Denver election: Initiative 300 projected to fail; would have ended camping ban

Outdoor camping in downtown Denver

Urban camp sites like these were banned in Denver after a 2012 ordinance was signed into law by Mayor Michael Hancock.

DENVER — A proposed initiative that would have drastically changed the way homeless people live in the city of Denver is projected to fail.

As of 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, with about 100,000 votes counted, 84 percent of people voted against the measure.

Initiative 300 would have ended the city’s camping ban that was implemented in 2012.

Also known as “Right to Survive,” Initiative 300 was supported by voters who said that by ending the camping ban, it would allow Denverites experiencing homelessness to have safe places to eat and sleep.

Raffi Mercuri, the campaign manager for the Right to Survive Initiative Committee, said the proposal was a matter of basic human dignity.

“These are human beings. I’m sorry, I know this is not a pleasant issue and I don’t think anyone debates that, but homelessness is not a pleasant issue and we can’t pretend like it doesn’t exist,” he said.

Opponents, however, argued that ending the camping ban would turn parks and other public spaces into dangerous tent cities.

Alvina Vasquez from Together Denver No on 300 said the proposed ordinance had a number of problems.

“I think that creates health and safety issues. Plus, folks that enjoy the parks for other reasons, besides the living space,” she said.

According to language on the Downtown Denver Partnership’s website, opponents believed the initiative would “endanger public safety, quality of life and the economic vitality of our neighborhoods and our city.”

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