Urban camping is permitted when it comes to bargain hunting

The first sign of fall is not that overnight chill in the air, nor is it the hint of gold in high-altitude aspen. No, it's when some guy drags a ratty old sofa to the sidewalk outside of the Sports Castle — now home to Sports Authority — at Tenth and Broadway, sets up his cooler and computer, and waits for the start of SNIAGRAB. Waits for sometimes more than a week; last year, the first bargain hunter was in place ten days before the annual Labor Day sale started, the earliest sighting Off Limits had ever made from our perch across the street at the Westword office. But this early bird wasn't alone long. Other people soon joined him, and by the time the Sports Authority doors opened on the last Friday in August 2011, the line — of people, and tents, and tarps — stretched up Tenth Avenue and around the corner up Lincoln Street.

This year, though, there's a new wrinkle: In May, the city officially banned urban camping. And although that measure was really aimed at the homeless sleeping on the mall (and swept up the Occupy Denver sidewalk squatters in the process), it also technically bars pitching a tent on the sidewalk outside of a sporting-goods sale. But SNIAGRAB is also a Denver institution, so the Denver Department of Public Works, the City Attorney's Office and Sports Authority managers have been working on securing the proper permitting to allow shoppers to camp outside the store before the sale starts. "We've really thought through all the details," promises Ann Williams, spokeswoman for public works. "So no fear, people will be able to get in line early to be the first to take advantage of the great deals at SNIAGRAB."

Deputy City Attorney Scott Martinez knows just how good those deals can be. An almost-native — he moved here when he was six, went to school here and had his kids here — he says he grew up skiing, and that some of his best memories are of skiing. And of the one time he camped out for SNIAGRAB, coming prepared with Army rations he'd picked up on South Broadway. "It was before Labor Day 1994," he remembers. "It was the quintessential Colorado experience, going out with your friends to get a new pair of skis. I was going there for the experience more than anything."

This man is not waiting to buy skis.
This man is not waiting to buy skis.

But he got more than that. "I ended up with a sore back," he recalls, "but also a great deal on skis." He grabbed some year-old 175 cm K2s, as well as new boots, for the price he would have paid just for skis. "I still have the skis," he confesses. "They're great skis, but they need a quick tune-up...like a lot of things."

Like the city's permitting process, which should be tuned up just in time to let sports fans pitch their tents and occupy SNIAGRAB.

 
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12 comments
ScottCU
ScottCU

Sobber up, clean up, and try to get a job.  Then you won't have to "urban camp."  I have no sympathy for smelly, unkempt, boozy hobos who don't try.  I have lots of sympathy for people who work hard and still get the shaft when it come's to corporate greed.  Profits are at an all time high, but wages are at record lows.  But, ski and snowboard prices are also at record lows during SNIAGRAB, and I can't pass them up.  Bottomline, I like the ban on urban camping because it helps with the bum problem.  (I admit it, they are unsightly and I don't carry change.  What is this, the 1990s?  Who cares cash anymore?).  Exceptions to the ban on urban camping for things like SNIAGRAB are just fine.   Any gutter dwellers that try to pitch their tents in the SNIAGRAB line will be pointed out to the police as such, assuming the cops are not smart enough to see for themselves that the drunk, shaggy, toothless, smelly bum could never afford to ski.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 

When you have a home, camping is discretionary recreation.

 

When you are homeless, "camping" is survival.

 

 

TheSpleen
TheSpleen

The homeless should join the line and camp with the rest of them just to make the police try to explain the difference. It would make for a great lawsuit.

 

Watching the Denver City Council, Mayor and the Public Works Dept fumble around is better than a Three Stooges film. What will Mayor Hizzoner the Whoremonger and the Esteemed Council of Asshats do next? Will they shut down more local restaurants for no good reason? Will they create new, unenforceable regulations that will end up costing the taxpayers millions in court costs? Will they continue to ignore rampant DPD brutality and corruption? Tune in tomorrow and find out!

WTFDenver
WTFDenver

You have got to be kidding me! The city helps plan an urban camping event! Just after it passes the most pseudo-fascist law in modern history? WTF Denver?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @ScottCU "Sobber up" [sic]

 

CU = #1 stoner school, top party school

 

Oh, the irony.

sniacamper
sniacamper

 @ScottCU  somebody is a real turd. a real gigantic turd. good job scott, i'm glad CU taught you how to be a bigot. "Sobber up, clean up, and try to get a job." homeless people aren't allowed to drink, but you are? i mean, i assume that only a drunk person would write this kind of comment. And you left the comment at like 3 in the afternoon. your a day drunk? well good job. "I can't pass them up." bottomline, your a yuppie.

I'm sorry, i shouldn't be so mean. put on some axe deoterant, your polo shirt, and go waste hundreds of dollars at sniagrab, instead of complaining about people who aren't fortunate enough to sit at home and comment on westword articles, defending low prices. Someone ought to take a dump in your subaru.

tcwlsn
tcwlsn

 @WTFDenver Uh....what is pseudo- fascism??? you do realize that every surrounding city has had urban camping laws on the books for years...right?

ScottCU
ScottCU

 @sniacamper

 

Just because I think the homeless should work harder makes me a bigot?  That is not a very well reasoned conclusion.  In addition, based on the context clues, I suspect you think I am some tight assed member of the young republicans.  In fact, I am liberal.  I’ve never voted for a republican, I’m pro-choice, pro-gay everything being one, and support just about every other ideal of the Democratic Party.  But, I cannot accept that the homeless are putting forth their best efforts.  I drive by the homeless shelter everyday and see them hanging out in the park across the street when I go to work in the morning and when I leave in the afternoon.  Wouldn’t their time be better spent looking for a job?  They leave trash and other crap all over the park for others to clean up.  Usually, they are just sitting amongst the garbage. Many look strung out or passed out.  But, most striking is that most of them appear to be just fine with their lives.  It may be easier to scrape along than to do the hard work most of us do to be where we are.  School is hard sometimes, money gets tight, work is stressful, but most of us choose to do what it takes to carry on.  The chronically homeless choose to go urban camping.  And, quite frankly, I don’t want to see it.  It is heartbreaking to witness.  I don’t like being stalked as I walk down the sidewalk by a stranger looking for change.  If they are not going to help themselves, there is nothing I can do.  I have to live my life.  If I want to spend money (or save money) shopping for skiing gear, I have earned that right through 30 years of hard work. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 @tcwlsn  And every Southern Plantation had dozens of Negro slaves back in the day ...

milleralexjames
milleralexjames

 @DonkeyHotay  @tcwlsn Good lord, what a ridiculous comparison. No no, you're right - banning people from sleeping on public benches is EXACTLY like slave ownership in the South in the 19th century.

 
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