ashland.news
July 21, 2024

City regulation of public camping up for review

Eight tents covered with snow under the Threshold sculpture on Gateway Island in Ashland in March. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini
November 6, 2023

City Council to discuss changes in camping ordinance in Monday afternoon study session

By Morgan Rothborne, Ashland.news

City restrictions on where a homeless person can sleep outside are up for discussion at the Ashland City Council study session starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6

Meeting materials sent to council by Acting City Attorney Doug McGeary talk about the city making an effort “to strike a balance between recognizing the unique challenges faced by the homeless population and safeguarding the integrity of our public spaces.”

“Over the last year and a half, the city has diligently worked to establish alternative shelter spaces for homeless individuals. As a result, the city is now at a crucial juncture, poised to revise its prohibited camping ordinance. This revision aims to effectively guide homeless individuals toward using the newly established shelter spaces while ensuring legal compliance and addressing the broader issue of homelessness in our community,” McGeary wrote in a staff report

The study session will present council with recent legal precedent informing Ashland’s ordinance relating to prohibited camping and prohibited occupancy and amending AMC chapter 10.46.020 and AMC 10.46.030, according to meeting materials. 

The changes will be discussed with context from recent court decisions altering the public camping laws of other cities through the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment, according to meeting materials. The changes to be proposed at the study session focus on clarifying Ashland’s ordinance. 

The session will also introduce the idea of a “livability team,” modeled after the city of Medford’s police task force focused on homelessness issues. Councilors will also be presented with information to clarify the Plaza’s designated “Enhanced Law Enforcement Area,” and explore creating others “for other areas that are especially sensitive or prone to increased unlawful activity and then becoming an attraction for more such activity,” meeting materials said. 

Council will explore “other avenues” to curb drug use in public areas with consideration of Measure 110’s restrictions. 

The study session is set to begin at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 6., in the at Council Chambers, 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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