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Frenchtown looking for solutions following influx of transients

Posted at 8:51 AM, Nov 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-16 15:11:11-05

Issues pertaining to transients face many Missoula area communities including Lolo, East Missoula and Frenchtown.

The West Valley Community Council recently reported transients parking in the public right of way, leaving behind sewage and garbage, and sleeping on a popular bike path in town.

Council chair Jeri Delys says there's no easy way to address the issue, "law enforcement doesn’t have any way to enforce it unless there’s a sewage leakage, unless there’s a hazard, so they can’t ticket.”

Seeking guidance on the matter, West Valley called on county Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier to offer his advice at their community meeting Thursday night.

But Strohmaier explained that even the County can’t do much as they’re not authorized by the state to enact a “no camping” ordinance. What they can do, however, is regulate parking.

Strohmaier said that next week county commissioners plan to adopt a resolution that will prohibit overnight parking along a couple of the most problematic sections of street in East Missoula. If this change is effective, he recommends Frenchtown follow suit.

Effective or not, Strohmaier noted that this most likely isn’t a long-term fix.

"The flip side though -- and this is one of the unintended consequences that we all need to think through -- is that just pushing the problem to someone else’s neighborhood and creating the same problems? So, then you kind of have a domino effect," Strohmaier explained.

We’ll follow up with county commissioners in the weeks to come to see if that parking ordinance has any impact on transient issues.