Update on City of Austin Homeless Ordinances

Homeless Ordinance Guide published

Oct. 28th

AUSTIN (KXAN) 10.17.19 — On Thursday night, Austin City Council voted to still allow homeless camping, except in certain areas and under certain specific conditions.

In a 7-4 vote, Council voted on restrictions that will:

  • ban public camping on sidewalks

  • allow sitting/lying on sidewalks unless the sidewalk is within 15 feet of a door of an operating business during business hours, or residence

  • ban sitting/lying/camping around the ARCH. The prohibited area is bordered by East 4th St, Brushy St., E. 11th St., and Brazos St., excluding any areas under I-35.

  • ban camping on land with a high wildfire risk

The changes come following months of contentious debate over where Austin’s homeless can sit, lie and camp.

Click HERE for the full report.  

Homeless Strategy Officer stepping down to a consultant role

Late yesterday (10.10.19) afternoon Assistant City Manager Rodney Gonzales emailed the mayor and City Council the following about Lori Pampilo Harris, the homeless strategy officer who just began her job a month ago: 

Lori moved to Austin to begin her position as quickly as possible, which meant that she relocated to Austin ahead of her family.  Lori’s family obligations are such that she will be transitioning to a consultant role rather than a full-time employee role.  We appreciate the work Lori’s done thus far in this short amount of time, and we look forward to continuing to work with her. In her revised role, she will continue guiding us in matters surrounding homelessness.  Homelessness is collectively our highest priority, and we will keep moving forward on the many initiatives underway."

It seems odd that she didn't evaluate her family obligations BEFORE accepting the job!?!

On Oct. 2nd, Governor Greg Abbott said via Twitter he would "...unleash the full authority of every state agency to protect the health and safety of all Texans," suggesting he would thwart city measures from being enforced. Austin City Council members recently passed ordinances that relaxed rules related to camping and sitting on sidewalks in an aim to decriminalize homelessness.

The governor said he would intervene if council didn't address his concerns by Nov. 1.

SEP 25, 2019 from Matt Mackowiak

Fellow concerned citizens - 

I am sorry for the delay in updating you.

Last Wednesday, I attended the City Council meeting to testify against the Homeless Camping ordinance on your behalf. I was able to speak for three minutes. You can read my testimony to the City Council here. There were over 100 speakers and most of them opposed the ordinance.  I believe this feedback helped change the minds of the city council.

As Wednesday's meeting began, the council was likely to pass changes to the ordinance to ban homeless camping on six streets in Austin.

On Friday morning, after receiving overwhelmingly negative feedback, they tabled the effort to make changes. The council is planning to work on the homeless camping ban the week of Oct. 10 with a planned vote on Oct. 17.

So we have a few more weeks to keep the pressure up.  We are nearing 34,000 signatures on our online petition to repeal the Homeless Camping Ordinance. Please share SaveAustinNowPetition.com on your social networks, especially Facebook and NextDoor. 

 

We still intend to launch an effort to put a repeal of the Homeless Camping Ordinance on the ballot in May 2020. This effort will begin in mid-October and we are finalizing the creation of our 501(c)3 nonprofit now.  In the meantime, we need to increase the pressure on the Mayor and the City Council.

TAKE ACTION:

1. Will you email your Council Member right now? Click here to do so.

2. Will you email the Mayor right now? Click here to do so.

3. If you wish to financially support us, please do so here. (You do not need to have a paypal account to contribute.)

We will keep you updated!

 

Thanks,

Matt Mackowiak

Save Austin Now, co-founder

In June of 2019, the Austin City Council voted to approve changes to soliciting, camping, sitting, or lying down laws.

Since then there have been multiple Town Hall Meetings with various stakeholders and Council Members.  Having attended one of those meetings, our impression was that there wasn't much of a dialogue happening between the Mayor/Council Members and the community; but instead, it appeared to be a forum where the leaders tried to explain and justify their decision. 

Since the June vote, a petition has been circulating to repeal the changes.  You can view that petition at: http://chng.it/DC2Cg8T97N

Then a few weeks ago, the council passes restrictions to the original ordinance changes.  Here's what was reported by KXAN on 8.30.19

Posted: Aug 30, 2019 / 11:08 AM CDT / Updated: Aug 31, 2019 / 07:36 AM CDT

 

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk sent the mayor and city council his recommended restrictions for where homeless people shouldn’t be allowed camp in Austin.

“Individuals experiencing homelessness are living/sleeping outside and are occupying spaces that are not safe for themselves and will place their possessions in areas then create unsafe conditions for themselves and the public,” Cronk and the Homeless Strategy Office wrote in a new memo Friday.

Since changes that went into effect July 1 eased restrictions on camping, sitting and lying in public, there has been a lot of feedback from community members and law enforcement.

Some have asked the city to tighten the reigns. In July, Gov. Greg Abbott and Mayor Steve Adler feuded on Twitter over the issue as well. Earlier this month, Adler and Council members pitched a new housing plan for homeless people at a town hall at the Austin Convention Center.

 

Lastly, Attached below is a letter from the Asst. City Manager to Mayor Adler and Council Members describing the approach and position recommended by City Staff.  

Send Questions, Comments or Feedback to: raineyinfo@gmail.com

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