July 25, 2021

“Homeless Vagrants are ruining my town/stealing my bike let’s further fund the Police to move them out.” ~ Next Door NIMBYers everywhere

In Boulder, we have this wonderful community…that’s virtual. It’s a group called Boulder Collective.

It’s on Facebook, but despite being platformed by that noxious social media company, it’s run by folks who care about kindness and truth and fun. Recently, one of the moderators, a new friend, tagged me in a discussion. I’d been thinking about running for Council, and he commented “you could run for Council on this issue [bike theft] alone.”

The post he tagged me in, by a lady…who should invest in educating herself on real solutions: 

“My friend and I walked through 3-4 of the encampments near Mapleton fields & Google looking for my stolen bike (posted yesterday). We didn’t find mine but we found these.

Here is the email I wrote to City Council. If it resonates with you, copy, edit, and sent it yourself. This is a solvable problem.
[email protected]
Hi Council,
I joined thousands of other Boulderites in a collective calamity when my bike was stolen from beneath my condo complex yesterday. It was locked with 5 feet of the thickest chain available at Home Depot. The salesperson assured me no one would cut through it easily.
I walked the homeless encampments yesterday looking for it. I wasn’t successful but found countless other bikes strewn around. I’m sure you’re aware of the ‘chop shops’ run out of these encampments? Photos below.
Here’s the impact:
I’m not going to replace my bicycle. It’ll just get stolen again. I’m going to drive my car to do the errands I would have done by bicycle. This will make my health go down and my carbon footprint go up. As a lifelong environmentalist and former Eco-Cycle employee, this is by far the most negative impact I can imagine.
Here’s how you can help:
Subsidize communities to build secure bike cages like the one at Boulder Transit Center. Give grants, rebates – whatever the correct lingo is – to reduce the barrier to building secure enclosures. This would be especially useful at multi family units like Stratford Park West where I am on the HOA board. We have wanted to build a bike enclosure for years but the price is prohibitive.
Here’s how it will help you:
The homeless issue is one of the most troublesome ones on your agenda, am I right? Bike theft is one of the main ways these communities of vagrants are funding themselves and/or their drug use, correct? Cutting down their access to readily stolen bikes by housing those bikes in secure enclosures means their access to illicit money & drugs goes down too. Is it crazy to image that by removing their source of revenue, they might even disband?
You would make yourselves instant heroes to Boulderites of all ages if you address the city’s rampant bike theft issue effectively.
Let’s go.
Boulder Resident
*(I’m not interested in a comment-fest about bike theft or the homeless problem. Use this if it inspires you. If not, be well!)*”


My reply:

You don’t get to post this, with words like “vagrant,” with a note saying you’re “not interested in a comment fest.”
There are other solutions to the above–more housing/training/mental health, and I’ve always heard that real chop shops (which couldn’t operate on big scale out of tents) come out of Denver in organized vans with equipment.

I agree with security for all/moving off of camping but am open to experts’ views as to what works, but it’s heartbreaking and not safe for the houseless to be camping (see sexual assault, drug use, damage to parks).

Finally, it’s heartening to see the knowledge, and understanding, in this comment section. I encountered the opposite in “Next Door” where I was the only one getting mobbed by angry NIMBYers. I persisted in sharing links about what’s actually worked in other municipalities. The houseless are people too, and moving them isn’t a solution if it isn’t coupled with intelligent, caring training and housing and mental health care where needed. And as another comment mentioned, this can actually save money vs. further funding police. Police are great and helpful where appropriate, but should not be viewed as a one-stop solution for all of society’s situations.

I encourage you to go to the thread itself, and read all the other inspiring, caring, knowledgeable comments. I found the response heartening. Please read several comments by homeless or formerly homeless citizens themselves, including mention of many solutions that are real solutions, even if they’re difficult.

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