ashland.news
July 14, 2024

City Council to vote on camping ordinance, consider funding to extend emergency shelter operation

Campers set up on the night lawn on Dec. 5. Drew Fleming photo for Ashland.news
December 16, 2023

Four homelessness-related issues on agenda for Tuesday meeting

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

An ordinance limiting where and how anyone can camp in Ashland will be up for adoption by the Ashland City Council on Tuesday. A majority vote in favor of the second reading would make the ordinance law. The ordinance is one of four council actions related to homelessness on the agenda for the Dec. 19 meeting

The first reading of the ordinance was approved in a 4-2 vote on Dec. 5, with Councilors Bob Kaplan and Eric Hansen voting against and Councilors Paula Hyatt, Gina DuQuenne, Dylan Bloom and Jeff Dahle voting in favor. 

The council directed three changes to the ordinance prior to the second reading, according to meeting materials. Under occupancy of public spaces, a space limit, a two-hour time limit and the word “person” were eliminated. The definition of occupancy will no longer extend to public parks and a prohibition against camping near parks with a playground was changed to “parks with child or youth recreation equipment.”

During the Dec. 5 meeting, Councilor Paula Hyatt made a motion to ask the Housing and Human Services Commission to review the ordinance within six months, which passed unanimously. An agenda item for the Dec. 19 meeting walks back this proposal, stating the commission is already occupied creating a masterplan on homelessness. The agenda item for Tuesday would instead require council to review the ordinance in six months with the assistance of the masterplan. 

The third agenda item concerned with homelessness could extend the duration of the Emergency Shelter at 2200 Ashland street to March 31, 2024. The shelter was initially set to close on Jan. 10, 2024, but the city has been awarded $1,158,100 from an All In grant from Jackson County Continuum of Care. If council votes to accept the funding, the shelter could remain open until March 31, according to meeting materials

Council will also consider a change to the temperature thresholds for the emergency weather shelter. The resolution before council Tuesday recommends amending the city’s thresholds to 25 degrees or less, or 32 degrees or less depending on other weather conditions such as precipitation or wind; and to above 102 degrees, or 85 degrees depending on additional factors such as humidity or duration of temperatures, according to meeting materials

The city is currently obligated to open an emergency weather shelter if the forecast shows temperatures below 32 degrees, above 95 degrees or when the air quality index is above 150 as in conditions of smoke during fire season. 

In other council business Tuesday, council will consider an ordinance to allow alcohol in city parks in limited circumstances, a curfew for parks, and charter amendments for the May election. If approved by council, the amendments would change the city recorder’s position from an elected official to a standard employee of the city of Ashland and grant the chief of police the power to delegate their obligation to serve as officer at arms during council meetings. 

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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