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The Denver City Hall building is pictured on Oct. 3,2020. (Forrest Czarnecki/The Denver Gazette)

The Denver City Council is set to vote on two ordinances during Monday evening’s regular council meeting that would establish free legal defense for eviction cases and expand the council’s ability to operate virtually.

The most highly anticipated agenda item is the final vote on an ordinance that would provide income-eligible residents with free legal representation when facing eviction.

This ordinance, sponsored by council members Candi CdeBaca and Amanda Sawyer, would designate $4 million annually to expand on Denver’s Eviction Defense pilot program established in 2018.

If passed, renters facing eviction who make less than 80% of the area median income would be eligible for free legal representation. Landlords would also be required to give tenants a copy of their rights and legal representation options when they move in and when a landlord files for eviction.

The ordinance was unanimously approved by the full City Council during the last council meeting on May 24. It is expected to pass its final vote without opposition and has not been called out for comment by any council members as of Monday afternoon.

Also on Monday’s agenda is the first vote on an ordinance to change Denver’s open meetings laws to allow for virtual participation. If passed Monday, the ordinance will have to pass another vote next week before being implemented.

The ordinance, also sponsored by Sawyer, would require the council to provide the public with the ability to watch and participate an in-person City Council meetings via methods like Zoom after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The ordinance would also allow council members to participate in meetings virtually in the case of general emergencies (defined as disaster or emergency declarations) or personal emergencies, including work travel and personal or medical emergencies.

CdeBaca said she will introduce an amendment to the ordinance before Monday’s vote. In committee, CdeBaca expressed the desire to include collective bargaining as an open meeting under the ordinance. Sawyer has declined to support the change, saying it was not covered in the outreach process.

The public comment session of the City Council meeting begins at 5 p.m. The regular meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Residents can watch the meetings live online via Zoom.

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