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Prop B Would Reinstate Austin's Old Laws Related To Homelessness. Here's What That Means.

Julia Reihs

Lee esta historia en español.

Austin voters will decide on eight propositions this spring. Probably the most controversial one is Proposition B, which has to do with sitting or lying down on public sidewalks and camping in public.

What would Prop B do?

If passed, the proposition would reinstate the city's old rules governing behavior related to homelessness. Prop B would ban camping in public anywhere that's not permitted by the Parks and Recreation Department. It would also ban sitting or lying down on public sidewalks in certain areas of the city. That would include downtown, a stretch of area just east of I-35 and West Campus. The proposition would also ban panhandling in the city from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Here's where sitting or lying down on public sidewalks would be banned:

How'd it end up on the ballot?

It's a direct response to the Austin City Council's 2019 decision to stop ticketing folks for sleeping and resting outdoors, a decision that's led to more prominent campsites throughout the city. Save Austin Now, a PAC co-founded by Travis County GOP Chair Matt Mackowiak, led a petition drive to reinstate the old rules, arguing the 2019 rules led to health and safety hazards and made Austin less safe.

What's on the ballot?

Here's the language you'll find on the ballot:

Shall an ordinance be adopted that would create a criminal offense and a penalty for sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in and near the Downtown area and the area around the University of Texas campus; create a criminal offense and penalty for solicitation, defined as requesting money or another thing of value, at specific hours and locations or for solicitation in a public area that is deemed aggressive in manner; create a criminal offense and penalty for camping in any public area not designated by the Parks and Recreation Department?

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.
Jennifer Stayton is the local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" on KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @jenstayton.
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