Sunday, December 3, 2023


City of Austin, Texas, reinstates camping ban

By Mike Gast
Austin voters decided Saturday, May 1, to reinstate a city ordinance that bans overnight camping near downtown, around the University of Texas, as well as camping in any public area not designated for camping by the Austin Parks & Recreation Department. The measure passed with 57% of voters in support.

A total of 85,830 voted in favor of the ban, while 64,409 voted against the measure. While the ordinance primarily targets the homeless population in Austin, it still isn’t clear the effect the rule may have on RVers who park overnight in those areas of the city. The Texas Legislature is also considering bills that would ban overnight camping in public spaces throughout the state of Texas. The new Austin-specific ordinance won’t take effect until May 11.

No Austin city officials or enforcement officers have said the ordinance approved by voters Saturday will be used to get traveling RVers off the streets or ban overnight RV parking in store lots or other locations. However, the language in the ordinance is ambiguous enough that it could be interpreted to include RVers attempting to park overnight in the “wrong” spots.


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.



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Jim (@guest_125735)
2 years ago

The Austin camping ban bans “camping in any public area not designated for camping” like under overpasses along I-35 and such. It’s a public safety and sanitation issue, among many others.

Mike Albert (@guest_125706)
2 years ago

Not living in Texas, the problem with homelessness is not going to go away with restrictions placed by legislation. Most homelessness is due to the result of loss or low income. Then add in addiction and mental health issues.
It’s a never ending process and is just not starting.
I don’t have the solution but am smart enough to see that a legislative bill/act to outlaw “camping” within town limits is not the solution. What’s going to happen to the “campers”, arrest them and put them in jail until they bail out! Then what???

Jim (@guest_125736)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Albert

Austin doesn’t care about solving the homeless crisis. Texas does!

RLS (@guest_125689)
2 years ago

I live outside of Austin and go there frequently. Even downtown looks like a rundown campground and there are people camped everywhere. All of the overpasses around downtown and its outskirts look like campgrounds. The city even started installing trash containers at those sites. There was an increase in crime, drugs, etc., and the neighborhoods bordering those campgrounds were not happy with what the city was doing. I don’t have the answers, it’s not my job, but the politicians always seem to take the easy way out..

Jim (@guest_125737)
2 years ago
Reply to  RLS

Amen!! The Austin City Council and mayor are useless.

Bob H. (@guest_125683)
2 years ago

So legislate a ban and homeless magically disappear. With possible consequences on a very large segment of winter residents. Typical west coast thinking. Many are moving to Texas because they don’t like the way things are going on the west coast. Might I suggest instead of ruining Texas by making it like the place you come from just go home.

Donald N Wright (@guest_125636)
2 years ago

Texas is rapidly going the way of the West Coast of America. The cost of housing has priced people out of their homes, the opportunities promised were false, many prefer tents over the structured homeless shelters. Our state government fears building “Hooverville communities”. RV’ers can start the engine and leave.

Gary (@guest_125686)
2 years ago

No, Austin is going the way of the west coast. Used to be most of us folks in Texas wanted to move to Austin, now, hardly any of us want to move there.
There is still plenty of affordable housing in Texas…and plenty of job openings.

Jim (@guest_125738)
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary


Gman (@guest_125614)
2 years ago

Your last paragraph is confusing. You first state RV’ers not targeted then turn around and say RV’ers could be targeted in “wrong” spots. Either you were lied to by city officials or your interpreting more of what a “gray area”(ambiguous) is.

Russell Gould (@guest_125602)
2 years ago

As a former local politician it amazes me what some local politicians think is progress. Instead of working on how how to resolve the issue they want to legislate their way out of a perceived problem without thinking about all the possible ramifications.

Dick Zelmer (@guest_125634)
2 years ago
Reply to  Russell Gould

With all due respect , NOTHING thought of by a pol surprises me anymore as most I find to be self serving .

Mike (@guest_125690)
2 years ago
Reply to  Russell Gould

The city council did not put this ordinance on the ballot. Citizens via petition placed it there.

Jim (@guest_125740)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Mike, you’re right. The city council isn’t bothered one bit about the homeless problem. Neither is the mayor.

George S. (@guest_125583)
2 years ago

I live just outside of Austin and it is terrible what the city council is doing to that beautiful city. I am surprised the ban passed with only 57% of the voter’s supporting it.

KEN DIEBOLD (@guest_125696)
2 years ago
Reply to  George S.

I live in Austin and agree.

Dennis Martin (@guest_125728)
2 years ago

the city needs to buy some acreage outside of town and then move all of the homeless there with their tents. Then a proper bath house and laundromat could be built

Mike Albert (@guest_125744)
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Martin


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