Following a discussion in mid-May about banning begging and certain types of camping within Kyle city limits, officials voted to approve such an ordinance during a first reading June 1.

Specifically, the ordinance amends the definition of unlawful activities in public areas in order to prohibit camping, obstruction and begging.

Council Member Yvonne Flores-Cale brought the agenda item forward during City Council’s May 18 meeting. At that meeting she said it would be wise to adopt components of similar ordinances in New Braunfels, San Marcos and Rollingwood that ban camping, begging and panhandling, and added in her view the ban should apply to all areas of the city.

After researching surrounding cities’ ordinances, Flores-Cale said Kyle is in a good position to “create an environment where everyone can feel safe and secure.”

"What we're trying to do with this is be a little more proactive so we don't see some of the outcomes that other cities have," Flores-Cale said June 1.

The ordinance states that “The purpose of this article is to ensure the public areas within the city can be maintained in a clean, safe, and unobstructed manner for use and enjoyment by residents, business operators, and visitors; to ensure the public area is available for use and enjoyment by residents, business operators, and visitors without fear of intimidation; and to ensure law enforcement and other response personnel and vehicles can safely access public areas during emergency events."

The city defines a public area as any that is accessible to the public, including a street, median, highway, park, parking lot, alleyway, sidewalk, pedestrian way, bus or train stop and common areas of schools, businesses, apartment buildings and hospitals.

City information states violations of the ordinance will be a Class C misdemeanor and are punishable by a fine of up to $500.

"This is a very important and controversial topic," Council Member Michael Tobias said. "This is not a punishment that we are trying to bring upon anybody, but basically a protection for our residents."