Lawsuit Already Filed Over the Tent Ban That Took Effect Friday

LAWSUIT ALREADY FILED OVER THE TENT BAN THAT TOOK EFFECT FRIDAY This morning the Texas ACLU filed for an injunction on the City’s new ordinances aimed at Houston’s homeless folks and panhandlers, Meagan Flynn reports this afternoon for the Houston Press. The new rules (which among other things ban sleeping in tents or boxes, make it illegal to possess a grill or more than a 3-by-3-by-3-foot box’s worth of stuff in public, and prohibit panhandling close to people, ATMs and payphones) went into effect on Friday. An ACLU staff attorney said in a statement that the rules step away from Houston’s previously “humane approach” to reducing homelessness, adding that “they’re meant to get people into shelters with ‘tough love,’ but the truth is the shelters are full and Houston’s homeless have nowhere else to go.” Flynn points out that the Coalition for the Homeless’s homeless count last year estimated that only 164 shelter beds were vacant on a night when 1,046 people were sleeping on the streets. [Houston Press; previously on Swamplot] Photo of previously cleared homeless encampment under Louisiana St. Bridge downtown: Christine Wilson

20 Comment

  • And you all thought Soilent Green was a bad idea.

  • Of course. Fucking ACLU. These bums have tents setup under the spur right where Alabama turns into W Alabama and right across from one of my buildings. You can see drug deals happening. Fires. The whole 9 yards.
    Ironically the city doesn’t do anything about it. And worse, when I bought this property (years ago) and it had tons of crime, the city was all over the previous owner to clean it up. Threatening him with fines or worse. I bought it and cleaned it up. But now wouldn’t you know the problem is right OUTSIDE the property and they don’t do anything.
    Why can’t I threaten the city with lawsuits and fines the same way they tried to do with me?

  • @ commonsense: dude, it’s Soylent Green. Great dystopian movie.

  • is buying property next to a bum camp ground and getting upset when the city doesnt clean it up equivalent to those fools that buy homes next to bars and then complain about the noise?

  • @Cody: So your argument is we don’t need to defend civil liberties because they are inconvenient?

  • If the objective was to get the homeless to assemble outside the downtown library, then job well done.

    @Cody: Go for it. Sue the city. Hopefully you’ll win and/or the city will actually provide housing for the homeless.

  • @glutton…BINGO!!

  • I drive by the camp Cody is talking about, and his property on W Alabama, every day on my way to work.
    @glutton — The camp wasn’t there when Cody bought the property. The homeless guys were living elsewhere at the time, possibly under the Pierce Elevated or somewhere else that’s now fenced off, and they’ve been driven out of the previous encampment and ended up under the Spur. There was always a solo guy there begging, but it’s only been in the last year or so that they’ve moved in permanently.
    @Cody — I had typed up a comment but must have closed my browser tab without sending it. I was going to mention that since these guys have moved in, I’ve started paying attention and I’ve noticed that they seem to consider it their home. They’ve got a few crappy office chairs to sit in, and a mattress to sleep in. I’ve only ever seen one guy at a time in it, so I assume they take turns.
    But what I really wanted to point out is that — and I wouldn’t expect Cody to notice this since he lives out of town now — these guys go so far as to MAKE THEIR BED every day! And by that, I mean every day when I go by, if there’s no one in the bed, the covers are pulled neatly over the top of the mattress. And one day while I was waiting for the light, I saw one of the guys tugging on the corner of the quilt to straighten it out.
    So yeah, they may be lying drug addicts, and they may have stolen the bikes they’ve got — I don’t know since I haven’t talked to them — but at least they were raised by mamas who taught them the importance and how-to of making the bed, which is more than you can say for a lot of the guys living under bridges. That is, there’s still something human there.

  • Cody, with all due respect, you’ve just pointed out the vagaries and risks of real estate investing in Houston. When you bought that down on it’s luck apartment complex you took a risk investing your dollars in the hopes that it would improve and be worth more in the future. But in a city without zoning, you need to price out that risk. A couple years after you bought it, some fancy developer might have come in, bought the land next to you an put up a batch of $700k townhomes. And your apartments would have risen inn value. But instead, homeless folks set up an encampment next door. Welcome to the Houston real estate casino. It’s sad the COH doesn’t do more to move them along, but we’re operating in a very complex political environment here where , as Mick Jagger said, you can’t always get what you want.

