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.