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Camper reacts as City of Bozeman considers restrictions on urban encampments

"It's like taking the carpet out from underneath our feet."
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Posted at 4:02 PM, Aug 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-09 09:51:41-04

BOZEMAN — Tuesday night, the Bozeman City Commission will consider adopting a new ordinance that would establish restrictions on encampments in a public right of way. And residents of these encampments aren't too happy.

Dyle Williams lives in a camper within Bozeman city limits and works full-time at Montana Linen Supply. He says living in Bozeman is too expensive for a home.

"Well, I chose to live in a camp like this because it's so expensive to try to get into an apartment without a roommate. So, yeah, this lifestyle is tolerable if you don't have to pay the $1500 a month for campground rent," says Williams. "Taking it kind of personal. Like I said, tough enough as it is already. And so it's like taking the carpet out from underneath our feet.

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Bozeman City Commission will consider adopting an ordinance that would establish restrictions on time, place, and manner in which people can shelter or camp in a public right-of-way. The proposed ordinance allows people to stay in one place in a vehicle for up to 5 days if they are homeless and no other form of shelter is available. After 5 days, they must move to a different street.

Campers like Williams aren't too thrilled about this potential change.

"Something like this being available is kind of nice. But every five days would be kind of, if you like, where would we move to and who would remove it," says Williams, "Who would move it out of the spot. So it'd be kind of tough on people that are having it tough already."

The draft of the ordinance includes new Community Health and Safety Officers to help people stay informed and compliant with the ordinance.

Williams believes taking those measures shows too much control over where he lives.

"Yeah, I think a little bit Nazi control," says Williams, "I guess that's what you want to say. Yeah, that's a little bit tough. Like I said, you know, it's tough living as it is, but to have to move every five days and the pressure with on with patrol kind of unnecessary."

The Bozeman City Commission meeting will be held Tuesday night at 6 PM in City Hall.