Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Council Member Greg Casar release alternative proposal for public camping restrictions

Austin City Council will consider new public camping restrictions at a special-called meeting next week.

Austin City Council will consider new public camping restrictions at a special-called meeting next week.

After Austin City Council Members Kathie Tovo and Ann Kitchen proposed a resolution to restrict homeless encampments from specific areas in downtown, West Campus and East Austin on Sept. 10, Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar proposed an alternative version later the same day.

“We believe our ordinance better strikes a balance of protecting public health and safety, protecting public spaces, and not infringing on the civil rights of individuals in our city,” Adler wrote in a post on the council message board Sept. 10.

In June, Austin City Council decriminalized public camping throughout the city, with the exception of parkland, flood plains, and city-owned and private property. City staff followed this up last month by recommending the city reimpose some restrictions to city camping rules.

The resolutions are tentatively scheduled for discussion at a special-called meeting next week.

The first proposal


In addition to restricting homeless encampments from designated areas, Tovo and Kitchen called for restrictions to extend to transit stops, along Safe Routes to School, sloped areas under overpasses and areas around shelters, including the downtown Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.

Tovo and Kitchen also asked City Manager Spencer Cronk to create a map of where public camping is restricted and enforce local and state laws that relate to the use of fire pits and grills and building structures on public land. They also said they wanted to see enforcement around cleanup of pet and human waste, drug use, and manipulation or modification of public infrastructure.

Their resolution also asks the city manager to explore the cost of replacing confiscated restricted items with authorized ones for public campers and to create a map of where the city will install public toilets and garbage pickup stations.

Finally, the resolution asks that police give public campers reasonable time to move from a restricted area and call on social workers, such as the city’s homeless outreach street team, to deal with campers who remain in restricted areas after they have been asked to move.

In response, Council Members Leslie Pool and Alison Alter agreed to co-sponsor the resolution in a post to the council’s message board.

The second proposal


While thanking Tovo and Kitchen for their work, Casar wrote in a response post, “I cannot support a final ordinance unless it is non-discriminatory and won’t re-criminalize basic acts of survival by our neighbors experiencing homelessness.”

With Adler, he proposed a separate set of options for restricting homeless encampments from designated areas.

Both agree encampments that do not allow for at least a 4-foot clear zone on sidewalks, shared-use paths and trails should be prohibited, as should encampments that render a building entrance impassable.

Unlike Tovo and Kitchen’s version, Casar and Adler’s does not prohibit camping on whole streets outright.

Both wrote they agree that camping should be prohibited within at least a half-mile radius—Adler proposed up to a half-mile—around shelters outside the Central Business District. This deviates from Tovo and Kitchen’s version, which does not specify a radius size.

Next steps


Resolutions need four sponsors to be included on the agenda. Tovo and Kitchen's ordinance has met that threshold and thus will be taken up at the special-called meeting.

Adler and Casar asked colleagues to sponsor their version so it can also be discussed.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


MOST RECENT

The DSISD board of trustees heard a presentation on teacher pay at a recent meeting. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Dripping Springs ISD considers teacher compensation ahead of budget-planning process

The DSISD board of trustees heard a presentation on teacher pay at a recent meeting.

Online retailer Wayfair will open a new engineering office in Austin later this year or in early 2022. (Courtesy Wayfair)
Wayfair bringing new engineering office to Austin; beauty studio celebrates opening and more South Austin business news

Wayfair has not yet finalized a space for its new office, but job postings list Southeast Austin as a location.

As part of President Joe Biden’s plan to reopen schools safely nationwide, the department’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option is being expanded beyond the summertime. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
USDA extends free school meals provision through 2021-22 school year

Schools nationwide will be able to serve nutritious meals to all students free of charge regardless of eligibility through June 30, 2022, officials announced.

Austin government, nonprofit and business leaders recently participated in a weeks-long summit centered on unsheltered homelessness in the city. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plan to house 3,000 homeless individuals in Austin in the next three years would cost $515 million

The plan Austin City Council members discussed April 20 emerged from a weekslong community-wide summit on homelessness.

Photo of Zilker Park
Travis County establishes Civilian Climate Corps to tackle environmental projects

The program will create opportunities for residents to work on projects including wildfire prevention, solar energy promotion and park cleanups.

Residents march to the Texas Capitol in protests after the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Austin leaders react to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

The former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

At an in-person information session at the Austin Community College Pinnacle campus April 17, Colorado River Constructors spokesperson Laurie Simmons said the campus is the company’s preferred choice for a batch concrete plant. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
'No toxic batch plant': Southwest Austin residents protest proposed Pinnacle site for Oak Hill Parkway concrete production

Colorado River Constructors officials said the ACC Pinnacle site would be the safest and least impactful to local residents.

Austin Public Health Director Stephanie Hayden-Howard speaks to reporters March 13 at the Delco Actiity Center in Northeast Austin. Residents can walk up to the Delco Center on April 22 and 23 and receive vaccines without an appointment. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Public Health will accept walk-up vaccinations at the Delco Activity Center starting April 22

APH will also leave its registration portal open throughout most of the week.

Early voting for the May 1 election runs April 19-27. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hays County reports 500 votes in first day of early voting

Education-related election items in Hays County include $443.5 million in bonds as well as city council positions, school board seats and municipal utility district directors.

Early voting for Travis County's May 1 local elections opened April 19. In this file photo, voters line up ahead of the 2020 primary elections at Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 8,000 Travis County voters cast ballots on first day of early voting

Early voting for the county's May 1 election began April 19 and will run through April 27.

The Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin is one of the locations where residents can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Jack Flalger/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin vaccine updates: Demand slows as state begins marketing push

Appointments are beginning to go unfilled, and local health officials say demand has caught up to supply. All adults in the U.S. are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Blue Corn Harvest Leander is located at 11840 Hero Way W., Bldg. A, Leander. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Blue Corn Harvest opens in Leander; park, pizzeria launches social club and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.