AUSTIN (KXAN) – Opponents of Austin’s public camping ban surrounded City Hall with tents on Friday night in a protest against the ban.
The protest comes in response to voters electing to pass Proposition B, which reinstates the camping ban and reintroduces a criminal penalty for offenders. It passed with 57% of the vote.
Under the reinstated ban, camping will be prohibited in any areas not designated by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department — a move that would largely affect Austin’s homeless population. Criminal penalties can also be issued to violators who sleep outdoors near the downtown or University of Texas areas. Lying down or sitting on public sidewalks is also prohibited.
The City of Austin has since said the ban will come into effect on May 11.
On Saturday morning, City Hall was still surrounded by tents after protesters apparently slept inside them overnight.
Signs reading “Criminalization kills, housing for all,” and “What would city council do without their homes?” were placed on some of the tents.
City Manager Spencer Cronk told council Thursday the new law passed by voters will be phased in gradually and be done in a safe and humane manner.
“City staff is currently working to develop a phased implementation of the camping ordinance beginning on its effective date of May 11th, with an emphasis on health, safety, and connection to services wherever possible,” a city spokesperson told KXAN in a follow-up email Friday.
Austin’s voters elected to reinstate the camping ban on May 1, after previously lifting the same restrictions in 2019. Prior to July 2019, a ban on camping in public places had been in place for 23 years.