Ashland Councilor Bloom Explains His Vote to Support the City’s  New Camping Ordinance

Bloom Explains Camping Ordinance Vote

By David Runkel

Councilor Dylan Bloom told The Chronicle today that passage of a new city ordinance to prevent widespread camping by homeless persons is “critical.”

Ashland needs “to regulate behavior in our public spaces and rights of way,” he said. “My first priority with regards to the ordinance was getting it passed.”

Last month, Bloom criticized the proposed new law drafted by city attorney Douglas L. McGeary because it is more lenient than Medford’s recently passed measure on camping in public spaces.  For instance, Ashland’s ordinance, approved on first reading by the Council last Tuesday, prohibits camping within 250 feet of schools and child care centers, among other places, while Medford has a 500-foot barrier.

“We need to have something compliant with the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to replace the old ordinance,” Bloom explained. “Given how the discussion was going, I was nervous that we were not going to pass the ordinance.”
When Councilor Eric Hansen voted against the proposal and “Councilor (Paula) Hyatt seemed cautious about how we proceed it seemed prudent to just stick to the ordinance as written.”

Tuesday’s vote was 4-2 in favor.  The Council is due to take up the issue on second and final reading Dec. 19.

Bloom said he is looking forward to working on a Homeless Master Plan and reviewing the ordinance after it goes into effect. The councilor made his views know in response to questions raised by The Chronicle after Tuesday’s vote.

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