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"The back seat of a car is nowhere for a family to live." Council discusses overnight parking, camping in town

(Jackson, Wyo.) - "We are all emotional about this topic. We have got to be thoughtful and work together," said Mayor Sara Flitner during the Town Council workshop on Monday afternoon. The topic being discussed was dedicating an area for overnight parking and camping in the Town of Jackson. Councilman Jim Stanford asked for this topic to be added to the agenda, so that the town would discuss ways that they can help people find relief for homelessness. "Last month, there was a forum at St. John's Church that some of us attended," said Councilman Stanford during the meeting. "There were people there pleading for help. One of the things they asked for was a safe and legal place for them to park overnight because they are basically living out of their cars. I asked for this to be on the agenda because I promised some people there that I would at least have a discussion." "I am disappointed. I am a mom and the back seat of a car is nowhere for a family to live. And I know that our community is facing pressure, these are imperfect times, but I am going to encourage this council to focus its efforts on permanent, long term solutions for people who are cleaning our toilets, cleaning our hotel rooms, who are teaching in our schools," said Mayor Flitner at the workshop. Flitner said that she heard from a family on Sunday night. They told her that that their 15-year-old daughter is being asked to drop out of school to work to help to pay the rent for the studio apartment that five people share. "I don't see viable safe options for this [camping] in the Town of Jackson," said Mayor Flitner. At the end of the meeting, Town Council didn't make a motion, but directed staff to collect more information on camping and overnight parking options in and around Jackson. As for law enforcement, the Jackson Police Department have recently approached people for illegal camping in the Town of Jackson. "We see an increase every year at about this time and we will continue to see similar cases throughout the summer. Most often, these are educational contacts to advise people about the law," said Lieutenant Cole Nethercott. Lieutenant Nethercott provided us with the Town Ordinance regarding this issue: *C. Camping in Unlawful Places.* - a. It is unlawful for any person to camp on public property within the Town of Jackson. Camping is taking place when, considering the totality of circumstances and activities engaged in, it reasonably appears that an individual(s) is in fact using public property as a living accommodation regardless of the intent of the individual(s). - b. It is unlawful for any person(s) to car camp on any public property within the Town of Jackson. Camping is taking place when, considering the totality of circumstances and activities engaged in, it reasonably appears that an individual(s) is in fact using a car parked on public property as a living accommodation regardless of the intent of the individual(s). - c. Individuals may, as provided in Jackson Municipal Code § 12.28, obtain a special event permit to camp on public property in connection with a special event. - d. Any individual violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished as provided in Section 1.12.010 of this Code. *Definitions.* - a. “Public property” means any publicly owned property within the Town of Jackson, and includes, but is not limited to, any park, playground, sidewalk, road, street, way, curb, vacant lot, undeveloped tract, or any part of any public right-of-way, including those devoted to any planting or park-like use. - b. “To camp” or “camping” means the use of public property for a living accommodation by establishing a temporary shelter and carrying out camping activities for the purpose of remaining overnight. This definition excludes car camping. - c. “Camping activities” include, but are not limited to, activities such as making preparations to sleep (such as setting up temporary shelters and the laying down bedding Jackson Municipal Code Title 9 – Public Peace, Morals and Welfare Page 24 of 32 materials), storing personal belongings, cooking, building fires or igniting stoves, and placing, pitching, building, or occupying temporary shelters. - d. “Car camping” means the use of public property to park a vehicle to undertake camping activities within and about said vehicle and have persons sleep in said vehicle while parked. - e. “Temporary shelters” include, but are not limited to, tents, huts, vehicles (such as passenger cars, trucks, recreational vehicles, and trailers), bivouacs, lean-tos, dug-out earthen enclosures, and canvass or tarpaulin enclosures. - f. “Storing” means to put aside or accumulate for use at a later time or when needed; to place, cache, or stockpile for safekeeping; to collect or put away for future use. - g. “Vehicles” includes all motor vehicles, such as passenger cars and trucks, SUVs, farm trucks, RVs, camper vans, and includes trailers attached to such vehicles. #buckrail #news