AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin has identified 45 city-owned areas to possibly turn into designated camps for people experiencing homelessness.
The city stressed this list is preliminary and is only a “snapshot” of the sites where it has done an initial analysis. “The list will most certainly change,” a City of Austin spokesman wrote, including having some removed and others added.
Here’s the initial list of the spots being considered:
- Walter E. Long 11455 Decker Lake Road
- John Trevino 9501 FM 969
- Walnut Creek Sports Park — 7800 Johnny Morris Road
- Given Recreation Center — 3811 East 12th Street
- Fleet Service Yard — 8401 Johnny Morris Road
- Colony Park land
- 3511 Manor Road
- Tannehill Lane
- Onion Creek Metro North
- 7720 ½ Kellam Road
- 5400 East William Cannon, Decommissioned WWTP
- FM 812 at FM 973
- Eco-Park at FM 973
- West Slaughter Lane and 8908-8916-9006 Cullen Road
- Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center — 2609 Gonzales Street
- South Austin Recreation Center — 1100 Cumberland Road
- Roy G. Guerrero — 400 Grove Boulevard
- 6700 Bolm Road District Park
- Johnny Degollado Pavilion at Edward Rendon Park
- 4800 – 4906 Bolm Road
- Levander Loop
- 1311 Tillery Street
- Gus Garcia — 1201 East Rundberg Lane
- 7211 North I-35
- 7309 North I-35
- Mary Moore Searight — 907 West Slaughter Lane
- Lakeline Neighborhood Park
- 12101 Anderson Mill Road
- 10900 FM 2222 (WWT)
- Commons Ford Park — 614 North Commons Ford Road
- Walnut Creek/Havens
- Northwest Recreation Center
- Sir Swante Palm Neighborhood Park — East Third Street
- Duncan Park — 900 West Ninth Street
- Sand Beach Park on West Cesar Chavez Street
- Patterson Park — 4200 Brookview Road
- Bull Creek Park — Lakewood Drive
- Ryan Drive Warehouse
- Circle C
- Dick Nichols — 8011 Beckett Road
- 11800 FM 1826
- 9513 Circle Drive
- 4905 Convict Hill Road
- Norwood Tract
- Austin Recreation Center
City staff reviewed more than 70 city-owned properties to be considered for encampments. A City of Austin spokesman says they will continue analyzing them and will present the City Council with an update in June.
“The sites identified in today’s presentation to Mayor and Council are preliminary locations. The lists we have provided are only a snapshot of the sites where we have done the initial analysis that Council requested. These sites are not final and the list will most certainly change. Some locations may come off, and others may be added, as part of an ongoing examination of potential sites. Staff will continue analyzing properties and will work to present Council with an update in June.”City of Austin spokesperson
City Manager Spencer Cronk was directed to share the list owned by the city or partner organizations on Friday, but city staff said those sites would be discussed on Tuesday instead.
Given their first look at the city’s list so far, council members had mixed reactions in Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’m right now not confident about the ones that are on this list, right now, but I hope that we can get our heads together,” said council member Paige Ellis.
Ellis and others have concerns about wildfire and flooding risks in some spots. They also worry about placing the homeless in busy parks.
City Manager Spencer Cronk said he’ll work with council members to look for other potential properties.
“We’re going to be following up with each of you individually to look at other potential sites in your district,” he told the council. “Those may not be city-owned properties, but maybe you have a relationship with a private land owner.”
Cronk said the city would also consider partnering with entities interested in helping or even look to other jurisdictions for potential sites.
City leaders have not decided how many different sites they might choose to use as encampments. City staff members say each two acre plot could house about 50 people, and a four acre plot, 100.
Austin Police Department Lt. Lawrence Davis, who is overseeing the implementation of the camping ban, says having designated encampments will help make it easier to keep people safe and provide continuing resources.
“That’s going to make it exponentially more prudent and responsible when we have a location for them to go,” Davis said. “So when I tell you, ‘Hey, you have to vacate this spot,’ I want to be humane enough to tell you, ‘Here’s a safe space where you can go.“
The City of Austin says any location chosen would have electricity and water service, restrooms, hygiene stations, showers, adequate lighting and perimeter fencing where appropriate. It says the initial round of site analysis has been completed using the following criteria:
- Minimum size: 2 acres to serve 50 people, or 4 acres for 100 people
- Access to water and electricity service (and/or cost to establish, if known)
- Existing lighting
- Terrain suitability
- Flood risk
- Wildfire risk
- Proximity to a fire hydrant
- Environmental sensitivity of land (i.e. habitat or preserve)
- Expansion capacity
- Availability for two-year temporary use
- Presence of shaded areas
- Access to public transportation
- Proximity to critical retail and services
- Proximity to schools
- Potential disruption to existing public services or development plans