The Ashland City Council is scheduled to decide whether to approve a lodge-style restaurant across from Lithia Park, and whether to take steps to address homeless issues that could include adopting a downtown exclusion zone for people who break certain laws.
Council members will discuss parking impacts of the 189-seat restaurant on Winburn Way, as well as what uses would be allowed if the proposed building were no longer used as a restaurant in the future.
Homelessness also is on the agenda, with council members to decide whether to form a committee to look at issues related to homelessness, and how soon to take any steps. Interim City Attorney Megan Thornton has drafted an exclusion zone ordinance that could be taken up directly or sent to the proposed homelessness committee for review.
Police first publicly proposed the exclusion zone idea early this year, saying that people with multiple violations could be excluded from the downtown.
In a memo to city officials, Thornton said she modeled the downtown exclusion zone ordinance after an existing city ordinance that allows a person to be banned from Ashland parks for 30 days after one violation and for 180 days for repeat offenders.
A person who commits a violation could be barred from downtown for 30 days, and a person who commits a crime could be barred for 60 days. The exclusion time could increase to 180 days for repeat offenders. An excluded person who went downtown could be arrested for trespassing and taken to jail in Medford.
Covered violations would include drinking alcohol in public, unnecessary noise, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, scattering rubbish or urine and being a minor in possession of tobacco or alcohol.
Covered crimes would include disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, trespassing, providing liquor to someone under 21, making and possessing drugs, theft, harassment, assault, prostitution, rape, firing a gun, arson or reckless burning and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
An excluded person could go downtown to get items for essential needs, such as food and medical care, if the goods and services weren't reasonably available elsewhere.
The person also could visit a lawyer, doctor, drug or mental health counselor, church, a day care center to pick up children, the person's own home or the home of immediate family members and the person's job, among other allowed places.
The person would have to travel directly there and back. If stopped by a police officer, the person would have to demonstrate "by clear and convincing evidence" that he or she is traveling to an allowed place.
It's not clear how many people could be affected by the downtown exclusion zone.
Through a public records request, the Daily Tidings obtained a list that was 90 pages long of everyone who was cited for a violation in Ashland in 2010. The list did not specify where the violations occurred, or what the violations were.
The list contained thousands of names, including those of downtown business people, community volunteers and homeless people.
Most people had only one or a few citations, but many people had several, and eleven people — many of them homeless — had collectively racked up 195 violations in 2010.
People would have the right to appeal being excluded from downtown under the draft city ordinance. The exclusion would be upheld if a hearings officer found that the person likely committed the violation or crime.
Other steps that could be taken by the City Council or reviewed by a homelessness committee include setting up a legal campground for homeless people, discouraging panhandling by installing donation boxes to fund services to help people get off the streets, limiting people's ability to sit or lie down on sidewalks, organizing a medical screening day for homeless people and installing portable toilets to reduce public urination.
Other agenda items for Tuesday include:
- Considering whether to partner with Jackson County on a reverse 9-1-1 system that would allow city officials to contact residents during emergencies;
- Deciding whether to award $163,142 in federal grants locally to ACCESS Inc. for an affordable housing project and $30,000 to St. Vincent de Paul for emergency rental and utility assistance to help prevent homelessness.
For a complete list of agenda items and for details on each item, visit www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=13922.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.