Corpus Christi City Council Approves Changes To Rules Surrounding Usage Blucher Park Downtown
The Southside Light
Downtown--After some passionate public comment from both sides of the issue, members of the Corpus Christi City Council voted in favor of altering a city ordinance that would bring significant changes to a popular destination downtown.
The changes impact Blucher Park, which has for some time now been a haven for chronically homeless individuals, drug abuse and criminal activity. Under the changes, the city hopes to see an improved image for the area and keep them within required "gifting" mandates which were originally attached to the handover of the property.
Ordinance changes will make it unlawful to lie down, smoke,vape, eat, and possess blankets,
pillows, mattresses, cardboard, tarps, sleeping bags, bedding, stoves, cooking devices, shopping carts, wagons, within Blucher Park. The changes made today at City Council also adapt the formal closing time of Blucher Park from 10:00pm to 8:00pm. It also provides for fines to those who violate the new ordinance.
While those who maintain that the move is an attack on the homeless used passionate speeches to convey their message, it was Mayor Joe McComb and Councilwoman Paulette Gujardo that calmly reassured everyone that this was a very necessary measure in order to stay in compliance with mandated requirements.
While other members of the body echoed their agreement with McComb and Gujardo, it was Councilman Ben Molina that sympathized with homeless advocates by pushing for a motion to table the item for one more week.
Councilman Greg Smith seemed to take the safe route by simply using his time to thank those who spoke.
A few of the advocates who spoke on behalf of the homeless community insisted that the ordinance would have a negative impact starting right away, hinting at the idea of mass removals and police action starting as soon as Tuesday afternoon. That has not happened.
However, among the homeless community at Blucher Park word of council's action traveled fast.
"Some lady came down here and said that the police were going to come down here and start taking us to jail," said one Blucher Park squatter. "I mean ok. You know, I mean I think it's going to rain anyway."
Angela Witt, who calls Blucher Park home claims that she believes that the police likely would come in and round up the homeless.
"Some of these guys here give us bad names," Witt says. "Me, I'm just waiting on a bed to open up somewhere so I can get into a program."
Advocates claimed during Tuesday's meeting that it is people like Witt that would be harmed most by the action. However, it is Witt herself that agrees with City Council.
"We have a lot of drugs here and there are plenty of fights," says Witt. "Not all of us are like them."
Immediately after passage of the change, Council recessed for their lunch break.