Desoto County News

Southaven ordinance bans camping or sleeping on city public property

Southaven aldermen Tuesday approved a new city ordinance that prohibits urban camping or sleeping in public places in the city.  

Under the ordinance passed at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, setting up tents, camping, or sleeping on public property, or in vehicles parked on city streets will not be allowed.

The ordinance is not meant to stop a current problem, but prevent a problem from happening in the future.

Mayor Darren Musselwhite said he asked for the ordinance after learning there had been one or two instances that had come to his attention and then learning there was no city ordinance to address it.  

“It’s not been an issue but it gives us a mechanism in case this does become an issue,” said City Attorney Nick Manley, who wrote the ordinance agreed to on a unanimous vote.  

Musselwhite pointed to problems with illegal immigrants flooding over the southern border from Mexico and the growing numbers of homeless in major cities, such as Memphis.

“We have not had a significant issue with homelessness in the city of Southaven, but we do have to pay attention to what is going on in the world,” Musselwhite said. “We’re not being unsympathetic or uncaring, but for the future of Southaven, we can’t allow what is happening in some of the larger metro cities in the country.”

The mayor said there are mechanisms in place to help those in need, such as Serve Southaven, “and we will be there to help them,” Musselwhite said.  

The ordinance is listed with the title of “Urban camping and improper use of public places.” 

Musselwhite stressed the city can’t regulate private property and the new ordinance affects public property only, so sleeping in a parked vehicle on a driveway wouldn’t come under the ordinance, for instance.   

Police are charged with enforcement and violators will first be given a warning before facing a fine and arrest if they don’t comply.  

An exception comes with contractors or subcontractors where those activities are associated and done in conjunction with their work under the city contract.  

The new ordinance takes immediate effect. 

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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