Ashland considering new camping ordinance, could be in effect by January

ASHLAND, Ore.– The City of Ashland is working to pass a new camping ordinance that could go into effect as soon as next month.

The new law provides clarity on where, when and how people can camp in public spaces.

The Ashland City Council had its first reading of the camping ordinance at last night’s meeting.

Mayor Tonya Graham says the law passed four to two.

Graham said, “the ordinance clarifies the rules for camping in terms of when, where and under what circumstances it’s allowed.”

A new proposed camping ordinance in Ashland is well on its way to being passed, but some city officials are looking to make changes to it before it goes into effect.

The law would ban camping near schools and playgrounds, on walkways, or near any fence, trees, buildings or vehicles.

But it includes exceptions for camping when there is no shelter space available.

“One of the biggest issues that has come up in the court rulings is this question of whether someone has somewhere else to go,” Mayor Graham said, “so what you’ll see in the ordinance is that there’s different requirements or different rules depending on whether there’s a designated place for that person to go and camp.”

There is also an exception if the offender is involuntarily homeless.

The city defines that as someone who doesn’t have access to temporary shelter due to financial reasons, or a lack of a free, viable option.

Graham said, “our police chief has indicated that that’s not an element that his officers are looking to deal with because they are only looking to address behavior, and they never want to address status.”

Graham said involuntary homelessness will likely be discussed at the next city council meeting..

She said that phrase is included in some recent ninth circuit court rulings, but could be removed from the city’s ordinance.

“The city council directed our housing and human services advisory committee to also review this ordinance as part of their homeless mater planning process, and bring any information back to us in the next six months,” Graham said.

If the law is passed at the second reading, it could go into effect by the middle of January.

The next city council meeting is scheduled for the 19th.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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