Janesville City Council approves overnight parking ordinance

JANESVILLE (WKOW) — After months of debate, the Janesville City Council voted six to one in favor of a controversial ordinance that would allow homeless people to sleep overnight in their cars in a city park parking lot.

Monday’s decision also came with changes to the original proposal. An amendment from councilor Tom Wolfe changed the ordinance to specify that the pilot program would last from August 1 to Oct. 31 and would take place in North Traxler Park.

The ordinance has been in the works for months. A city group FOCUS proposed it to allow those living out of their cars to have a designated safe place to spend the night. Their original suggestion was Palmer Park.

Since the beginning, the idea’s drawn criticism from those living near Palmer Park and others concerned about the safety of neighborhood as well as the people who would be sleeping there.

Steve Washburn came out Monday to voice his opposition in the city’s final public hearing on the subject. He said his primary concern was any peripheral crime a gathering of homeless individuals might attract near his neighborhood.

“This proposal gives no guarantee that the homeless with no place to go will simply not just hang out at the park for 23 hours a day,” he said.

Supporters of the proposal, like Ryan Del Ciello, said the program was necessary given how crowded the county’s few shelters are and it would allow public programs an opportunity to find them and provide resources.

“Of course this ordinance does not solve the problem of homelessness but it does provide those with no other places to sleep access to restrooms and a measure of safety and increased opportunities for various agencies both nonprofit and governmental,” he said.

After the public hearing, the city council voted 5-2 to change the ordinance to specifically name the Traxler Boat Launch lot on the north side of the park as the location for where cars can left overnight.

Janesville’s police chief can end the pilot program at any time.

More at WKOW 27 News

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