City to enact four-phase plan to reinstate camping ban

The City of Austin’s homeless camping ban has been reinstated. It is now illegal to panhandle at night and sit, lie, or camp near UT or downtown.

"We have a serious crisis on our hands known as homelessness here in Austin and for too long, we have not addressed this issue," said Bill Price, VP of Downtown Austin Alliance.

The City of Austin voted loud and clear in favor of Prop B to reinstate the City's camping ban. Austin leaders introduced a 4-phase plan to do just that.

"Our objective is to implement the ordinance in a safe and humane approach that helps individuals experiencing homelessness comply with the ordinances," said Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk.

Tuesday, phase one began. It will run for 30 days. During that time, Austin Police will provide resources and verbal warnings.

"In phase one note that we are not anticipating, requiring folks to move from a campus immediately unless they present immediate dangers to health and safety," said Dianna Grey, City Of Austin Homeless Strategy Officer.

Phase two will run for another 30 days and allow APD to begin handing out warnings and citations. APD may start arresting people and clearing campsites in phase three and phase four will allow APD to continue with citations and arrests.


"We're really looking at citations and arrest as a last resort. We want to do the education and outreach first to educate our full community and particularly our community of folks that are experiencing homelessness about what we're trying to accomplish and what the voters have decided and to do it in a safe and humane manner," said interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon.

Phase one and two will run for a total of 60 days. According to the city, it will be after that time frame before APD can start clearing campsites that do not pose a public threat.

Save Austin Now is the group that spearheaded the pro-Prop B campaign to reinforce the homeless camping ban. The group does not agree with the City’s phased plan.


"Sixty days is ridiculous for full enforcement. The idea that this takes some massive new regime with lots of time to prepare for it, I think is a slap in the face of everyone who voted for this," said Matt Mackowiak with Save Austin Now.

The city is still in the process of identifying designated camping locations, under the city council's directive. The Parks and Recreation Department will be working very closely to help identify camp spaces that have gone awry.