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.