The Boulder County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously passed an ordinance intended to make it easier for officers to clear out encampments of people living out of their vehicles in unincorporated Boulder County.
The new rules, which will take effect when signed by the chair of the board, define an “abandoned vehicle” as one left in one location for more than 72 hours. Owners who violate the rule may be ticketed up to $60 for a third offense or have their car impounded.
The number of people sleeping in their vehicles is partially a symptom of rising homelessness across the county. During a public hearing on Nov. 7, residents who own homes in the Twin Lakes neighborhood said they have seen drug use near “RV encampments” and blamed reports of burglary on the people sleeping in vehicles along the residential streets.
According to the ordinance, if an officer determines that someone has a “financial or other hardship,” they are required to provide that person with information about Boulder County Community Services resources.
In May 2022, county commissioners voted down a proposed ordinance that would have imposed penalties for people sleeping in their vehicles, in part because they wanted the county to respond in a more “holistic way.”
The vote came on the same day City of Boulder voters decided whether to pass a ballot measure that would make tents and propane tanks near schools, sidewalks and multi-use paths “subject to prioritized removal” by the city. As of late on Nov. 7, the measure seemed headed for approval.