Texas statewide camping ban legislation approved, heads to Gov. Abbott’s desk

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bill banning public camping statewide in Texas will be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk to be signed into law after clearing the legislature.

The Texas House on Friday approved changes made by the Texas Senate to House Bill 1925 – legislation filed in response to homeless encampments in Austin.

The approved legislation requires local governments to seek state approval to establish designated campsites on government-owned properties and bans encampments in public parks. The Senate amended the legislation to remove references of arrests.

On May 18, City of Austin staff outlined 45 potential locations where sanctioned campsites could be established on city-owned property in response to the implementation of Proposition B, which forced the reinstatement of a city ban on public camping. City parks made up 15 of the proposed locations.

“I worked closely with Senator Buckingham on HB 1925 because parks are made to enjoy green spaces, not for homeless encampments,” Council Member Mackenzie Kelly said in a statement. “The City of Austin is working to identify the best locations for our homeless population; public parkland is out of the question.”

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.

Local governments must submit a request to the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs in order to establish a designated campsite. The site must meet the following criteria:

  • Availability of health care
  • Availability of indigent services
  • Availability of public transportation
  • Local law enforcement resources
  • Mental health coordination

If the legislation is signed into law by the governor, TDHC would have 30 days to respond to a local government’s application to establish a sanctioned campsite.

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, a Keller Republican and author of the legislation, said the law will serve as a minimum threshold for local governments, which can approve stricter standards.

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