The Emporia City Commission approved an ordinance that tackles “unlawful camping” on public property Wednesday morning, but one commissioner thinks the measure will unfairly target the city’s homeless population.

Ordinance No. 22-49 sees action on the unauthorized use of public property by prohibiting camping without a permit. City attorney Christina Montgomery said the ordinance pertains to any publicly owned streets, sidewalks, alleys, parking lots, parks, and easements, as well as “any property owned or managed by the city or other governmental agency.”

Montgomery said temporary camping permits would be issued through the city manager’s office. While a fee could come later, city manager Trey Cocking no fee would be instituted in the first six months. Violations would be referred to the Emporia Police Department as a misdemeanor punishable with a fine and possibly jail time.

Montgomery said the maximum fine would be up to $500, but the city commission could decide to set a lower maximum fine.

Commissioner Susan Brinkman criticized the “sanitized language” of the ordinance, which she said targets the “unhoused population.”

“We’re not talking about people coming to camp,” Brinkman said. “We’re talking about the unhoused population in the community and criminalizing them with a misdemeanor and a fine.”

She asked why the ordinance was being rushed when it took the commission 12 months to discuss and pass an ordinance allowing chickens within residential city limits.

“We’ve had less than one week to consider the care of fellow humans who are unhoused,” she said.

Police Chief Ed Owens said this is an issue the police department has been dealing with for months. He said of the 13 known homeless individuals in Emporia, 11 of them were locals.

“Most of them have families,” he said. “We’ve found out it’s a lifestyle, at least for the people that we have in our community.”

Owens said the police department is limited on what they can do to help homeless individuals. There is no emergency shelter in Emporia, and the shelters that do all have specific criteria that must be met before aid is given.

“We don’t have a women’s shelter and that is pretty sad,” Owens added.

Brinkman said she believed the Emporia City Commission should make it a priority to open a municipal emergency shelter. She said there are a number of programs that Emporia could model such a shelter after.

“Our unhoused population continues to go up,” she said. “I don’t see any indicators on the horizon that tells me it will go back down, so it would make sense for us as a municpality to have some safe provision in place for our unhoused population.”

Brinkman said she wanted the commission to get started on such an initiative immediately.

“The next work study session that we engage in, I would love to see an emergency shelter plan on the books,” she said.

Brinkman said she felt the ordinance would criminalize the homeless. Owens said that was not the intent.

“We would not use this to criminalize people,” he said. “They are offered many, many chances and options. They are human beings, too. They have the right to make choices. Life is about choices, but sometimes we need this to make our job a little more efficient and effective.”

The ordinance won’t go into effect until after it is published in The Emporia Gazette. Once it is in effect, the ordinance will sunset in six months on May 7, 2023. Commissioners will revisit the policy in May.

(37) comments

Hananova

Looks like me and the Police Chief are on the same page. No one else even mentions the word "family." Also ignored is that the numbers of homeless surged as historically, the sccial-engineering schemes of the Left gradually destroyed the traditional family unit, the ethical foundation of Western Civilization.

Aim_High

Go ahead and fine every homless person you see, and when they can't actually pay it, put them in jail or on probation... Yes folks, Hananova and the police chief plan to combat homelessness is to make sure they remain broke and homeless, and need permission from their probation officers to leave the area. Genius.

Hananova

Aim-for-the-Gutter, you proved my point. Leftists are so predictable. A fair-minded person would ponder if he fits any of those conditions. Only a dedicated Leftist radical would instantly deny he projects any of those anti-social qualities.

Until you have been homeless, as I have been, you have nothing to say to me about being homeless, and you have NO idea what homeless people are like.

Until you have a relative who died at an early age living in his car, homeless, like my relative, you have nothing to preach to anyone about homelessness.

Until Leftists acknowledge their own complicity in the CREATION of the homeless, through Leftist failed social-engineering schemes which are now backfiring big time and resulting in the collapse of Western civilization in big Blue Democrat cities, a Leftist lecturing others about homelessness is like a lecture by a clown.

Aim_High

I'm smart enough to know that homelessness is not some political issue that can be solved by electing one party or the other. Your feelings that the left CREATED homelessness is plain dumb. Even Jesus himself was homeless for the entirety of his public ministry, long before Republicans and Democrats were around.

Homelessness also increased during Trumps time in office, and has already dropped during Biden's 2 years in office with the help of more than 30 programs in the American Rescue Plan that help address homelessness. If you remember, Donald Trump said he would “remove” homeless people from cities and place them in the “outer reaches of the cities” in “high-quality tents.” That is hardly a solution to end homelessness. Bidens solution is actually making a difference.

