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Gov. Abbott Threatens State Intervention (Again) Unless Austin Reinstates Its Camping Ban.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on his threat to intervene over Austin's homelessness ordinances. 

Abbott sent a letter to Mayor Steve Adler on Thursday threatening to send in "state agencies and resources," unless the city reinstates rules that banned camping, sitting or lying down in public by the end of the month.

The governor's insistence comes a week after Austin Police Chief Brian Manley suggested that the city reinstate the old rules. Abbott also reiterated that Austin's policies, which City Council scaled back in June, have led to "unsanitary and inhumane conditions."

"Reinstating the camping ban is not a total solution, but it is an essential part of demonstrating consequential improvement in the Austin homelessness crisis and the danger it poses to public health and safety," the governor said in his letter.

Last week, the governor sent a similar letter to Adler, suggesting he'd "unleash" state agencies if Austin didn't change its policies by Nov. 1. That action could include deploying Department of Public Safety troopers to enforce laws against blocking state rights-of-way. Adler and other Austin City Council members have viewed that as a threat in some instances, but have welcomed state assistance to help meet the challenge of homelessness.

Last Friday, Manley responded to the political back-and-forth surrounding the city's decision and said he had asked Adler to revert to the old rules while the city finalized its path forward.

"Although I know it doesn't necessarily meet the political will of our mayor and Council right now, as the police chief – charged with maintaining public safety – I have suggested that we put the old ordinances back in place while we work though a final solution," he said.

RELATED | Here's How APD Plans To Enforce Laws On Sitting, Lying Down And Camping In Public

Manley also rolled out new training bulletins for officers that clarified enforcement. Those guidelines allow officers to clear belongings or remove people from sidewalks after a warning. 

This post has been updated. 


Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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