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Bozeman City Commission adopts an ordinance limiting the use of urban camping



Bozeman, Montana – During their Tuesday night meeting, the Bozeman City Commission decided to approve Ordinance 2147, which establishes limitations on the place, time, and manner of urban camping.

The purpose of the law is to support the city’s efforts to preserve public rights of ways that urban campers use in order to preserve public health and safety.

Urban campers would have had to relocate their cars, trailers, or other equipment every five days according to the original ordinance. Additionally, parking is not permitted across from or next to parks, schools, homes, daycare centers, or within 100 feet of a business entry. The maximum daily fine for those in breach would have been $100.

Before it was passed, the commission changed the ordinance, lowering the fine to $25 per day and extending the deadline from five to thirty days. Additionally, three warnings must pass before penalties are imposed.

Commissioner Chris Coburn stated that he thought the law had been effectively changed from being more of a penalty to being more of a guide for addressing everyone’s needs.

Many people in the public commented on the meeting. Some opposed the rule, claiming it would worsen the already difficult living conditions for individuals who are homeless. Others claimed that the commission had not gone far enough in appeasing locals who are becoming increasingly irritated with the developing problem.

“You guys can vote this ordinance through, or you can not. But your lack of activity and your lack of enforcement is the problem that you guys have. Not talking to business owners that pump a lot of money in that pays for these supplementary ideas that you have are important and you need to speak to them,” said Jason Thompson.

“Instead, I implore you to think of other solutions which have had success in other communities in the past, like housing-first models or again, having a place where campers definitely can go with other resources and services that can help with cleanliness and safety,” said another speaker.

The result was 4-0 in favor of the ordinance. Second readings of city laws usually take place two weeks following the initial reading. Ordinance 2147 is scheduled for a second reading and, should it pass, will become the new regulations, going into force at the start of November.





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