And I have had family and know people who are homeless. I've also donated and talked with literally hundreds of homeless people in the past 10 years, so I know very well what homeless people are like. Your feeling that you are some sort of authority on homelessness because you were once homeless is hilarious. They are not all alike at all.

Rationa1

Well, gee, there, Havana. If no one who has not experienced homelessness or been related to a death-victim of homelessness has a right to talk to you, I don't understand why you're engaging them in conversation on these boards.

sail

Homeless ,,,,if you choose to live that way and your not a danger to yourself or others ,,,,go or it,,,,,but if you are a problem for society, then accept responsibility for your actions..and im all for protecting you and society with new mental institutions............

Rationa1

You're putting your finger on the sore spot, sail. As a society, we don't want people to be homeless. Yet as a society we are unwilling to have the conversations about its root causes and find long-term solutions. Instead, we cloak the conversation in phrases like "personal responsibility" and "individual choice." We believe if we make it hard to be impoverished and homeless--like fining indigent persons $500--people will simply stop being impoverished and homeless. Shame on us for being unwilling and unable to have these conversations.

Hananova

The Leftist bigot:

1. He or she speaks only in very broad generalities. “They say...” “Everybody thinks...” “Everyone knows...” and such expressions are in continual use, particularly when imparting rumor. When asked, “Who is everybody...” it normally turns out to be one source and from this source the antisocial person has manufactured what he or she pretends is the whole opinion of the whole society.

This is natural to them since to them all society is a large hostile generality, against the antisocial in particular.

2. The Leftist deals mainly in bad news, critical or hostile remarks, invalidation and general suppression.

“Gossip” or “bearer of evil tidings” or “rumormonger” once described such persons. Now it is "confidential source" or "highly-regarded expert".

It is notable that there is no good news or complimentary remark passed on by Leftists.

3. The Leftist alters, to worsen, communication when he or she relays a message or news. Good news is stopped and only bad news, often embellished, is passed along.

Such a person also pretends to pass on “bad news” which is in actual fact invented.

4. A characteristic, and one of the sad things about the Leftist, is that it does not respond to treatment or reform.

5. Surrounding such a Leftist we find cowed or ill associates or friends who, when not driven actually insane, are yet behaving in a crippled manner in life, failing, not succeeding.

Such Leftists make trouble for others.

When treated or educated, the near associate of the Leftist has no stability of gain but promptly relapses or loses his advantages of knowledge, being under the suppressive influence of the Leftist.

Physically treated, such associates of Leftists commonly do not recover in the expected time but worsen and have poor convalescences.

It is quite useless to treat or help or train such persons so long as they remain under the influence of the Leftist.

The largest number of insane are insane because of such Leftist connections and do not recover easily for the same reason.

Unjustly we seldom see the Leftist personality actually in an institution. Only his “friends” and family are there.

6. The Leftist personality habitually selects the wrong target.

If a tire is flat from driving over nails, the Leftist curses a companion or a noncausative source of the trouble. If the radio next door is too loud, the Leftist kicks the cat.

If a Democrat is the obvious cause, the Leftist inevitably blames a Republican.

7. The Leftist cannot finish a cycle of action. The Leftist goes through a sequence wherein he or she announces a grandiose program to fix society, but it is never finished and never works, it aggravates whatever societal problem he claims he is fixing. The Leftist becomes surrounded with incomplete projects.

8. The Leftist has not the faintest sense of responsibility for runin and decay he causes with this projects to "improve" society. The actions of the Leftist have little or nothing to do with their own volition. Things “just happened.”

The Leftist has no sense of correct causation and particularly cannot feel any sense of remorse or shame therefore. Everything is blamed on non-Leftists.

9. The Leftist personality supports only destructive groups and rages against and attacks any constructive or betterment group.

10. The Leftist type of personality approves only of destructive actions and fights against constructive or helpful actions or activities.

11. Helping others is an activity which drives the Leftist nearly berserk. Activities, however, which destroy in the name of help are closely supported.

12. The Leftist has a bad sense of property and conceives that the idea that anyone owns anything is a pretense, made up to fool people. Nothing is ever really owned.

Aim_High

Mr. Hananova, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

CSD

Respectfully, I think Commissioner Brinkman missed the point. The question isn't whether the city should open a municipal shelter or search for a model in order to address the needs of the unhoused; it's whether the unhoused should be living on the streets, sidewalks, alleys and parks of our community. And the answer to that question is clearly no. Since we rely on law enforcement to police those places to ensure that they are safe and available for appropriate use by all, moreover, we must give them the tools to do so.

