ashland.news
June 13, 2024

Ashland City Council may vote Tuesday on new ordinance regulating public camping

Signage at the Gateway Island encampment in Ashland in February 2023. Debora Gordon photo
November 19, 2023

Council may also move to ask public to vote on making the city recorder post an appointed, not elected, position

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

A new ordinance to limit where, when and how someone can sleep on the streets of Ashland is up for a first reading at the City Council meeting Tuesday. 

If the ordinance becomes city law, its objective would be “to differentiate between those who genuinely lack alternatives and use public spaces out of necessity, and those who have access to suitable alternative spaces and shelter but instead willfully exploit public spaces for personal gain or advantage,” according to a draft of the ordinance. 

Any place occupied by materials used for sleeping or cooking could be defined as a campsite, and campsites would be prohibited in a variety of specified locations, such as within 250 feet of a preschool or kindergarten or in enhanced law enforcement areas. Car camping and discarding of waste from garbage to wastewater would also be controlled under the new law. The ordinance will require a majority vote of City Council on a first and second reading before becoming city law. 

Also on the council agenda is a list of goals for the emergency shelter at 2200 Ashland St. The item was submitted by Mayor Tonya Graham and describes the goals as part of a master plan to serve the needs of both shelter guests and adjacent neighborhoods. The goals were derived in part from council discussions and a neighborhood group formed by those living near the shelter. 

The council is also expected to vote on a purchase of a new ambulance for Ashland Fire & Rescue. The ambulance will replace one which recently suffered mechanical issues while responding to a call. It will be available Dec. 18 and the purchase will cost the city $158,215. The cost has already been appropriated in the 2023-2025 biennium budget, according to meeting materials. 

Chris Chambers, Division Chief for Forestry with the city of Ashland, will ask for council approval of a contract with Lomakatsi Restoration Project, a nonprofit organization, for “wildfire safety and forestry work” — the first phase of a project addressing the recent die-off of trees throughout the lower Ashland watershed and Siskiyou Mountain Park.

The council also plans to review ballot language for two possible charter changes for the upcoming May election: removing the city recorder as an elected position and allowing the chief of police to designate an officer at arms to attend council meetings. 

Council business also includes a vote on an ordinance change allowing alcohol in Ashland Parks & Recreations properties, an update on possible changes and a timeline of work for a telecommunications ordinance, and the first quarter financial update. 

The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 21, in the council chamber at 1175 E Main St. The meeting can be attended in person or watched remotely through Channel 9 or Channels 180 and 181 (Charter Communications) or live streamed via rvtv.sou.edu select RVTV Prime. 

Public testimony will be accepted for the meeting and can be delivered either via Zoom, in person, or as written comment. To sign up for public comment, fill out the public testimony form

Email Ashland.news reporter Morgan Rothborne at morganr@ashland.news.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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