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Missoula City Council to look at rules against “urban camping” - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula City Council to look at rules against “urban camping”

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MISSOULA - Faced with a growing problem of people living in recreational vehicles in city right-of-way, the Missoula City Council is considering whether to adopt a ban against “urban camping”.

“Some of these folks are creating noise and creating other disturbances that are an issue for neighborhood stability," said Missoula Development Services Director Mike Haynes. "And of course we’re talking about parking in the right-of-way, so we’re always concerned about the safe movement of traffic.” 

While staff told the council Wednesday morning that “99 percent” of people caught illegally in RVs parked in the city right-of-way will voluntarily leave, they say the city needs a specific ordinance to deal with the real problem cases where people refuse to leave. 

The proposal would leave exceptions for limited RV parking outside a “host’s home”, or for people staying for sporting and other “special events.”

Council members support the idea of a tool for police and code compliance officers, but they want to proceed carefully so it doesn’t "criminalize" the homeless.

“There’s obvious public safety issues involved with people disposing of human waste and gray water in the right-of-way," said Missoula City Council President Marilyn Marler. "But then there’s also the homelessness issue. And it’s all connected as a big problem.” 

The city council has scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 18.

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