On Sunday, August 8, the final phase of Proposition B enforcement officially began. The move to Phase 4 gives Austin police the authority to both issue citations and make arrests in the event a person refuses to follow direction to vacate a public campsite. Anyone arrested for violation of the camping ordinance, will be processed through the Downtown Austin Community Court whenever possible, the city says.
Approved by Austin voters on May 1, Proposition B, makes it a Class C misdemeanor for anyone to sit or lie down on sidewalks in the downtown area, camp in public areas, and solicit money or other things of value at specific hours and locations.
Since May 11, city data shows the Austin Police Department has visited more than 605 people living within a homeless camp around Austin. Officers have issued 572 written warnings and 24 citations. No arrests have been made related to the camping ban to date.
Officers have connected more than 124 people with social support services, which includes referrals for 34 veterans.
“I anticipate the number of individuals willing to voluntarily comply with the ordinance will increase moving forward,” said Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon.
As the city continues to clear out campsites, a statewide camping ban is just weeks away from implementation. House Bill 1925 adds new guidelines set by the Texas Department of Housing which, if not followed, could subject a city to a loss of state funding and legal action from the Texas Attorney General.
HB 1925 becomes law on September 1.