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City Council could repeal or narrow controversial homeless laws

As reported by Philip Jankowski for the Austin American-Statesman
June 2, 2019

The council plans to consider repealing the city’s panhandling ordinance and narrowing the city’s camping ordinance and its “no sit/lie” ordinance. The proposed ordinance would:

• Fully repeal the city’s panhandling ordinance, which bans soliciting money downtown between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as making physical contact or using obscene language while panhandling.

• Narrow the camping ordinance to apply to when a person camps in a dangerous area or intentionally camps on public property in an area that disrupts its use.

• Change the “no sit/lie” ordinance to a blanket obstruction ordinance that applies only to when a person is sleeping or sitting in an area that is dangerous or blocks access to public property

Bill Brice, Vice President of Investor Relations at the Downtown Austin Alliance, said he would urge the City Council to not take any action on the ordinances at Thursday’s meeting to allow time for his organization, which represents downtown property owners, residents and businesses, and other stakeholders to provide input.

“We would ask City Council to slow this process down, allow the community an opportunity to weigh in on this, respecting the type of manner in which our government has operated historically,” said Brice. “This particular item deserves that kind of process.”

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