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Due to inaction by the local government, the citizens of Austin, Texas actually did something to address their drug-addled bum problem. An initiative was passed by a large majority to ban camping in public places. Of course, it is still up to the highly competent and efficient public officials in the city to make the law work. So as not to unduly inconvenience the demented hobo community, the city is rolling out the enforcement in phases. Here’s how it’s going so far:
In Phase 1, nothing was done.
In Phase 2, nothing was done, but notices were placed in public places advising what the further phases are going to be.
In Phase 3, several people and temporary structures were forcibly removed from near City Hall in order to make way for a government construction project. None of the camps inconveniencing actual citizens were touched. Coincidentally, the city council was taking a well-deserved vacation from their labors and did not have to interact with any of their menacing vagrant constituents.
In Phase 4, nothing was done.
And that’s how it stands now. I had to venture into the city a couple of times this week and observed that the large eye-sore encampments are still in place. Maybe by Phase 10, a couple of aggressive panhandlers will be asked politely to not pitch their tents in the middle of 6th Street.
After teaching a class downtown yesterday, I was heading home going north on Interstate 35. Traffic was comparatively light for 6:40 in the evening, moving along at about 50 MPH. Suddenly, a woman with wheeled suitcase sprinted from the east side of the roadway, causing several vehicles to slam on their brakes and swerve. Fortunately, no crashes occurred and the runner miraculously made it to the median. Now I may be going out on a limb here, but it appears that this person was a member of the deranged vagabond demographic. Maybe I’m just bigoted and the person with disheveled clothing, a haircut by Weedwacker®, gesticulating wildly and screaming at passing vehicles was just a small business owner who was having a bad day*.
By coincidence, this occurred near a part of I-35 that I’d photographed for another post. This is the view looking west to east from the frontage road:
After passing the raving jaywalker, I noticed something about the northbound side of the freeway. Just to be sure, I turned around and went south for a mile, them back north. On the southbound side of I-35 are several of the “No Pedestrians” signs you see in the photo above. On the northbound side, nada. Apparently the City of Austin thinks it’s dangerous to cross eight lanes of high speed traffic if you are going east, but not if you are traveling westbound.
So, no wonder the loopy ne’er-do-well crossed there. I’m sure she would have had second thoughts if there had been a sign.
* Though, lately, small business owners are a lot rarer than homeless loons in Austin.Published in