Downtown Group Backs Public Order Plan
Some people who live and work in downtown Austin spoke this afternoon at the city’s Public Safety Commission meeting in support of the Austin Police Department’s so-called Public Order Initiative.
Although Police Chief Art Acevedo says the zero-tolerance policy, which went into effect in September, is not an anti-homeless initiative, it cracks down on crime often associated with the homeless, including violations of the city’s “sit and lie” ordinance.
Some have speculated that APD’s crackdown is happening because of the influx of visitors expected for Formula 1. But the Downtown Austin Neighborhood Association says it’s a long-term problem.
A recent study by the association found aggressive panhandling and homelessness was the number one concern of downtown residents and businesses surveyed.
“Austin wants to be a world-class city, we’ve got plans in the works for more residents downtown, some first class hotels, increased business at the convention center,” said Mitchell McGovern, the association’s vice president. “And really, it’s not just one event, it’s really more about the future of Austin and making sure that we have a safe place that people want to come and visit.”
McGovern says the neighborhood association wants continued enforcement of the city’s ordinances and a focus on transitional housing.