Never miss a story
Sign up for our free daily morning email...
...and afternoon text update
×

Amid the possibilities that Austin voters could reinstate the city's camping ban and the implementation of a statewide ban, Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the current plan is failing.

Austin City Council repealed the camping ban in 2019, after advocates said it criminalized homelessness. Adler told the Austin American-Statesman on Thursday that the approach "is not working," but added that going back to the previous ban also didn't address the city's homelessness issues.


Save Austin Now, a local campaign led by Travis County GOP Chairman Matt Mackowiak, submitted more than 24,000 signatures to the city clerk's office on Tuesday in support of a petition to reinstate the camping ban. If validated, it will be included on the May 1 ballot, where Austin voted will determine the ban's fate.

The group previously attempted to get the same petition included on the Nov. 3 ballot, but the city clerk ruled their submissions were invalid due to duplicate signatures and other problems.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been a vocal critic of the City Council's decision to overturn the camping ban, said he will soon announce a statewide plan to address homeslessness, including a ban on public camping, during a press conference on Thursday.

Abbott called Austin "the front door for the state of Texas" and said such a ban is important for the city's appeal to visitors.

Austin City Council overturned the city's ban on public sitting, panhandling, lying and camping in August 2019. Although a majority of council members and many advocates supported the decision, it prompted intense pushback. Local business owners, the Austin Police Association and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott criticized the decision,which they said risked public health and safety.

Council members revisited the issue in late 2019 and voted to limit where camping is allowed, banning it from sidewalks, near houses and homeless shelters, and outside of businesses during operating hours.

But the policy has maintained its lightning rod status.

Windsor Park resident and former Libertarian candidate for the Texas House Kevin Ludlow posted a video showing the homeless encampment behind his home last August, where it was viewed tens of thousands of times. Although the city sent a crew to clean it up, Ludlow said it as only a short-term fix.

More recently, former Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, who supported overturning the camping ban, lost in a runoff to now-Council Member Mackenzie Kelly, who opposed the decision.

Popular

(Laura Figi/Austonia)

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he would rescind business capacity limits and a statewide masking mandate on Texas Independence Day, he framed it as a step forward. "With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny," he said during a press conference at a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock.

But some local restaurants and bars, which have been caught in the regulatory crosshairs since Texas' first positive COVID test 364 days ago, have chosen to ignore Abbott's overture. Instead, they will continue to maintain pandemic precautions once the executive order takes effect next week, citing a desire to keep their staff and patrons safe.

Keep Reading Show less

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) Austonia has hired Claire Partain as a reporter covering Austin FC, the MLS expansion team that will be Austin's first major league sports franchise.

Partain is a former sports editor for the The University Star, Texas State University's daily newspaper. She edited, covered sports, produced podcasts, and hosted a pre-game TXST football tailgate live series. Partain has been freelancing with the company since January, prior to accepting a staff position.

A native of Fairfield, Texas, Partain grew up playing youth soccer. In her high school years, she played alongside her mother in what was then called the Freestone County Hispanic Women's Soccer League.

Claire's coverage philosophy: "I like to bring out the humanity of sports, and I want to make this the most accessible sports coverage possible."

She notes that soccer is the predominant sport for young people. "It's a global sport, and we're more connected to the world than older generations."

That approach fits the team's already visible presence in Austin, says Austonia CEO Mark Dewey. "Austin FC has established itself as a leading Austin brand, one that stands for a more unified Austin community, a bigger global presence for Austin and fun. Austonia shares those values."

Partain's soccer coverage begins immediately, with her free, hosted text service—Austonia FC. For updates, special access and inside info, all moderated by Claire, sign up below.

Austonia is the city's independent, free, locally-owned and all-digital source for Austin news, information and entertainment.

Connect with Austonia through its daily email newsletter and text updates, @austonianews Instagram feed, @austonianews and @austinist Twitter feeds, @austonianews Facebook page and its website austonia.com.

(Jordan Vonderhaar)

Austin Public Health will release another batch of first dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments for Thursday on Wednesday evening. A department spokesperson estimates between 3,000 and 4,000 slots will be available.

Keep Reading Show less