HELENA — Some business owners say overnight camping has become an issue along Billings Avenue on Helena's east side and a letter sent to city leaders is asking them to take action.
Business owners in the Eastside Plaza are concerned with overnight camping along billings avenue, a new proposal will be discussed with City of Helena administration on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Jeff Battershell of Battershell Properties wrote a letter to commissioners in September expressing concerns over campers parked between the 2700 and 2900 blocks of Billings Avenue.
The letter says that for the past eight months some campers had been parked on the street, sometimes for weeks at a time blocking access to delivery vehicles. As well as the people living in them have hooked up the campers to the building's utilities, left trash in the area, disturbed customers visiting the businesses and even discharged raw sewage.
The letter says multiple calls have been made to the police.
In the letter, Battershell also asks for increased enforcement along Billings Avenue of ordinances that prohibit camping on city streets, wrong-way parking, and designating the north side of the street as a "no parking" area and limit parking on the south side to 8-to-10 hours.
In a memo to city commissioners on the issue dated Nov. 17, the city noted the significant increase in homelessness city-wide and says Billings Avenue has been one of the numerous locations around Helena that have been a draw for those suffering from homelessness.
Leaders noted that 3% to 4% of all police calls occur within a tenth of a mile where Billings Avenue intersects with Gibbon Street, and 1,040 calls have been received so far in 2021. With 57 of those related to homelessness on billings avenue.
A breakdown shows 36 of those calls were related to parking or camping, six vehicles have been towed as abandoned with three citations issued for camping.