  • I think Cody, as a longtime owner/developer, understands the risk he took by buying that property. But, it is not unreasonable for him or any other investor to want the city to hold up their end of the bargain by not allowing known detrimental factors to fester (e.g. homeless camps). I think if a homeless camp sprung up next to my home, I’d be pissed off, too. [Home or investment property, it makes no difference.]
    That being said, I think the ACLU is not on the side of angels in this case. What good will come if the ban is overturned? (There will be MORE tents and encampments for sure.) Rather than suing the City to dismantle a tent ban, maybe they should funnel the legal fees and any other amount they can raise into actually providing homeless a roof?

  • glutton: I’m not sure if that was directed at me but I’m not complaining about bums and crime. What I’m complaining about it is when the city jumps all over an owner about crime on a property, but ignores complaints about crime right outside the property (and on this case, it’s the same property)

  • ShadyHeightster: Again, I 100% get it. I buy what I buy and I assume the risks and am fine with it. I’m still happy with the property and all of that. So I’m not saying to cry for me Argentina :)
    This property just happened to be on “probation” from the city (before I bought it) and I had to see it though that process (doing improvements I would have done anyway). But now that the crime is right outside the gates, and off my property line, the city ignores it.

  • Civil rights? If criminals can lose their civil rights, so can te filthy hobos lose theirs. If you refuse to live by society’s rules, you pay the price, pretty simple concept.

  • My impression of what Cody had said was that he was frustrated with hypocrisy and unequal treatment to which he was subjected; if people do drug deals on his property then he is punished, but if people do drug deals on adjoining public property in plain view then nothing happens. This contrast is a sort of foil which demonstrates the absurdity of quite many of criminal laws and law enforcement programs.

  • Please donate to the Star of Hope. These people really put a dent in the homeless population especially women and children.

    Augustine Rodriguez

  • The ACLU has to keep their name in the media all the time to solicit more funds from the gullible. Hopefully they get their rear ends handed to them in court.

  • I bet if you called the cops every time the homeless start an illegal fire, deal drugs, tuck in their bed sheets, and if you got neighbors to call the cops when they see this happen to, they would probably do something about the problem.
    squeaky wheel and all that.
    I read commonsenses post and found myself in agreement, I believe that this means I am wrong.

  • I’m glad that rules and laws aren’t written by people in this comment section.

    “F*ck you, I got mine.” is way to prevalent in our society for my liking.

  • “Rather than suing the City to dismantle a tent ban, maybe they should funnel the legal fees and any other amount they can raise into actually providing homeless a roof?”

    Maybe you should read up on the rules governing nonprofit organizations? The ACLU literally CANNOT do this. It is not the purpose of the organization.

  • I split my time between Houston and Palm Springs. Here’s how Palm Springs handles homeless / vagrants: It is illegal to sit down or lie down on public property. Like Sidewalks, etc. First offenders tickets, repeat get jail. Move along, little criminal.
    12.12.055 Sitting or lying on public sidewalks downtown—Prohibited.

    (a) No person shall sit or lie down upon any public sidewalk, or upon a blanket, chair, stool, or any other object placed on the public sidewalk, within the area generally bounded by both sides of Vista Chino on the north, both sides of the alignment of Palm Canyon Drive, Alejo Road, Belardo Road, North Museum Drive, E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, and Belardo Road on the west, both sides of Ramon Road on the south, and both sides of Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive on the east.

    (b) The prohibition set forth in section (a) above shall not apply to:

    (1) Any person sitting or lying down on the sidewalk due to a medical emergency;

    (2) Any person who, as the result of a disability, utilizes a wheelchair or similar device to move about the public sidewalk;

    (3) Any child accompanied by an adult who is seated in and using a stroller or similar device to move about the public sidewalk;

    (4) Any person sitting or lying down upon a chair, bench or planter box wall located on the public sidewalk which is placed there by a public agency;

    (5) Any person sitting or lying down upon a chair or bench located upon the public sidewalk which was placed there by an abutting private property owner or tenant pursuant to a commercial sidewalk encroachment permit, temporary lease, or temporary street closure permit;

    (6) Any person sitting or lying down while conducting, attending or participating in an activity or event which is authorized by a lawfully issued temporary street closure permit or other permit issued by the city which permits use of the public sidewalk;

    (7) Any person sitting on a public sidewalk within a bus zone while waiting for public or private transportation.

    (c) No person shall be cited under this section unless the person engages in conduct prohibited by this section after having been notified by a law enforcement officer that he or she is in violation of the prohibition of this section. (Ord. 1877 § 3, 2015; Ord. 1847 § 2, 2014)