Ashland could remove camping ban temporarily

Ashland's City Council this week will consider whether to temporarily suspend a city code that bans camping on public property.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St. The meeting is open to the public.

Citations by the Ashland Police Department for illegal camping and trespass have skyrocketed this year, according to a Dec. 13 memo from Lt. Corey Falls to City Administrator Martha Bennett.

Sixty-three citations for illegal camping have been issued in 2010 so far — 51 of them to transients — compared with 11 in 2009 and 23 in 2008.

Falls listed 132 trespassing charges this year, a 42 percent increase over 2009's 93 total. Sixty-eight trespassing charges were handed down in 2008.

Trespassing may relate to public or private property. Police estimated about half of trespassing charges are related to camping.

At a Dec. 7 meeting, council members heard from two dozen people, most of whom asked the city to stop citing the homeless for sleeping in public places. After running out of time to consider the issue, the City Council agreed to take up the topic again on Tuesday. No more public testimony will be taken.

— Ashland Daily Tidings

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