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La Crosse city council redefines “no camping” ordinance on city property



A ban on camping in La Crosse city parks was re-affirmed by the city council Thursday.

By an 11-2 vote, council members passed an amended ordinance aimed at preventing people from setting up overnight camp on city-owned land — primarily parks. Council Members Chris Woodard and Tamara Dickinson voted against the amendment.

Council president Chris Kahlow described the latest amendment made to local camping restrictions, saying it adds the words, “It shall be unlawful for any person to camp on, and it is adding these words, city park property and public parking ramp property.”

Business operators are among residents who say that people camping in ramps or parks have caused problems or have made threats to others in the downtown area.

Business operators were among residents who said people camping in ramps or parks have caused problems, or have made threats to others in the downtown area.

Police said the amendment helps them legally approach violators of the ordinance. A sign saying “no camping” is no longer necessary. Police can now give a verbal warning, giving that person an hour to leave.

City council member Doug Happel urged the council to “get off your you-know-what” and do something about the gathering of homeless people inside parks such as Cameron and Houska.

Woodard urged fellow members to make a decision that would benefit the downtown area.

“There’s businesses, there’s lots of other things that are being impacted right now by our decisions,” Woodard said, “and if we make the wrong decision, that’s the lifeblood of La Crosse that’s gonna leave.”

La Crosse Parks, Recreation and Forestry director, Jay Odegaard, said the parks are supposed to close nightly at 11 p.m., and the city doesn’t have the staff to enforce the rules to prevent people from camping out.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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  1. Mike Sladky

    July 14, 2023 at 8:31 am

    Now La Crosse: Enforce the dam law! I can tell you that the Minneapolis’ homeless encampments are getting really bad; especially around the Lake Street metro station.

  2. Kent Porter

    July 14, 2023 at 10:08 am


  3. Lucenut

    July 14, 2023 at 11:52 am

    I was forced at gunpoint to invest in these “public” facilities. Do your F-ing job and make sure they aren’t abused.

    • walden

      July 14, 2023 at 9:57 pm

      Are you serious? La Crosse City and County are roughly $15 million into these vagrants over the last five years. And now the Mayor proposes to develop a strategy that won’t be ready until 2024.

      Nope, no taxpayers being abused here, nope, nope.

      • Matthew

        August 3, 2023 at 3:22 pm

        Well you have no idea lacrosse was into us for any thing asshole those funds the mayor had been using for his new house and for other things came from the government for homeless people not for other reasons but him and his constuants used them else where so that’s where your 15 million came in to play stupid ass mofo

  4. walden

    July 14, 2023 at 9:53 pm

    New Ordinance same as the Old Ordinance…unenforced.

  5. Tired of it.

    July 17, 2023 at 8:14 pm

    Sounds like Doug Happel should be running for mayor.

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