This will be the first forum since City Manager Spencer Cronk made new suggestions on where to limit camping, sitting and lying in Austin – and there’s a reason for that.
With the ordinance changes that kicked off in July, the homeless have been allowed to set up tents on any public spaces, except City Hall. Some people have a problem with that.
Cronk released a memo on Friday to limit where people can camp. The three main recommendations he made included limiting camping in areas with high car and pedestrian traffic, as well as areas with high risks of flooding.
The memo didn't identify specific streets, but a 2016 list of critical areas included spots like Congress Avenue and Cesar Chavez.
As for potential limitations on camping, the memo points to a policy in Berkeley, California, which sets a limit of nine-square feet for occupying a sidewalk. A business owner told us a change like this is needed.
“We can't expect a street like Congress to do everything,” said Craig Stanley, owner of Royal Blue Grocery Store. “I mean, it’s got cars, it’s got bikes, it’s got scooters, it’s got outdoor dining, tons and tons of pedestrians, tons of retail businesses, but then we're also going to house people on the sidewalk? You can't do that."
Mayor Steve Adler said he wishes the memo would have been more specific. The City said the homeless strategy office is ready to work with other organizations to create systems and infrastructure that make homelessness "rare, brief and non-recurring."
Austin City Council could take action on this at their next meeting on Sept. 19.
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