Local political organizers in Boulder have formed a new ballot measure committee, Solutions Not Safe Zones, to oppose the Safe Zones 4 Kids ballot measure, according to city election records. The Safe Zones ballot measure would require the city to prioritize the removal tents or propane tanks near schools, multi-use paths and sidewalks.
Andy Sayler, a computer scientist and member of the Solutions Not Safe Zones campaign, told Boulder Reporting Lab he does not want the Safe Zones ballot measure to “tie the city’s hands” in terms of how it responds to encampments of homeless people. Moreover, Sayler said the campaign also wants to shape the conversation in the lead up to the Nov. 7, 2023 city election, in which voters will elect four councilmembers and city mayor. Rather than discuss homelessness as a public safety and policing issue, he said the campaign wants to focus on “actual solutions.”
“I would rather see our community treat this as a housing problem, and treat this as a mental health problem and treat this as a drug abuse problem,” Sayler said.
The Safe Zones 4 Kids ballot measure has the potential to shape the narrative in this year’s election, in which voters will directly elect the mayor for the first time. Political organizers have already said they plan to back candidates based on their support for clearing encampments of homeless people. In recent years, city council elections in Boulder have been dominated by issues of housing growth and urban density.