Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- The Rochester City Council once again has approved enacting an ordinance that would prohibit camping in public spaces

Read More: Rochester City Council Approves Camping Ban on Split Vote

Last month council members approved the first reading of the ordinance on a 4-3 vote. 

Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin brought the camping ban before the council last Summer and presented it as a tool for officers and others to help Rochester residents experiencing homelessness. 

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Council members on Monday night gave the new rule its final approval. Once again the ordinance passed on a split vote and this time survived a motion to scrap the plan to ban camping. 

Motion to Axe Rochester Camping Ban Fails

Monday’s deliberation started with Sixth Ward Council member Molly Dennis introducing a motion to deny enacting the camping ban saying it would do more harm than good. 

Dennis. City of Rochester website photo
Dennis. City of Rochester website photo
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Ward One Council Member Patrick Keane acknowledged the camping ban is not the solution to the city’s homelessness issue but said he’s backing the ordinance because he trusts the leadership of the Rochester Police Department and its officers. 

Photo provided by Patrick Keane
Photo provided by Patrick Keane
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The motion to scrap the camping ban failed on a 4-3 vote. Below is how the vote broke down: 

Vote to reject scraping camping ban: 

  • Shaun C. Palmer, City Council Member, 5th Ward 
  • Patrick Keane, City Council Member, 1st Ward
  • Mark Bransford, City Council Member, 2nd Ward
  • Norman Wahl, City Council Member, 3rd Ward

Vote to approve scaping camping ban 

  • Brooke Carlson, City Council President
  • Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, City Council Member, 4th Ward
  • Molly Dennis, City Council Member, 6th Ward

Rochester City Council Approves Camping Ban for Second Time

Council members then took a vote on giving the camping ban its final approval. The motion to enact the ordinance passed on a 4-3 split vote. 

Listed below is the breakdown of the vote to approve enacting an ordinance to prohibit camping on city property: 

Votes to approve camping ban:

  • Shaun C. Palmer, City Council Member, 5th Ward 
  • Patrick Keane, City Council Member, 1st Ward
  • Mark Bransford, City Council Member, 2nd Ward
  • Norman Wahl, City Council Member, 3rd Ward

Votes to deny camping ban: 

  • Brooke Carlson, City Council President
  • Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, City Council Member, 4th Ward
  • Molly Dennis, City Council Member, 6th Ward

The ordinance prohibits camping in city parks and other municipal-owned lands at all hours of the day, which is an upgrade from a previous camping ban that was in effect during nighttime hours. 

Homeless tent
Getty Images/iStockphoto
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In advocating for the proposal, Franklin described the camping ban as another tool for officers and others involved in addressing the city's homelessness problems. He previously said the camping ban would help law enforcement officers to "encourage people experiencing homelessness toward greater utilization of shelter and other social services.” 

Homeless Struggle To Maintain New Encampment In Sacramento
Getty Images
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Prior to the city council’s February vote, Rochester City Attorney Michael Spindler-Krage said any ordinance with enforceable action is required to have a penalty attached to it.

“The reality is that even if a citation is issued, and again we’re hoping that it’s a rare occurrence, it is highly unlikely the court system would impose any jail time or any fine at all,” Spindler-Krage told council members.  

Violation of the ordinance would be considered a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in Jail. Critics of the proposal say the penalty associated with violating the ordinance criminalizes homelessness.

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Gallery Credit: Lauren Wells