ACLU of Oregon Challenges Ashland's Anti-Camping Ordinance

Southern Oregon Chapter Questions Harsh Laws Targeting People Who Are Homeless

Oct. 13, 2008 -- The Southern Oregon Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon calls upon the City of Ashland to amend its “Prohibited Camping” ordinance from one that punishes poverty and homelessness into one that prods the city to provide housing for the homeless. 

The city’s inhumane anti-camping law is inconsistent with the values of the Ashland, and the ACLU calls for immediate reform.

“The poor should not be punished simply for being poor, and that’s what this law does in Ashland,” said ACLU of Oregon Executive Director David Fidanque. “The city of Ashland and all cities should seek to address the underlying issues of homeless and poverty, rather than enacting and enforcing laws that target those who are homeless.”

In a report released today, the Southern Oregon Chapter calls on the Ashland City Council to make the specific revisions to the Prohibited Camping Ordinance, Municipal Code Section 10.46, and to the related “Sleeping Prohibited” ordinance, Section 10.68.230:

  • Section 10.46.020 (“Camping Prohibited”) should be amended to provide that, except as set forth in Section 10.46.030, the prohibitions in this ordinance shall not apply between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m., unless and until at least 50 units of permanent supportive housing are created within the City of Ashland, at least 50 percent of which are centrally located.  These units must be created for current or chronically homeless persons.
  • Section 10.46.030 (“Sleeping on Benches or Within Doorways Prohibited”) should be amended to eliminate present Subsections A and B, and to provide that camping and sleeping shall be prohibited within 10 feet of any operational and usable entrance, exit, driveway or loading dock.
  • Section 10.46.040 (“Removal of Campsite”) should be amended to provide that:  (a) it shall not be enforced except under the terms of amended Sections 10.46.020 and 10.46.030, above; (b) the notice to close a camp site must be posted at least 48 hours, instead of only 24 hours in advance, and must be in Spanish as well as English; (c) arrests may not be made and citations may not be issued within 200 feet of a campsite nor within 2 hours before or after the posting of a closing notice; and (d) confiscated property must be stored for at least 60 days.
  • Section 10.46.050 (“Penalties”) should be amended to lower the offense in Subsection A to a “violation,”  to correct the erroneous reference in Subsection B to Section 1.08.010, and to correct the next to last word in Subsection B from “rebuttal” to “rebuttable.
  • Section 10.68.230 (“Sleeping Prohibited”) should be repealed.