A proposed ordinance aimed at curbing homeless encampments in the City of Hillsdale is drawing some public criticism.
The City’s Public Safety Committee voted, Tuesday, to pass the ordinance language along to the Hillsdale City Council.
Under its rules, camping on public property, including locations near parks and trails, would become a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine..
The language includes the prohibition of sitting down or sleeping in a public place for more than an hour.
There are exceptions for public events and other permitted activities.
A draft of the ordinance language says that a person cannot be arrested for a violation without being given a written or verbal warning, along with information on services and resources that offer help to the homeless.
However, the proposal includes a provision for the confiscation of personal items without prior warning.
Supporters say the ordinance is warranted, as homeless encampments are a threat to public health .
However, there’s been a firestorm of criticism over the ordinance on social media—Many who oppose the rule say it goes too far and isn’t likely to help in dealing with the growing issue of homelessness.
In a post on his personal Facebook page, Former City Councilman Casey Sullivan called the ordinance “small thinking.”
Sullivan, who is also a member of the City’s Homelessness Task Force, said the ordinance allows authorities to confiscate property without due process.
He said it makes no sense to fine and jail those who are homeless, when the local jail is already dealing with overcrowding on a regular basis.
Council is expected to set a public hearing for next month, to gather input on the proposal.