Amid a Self-Created Crisis, Austin City Council Goes on 6-Week Vacation - Texas Scorecard

AUSTIN — After city government officials sparked a wildfire of lawlessness and record crime on the streets, they’re now boldly cleaning up their mess—by skipping work for a month and a half.

As of Friday, amid a homelessness disaster across the city, the Democrat-run Austin City Council has officially begun a six-week summer vacation—a move inciting among many in the community.

“I don’t see how the city council can look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘We’re doing right for our citizens,’” said Cleo Patricek, co-founder of citizen group Save Austin Now, in a press release.

The issue traces back to 2019, when the city council repealed the city’s longstanding public camping rules, allowing unrestrained homeless squatting in nearly all public spaces (except city hall, notably). The decision sparked a swarm of new tent cities along sidewalks and neighborhoods, a drastic increase in the city’s homeless population, a more dangerous public environment (including record surges of violent crime), and a wildfire of public backlash.

The city also spent morethan $160 million on its homelessness plan in the past three years, with few tangible results and many questions about where the taxpayer money actually went.

Even Democrat Mayor Steve Adler admitted what he and the council had done wasn’t working, but he refused to change their controversial decisions.

The issue culminated a month ago, when Austinites of all political parties, after a long grassroots petition campaign, voted overwhelmingly to restore the city’s original public camping rules.

But now, the council has delayed enforcing the rules until late July and skipped town without any plan for the homeless.

“Mayor Adler and the City Council have failed to do the job for nearly two years, and now they want to take an unconscionable six-week vacation while our city remains in crisis,” wrote Save Austin Now co-founders Petricek and Matt Mackowiak.

The council also took a vacation in 2019 immediately after voting to unleash open camping on the streets.

“We demand that the Mayor and Council cancel their vacation, get back to work, fully enforce the camping ban, identify workable and safe places for our homeless community to go and unify behind successful models like Haven for Hope, Community First Village and Camp Esperanza, rather than tripling down over overpaying for motels that still aren’t housing our homeless neighbors,” continued Petricek and Mackowiak.

As an aside, the council also recently hatched a plan to spend a whopping $515 million over the next three years on just 3,000 homeless housing units—a cost of $176,000 per person.

“I normally don’t care about Council summer break but not this year,” citizen Adam Loewy tweeted. “We have: Refusal to enforce [the citizen-enacted camping rules]; No progress on sanctioned camps; Econ issues from covid; Crime surge. Take a 2 week break and get back to work. 6 weeks is ridiculous.”

“How many of Austin’s Taxpayers get to take 6 weeks off? Much less in one chunk?” another individual posted. “They created self-inflicted messes, should be no time off until the messes are dealt with.”

Concerned citizens may contact their Austin City Council members—even though they may be at the beach.