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Denver City Council makes scathing proclamations against two ballot initiatives

Hannah Metzger hannah.metzger@gazette.com  | Published on 9/30/2021

The Denver City Council made a pair of proclamations Tuesday announcing the council’s fervent opposition to two initiatives set to appear on the November ballot.

The proclamations, presented at the governance committee, objected to Initiated Ordinance 303 and Initiated Ordinance 304 — Republican-backed initiatives regarding the enforcement of Denver’s camping ban and lowering the cap on Denver’s aggregate sales and use tax rate.

During the proclamations, council members called the initiatives “reckless,” “misleading” and intended “to weaken government and create confusion.”

Initiative 303 would require the city to enforce its urban camping ban by shutting down camps within three days of reports and, if they fail to do so, it allows citizens to sue the city. The initiative also calls for the establishment of four authorized camping locations with running water, restrooms and lighting.

The initiative contradicts federal requirements for clearing homeless camps, as Denver is under federal court orders to provide at least seven days notice before shutting down large camps.

 Councilwoman Robin Kniech said this contradiction means the initiative would create a legal bind for the city, opening the city up to federal lawsuits if they don’t provide seven days notice before clearing camps, and opening the city to citizen lawsuits if they don’t clear camps within three days.

“Either way, this measure solves nothing,” Kniech said during the proclamation presentation. “It guarantees that the city will pay money on lawyers and lawsuits by setting up a chaotic expectation that the city can’t meet.”

Both initiatives 303 and 304 were proposed by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party. In response to the council’s opposition, Flicker said he was not surprised.

Flicker said Initiative 303 is “simply a way to help Denver residents ensure that the city does its job under its own ordinances.”