Citations for Prohibited Camping Within Ashland City Limits is Soaring

ASHLAND, Ore. — While Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara’s annual report reveals a downward trend in crimes such as aggravated assault, arson, auto theft, burglary, homicide, larceny, rape, and robbery, the department’s rate of citations for prohibited camping has soared.

Statistics involving homeless people camping within the city limits were not included in the police chief’s annual report.


Sensitive Issue of Homeless Camping Raised by Clr. Bob Kaplan

The sensitive issue of homeless camping in public places within the city limits was raised at the council’s monthly meeting earlier this week by Councilor Bob Kaplan. Councilor Kaplan questioned the police chief on statistics in the Ashland Police Department (APD) activity logs, an issue that has been raised and questioned by Debbie Nieswander, an advocate for the homeless.

According to Nieswander, the APD monthly activity logs reveal 51 citations for prohibited camping on the city’s night lawn camping area at 1175 E Main St., with a further 27 citations for the same offence in other areas of the city. Councilor Kaplan pressed the police chief for more information, adding that he hoped the people involved were not those using the night lawn area.

O’Meara told the council meeting that information about homeless citations was not included in his annual report because he did not understand that it had been requested.

Ashland set aside the dusk-to-dawn night lawn area in keeping with the 9th circuit court ruling, but according to the police chief 1175 E Main St. is ‘simply another piece of property’ owned by the city council outside of the dusk-to-dawn stipulation. The police chief said camping on the lawned area in any other time slot ‘is just as unlawful as pitching your tent in Lithia Park.’

Councilor Kaplan expressed concern that the number of citations show that the city’s ordinance could be ineffective.

Referring to the fact that the ordinance is relatively new, coming into effect in mid-January 2024, O’Meara explains that the limited amount of data could be difficult to decipher. “This is a work in progress…an evolving situation…but in general it (the ordinance) does what it’s supposed to do.’

The Ashland city’s ordinance 3228 had to be introduced to meet the circuit court ruling, prior to which camping in public places was prohibited in Ashland for more than a decade.



The APD annual report reveals that there were 342 incidents of aggravated assault, arson, auto theft, burglary, homicide, larceny, rape, and robbery, compared to 526 in 2022, and 421 in 2021. Crime-solving statistics also improved by one per cent, to 69%.

Most crimes were concentrated in areas around Exit 14 on the south side of the city, and around the Enhanced Law Enforcement area downtown.

The police chief told the council meeting that the bulk of crimes involved ‘bad behavior’ such as public urination, and consumption of alcohol and marijuana.

The APD rents property at a new location, 2345 Ashland St. No. 103. O’Meara was asked by the council to report-back with crime data and the estimated efficacy of the new police location within six months.



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