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Austin City Council 'danced around' sanctioned encampment discussion, says Mayor Steve Adler

Austin City Council spent most of a special-called meeting discussing homeless funding. Mayor Adler says a sanctioned campsite plan needs to be discussed and soon.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin City Council held a special-called meeting on Monday. Most of the four hours were spent discussing homeless funding – specifically, what the City plans to do with American Rescue Plan funds. 

However, the city council also briefly talked about the plan for a sanctioned campsite. This came as Austin is less than a week away for Phase 2 implementation of Proposition B, the homeless camping ban. In Phase 2, Austin police officers can start giving written warnings to people who violate the ordinance. 

On Monday, Councilmember Leslie Pool said there were around 3,000 people experiencing homelessness in the City. She said if they were to try and find land big enough for all of them, it would have to be 120 acres. 

Previously, staff laid out criteria for a sanctioned campsite, which included needing 4 acres of land for every 100 people. By that criteria, if the City wanted a piece of land big enough for the estimated 3,000 Pool mentioned, it would need to find a 120-acre plot that would also need to meet the other criteria laid out.

Last week, the homeless strategy officer and staff said the criteria for land should be loosened because they were having a hard time finding pieces of land that would work. 

In Monday's meeting, Mayor Steve Adler noted Council has "danced around" the topic of a sanctioned campsite. 

He said he hopes the plan is not to find a site big enough for 3,000 people. Adler said this would be too expensive, too difficult and take too long. He added it would not build a system that brings the City to equilibrium. 

Both Mayor Adler and Councilmember Kathie Tovo said the conversation about the potential for a sanctioned campsite needs to happen soon. Tovo also brought this up at last week's meeting. 

Adler said Council is expected to discuss a plan for sanctioned campsites on Tuesday during Council's work session. 


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