LAKE JACKSON — The city attorney and homelessness subcommittee introduced a draft of an ordinance that would prohibit camping and storing personal items on public property in Lake Jackson.
The committee agreed people camping and storing personal items on sidewalks, parking lots and other areas prevent the rest of Lake Jackson from accessing the spots and using them for their intended purposes, City Attorney Sherri Russell said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Basically, the draft ordinance instructs people not to put up a structure or store personal items, she said. If they do, the city would tell them to pick it up and move along, or the city will pick up unattended stored items and destroy them in 30 days if unclaimed, Russell said.
Public property includes, but is not limited to, public rights-of-way, parks, lands, government buildings and government facilities, according to the draft ordinance.
If someone is attending to items stored on public property, the city will request the items be removed, the draft ordinance states. If the owner does not remove the items or if the owner removes the items but then stores them later, the city will remove the items and give the owner 30 days to claim the property before destroying it, the draft states.
Violating the ordinance would be a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, according to the draft.
The police chief was at the meeting and said this would be enforced, Russell said.
Council responded favorably to the draft and agreed Russell could bring back the ordinance for the first and final reading at the next council meeting, which is when the members will vote on it.
Also at Monday’s meeting, city leaders agreed they will continue taking a “hands off” approach to the city’s sign ordinance and allow businesses to attract customers with banners or other signs. The only enforcement would be if businesses place signs in the city right-of-way or others’ property, City Manager Bill Yenne said.
This was brought up because it’s gotten “crazy” with businesses placing “hey, we’re open” signs, so the city had already stopped enforcing the ordinance, Yenne said.
The city is “hurting” in sales tax revenue, so it would be smart to allow this for a couple months, Councilman Vinay Singhania said.
Council could evaluate it on a monthly basis to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand, Councilman Gerald Roznovsky said.
That is what council agreed to do, and it will be on the agenda at the next meeting, Yenne said.