Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Today the City Clerk’s office certified that petitions collected and submitted by Save Austin Now, a nonpartisan educational nonprofit made up of organizations and concerned citizens, met the required 20,000 valid signatures to be placed on the May 1, 2021 ballot. The clerk’s office certified that more than 26,000 signed petitions were valid.
On January 19, Save Austin Now submitted more than 27,000 petitions to the City Clerk to put reinstatement of the public camping ban on the May 2021 ballot.
The next step is for the City Council to approve ballot language, which must happen by Feb. 12.
The ordinance reinstates the ban on homeless camping citywide, restores the sit/lie ordinance to downtown and extends it to the UT campus and surrounding area, and bans panhandling at night citywide from 7pm-7am.
“Today’s news is a welcome development for Austinites who only want to live in a safe and clean city,” said Save Austin Now co-founder Matt Mackowiak.
“Our army of volunteers and supporters worked incredibly hard to collect more than 26,000 validated signed petitions in just 50 days during the holidays. Now Austinites can choose to fix this mess created by Greg Casar and Steve Adler. The Mayor and the City Council will never fix it. In fact, they are unconscionably making it worse. We must save our city on May 1st.”
“More than 18 months ago the Austin city council decided to ignore reason and the will of citizens when they voted to allow camping with virtually no boundaries,” said Save Austin Now co-founder Cleo Petricek. “Now the citizens will be heard. They will say what the council already knows – that this experiment in chaos has made a difficult problem worse.
"The council should immediately rescind the camping ban and begin cleaning up the mess. I am a lifelong Democrat. This issue is personal for me. I have sheltered homeless individuals in my home. I feel so passionately about this because I see this as a standard of living issue for every neighborhood in Austin. Residents should be able to walk to a park, or to school, or to their car without being accosted or feeling unsafe. We all want a safe city and we all should demand a safe neighborhood. Restoring the camping ban with save our city.”
"Parents of UT students want to know that their kids are safe on and off campus, and that’s why we started SafeHorns,” said SafeHorns president Joell McNew.
Today’s certification is a victory for making the UT campus and surrounding area safer for UT students. Our coalition of concerned parents, students, alumni and stakeholders has focused on improving safety on and around UT Austin for the last five years. We strongly support this effort. We only wish the City of Austin had agreed to the request of the UT Police Chief in 2019 to exempt the UT campus from the repeal of the no-camping ordinance, but they refused. We believe that the combination of banning homeless camping citywide, extending the sit/lie ordinance to the UT campus and surrounding areas and banning panhandling at night will dramatically improve the ability for police to be a front line in getting homeless the services and help they need, while protecting both students and the homeless from those who wish to prey on their vulnerabilities.”
“The Austin Police Association is honored to support the Save Austin Now efforts to reinstate the camping ban,” said Austin Police Association president Ken Casaday.
“The taxpaying citizens of Austin were never truly allowed to participate in the process of making changes to the city ordinance. Additionally, the Chief of Police was ignored on this important public safety issue. We believe it’s time for the community to have a say in an ordinance that drastically affects Austinites and our tourism industry.”
Save Austin Now will now create a PAC to conduct its activities for the election phase. Donations to Save Austin Now PAC will be disclosed, as will expenditures.