On Monday, local nonprofit Save Austin Now announced that they submitted a petition to the City Clerk with 24,087 signatures in support of reinstating the ban on public camping. Validation on the part of the City Clerk could take several weeks, but if validated, the group plans to craft a new ordinance to be voted upon in November.
According to Save Austin Now, the ordinance reinstates the ban on homeless camping citywide, restores the sit/lie ordinance to downtown and extends it to the UT campus and surrounding areas, and bans panhandling at night citywide from 7:00 p.m.-7:00 a.m.
“We are ecstatic to have turned in so many signed petitions from every neighborhood, every zip code, and every demographic across our city from residents who just want to live in a safe city,” said Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak. “Over the past 148 days, we have had more than 80 unpaid volunteers collect petitions and our efforts have been made possible by more than 1,000 individual donations. Voters will now be able to fix the mess created by Mayor Steve Adler and Council Member Greg Casar. The homeless camping ordinance has been a disaster for our city, with violent crime rising at the fastest rate in five years and the unhoused homeless population rising 45 percent last year. The camping ordinance has harmed public safety, public health, tourism and the image of Austin, while making our homeless less safe. We are not anti-homeless; we are anti-camping. We want the homeless safe in shelters, in transitional housing, or at the state campground where it is safer for them and where services are provided. Together, we can save our city.”
The petition has also had the continued support of SafeHorns, another local nonprofit, which is comprised of parents, students, stakeholders, and citizens who seek to improve safety on and around the University of Texas campus.
“Today is a great day for making the UT campus and surrounding area safer for UT students,” said SafeHorns president Joell McNew on Monday. “We wish the City of Austin had agreed to the request of the UT Police Chief to exempt the UT campus from the repeal of the no-camping ordinance, but they refused. We believe that the combination of banning homeless camping citywide, extending the sit/lie ordinance to the UT campus and surrounding areas and banning panhandling at night will dramatically improve the ability for police to be a front line in getting homeless the services and help they need, while protecting both students and the homeless from those who wish to prey on their vulnerabilities.”