“This is a very important and controversial topic,” said Council Member Michael Tobias. “As you know what is going on in other big cities… in Austin and other states, in California. This is not a punishment that we are trying to bring upon anybody, but basically a protection for our residents, the businesses and for our environment.”
By Sahar Chmais
Kyle City Council has followed in the footsteps of some surrounding cities – prohibiting camping and begging on public property.
The ordinance passed unanimously on first reading, which would add code to Chapter 23 on Miscellaneous Offenses under Unlawful Activities in Public Areas.
The added code states that residents cannot camp within city limits unless it is in a camping ground or unless it is consented to on private property. It also states that no one can beg or solicit money in public spaces, which include streets, highways, parks, parking lots, garages, alleyways, sidewalks, transportation areas, schools, office buildings, apartment buildings, businesses and more. These violations are considered Class C Misdemeanors and punishable with up to a $500 fine.
Kyle is heavily investing in parks and trails projects; having this type of ordinance will help keep these open spaces more safe and the environment cleaner from littering, Tobias added.
The code change is similar to what San Marcos has done and the city has used a lot of similar language as used by that city, said Council Member Yvonne Flores-Cale.
While Kyle does not have an issue with beggars, the city is taking a proactive measure if an issue develops, said Mayor Travis Mitchell.
“In the event that the scenario might develop,” Mitchell said, “we will have the proactive law in the books so we’re not being retroactive. Because it’s always harder to be retroactive, especially on something like this, where they think they are allowed to, and we have to pass a law and move them.”
Kyle is not completely free of people soliciting money and items. Tobias said he has been approached at some businesses with people asking for money and cigarettes.
This also will not completely stop solicitation at people’s homes, as some organizations and entities are protected by the freedom of speech, such as religious-type activities, said the city attorney.
Solicitation from door-to-door will not be affected by the new code.