Metro Council approves ban on public camping, criminalizing homelessness
BATON ROUGE - After more than an hour of discussion regarding an ordinance banning public camping, the Metro Council voted to approve the agenda item Wednesday.
According to the original ordinance, anyone camping in a public area for more than 12 hours can be arrested, given a $200 fine, jailed for 15 days or both.
During the meeting Wednesday, the Metro Council amended the ordinance to say no people will be arrested for public camping, but people may still be subjected to a fine and community service.
The ordinance was introduced to the Metro Council on June 8 and was met with opposition from residents who said homeless people already have financial hardships and should not be hit with the harsh penalties.
Other groups at the meeting Wednesday argued homeless people are contributing to litter in the communities and the ban would beautify the city.
The vote Wednesday night was 7-5.
The ordinance goes into effect Sept. 23.