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Save Austin Now files lawsuit against the city for 'absolute refusal' to enforce camping ban

Save Austin Now is gaining support of local business owners to sue the city over Prop B enforcement. (Jordan Vonderhaar)

Save Austin Now, the local advocacy group calling for the enforcement of the homeless camping ban, announced that along with four local business owners, they have filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin for the "absolute refusal to fully enforce Prop B."

The group made the announcement via a Facebook Live session at 11 a.m., explaining their frustration and asking in a press release, "Why are they allowed to continue public camping which is illegal throughout the City of Austin?"

Along with Save Austin Now and lead counsel Michael Lovins, Headspace Salon and Co-op owner Laura North, Balance Dance Studios owner Stuart Dupuy, owner of three local Dairy Queen franchises Robert Mayfield and owner of Buckshot Bar on East 6th Street Bob Woody joined the lawsuit. The business owners said the lack of enforcement has "resulted in severe business disruption."

"It has now been 117 days since Prop B passed on May 1," Save Austin Now Co-founder Matt Mackowiak said. "We have been unbelievably patient with the City of Austin—it has not been my goal to sue them on this. I really did hope, and actually expect, that they would fully enforce Prop B."

The group claims that the city has not taken enforcement seriously, as they have only issued a few dozen citations for the city's thousands of homeless. Additionally, Save Austin Now said they believe the City Council has been dragging its feet on making actual solutions for the homeless.

"We're here to say enough is enough. It's now time for our mayor and our city council and our city manager to respect the will of the voters and fully enforce Prop B," Mackowiak said. "We're going to fight to the ends of the earth with an aggressive and vigorous lawsuit and legal effort because we believe safety is not too much to ask for in our city."

Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek said she helped found the group because as a mom, she worries about the safety of women, children, the disabled and people who have to walk on the streets or take public transportation.

"This isn't an either-or proposition—this isn't where you help neighborhoods be safe again but out of sight, out of mind for the homeless," Petricek said. "We all have compassion for the homeless but we also know that they should not be subject to this chaos and inhumane condition… because of our City Council's refusal to comply with the city law. What we see now is them kicking the can down the road."

Save Austin Now secured another victory after campaigning to reinstate the camping ban through May, gaining enough signatures on its petition to add more police officers to the Austin Police Department to add it to the November ballot.


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