It's an understandable reaction, but the "whack-a-mole" approach of dealing with gatherings of homeless people and transients is a Band-Aid at best. It doesn't solve a problem, only moves it.
Ashland City Council members are no dummies and obviously understand that, but like municipal leaders everywhere have found solutions hard to come by in addressing homelessness. This week, they took another whack, agreeing to extend non-loitering and exclusion zones to include the public parking lot on Pioneer Street at Lithia Way, which had become a homeless gathering place after the rules were put in place elsewhere downtown.
The regular gatherings in the parking lot produced occasional conflicts, with reports of aggressive behavior toward passers-by and would-be parkers. Combine that behavior with the ever-present parking issue downtown during tourism season and that fact that tourism is an important cog in this community's life, and the council was right to act.
Nevertheless, it will likely serve only to move the problem elsewhere. But the alternative is ... what?
Derek Pyle, an audience member in Tuesday's meeting, suggested the council instead address the idea that the homeless need somewhere to be and create a place or places where they could gather. The idea warrants a follow-up and Mayor John Stromberg at least started that process by requesting a private session with Pyle after the meeting.
Ashland has always been willing to think outside of the box and this is the perfect time to take another whack at doing just that.