After nearly two years of languishing under the Democrat city council’s overwhelmingly harmful homeless decisions, beleaguered Austinites just received good news—they will get to decide on the council’s controversial homeless camping policy. 

 

The story originally began in June 2019, when the (then) all-Democrat Austin City Council passed an ordinance allowing homeless individuals to camp in nearly every public space throughout the city (except for city hall, notably).

The council’s action sparked a wildfire of public backlash and led to a swarm of new tent cities, a drastic increase in the city’s homeless population, and a more dangerous public environment. Violent crime subsequently rose by double digits, with homicides up 64 percent year over year in 2020.

The issue likely played a large part in propelling conservative candidate Mackenzie Kelly to win a seat on the city council in a runoff election late last year.

Now, with the successful petition to city hall, the camping issue comes directly to voters. This is Save Austin Now’s second petition attempt, after an effort last summer was disqualified due to dubious legal technicalities.

The next step is for the council to approve specific ballot language, which is likely to happen in mid-February. This process has been fraught with peril in the past.

Once ballot language is approved, the measure will appear alongside several proposed amendments to the city charter on the May 1 ballot. The proposed charter amendments are the result of a separate effort by left-leaning groups, and Texas Scorecard will detail them in the coming days.

Austinites should brace themselves for the dirtiest political campaign in the city’s history.