Upon seeing this story, you might be tempted to think it was about San Francisco, but it actually takes place in Denver, Colorado. Jawaid Bazyar is the owner of a communications company named FORETHOUGHT.net. His building is adjacent to an alley where groups of homeless people, prostitutes and drug addicts hang out. Recently, the problem has spiraled out of control and people have been urinating and defecating in the alley, along with leaving discarded hypodermic needles on the ground.

Despite having complained to the police repeatedly, nothing seemed to change and Bazyar grew distraught at the prospect of his employees having to clean up the potentially hazardous waste. The city of Denver responded by issuing him a citation and fining him for not keeping the property clean. (CBS Denver)

One businessman in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood is being fined by the city for his refusal to pick up human waste. He believes the problem goes deeper than just what’s happening on the sidewalk outside his business.

Jawaid Bazyar has seen it all outside of his business near Curtis St. and 24th in Denver’s Five Points Neighborhood.

“There’s food, trash, drug deals. In the alley, we get the defecation, drug needles,” he told CBS’s Dominic Garcia.

This short interview provides the background to the story and how things grew so far out of control.

The point the owner is trying to make with the city is that he and his employees are neither trained nor equipped to deal with human waste and hypodermic needles, both of which could potentially carry disease. He describes it as a health hazard and blames the city for not enforcing laws against drug use, prostitution, public defecation and camping on the alleys and sidewalks.

The city disagreed and has informed him that he will be facing additional fines and fees as long as he continues to fail to clean up the alleyway.

The alley is technically Bazyar’s property, so he’s responsible for the upkeep as any business would be. But those rules seem to rely on the assumption that the alley might be filled with the normal garbage and litter one tends to find in city alleyways. This is something very different, and if the city is unwilling or unable to clear out the alley and stop these activities, it’s difficult to see how the owner is suddenly responsible for the cleanup of what amounts to a toxic waste site.

What’s going on outside of Mr. Bazyar’s business is likely a preview of what we’ll be seeing more of in San Francisco soon. As we discussed earlier today, the new District Attorney there has announced his plans to “decriminalize poverty” and end arrests and prosecutions of people doing precisely what’s going on in the alley outside this shop. And once the word gets around on the street that the cops won’t do anything about it, the floodgates are open.

I don’t know what possible legal recourse is available to Jawaid Bazyar, but if the city can’t be made to enforce the laws and wants to hold him accountable for the results, he may wind up having to move. And if enough businesses and residents come to the same conclusion, Denver will have a bigger problem on its hands than just feces and drug paraphernalia littering the streets.