Mayor Proposes Ban on Camping in Small Public Green Spaces
Tuesday May 8, 2012
Councilmembers Rick Blackwell, Madonna Flood co-sponsor measure
Mayor Greg Fischer has proposed an ordinance banning camping in public green spaces under three acres because of the damage it can cause and the limit of access it creates for the public.
Councilmembers Madonna Flood and Rick Blackwell have agreed to co-sponsor the ordinance, which will have its first reading Thursday.
Fischer said the Occupy Louisville encampment exposed a loophole in the city’s regulations. Though camping is not permitted in Metro Parks by ordinance, the same rules do not apply to green spaces around Louisville which are public spaces but not considered Metro Parks.
The recent camping by Occupy Louisville at Founders Square, at 5th and Muhammad Ali Boulevard, helped to illustrate the point. Though the Occupiers voluntarily left the space after the city announced plans to close the camp, there was no law on the books that specifically prevented anyone from camping at any time. While Founders Square was occupied, it severely limited access by the general public.
The city had to spend $7,400 to clean the property and place new sod in the park, which re-opened last weekend.
The proposed ordinance would not permit camping in green spaces and open spaces under three acres. Current regulations would not change – citizens may still camp at the designated campground in Jefferson Memorial Forest and people may camp in green spaces larger than three acres, if a permit is issued by the Director of the Department of Public Works and Assets.
Fischer said even though camping will not be permitted in most of our city’s small green spaces, people may still protest and assemble to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“People will still have the right to assemble and protest in green spaces, but they will not be permitted to camp overnight,” Fischer said.