Council to vote on reinstating camping ban or letting Austin voters decide

The council should vote on the reintroduction of the camping ban or let the voters in Austin decide

Austin City Council will decide whether to accept a new petition to reinstate the camping ban or send it to voters in May.

In a special session on Tuesday, the Austin City Council will take up the issue of camping bans.

“If Tuesday’s discussion is too long, we have time on Wednesday to take our time, and Thursday too,” said Mackenzie Kelly, Austin city councilor, District 6.

Last week the Save Austin Now group received the necessary certified signatures to participate in the May election. The petition urges Austin to reinstate the camping ban.

“I hope it works because it can help people and change the way the city is perceived,” said Kelly, who also voted for the HEAL initiative.

“Our ordinance reinstates the camping ban throughout the city, restores the seating and lye ordinance in the city center and extends to the UT campus. At night, panhandling bans from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm,” said Matt Mackowiak.

Mackowiak led this petition. He said he only had 50 days to get the required number of signatures. And the response was robust. “We shed about 27,000 last week, and the city has confirmed that we were at 26,100 and changed so far above the 20,000 number,” said Mackowiak of Potomac Strategy.

He hopes the Council can correctly articulate the voting language so that voters understand what they are voting for.

“If they play games with the language of choice, which denies the rights of everyone who signed the petition, we will file a lawsuit within an hour,” said Mackowiak.

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Reinstatement of the public camping ban for the vote in May 2021

The next step is for Austin City Council to approve the voting language, which must be done by February 12th.

The Council also has the choice of avoiding the subject being voted on by adopting the regulation at this week’s meeting. “They obviously won’t do that. They believe the camping disaster is good public policy,” said Mackowiak.

“I don’t think we’re going to take over the language immediately based on the tone of how the council handled the situation of the homeless before I arrived at the council,” said Kelly.

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