As many Bozeman residents know, the topics of housing, homelessness, and urban camping have been the center of discussion during many public conversations, such as City Commission meetings. Along with participating in conversations surrounding urban camping at city meetings, the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce (BACC) and The Bozeman District of the Gallatin Valley Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) have been working behind the scenes on a solution to Urban Camping and Homelessness that takes all Bozeman residents and Public Health concerns into consideration.
Both the BACC and TBID have been dedicated to finding a resolution to this issue for some time now. Earlier this year, the TBID donated $1 million to the Homeward Point homeless shelter, which will be open 24/7 year-round. However, even with this effort, more needs to be done.
On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, TBID submitted a letter to the city requesting that elected officials uphold and enforce laws already in place to protect public health and safety when it comes to Urban Camping. According to Daryl Schliem, the current laws that need to be enforced include appropriate action for public drug use, public intoxication, public urination, theft of electricity and water from private businesses, littering, disorderly conduct, trespassing on private property, and disorderly conduct. With these laws being properly enforced moving forward, a drop in public safety concerns is expected.
According to Schliem, local businesses are being hurt by the public health and safety concerns permeating the community. In fact, one hotel has had to raise their rates in order to pay for security measures.
Furthermore, the TBID advises that if the elected officials are unable to make the difficult decisions for the betterment of public wellbeing, the City Commission, City Manager, and City Attorney should step down from their positions.
The goal of this request is to not punish or target any particular group, but rather to ensure that every Bozeman citizen follows the rules and regulations equally. With the enforcement of the laws already in place, it will be easier for Bozeman as a whole to get back to a place we are all proud to live, work, and play in.