnb, Zillow, Vrbo, and R E Colorado asking them to make certain that unscrupulous actors are not using those platforms to take advantage of vulnerable residents during a disaster. It asked the services to respond to the letter by the end of business Monday.
Weiser said he’d received reports that landlords had raised prices excessively. According to The Denver Post, Colorado’s price gouging law applies to any landlord or rental property whether they used those platforms.
Authorities Investigate Abandoned Coal Mine As Potential Source Of Marshall Fire
Authorities are now investigating whether a coal mine fire near the area where the Marshall Fire began could be the source of the wildland fire that started on December 30 destroying more than 1,000 homes in Boulder County.
The Denver Channel reports that the now dormant Marshall Coal Mine is among many other potential sources they are looking into.
The old mine is located south of the Marshall Mesa trailhead off Highway 93. It’s one of almost 40 abandoned coal mines in Colorado that may have some underground fire activity.
Authorities are also investigating whether a burning shed, human activity, or downed power lines were potential causes. The Denver Post reports about 7 miles of trails were in the burn area and staff is still assessing the damage and working out a plan for the trailhead.
The Boulder Bookstore has been raising funds to help children who lost their homes in the Marshall Fire. The store on Pearl Street hopes to give every child affected a $100 gift card to replace the books they lost. They believe that more than 800 students from kindergarten to 12th grade have been affected. Monday is the last day to donate. The store has not yet reached its goal of $80,000.
Boulder City Council Sets Priorities As Retreat Wraps Up
The Boulder City Council has set about 10 new priorities after its two-day annual retreat. The Daily Camera reports that, among them, the council will focus on housing, homelessness, transportation, planning and elections.
All Council members supported three initiatives, including protected bike lanes, reforming occupancy limits, and a day shelter for those who are unhoused.
Boulder city staff will now review the projects to develop timelines and to determine what is necessary to begin work on them.
New Report Released On The Unhoused In Metro Area
A new report shows that the number of people in the metro area who reported experiencing first-time homelessness last year nearly doubled over 2020.
The Metro Denver Homeless Initiative released its second annual report last week which surveyed Boulder, Denver, Jefferson and Four other counties. The new report goes beyond those done in the past, focusing on a point-in-time count of people living on the streets or in emergency shelters.
The report found that people of color make up a disproportionately high percentage of unhoused individuals in the Denver area. Nearly 23 percent of unsheltered adults were Black almost 4 and half times greater than the percentage of Black people in the metro population at large.
More than 32,000 people sought services or housing support at least once from July 2020 to the end of June 2021.
The report shows major increases in emergency shelter use in addition to the large increase in those reporting first-time homelessness
Another count of those in shelters and on the streets in the seven counties will be done tonight.
Camping Ban Resurfaces In Aurora
In the City of Aurora, a proposal to ban people without homes from camping is being revived. Mayor Mike Coffman is pushing the change, which would give individuals seven day’s notice to abandon their campsite so long as the city can provide an alternate location.
The Sentinel reports that a previous version of the ban failed on a tie vote in August. Coffman promotes the measure as a humane way of addressing homelessness, but opponents say it would criminalize the condition while doing little to help people into shelters.
When it was considered before, Police Chief Vanessa Wilson criticized the proposal as using police resources to manage what she sees as a pervasive societal problem, not a criminal one. She said she did not want to be any part of enforcing such a ban.
The proposed ban in Aurora will be formally considered next month. That will be the first time it comes before the new conservative-leaning city council.
Settlement In Mine Clean-up
Colorado and the federal government have settled with a company over the dispute about ongoing cleanup of mining pollution in the southwest part of the state from the Gold King Mine spill more than 6 years ago.
The Farmington New Mexico Daily Times reports that the agreement clears the way for further remediation work at a Superfund site where Sunnyside Gold Corporation owns property. It will also provide $90 million for cleanup.