Anchorage Assembly moves to fast-track homeless camp clean-up
On Tuesday, the Anchorage Assembly voted unanimously to accelerate homeless camp clean-up within the municipality.
The new ordinance allows the city to give less notice to people living in homeless camps, before clearing them out. Instead of a mandatory 15 days notice to campers, the city now only has to give 10 days notice.
"It allows us to prioritize those camps that are most disturbing or most publicly available, or closest to schools, we can now get to them in 10 days instead of 15," said Assembly member Eric Croft, who sponsored the measure. "It helps us regain control of our green spaces, it’s still an appropriate balance for our homeless citizens."
A similar move landed the city a lawsuit in 2010. The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska sued the Municipality of Anchorage after Assembly members reduced the amount of notice down to 12 hours.
"I think the chances of it being litigated have been reduced," Croft said of Tuesday's ordinance.
The measure passed the Assembly unanimously, but it wasn't without contention from some members of the public.
"Until they’ve got someplace to go, all you’re going to do is you’re going to flush them from this park to this park, to this park. It’s not going to do you any good. You might as well be chasing your tail," said one Anchorage man.
"Those of us who live adjacent to these green belts, to open space, to trees, to things that make living in Anchorage worthwhile, we’re being penalized. I do at least support this proposed change as a first step," said another woman, who identified herself as a resident of the Russian Jack area.
Assembly members didn't hesitate to give the green light on the proposal.
"I encourage a 'yes' vote and for my colleagues to really keep their eyes on the system as a whole -- finding people, housing people, and stabilizing people," said Assembly member Felix Rivera.
Enforcing the new rule won't be as simple as approving it. Croft and other Assembly members hope the extra money for clean-up and treatment programs, added to the muni's budget, can help.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska says it's still evaluating the ordinance approved on Tuesday and will decide within the next week whether to pursue legal action.
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