For years a large homeless camp at Coronado Park has caused problems. Tuesday, a man was murdered there. Nearby businesses and neighborhoods have complained for years about the violence and drugs there. Mayor Tim Keller says the homeless living at the park has been a problem for many years, even though it’s illegal to camp in parks.
While camping in parks is illegal, the city is not writing citations like they do from time to time in other parks around town. “The federal courts will not allow us to just walk in and arrest someone because they’re homeless. That is illegal. What we are trying to do, is we could close the park. But, that would push everyone into the neighborhoods,” Keller said.
The mayor says it is difficult to enforce. He says Coronado Park is a pick-up site for the westside shelter, so every person living there has been offered services before. He says the city crews clean up the park every two weeks, even though the homeless immediately return.
Mayor Keller says the city needs council to vote on zoning changes next week to open the long awaited gateway center on Gibson, which can give the city more legal options to remove the homeless from parks. “There is much more flexibility with respect to federal law if you have enough beds available on a 24/7 basis for individuals. There’s a lore more things you can do with folks and a lot more different ways you can engage with them,” Keller said.
Keller says its going to take several measures, including sanctioned homeless camps throughout the city, but those camps and the gateway center will be limited by strict rules. Critics to these options say the homeless will not utilize these resources because of their no-drug policy.