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Phoenix City Council approves camping ban near parks, schools

The ordinance prohibits sleeping or camping within 500 feet of schools and parks in Phoenix.

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday banning encampments near schools and public parks. 

In a 8-0 vote, the council approved a policy that declares it unlawful to camp within 500 feet of any local school, day care facility, transitional living shelter or park. A violation of the ordinance could result in getting charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor and a fine of $100.

“Camping” is defined in the ordinance as using property for sleeping, storage, making fires, cooking activities or setting up tents.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said it is not safe for individuals to be living in these areas and the city will continue to help unsheltered individuals with social services. Other members of the council emphasized that the ordinance was not intended to criminalize homeless population.

The ordinance takes effect in September 2024.

Wednesday’s action is the latest development in the city’s ongoing struggle as it tries to decipher how to assist individuals living on the city’s streets.

Phoenix was sued by the ACLU in 2022 for clearing out encampments in the downtown area. In that legal case, a judge declared the city can’t enforce camping or sleeping bans on those experiencing homelessness if Phoenix doesn’t have enough shelter space.

Councilwoman Betty Guardado, who was opposed to the policy when reviewed during a previous subcommittee meeting, was not present during Wednesday’s vote.

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