But this does not exclude considering the question of where the unhoused can and should be living. Kansas' unhoused population is rising and a number of communities in Kansas, including Lawrence and Hutchinson, among others, are currently wrestling with this challenge. The Commission did the right thing by passing the ordinance; now let's move forward and do the other right thing by considering what resources the community is willing and able to devote to assisting the unhoused and how that assistance may best be provided.

Hananova

The extreme Left created homelessness and destroyed the family unit through their social engineering schemes institutionalized throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Instead of taking responsibility for their failed schemes to restructure society the Left blames everyone else but themselves. Instead of helping and enabling such people learn how to extrovert, become social and improve their lives through vocational training, the Left diversify's them into a homeless shelter and the Leftist media blares "Oh, look what the Republicans, Christians, (name your group of non-Letists) did.

Fremon

So, would the homeless, living in their vehicles, be given parking tickets?

sail

ONE would assume, most of the INDIGENTS living w/o a residence are suffering from a mental stress,,,,then we as a community should consider are they better on the street,or better in a mental institution. To bad Ks chose to close most of our mental institutions .

Aim_High

~30% of homeless have mental illness. ~50% have both mental illness and substance abuse problems. 99% wish they had a roof over their head. [sad]

Aim_High

11% of homeless are veterans, 18% of homeless are children under age 18, and 24% are single women, who often have children. Using fines and jail time to push these people out of sight out of mind is just horrible.

Louis

What model for addressing the homeless should be emulated? That of San Francisco, Portland, or Seattle? And how much will the city budget for human waste removal?.

Aim_High

Nobody likes begging the public for spare change, not having food to eat, and sleeping out in the freezing cold every night. Calling homelessness a lifestyle choice is crazy!

sail

My fear for Emporia is .. if we make to easy to be homeless in our community, we will become a dumping ground for other municipalities to remove their indigent problem on US ……

sail

We as a community can decide if we want to accept tent cities or to address the problem with a workable solution .

Aim_High

Fining people with no money $500 and possibly jail for simply existing is not a workable solution.

Fremon

Thank you to Commissioner Brinkman for highlighting and humanizing this societal problem of homelessness. Most of these people need help, not criminal records. As I can tell, homelessness isn't a big problem in Emporia. Let's deal with it head on, realistically, and honestly. Many are veterans with veteran's problems.

cyberspace

Susan. Thanks for having the courage to stand up for those who Jesus would consider, "The least of his children". Your heart is of gold. Let's figure out something for these people. We Can!

cyberspace

What's a CRIME is people like you who vote for Leftists and Social Justice Warriors who CREATED homelessness.

Hananova

Hananova Nov 17, 2022 1:03am

You spend your whole day being antagonistic to other people and creating discord, by monitoring these comments sites? You try to suppress anyone who disagrees with your loony-left snowflake viewpoints Get a life!

Hananova, you apparently have no heart, no compassion. You are obviously good at name calling and trying to demean others. You are guilty of the very things you accuse others of being. Your post sows more antagonism and discord than any others. I will take a room full of snowflakes over your kind, anytime. You would have made a great guard at Auschwitz. And I bet, you are a self proclaimed Christian! Jesus would weep!

Hananova

Cyberspace, people who equate Nazis with Christians are... something. Maybe you should go outside, take a walk, and attempt to get back in touch with reality. But don't go near any of those dangerious Christians! LOL!

Hananova

Most laws unfairly target criminals! LOL!

Aim_High

Being homeless is not a crime.

Ricky

That’s obvious!!

Hananova

What's a CRIME is people like you who vote for Leftists and Social Justice Warriors who CREATED homelessness.

Aim_High

❄️❄️❄️ T R I G G E R E D ❄️❄️❄️

I'll always be a glass half full (of conservative tears) kind of guy. 🤣

Ricky

No, Aim, you’re the half bleeding liberal kind of guy.

Aim_High

Ricky what in the hell is a "half bleeding liberal kind of guy?"

You may not be the dumbest person alive, but you also better hope that person doesn’t die.

Ricky

You Aim. Thanks for the compliment.

Hananova

You spend your whole day being antagonistic to other people and creating discord, by monitoring these comments sites? You try to suppress anyone who disagrees with your loony-left snowflake viewpoints Get a life!

Ricky

👍

Fremon

Hananova, If you are so delicate as to fly into a rage at the slightest hint of criticism, then YOU might be the snowflake and probably shouldn't open with such silly comments. You just make it so easy. Nice ally, Ricky.

Ricky

👍

Rationa1

I would slightly modify your comment, Aim.... Being homeless SHOULD NOT be a crime. Yet our society insists on criminalizing it by making the things those who are homeless must do to survive illegal.

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