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New resolution could limit number of Minneapolis park encampments

The park board will vote on the plan this week.

Nearly a month after it passed a controversial resolution allowing homeless encampments in its parks, Minneapolis is now considering scaling it back.

This week, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will vote on an amendment that would limit the number of parks at which homeless people are allowed to stay overnight. 

The amendment would also establish some additional guidelines for remaining encampments, which would support "the health and safety of individuals" living in them while ensuring park visitors can still access "recreation features," an MPRB news release says. 

Said guidelines would do all of the following, according to the board: 

  • Limit the number of encampment-hosting parks to 20 (currently, there are encampments at 38 city parks)
  • Allow no more than 25 tents per encampment 
  • Establish temporary permits for volunteers, non-profits and other groups who agree "to be responsible for the day-to-day oversight and regulation" of the sites
  • Provide restrooms or portable toilets, hand washing stations (as vendor supplies allow), and trash/recycling containers to a permitted encampment within 48 hours of issuing a permit.

The proposal is a less restrictive version of an earlier resolution that would have limited the number of parks with encampments to no more than 10 — and allowed no more than 10 tents per camp.

This earlier proposal, which was voted down at the beginning of the month, also would have required that the camps be gone by Sept. 1. 

MPRB's new resolution does away with the hard deadline, instead requiring park staff to give an update to the board by Sept. 15 on their "progress toward moving encampment occupants into shelter and housing suitable for winter conditions."

The park settlements sprung up in June, after at least a hundred people were forced to leave a Midtown hotel that had served as a homeless sanctuary amid the dual crises of coronavirus and the riots following the George Floyd killing.

Since then, Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis has become the epicenter of this development. It's currently home to 282 occupants, a recent survey found.

In the release, park officials acknowledge that the size of the settlement is "not sustainable."

The Powderhorn encampment has been associated with some high-profile crimes, including a child sexual assault and the fatal shooting of a man about a block away from the camp.

MPRB will vote on the new encampment resolution on Wednesday, July 15. 

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