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Bozeman's mayoral candidates split on urban camping issue

Urban Camping .jpg
Posted at 5:00 PM, Oct 24, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, the Bozeman City Commission passed an ordinance on the first reading that would limit urban camping on city streets to 30 days. Now, ahead of the mayoral election and the second reading of this ordinance, we asked the three candidates running for mayor what their thoughts on the ordinance are.

“As it stands right now, the city allows urban campers to be here for up to 30 days, which I think is far too long. I think we need to ratchet that down to ten days. We don't want Bozeman to be known as a city that's lax on urban camping,” says John Meyer, candidate for mayor.

“I do not support the ordinance for the reasons that I just stated that we should be focusing on long-term solutions. We should be focusing on the ways that we get people off of the street. We need to prioritize where people can and cannot be in the interim because we know that people are going to continue to stay on the street,” says candidate Joey Morrison.

“I think it's reasonable and I think as a candidate, I think it's reasonable and I think it’s a compromise. It looked at businesses and it looked at the people that were unhoused,” says incumbent Mayor Cyndy Andrus.

While urban camping has been top of mind for many Bozeman residents, the candidates say the biggest issues facing Bozeman are:

“Biggest problem we're facing is luxury houses. If we want to actually protect the people, we need to focus on building housing, building the case,” says Meyer.

“I really see there's sort of this deeper underpinning problem that is holding us back from being able to address housing, to address homelessness, to address our water, to our conservation issues, to our climate goals. And it's a lot of division,” says Morrison.

“What has led to urban camping and a lot of other issues is growth. I think what we need to be doing is not stopping growth—I don’t think that is reasonable—but looking at the impacts of growth,” says Andrus.

Now, because of some of the complexities of Bozeman’s elections, whoever wins the race for mayor this year will be the deputy mayor for two years before becoming mayor. The election will be held on Nov. 7.