AUSTIN (KXAN) — One day before Election Day, two groups on opposing sides of the camping ban debate made one last push to Austin voters Friday.
Proposition B on the ballot would reinstate the city’s public camping ban. It would criminalize and create a penalty for those sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the downtown and University of Texas areas. Another penalty would be created for those camping in a public area not designated by the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
The Save Austin Now Political Action Committee unveiled a new coalition Friday: Moms for Prop B.
“It’s gotten so bad, I don’t take them to the park anymore,” said Berenice Lara with the coalition.
“We do feel for the unhoused homeless, but we do not feel, especially even the kids agree, we do not think camping anywhere is a viable solution for everyone,” she explained.
Members of the group shared stories of some close calls they’ve had, including a stabbing two weeks ago at an Academy store off Research Boulevard near Oak Knoll.
“This event could have ended very differently for us,” said Rupal Chaudhari.
Austin Police said the suspect is homeless. Chaudhari said the man recently stayed at one of the hotels her family owns.
“We all have experienced since the lifting of the camping ban, it has brought needles, defecation, they’ve been defecating in our yards, they’ve been stealing food at our hotels, they’ve been threatening all along the security, safety of our children, of our businesses, of our homes,” Chaudhari said.
Homes Not Handcuffs, another organization, opposes the ban. Advocates said it’s not the solution.
“If you have to go out, where would you want to go? Would you want to go out deep in the woods?” said Christopher Helli.
The group held a news conference Friday near a bridge in south Austin where they said a woman experiencing homelessness died during flash flooding.
They said Suzie was forced to live in a drainage pipe when public camping was banned. They aimed to remember the lives lost due in part to the previous camping ban.
“This proposition will further criminalize and force people into dangerous situations, into hiding,” said another person opposed to the ban.
Community Members Gather to Remember lives lost during Austin’s former camping ban.
Polls will be open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.