Williams Releases Statement on Ordinance 20 and the Role of Government
Ordinance #20, "The Camping Ordinance," exists for one reason – to protect individual property rights in Teller County and NOT, as some would argue, to abridge them.
To argue otherwise would be a complete misunderstanding of how our complaint-driven local government works.
It stemmed from two primary factors – a growing vagrancy problem in Teller County and the use of Recreational Vehicles as residences. With our close proximity to large urban areas in El Paso and Douglas County, these problems grew in proportion and Law Enforcement was unable to act without an ordinance. This ordinance was developed in direct response to what our population wanted – the protection of individual property rights for all.
Imagine as a property owner, returning from Arizona in the spring, you arrive at your property only to find someone living in your trailer, house, or passing themselves off to others as the property owner. Imagine a small two-bedroom house, with a small permitted septic system designed for the house only, that now has two additional trailers with 12 people living in them, using sanitation facilities, producing waste …and being a neighbor with a well 100 feet away. Caffeine does not naturally occur in water…but on top of rising nitrite and nitrate levels, trace amounts of caffeine were found in drinking water samples of adjoining property owners. One property owner’s waste being consumed by another unknowingly - this is a life, health and safety issue, and is exactly the kind of responsible government activity that protects property rights and property owners. These are minimum standards not onerous government overreach. Some of our subdivisions are 50 years old and residents and local government must be mindful of aging infrastructure and its potential impacts to all property owners.
Ordinance #20 has been incredibly successful.
It has been several months since Ordinance #20 has been in
force. We are watching trends and
patterns. Vagrants are leaving the
county once they are issued a bench warrant rather than appear – restoring the
property rights and peace to those who own the property. Several that have been charged have additional
charges against them unrelated to camping on private property from other
jurisdictions – this is your government being proactive and protecting your
safety from those with known criminal record in your own backyard.
For property owners who would knowingly abridge the property rights of adjacent and adjoining property owners, by over burdening septic systems to the point of failure, impacting water quality, and allowing personal greed to abridge your property rights - this ordinance has also been effective. To be sure, it is a final recourse, not the first action taken. All property owners are treated with respect and dignity, for most, it is simply a matter of education and behavior change occurs willingly once informed.
For a few, only law enforcement can obtain compliance – in these cases, county government must engage for the good of all property owners and law enforcement must be able to do its job.
I am proud of my and the entire county's hard work on this Ordinance, and let there be no doubt: I stand behind it.