Rest area rules do not prohibit panhandling

A dog house has been built at the Manzanita Rest Area, for the dogs of transients who panhandle there. This surprised me, since panhandling and camping used to be posted as forbidden at rest areas. Has the law been changed, or are Mr. Grinde and the Travel Oregon Information Council simply choosing to compromise on the regulations?

— Mark E., Medford

Mark, the state of Oregon publishes rules that are aimed at regulating public behavior at its freeway rest areas.

None of those 19 rules — which are specific to rest areas — address panhandlings; so, really, it's pretty much left up to the supervising agency of each individual area to decide how far panhandlers can take their plea.

As far as Travel Oregon is concerned, no aggressive panhandling is allowed at the rest stops that it oversees. Waving a sign advertising one's hardships is perfectly fine, but hounding travelers for money, food or rides is not allowed.

The difference between aggressive and acceptable panhandling doesn't lie entirely within the sign, however. If a panhandler verbally asks a rest area user for anything then it can be considered harassment, and they can be asked to leave.

Also at Travel Oregon areas, panhandlers are not allowed to approach the vehicles of rest area users.

Camping, however, is strictly prohibited at all Oregon rest areas.

Among the 19 rest area prohibitions outlined in the Oregon Administrative Rules, people are not allowed to: Block access to the rest rooms, allow dogs to run loose, camp or remain for more that 12 hours in a 24-hour period, behave in a manner "which interferes with the reasonable use of the rest area by other rest area visitors," or use the facilities for bathing or washing dishes.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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