N. Reserve Businesses Deal With Transient Problem - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

N. Reserve Businesses Deal With Transient Problem

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MISSOULA -

As the City of Missoula increases efforts to end a panhandling problem in the downtown area, some business owners in another part of town say the problem is increasingly affecting their businesses.

"There's human feces, trash, beer bottles, it's an unsafe, unclean environment," said Riverside Pawn owner Brian Hughes.

He said it's time something is done about a transient problem near his business.

"There's the campers out behind Walmart, there's guys fighting all the time. A few weeks ago one stabbed another person," Hughes said.

Riverside Pawn is located in front of the Reserve Street Bridge, and right behind the Walmart Supercenter on North Reserve. Both are now hot spots for Missoula's transient population.

"My customers are put off by homeless people and panhandlers at Walmart. They leave garbage all over the place, they just don't have any respect for the people that work here and come here everyday," Hughes said.

He said the city is too compassionate to the homeless population.

"The only way we can make it better, is if we don't facilitate the situation," Hughes said.

City councilman Adam Hertz represents the area. He said the transient problem is a tough one.

"We have a homeless population we are compassionate about and do want to help, at the same time we do have small group that are trouble makers," Hertz said.

He said the transient camp under the Reserve Street Bridge lies in the county where camping is legal, so it's creating a spill-over affect for the surrounding city areas.

"There's no pan handling ordinance outside the business central district, so they can panhandle in the area," Hertz said.

He said efforts have been organized to fix the problem, like a clean up events by the Poverello Center and Montana Department of Transportation. Law enforcement may be taking notice too, now that orange stickers mark the campers behind Walmart, informing them they need to go.

Hertz advises any business owners with an issue to reach out to the city.

Meantime, Hughes just hopes the problem is stopped soon.

"It is hard on business, because no one feels comfortable being hassled," Hughes said.

We tried multiple times to reach out to local law enforcement about their efforts, but both the Missoula Police Department and county sheriff's office have not given any comment on the issue.

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