COLORADO SPRINGS – The penalty for littering near creeks and streams in Colorado Springs could increase by up to five times if City Council approves a proposed amendment to a recently-enacted ordinance.
At the suggestion of Councilor David Geisingler, Marc Smith with the City Attorney’s office on Monday proposed the amendment to an ordinance enacted in July restricting camping within 100 feet of any creek or stream within city limits. Ostensibly, the original ordinance was aimed at moving homeless people away from waterways for their protection from flash flooding and for improvement of water quality by moving trash and other materials away from the water, but some on City Council complained that the ordinance didn’t address other water polluters, such as illegal dumpers or people who let their dogs relieve themselves in the water.
The amendment to the camping ordinance would prohibit “waste deposit” within the 100-foot buffer zone and would set a maximum penalty for such littering to $2,500 and/or 6 months in jail. Currently, the maximum fine for any type of littering anywhere within city limits is $500. Geisingler said the city needs to make it clear that the ordinance applies to all citizens, not just a small segment of the population. “I think we need to send the message loud and clear that we don’t want to tolerate polluting our streams, no matter who pollutes it,” said City Council president Richard Skorman.
“I think in order to discourage that, something has to be done, so I’d be in favor of some sort of increase because I believe our community and our land is valuable,” said Doug Nolan, whose church borders Spring Creek along South Academy Boulevard between Pikes Peak Avenue and Airport Road, a waterway frequently polluted by litter.
Some council members suggested even further modifications to the ordinance. Bill Murray suggested the increased fine for littering be applied to all forms of littering in all parts of the city, not just near waterways. Andy Pico suggested that intensive community service in the form of litter cleanup, “up to 1,000 worth,” be among the sentencing options for judges, given that many people would not afford a $2,500 fine.
City Council will hear public comment and make an initial vote on the proposed amended ordinance on September 25.