Austin Council member proposes banning camping on sidewalks, medians and high trafficked areas
AUSTIN, Texas - Days before the city council is set to consider adding restrictions to homeless ordinances, four members have signed onto a proposal that would limit camping downtown and change enforcement.
Since the relaxed camping rules were passed in June the council has received push back from residents Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott has threatened to step in if the city does not "fix its homeless issue."
Council member, Ann Kitchen's proposal was attached to the council’s message board over the weekend and has received support from several other council member's including Kathy Tovo.
Tovo believes the proposal will help ensure health and safety for everyone. "We are not going back to a system and we are not proposing we go back to a system where the main option that police officers have at their disposal is to ticket people who are camping in areas that are prohibited," Tovo said.
Item 29 prohibits camping on sidewalks, medians, outside shelters and highly trafficked streets including sloped areas under highways. The list does not clarify where people can camp.
The proposal also details an engagement and enforcement process, directing officers to first contact a member of a Homeless Outreach team or a case member before citing the person for not complying.
The proposal also instructs the city manager to designate additional homeless shelters.
"We may have disagreements on how to clarify that ordinance but at the end of the day we just need to take action on Thursday, clarify the ordinance make sure that we are keeping people as safe as possible both those experiencing homelessness and the broader community," Tovo said.
Council woman Tovo's housing resolutions will also be up for vote on Thursday. It prioritizes responding to specific encampments, creating emergency shelter options and long term housing