City of Austin says homeless ordinance changes to take effect Monday

In Downtown Austin at 2nd and Brazos streets sits a group of tents anchored firmly to the sidewalk with sandbags.

Recent clarifications to the City's camp-sit-lie rules will go into effect on Monday according to a City of Austin spokesperson. Those revisions will make camping on any Austin sidewalk illegal.

"I sort of wish we had done this before but getting there is getting there," said longtime downtown bar and property owner Bob Woody.  

Woody says it's been a difficult four months since Council legalized camping, sitting and lying in public.

"From having a pretty good ordinance in which we were living inside it for years to now -- to that just completely going away - to now being pulled back to probably 70 percent of where we were. So I feel real good about it," Woody said.

Other changes that will go into effect next week: no camping, sitting or lying within 15 feet of a door jamb of a residence or a business during business hours.  

"Eleven feet is the center. So when you move 11 feet that way now you're within 11 feet of another doorway. So it doesn't work for them to camp on Sixth Street at all," Woody said.  

Woody says he's good with the new rules but he still wishes the City Council would choose to just revert back to the old ordinances.  

What remains to be seen is how Gov. Greg Abbott will measure the effectiveness of these new rules.  A spokesperson for the Governor says that the November 1st ultimatum Abbott gave the City is still in place. In the meantime, they are continuing to evaluate strategies they may take in terms of the State stepping in.

"I believe that was a motivation. I also believe this is a high profile city and we should do a great job. I also believe in California the same thing happened but the Governor didn't care. So our Governor cares. This is a conservative state overall with a blue dot called Austin in the middle," Woody said.

Last week, Mayor Steve Adler had this to say about the Governor's plan to have TXDOT clean homeless campus under overpasses: 

"If the Governor just goes in and moves people away from those places or fences off those areas, I want to know where those people are supposed to go to."

And if it seemed as if the dust was settling on the “homeless ordinance outrage," think again.

This week, a recall effort for Adler and five Council Members began as Sharon Blythe has started a group called Our Town Austin. 

"We just don't feel like they're listening to the people that pay the taxes," Blythe said Tuesday.

She says the Our Town Austin website crashed on Wednesday due to overwhelming hits requesting petitions.

"Ninety percent of the people they represent don't want them to represent them like this. So what does that tell you? That tells you that the people that are making those decisions are not doing what the people that voted them in wanted them to do. So they're listening to 10 percent? Thank God for the Governor," Woody said.