A homeless encampment in Austin's Windsor Park neighborhood is accumulating trash after a cleanup effort earlier this month.
Kevin Ludlow, a resident and former Libertarian candidate for the Texas House, first posted a video of the encampment, which abuts his backyard in Windsor Park, on Aug. 2. The footage showed a large amount of trash as well as homeless residents engaged in substance use. It has since been viewed more than 72,000 times and shared widely on social media sites.
After the video was posted, the city's watershed protection department contracted a local nonprofit, The Other Ones Foundations, to clean up the site, which is along Little Tannehill Branch Creek between Broadmoor Drive and 52nd Street. Work crews removed tons of trash.
"The area was spotless on Aug. 9," Ludlow said in an updated video posted on Tuesday, showing what has happened at the site since the clean-up effort.
New campers began arriving Aug. 12, Ludlow said in voiceover. Last week, clothes and garbage began piling up, and he recorded what appears to be substance use and nudity.
"I don't believe the campers should be arrested nor do I believe that we should criminalize homelessness in any way," Ludlow said in the video, adding that given the increase in property taxes in recent years the city should have adequate funding to address the issue. "There is simply no way that a solution to this problem cannot be found with that bump in revenue to the City of Austin."
Windsor Park Neighborhood Association President Dan Strub previously told Austonia that the encampment has been around for years and many residents are reluctant to call the police "about much of anything that isn't directly crime-related these days."
A fight over public camping
Austin residents facing issues related to homeless encampments are encouraged to call the emergency 311 line. But there is little that city officials or police can do to force campers elsewhere. Last year, Austin City Council abolished the city's ban on public camping.
A local nonprofit, Save Austin Now, tried to overturn this ban via a citizen-led petition. However, Austin City Clerk Jannette Goodall recently ruled that the petition is not valid due to duplicate signatures and other issues.
The group, led by Travis County GOP Chairperson Matt Mackowiak, is considering legal action but is up against a deadline; the Nov. 3 election is just over nine weeks away.
"We do not believe there is ANY CHANCE WHATSOEVER that 5,000+ signed petitions of the 24,000+ that we submitted were invalid," Mackowiak wrote in an Aug. 20 Facebook post. "We are not going to accept what has happened here."
The group is waiting for the city to respond to a public information request before deciding on its next steps.
If the court orders the city to place an item on the November ballot, it will, a spokesperson wrote to Austonia in an email last week.
Goodall, however, is confident in her decision. "The probability that checking all 24,201 submitted signatures would find a total of at least 20,000 valid signatures in less than 3 in one billion," she wrote in the ruling.
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Some Austin restaurants, bars will keep masking requirements, capacity limits when statewide orders lift next week
Two days shy of the one-year anniversary of Texas' first confirmed case of COVID-19, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that he will rescind statewide pandemic restrictions, including business capacity limits and mask mandates, next week. Although businesses—especially those tied to the hospitality industry—have suffered financially over the last year, many Austin establishments are rejecting Abbott's order.
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(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.
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Two hours after Gov. Greg Abbott announced that state mandates on wearing masks and limiting business capacities would be lifted, Mayor Steve Adler wrote a letter to the city urging residents to keep their masks on and stay safe.
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