February 27, 2023
Boulder Camping Ban Lawsuit Moves Forward On Cruel and Unusual Punishment Question
A Boulder County District Court Judge ruled late last week that the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against Boulder’s enforcement of its camping ban may proceed. Plaintiffs backed by the ACLU filed their lawsuit against Boulder last May alleging the city’s camping ban violates three provisions of the Colorado Constitution involving cruel and unusual punishment, the right to not be placed in danger by the state or government, and the right to use public space in a manner that does not harm other citizens. Attorneys for Boulder filed a motion to dismiss the ACLU lawsuit in June arguing that the camping ban is a means to prevent tent cities that are a public health risk.
Judge Robert Gunning ruled the Plaintiffs may have a case when arguing that it is cruel and unusual punishment to ticket people for sleeping outside when shelters turn them away. However, the judge dismissed the ACLU complaint issues involving the other state constitutional provisions. Although the Judge upheld the ACLU issue centered on Boulder’s blanket ban or the ordinance that prohibits living or sleeping outside while using any cover or protection from the elements other than clothing, the court dismissed complaint issues involving tent bans which prohibit sheltering or storing property outside under a tent or temporary structure.
With the Feb. 23 ruling, Boulder has 14 days to answer the original lawsuit and the case now moves towards trial.
Prosecution Drops Felony Charge Against Platteville Police Officer In Train Collision Case
The Weld County District Attorney’s office has dismissed a second-degree felony assault charge against a Platteville police officer, Jordan Steinke, who last September locked a handcuffed woman in a police car parked on railroad tracks. While officers were searching the woman’s car, a train then hit the police car and seriously injured the woman. The woman sued the Platteville Police Department and three officers in late January alleging they failed to keep her safe.
Prosecutors did not reveal in court records why they dropped the assault charge. Citing pending litigation, a spokesperson for the Weld County District Attorney’s office declined to provide comment to the Denver Post why they made the decision.
Steinke still faces other charges including felony attempted reckless manslaughter and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. The police department has placed Steinke on administrative leave since the incident.
Another officer, Pablo Vazquez, who parked the police car on the railroad tracks, faces five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. Platteville Police Chief Carl Dwyer said on Friday the department fired Vazquez in December.
Boulder Officials Considering Proposal Aiming To Help Middle Income Residents Buy Homes
The City of Boulder is considering a program that would help subsidize a down payment on a home for households meeting income qualifications. City officials say the goal of the program is to support middle income families during the midst of rising housing costs. The program, as pitched to the Housing Advisory Board last week, calls for funding that would allow the city to make no-interest down payment loans of up to $200,000 to qualifying middle income households in exchange for an appreciation cap on the property. To qualify for the proposed program, prospective homebuyers would need to earn no more than 120% of the area median income.
Boulder Reporting Lab reports city officials behind the proposal plan to present it to the City Council in April.
Fire Destroys Eight Units At Longmont Apartment Complex
Longmont firefighters responded to a fire around 5:00 PM Sunday that destroyed eight units and eight carports at an apartment complex at the 1200 block of Francis Street. A Longmont Public Safety spokesperson told the Times Call Sunday evening no one was injured from the fire but the agency had not determined the number of individuals displaced. Crews contained the fire around 7:30 PM and have begun an investigation to determine the cause.
SNAP Benefits To Decrease March 1
Coloradans receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance – or SNAP – Program can expect an average $90 per person reduction in food stamps starting in March. This is due to the end of an emergency increase in assistance which began at the start of the pandemic. According to the Longmont Leader, Boulder County will have $1.8 million less to work with as part of its food stamp program.
Colorado Grocery Stores Ramping Up To Sell Wine Starting March 1
Grocery and convenience stores with a license to sell beer can start also selling wine come March 1. Colorado voters narrowly approved Proposition 125 in November, with 50.6% voting in favor of allowing grocery stores to sell wine at their establishments. The stores that are planning to sell wine straight away are Trader Joes, Safeway, and King Soopers. Safeway has already prepared their shelving to carry their new installation of wine products, even though those shelves won’t be stocked until Wednesday.
The Colorado Licensed Beverage Association directly opposed Proposition 125 as they represent over 1600 independent liquor stores. They say independent liquor stores have the selection to outsell grocery store chains, but a third of their represented liquor stores are in danger of losing their business because of the instated ballot measure.