Before I leave, I wanted to share the reply from Grand Junction City Attorney John Shaver to my e-mail inquiry from yesterday. Like most of the work of Mr. Shaver and his staff, the response is meticulous, accessible and complete.
I'm hopeful that Mr. Shaver's sage advice to the City is well heeded, and followed in a manner as meticulous as his response to me was. The City has a very good lawyer, who anticipates problems and prepares a strategy to address them. If the City heeds his advice, in most cases this proactive approach prevents a reactive response to problems later.John,
It is good to hear from you. Thank you for your questions and concern for that segment of our population that is traditionally not well represented in the affairs of government. I am well aware of the concerns that you state in your correspondence and can assure you that I have advised that the City take steps to ensure that the 4th and 5th Amendment rights of the persons affected are reasonably protected.
In addition to the posting of notices at the location often there is personal contact advising that the continued presence on public property is unlawful and/or that property will be seized if not removed. Printed notices are placed at each apparent "camp" or other inhabited location and at common locations of ingress and egress. For yesterday's effort the notices were personally, hand delivered 30 days in advance. I am told that during yesterday's effort two persons that may have lived at the location participated in the cleanup.
It has been my advice and I believe that it is standard practice of the City consistent with that advice, to retain and make available to any person the property that is removed that has a reasonable value. We hold property for a minimum of 30 days.
We understand that value is relative and is in the eye of the beholder but obvious things like operable bicycles, tools, camping gear and clothing are things that we have located and segregated for the owners to reclaim. I do not yet know the specifics of what if any property was recovered with yesterday's effort but in general our experience is that within a few days of the posting most if not all of the property that has value is removed. In one instance we were made aware that a fellow was not going to be able to remove his belongings prior to a cleanup because he was incarcerated. In order to afford him notice and an opportunity to claim any of his belongings we served him personally with a notice at the jail. He did not make either a pre or post cleanup claim.
We have had few post deprivation claims and in most instances we have returned property or compensated persons for their claims when there has been a question. Because we do afford clear notice most of what is removed during the City's cleanup efforts is unquestionably trash, junk and rubbish.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you. If you have other questions or if I may otherwise be of assistance on this or any other matter, please let me know.
Agree or not with the efforts the City is making to clean up transient camp areas, it appears that they are conducting these efforts within the letter of applicable law, or at least have been advised to do so.
Back later tonight.