Questions stay as Metro Council continues discussing tenting ordinance | Information

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Blocked bus stops, tents in public parks and crickets on sidewalks are scenes across Louisville that local leaders are trying to fix.

Some Metro Council members met Monday for a specific discussion on the proposed camping regulation.

The problem has surfaced in mayoral candidate forums and previous Metro Council meetings, but a solution is elusive.

“If you can’t use a sidewalk, if you can’t use a pavilion, if you can’t use a park toilet, we need to fix this,” Councilor James Peden (R-23) said.

That’s why Councilman Nicole George and sponsors say they drafted this latest ordinance.

“The intent of what we have currently designed is not specific to the homeless community,” said George (D-21).



Homeless Camp in Louisville, Ky.

She says the goal is to widen city officials’ window to disband a camp before it’s established, limit camping in public parks, and ensure people have access to rights of way, including sidewalks.

She says this is an issue that deeply affects people in her district.

“So that means, the neighbor who can’t reach the bus stop, the neighbor who can’t let his children play in the garden. The person who can’t walk their dog,” George said.

The issues of potential fines and removal of personal camps drew the attention and opposition of Bill Hollander (D-9) and homeless advocates.

Hollander believes the ordinance leaves the city vulnerable to a lawsuit and unnecessary, especially after LMPD Lieutenant Caleb Stewart told the council they met with the district attorney about an old state law regarding obstruction of a freeway or public thoroughfare .

“And they pointed out to us that there are sidewalks,” Lt. Stewart.

Hollander says enforcing the state law will resolve many of the issues raised during these discussions. But in terms of enforcement, Lt. Stewart that there is a lot of confusion within the department.

“As written, it’s not very clear where we have legal authority and where we don’t,” said Lt. Stewart.

At the meeting, officials from at least four city agencies were invited to discuss their roles and concerns.

Councilor James Peden questioned whether it takes all of these different teams to clean up a campground, how to efficiently coordinate a cleanup while also keeping an eye on the homeless.

“And until the regulation states that or we give some agency the power to do everything, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere,” Peden said.



COUNCIL HOMELESS REGULATION

Homeless Camp in Louisville, Ky.

A few dozen protesters holding signs reading “Homes Not Fines” were also at Monday’s gathering. The question of how homeless people can pay fines came up again and again in the discussion.

Lt. Stewart said that to his knowledge they had not issued any foreclosure fines related to homeless people for at least the past year. George says they are still working on a fee structure in relation to the camping ordinance.

The ordinance will be discussed again at the next Park Committee meeting.

More about the Camping Ordinance:

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