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Phoenix passes anti-camping ordinance

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(The Center Square) – The City of Phoenix is cracking down on camping near places where it’s common for children and families to be present.

An ordinance banning camping within 500 feet of certain areas passed the council unanimously on Wednesday as the city navigates handling a homelessness crisis.

“The idea of limiting camping within 500 feet of a school, daycare, park, or existing shelter isn’t a new one. Cities across California, from Los Angeles to San Diego, have implemented similar ordinances to protect vulnerable populations,” Councilwoman Ann O’Brien said in a statement on Wednesday.

“That’s what this ordinance is for. It’s so that no child has to walk past a line of tents on their way to school or play on a playground with tents pressed up against their school fence. It’s so our community members can feel safer going to their parks, and those receiving services have a higher chance of success by not being surrounded by encampments,” she continued.

Those not following the ordinance could face class 3 misdemeanor charges, which could include a fine and possibly up to a month behind bars, according to the Arizona Republic.

The ordinances come after the city was court-ordered to clear out the “Zone” last year, which was a large encampment in downtown Phoenix that had blocks of tents. A significant number of people experiencing homelessness can still be seen where the encampment used to be located.

However, some have said that the ordinance is a poor solution.

“This is not the policy that is best for Phoenix or its residents,” Sen. Anna Hernandez, a Democrat running for Phoenix City Council, tweeted. “Further criminalizing homelessness does not make our city or communities safer.”

The Maricopa Association of Governments found that Phoenix has 2,701 homeless individuals according to its latest point-in-time count, The Center Square reported.

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