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

become a member

(Charlie L. Harper III/Austonia)

Leaders of the local nonprofit group "Save Austin Now" said Monday their effort to roll back a year-old city ordinance allowing camping in public spaces has drawn 24,000 petition signatures, well over the amount needed to put their initiative on the ballot in November.


City officials confirmed that the group submitted the petition, which needs 20,000 validated signatures to get ballot consideration, but said it could take weeks for all the signatures to be certified.

"We are ecstatic to have turned in so many signed petitions from every neighborhood, every zip code, and every demographic across our city from residents who just want to live in a safe city," said Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak, who is also chairman of the Travis County Republican Party. "The homeless camping ordinance has been a disaster for our city."

Last summer, the Austin City Council abolished the city's ban on public sitting, panhandling, lying and camping after homeless advocates said such bans criminalize people who live on the street, and trap them there by making them targets for police action and creating criminal records.

In October, the council revisited the issue and limited where camping was allowed, banning it from sidewalks, near houses, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless and other shelters, and outside businesses during operating hours, among other limits.

In a texting campaign, Travis County Democrats have accused the group of misleading the public in order to get more signatures and as late as Monday urged recipients to call the Travis County Clerk's office to have their signatures removed. But a city spokesman said that once the petition is submitted, signatures cannot be removed.

Local Democratic party officials could not be reached to comment on Monday.

Mackowiak said the effort is bipartisan and has no agenda beyond prohibiting tents on city streets and sidewalks, under highway overpasses and along medians.

If the petition is certified, voters will get to decide on whether to roll back ordinances to where they were before the ban was lifted in June 2019—no panhandling at night, no public camping, no sitting or lying in public places.

"This is a standard of living issue for every neighborhood in Austin," said Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek, who describes herself as a lifelong Democrat. "There is no partisan angle to wanting a safe neighborhood."

Popular

After two years of no in-person events, Austin festival South by Southwest has agreed to give 50% of ownership to P-MRC, a Los Angeles company that controls publishing operations for Rolling Stone and Billboard.

Keep Reading Show less

APD captures suspect of domestic violence killing Stephen Broderick. (Austin Police Department/Twitter)

Stephen Broderick is now in police custody for a suspected domestic violence incident that killed three in northwest Austin on Sunday.

After initially being called an active shooting incident, joint local law enforcement and more than 75 FBI agents proceeded with an almost day-long manhunt with three helicopters and on-ground teams for former Travis County deputy Broderick. Police captured him after a 911 caller reported a suspicious man walking along U.S. 290, where he was taken into custody.

Keep Reading Show less
(Hard Rock Stadium)

Formula 1 is returning to Florida for the first time since 1959, announcing that the brand-new Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar in 2022 and Austin will no longer be the only F1 race in the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less