Frenchtown seeks answers to transients parking, sleeping in right of way

The West Valley Community Council is looking for solutions to a recent influx of transients in Frenchtown. (KPAX)

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

At a meeting Thursday, members of the West Valley Community Council in Frenchtown 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 said 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,” she said.

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

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

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

Still, Strohmaier noted that parking restrictions are not a long-term fix to issues of homelessness.

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