BoCo, briefly: June 12, 2024

Local news at a glance: Supreme Court camping ban decision, runoff season dangers and more

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A tent set up near Boulder Creek in downtown Boulder. Photo by Will Matuska

Supreme Court set to weigh in on camping bans, homelessness criminalization

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision by the end of this month on whether enforcing camping bans when there is not adequate shelter available violates the Eighth Amendment and constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” 

The pending decision in the case, Johnson v. Grants Pass, will likely impact how local ordinances in Boulder County and beyond can be enforced. 

In April, Boulder County District Court Judge Robert Gunning paused a similar case challenging the City of Boulder’s camping ban, saying the Grants Pass ruling will be “of great precedential value.” 

Another similar lawsuit, in which a homeless father from Lafayette argued that the city’s camping bans amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and violated his right to privacy, was dismissed in April after the judge said the father failed to file an amended complaint or communicate with the court, according to reporting by the Colorado Sun

Runoff season is here: take caution

Residents should be careful near ditches and St. Vrain Creek during runoff season, the City of Longmont said in its weekly newsletter. 

“For your own safety, residents should be cautious … as currents can be swift, the water is cold, can contain floating debris, and flows can change dramatically without notice,” the newsletter said. 

During late spring and early summer, snowmelt from the mountains fills rivers and creeks, putting area ditches at full capacity and filling local reservoirs. Last month, the City of Boulder warned residents to take caution around Boulder Creek, as Barker Reservoir was expected to spill over, “a normal and expected” spring event that increases flows throughout the city and typically occurs from mid-May to late June. 

“Community members are urged to take caution near the creek during the high flow period, which may last for several weeks,” the city’s Barker Reservoir release stated.

Following Barker Dam spillover and flash flooding in 2023, two people, including a 9-year-old, died and seven rescues occurred in the first three weeks of June, according to Boulder Reporting Lab. Another woman died later in the summer when water was calmer. This year, there have been at least three deaths on Boulder Creek, including a 65-year-old woman who died May 31 after falling off an e-bike and into the creek, according to a release from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.  

“This incident highlights the importance of safety while recreating in Boulder County, especially near water sources that may appear deceptively calm but can be hazardous,” the release states.

In other news… 

• Eldora Ski Area employees have unionized after the company withdrew its objection to the workers’ 29-3 vote, according to an Instagram post by Eldora Ski Patrol Union. “It has been such a long hard road, and we are so grateful to the folks who have put in hours of work, both patrollers and public, thank you,” the post says. “We feel strongly that it will all be worth it for the future of Eldora ski patrol.” 

• CU Boulder bought the former Regal Cinebarre movie theater in Louisville for $10 million. It seeks to build off-campus housing for faculty, staff and “possibly” graduate students, the Daily Camera reports. 

• Boulder City Council unanimously passed a new energy conservation code June 6, which mandates all new residential and commercial builds be fully electric starting in December. That means no gas stoves, though it allows exceptions for commercial kitchens and labs. 

• The online news site Longmont Leader has permanently shut down, the outlet announced May 30, the day before its closure. “This is a day I hoped would never come,” editor Macie May wrote in a goodbye letter published on the site. “Having a strong community-focused newsroom is an asset that keeps a community connected.” 

• Boulder’s free shuttle to and from Chautauqua Park runs every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. now through Sept. 2 on weekends and holidays. The shuttle, called Park-to-Park, travels along Broadway from downtown Boulder (as opposed to 9th Street, as it has in the past), has 15 stops and drops off near Chautauqua Trailhead and Chautauqua Dining Hall. Free shuttle parking is available at the five downtown parking garages, New Vista High School and the CU Regent parking lot. More information and a route map can be found at bouldercolorado.gov/services/park-to-park-shuttle. Real time schedules are available on the Transit app. 

• Boulder businesses can look forward to a simplified, shortened use review process starting as soon as next month, after city council voted unanimously in favor of changes to the process that officials say will take the process from several months to just several weeks. Read more about the new process at
boulderweekly.com/news/red-tape-reversal/ 

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