Austin Police Department clears tents around City Hall

Austin moved into its second phase of Proposition B ordinance enforcement June 13 and began working to move some campers around City Hall on June 14. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin moved into its second phase of Proposition B ordinance enforcement June 13 and began working to move some campers around City Hall on June 14. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Austin moved into its second phase of Proposition B ordinance enforcement June 13 and began working to move some campers around City Hall on June 14. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Members of the Austin Police Department and Homeless Outreach Street Team, or HOST, cleared individuals living in tents from the corner of West Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe Streets the morning of June 14. The city says the camp clearouts are due to an impending construction project in that area.

Additionally, APD cleared away those staying in tents on the north side of City Hall, where city spokesperson Andy Tate said campers have been "repeatedly warned" they were criminally trespassing and asked to move.

The clearances surrounding City Hall represent some of the most notable action taken at the city level since Proposition B's ordinances related to public camping, panhandling, and sitting or sleeping outdoors went into effect May 11.

The Austin Transportation Department had been planning to begin work on new safety improvements in front of City Hall "for several weeks" prior to the June 14 tent clearings, Tate said, and construction is now scheduled to begin by June 21. Tate said advance notice of the need for campers near Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe to relocate had been issued last week.

"HOST provided outreach each day last week Tuesday through Saturday with the message that the campers would need to move soon. They had also been encouraging the campers to leave since the beginning of this encampment," Tate said in an email.


The transportation department's scope of work at Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe will include updates to the intersection's northeast curb line and curb ramp and repairs to the adjacent east-west crosswalk as well as rebuilding the curb ramp at the southwest corner of Cesar Chavez and South First streets. Construction is set to be completed over the course of around one week.

Just over one month after Austin's Proposition B ordinances went into effect, police and city staff moved into the second phase of enforcing the proposition's ban on public camping June 13, which allows police to give written warnings to those in violation of the camping ban and issue citations to repeat offenders. The clearouts and arrests June 14 were not related to the implementation of the second phase, according to the city, because they related to a specific construction project.

"The city is actively pursuing options for increasing temporary shelter capacity and creating designated campsites in the near future. At the same time, we are focused on aggressive expansion of long-term stable housing for people experiencing homelessness through the initiatives like [Homeless Encampment Assistance Link], creation of new permanent supportive housing resources and partnerships with critical community organizations," the city said in a statement.

The city began addressing the new laws with a one-month "engagement and education" period that ran through June 12.

“Through this implementation process, APD has maintained a responsible and humane approach to providing education and outreach to those impacted by the ordinances,” interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said in a statement. “As we progress to the next phase, I want to reiterate that our goal is to enforce the law and maintain the best health and safety for everyone in Austin.”

The third phase of Proposition B enforcement will begin July 11 with continuing warnings, citations and possible arrests for campers in areas designated as dangerous. The fourth and final enforcement phase will kick off Aug. 8 when APD officers will begin arresting anyone violating the camping ban who does not willingly relocate.

This story has been updated to include information on the city construction project at Guadalupe and Cesar Chavez streets, and the advance notice that campers around City Hall had received about the project.
By Ben Thompson

Austin City Hall Reporter

Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston. After spending more than two years covering in The Woodlands area, he moved to Austin in 2021 to cover City Hall and other news throughout the city.



MOST RECENT

The new 35-story building overlooks Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Workers celebrate topping out of Austin 'sailboat building' concrete structure

Workers who contribute to the construction of the Block 185 building celebrated topping off the structure, a big milestone for the development project that began in 2019.

A system to identify at-risk Austin Police Department employees has not been effective. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Audit finds Austin police system to flag at-risk officers is failing

Austin's city auditor and police chief agree the police department's computer program to identify at-risk officers is not fulfilling its mission.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

Opening day at Q2 Stadium
US men’s soccer team to visit Q2 Stadium this fall

The U.S. men's national team will host Jamaica for a FIFA World Cup qualifier game on Oct. 7.

Capital Metro is hosting a series of virtual meetings to hear feedback from the community on the latest Project Connect designs. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Capital Metro seeks community input on latest Project Connect design

Want to have your voice heard about Project Connect? Tune in to the upcoming virtual meetings.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Z'Tejas margarita
Where to celebrate National Tequila Day this year around Austin

From mezcal bars to frozen margarita specials, here is a list of places to celebrate National Tequila Day on July 24.