Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Early Friday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Grants Pass v Johnson, granted cities like Missoula to arrest, cite, or fine those who sleep outside in city parks and other public places, thus overturning the 2018 9th U.S. Circuit decision on Martin v Boise.

Missoula City Councilor Mike Nugent appeared with Communications Director Ginny Merriam on the Friday City Talk segment of KGVO’s Talk Back show. Merriam opened with this comment on the ruling.

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“I think the most visible part of it will be that people are allowed to camp in most city parks from eight at night until eight in the morning,” began Merriam. “And so the question is, will we go and wake people up at eight in the morning and make them take their tents down? We don't know what that enforcement will look like yet, but it's important to note that the ordinance is not in effect for it until 30 days, as of July 25.”

Merriam said several steps must be taken before the new court ruling could go into effect.

“Before that time, we need to have educational materials,” she said. “We need a pamphlet to be able to hand people so they can understand what the rules are. We will have to develop new maps. We don't know what those are going to look like either yet, but the important thing to notice, is we're doing nothing different now, today, for the next 27 days.”

City Councilor Nugent added his voice to the city’s reaction to the just-released ruling.

City Councilor Mike Nugent Appeared on Talk Back's City Talk Segment

“What this does is to give the people who are already working on this to provide better tools to identify potential problems earlier and kind of cut those off,” said Nugent. “Because, at least in these initial steps of this ordinance, some future council may make a different decision, but the idea is not to just immediately say ‘nobody can camp anywhere, so get out of here’. That's just not a realistic approach.”

Nugent said the city will have to adapt its policies to respond to the Grants Pass v Johnson ruling.

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Nugent said the city will Abide by the new Grants Pass v Johnson Ruling

“Per the ordinance, we will evaluate this every year in January,” he said. “Basically, we will look and say, ‘Okay, have services improved? Should we make camping more restrictive? How have our numbers gone down? How can we take a look at this?’ So we see this as a very big first step, but I don't believe that you will tomorrow see an attempt to say nobody can be anywhere, because we recognize that people need a place to go, even if it's figuring out long-term, that maybe Missoula is not for me because I want to camp outside, and that's not something that's going to be as actively allowed in Missoula. So, where do I go?”

Click here to find out more about the new Supreme Court Ruling.

Click here to listen to Friday’s City Talk segment on KGVO.

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