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Council reviews homeless camping, panhandling bans

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

San Marcos City Councilmembers held a lengthy conversation regarding homeless camping and panhandling in the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The council’s discussion was originally meant to see what the San Marcos Police Department needed to help with enforcing bans on camping and panhandling, which drew concern from multiple San Marcos residents in public comment.  

“Enforcing bans on public camping and panhandling is unequivocally the worst way to address homelessness in our community,” said Adrianna Montoya, Texas State University student. “There is not a single valid reason or justification for arresting and fining people experiencing homelessness and frankly it’s shameful that certain councilmembers even considered bringing this to be discussed at city hall.” 

Councilmember Shane Scott, who placed the item on the agenda, clarified his intention regarding the discussion, saying that the item was written in a way that was “a little deceiving.”

“The reason why I wanted to put it on here is so we could actually maybe think a little bit outside the box now and say ‘Okay, since that doesn’t work, why don’t we focus on things that will work’ and push those elements now,” Scott said.

The council further discussed its concerns surrounding law enforcement getting involved with the homeless. 

“I don’t think we want to see anybody in jail, we don’t want to put them in a harder spot,” said council member Saul Gonzales. 

San Marcos Chief of Police Stan Standridge also provided information about safety precautions relating to roadside solicitation to the homeless. 

“Nobody has been arrested for solicitation, nobody has been arrested for camping,” Standridge said. “But we have to be really careful stewards with public safety and we can’t just concede that persons can walk in and out of the roadways to solicit, that’s my only encouragement to you all.” 

While there was no required motion to vote on, the council did agree that they were not for criminalizing the homeless. 

The topic, as well as funds that will be used to help with homelessness programs, will be discussed further during a work session on Oct. 4. 

During the meeting, the council voted in favor of the ratification of the $0.6030 cent tax rate per $100 valuation. The tax rate will raise more revenue from property taxes than in the previous fiscal year.

Councilmembers also passed the motion to approve an agreement with Enterprise Fleet Management, Inc. through the Texas Interlocal Purchasing System. 

The agreement will entail the lease and maintenance of 35 vehicles and the purchase of miscellaneous equipment and maintenance for use by several city departments over a five-year period with the estimated amount being $988,836.

In regards to the item about council members receiving event tickets to funded and non-funded events that the city allocates money towards or supports, a discussion was held to determine if it was necessary. While the council didn’t vote on the item, the majority agreed that they would like to have that option. 

To view the full agenda and meeting, visit 

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666