AUSTIN, Texas - The nonprofit Save Austin Now announced Monday that they've submitted a petition with more than 24,000 signatures to the Austin City Clerk's office to reinstate the ban on homeless camping.
The clerk's office will now begin their validation process which could take several weeks
"We started this in late February as a team, City of Austin, now myself and Cleo, SafeHorns, and the Austin Police Association, lots of others because we believe our city is made far less safe by the camping ordinance and we knew that the Mayor and council made a huge mistake by putting that in place," Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak said.
The ordinance reinstates the ban on homeless camping citywide and restores the sit/lie ordinance to downtown and extends it to the UT campus and surrounding area. It also bans panhandling at night citywide from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., an issue that Joell McNew, president of SafeHorns says she's seen UT students struggle with for years.
"One of the things we've been concerned about is the lighting, it's a big concern, it does not meet a standard and that was something we pushed," McNew said. "Without the lighting meeting standards, this is something that will give our students peace of mind so hopefully that can be added plus an extended perimeter control zone."
Save Austin Now says they're suggested the homeless be placed back in homeless shelters, camp at the state campground or be placed in transitional housing.
"One of the main reasons why we're against this sit and lie ordinance is because the homeless is not getting any help," Mackowiak said. "They're being told to survive on their own in a tent on Riverside Drive or by a highway. They're not getting mental health treatment they're not getting drug and alcohol treatment, they're made to fend for themselves."
Save Austin Now reiterated that they're not "anti-homeless," they're "anti-camping."
If the signatures are validated, the ordinance will be on the November ballot.