Residents of Austin, TX celebrated after Prop B, which reinstated the homeless camping ban, was approved. Both right and left-leaning Austinites had become fed up with the disturbing amounts of homeless people camping in tents on public property. However, more than a month after residents voted to put the ban back in place, the city council has yet to move forward with a plan to enforce the ban.
Police can start issuing citations to homeless residents who continue camping in restricted areas on Sunday, more than a month after Austin voters approved Prop B. But Austin City Council has yet to identify places where such residents can go, legally and safely.
Members shelved discussion of the topic during virtual meetings on Monday and Tuesday, citing time constraints, and mostly rejected city staff’s suggestions for potential sanctioned encampment sites last month. Meanwhile, the grounds of City Hall remain the site of a camp-in protest.
Mayor Steve Adler admitted that the council had “danced around” the homelessness issue during a special meeting that was held on Monday. “With Proposition B and the vote of the community I think we have an obligation to stop people from camping and tenting in public spaces, and the (city) manager’s been charged with that,” he said.
However, members of the city staff indicated they need more direction from the council on how to designate areas for campsites and guidelines on how to pay for these areas. The city’s government is under a time crunch because the Austin City Council starts a six-week summer recess next week. Adler signaled that after the break is over, he plans to make the land development code more of a priority.
Homeless Strategy Officer Dianna Grey issued a memo outlining the criteria of a potential site for camping. These guidelines include:
Potential 2-year temporary use
At least 2 acres per 50 people
Access to public transportation and basic retail services
Low wildfire and flood risk
Proximity to schools
Grey indicated that these criteria “severely limits the use
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