Mayor calls meeting to address homeless citations

As Ashland's homeless residents vowed to continue their protest in the plaza for the fifth day at tonight's Art Walk, Mayor John Stromberg said he had scheduled a meeting with Ashland's police chief and a Community Works homeless advocate to try to resolve the situation.

"There are many facets to this and I think it will help to sit down and talk about it," Stromberg said.

The meeting will occur Dec. 9, the earliest date all of the parties are available, the mayor's office said.

Aaron Reed, Ashland street outreach coordinator for Community Works, requested the meeting Thursday morning.

"I am hoping that we can come to some kind of at least partial solution, some mitigation of this issue, because right now with the tension on both sides, it's creating what feels like an us-versus-them attitude," he said.

Reed said he believes police may have made false statements to the press regarding the illegal camping citations they issued and that police may have violated state law when citing campers. He cited a state law that requires law enforcement officials to post a notice 24 hours before clearing a campsite.

However, Ashland Police Chief Terry Holderness said Thursday that to his knowledge, his officers have complied with all state and city laws. He said the 24-hour-notice law applies only to clearing vacant campsites, not to citing people who are actively camping.

Stromberg said he was willing to discuss the intricacies of the law with Holderness and Reed.

"We want to make sure we are following state law properly," Stromberg said. "We have recently revamped our laws and our intention is, of course, to be in compliance with state law, but if we missed something, we want to correct it."

Linda Reid, the city's housing program specialist, also had been invited to the meeting, Stromberg said. It will be closed to the public. Stromberg said he would issue a statement to the Daily Tidings after the meeting.

After pitching tents in the plaza for three nights and being cited multiple times for illegal camping, the protesters said they planned to spend Thursday night elsewhere and return to the plaza to protest this morning.

At about 6 a.m. Thursday, police cited three people for camping in the plaza, Holderness said. On Wednesday, police cited eight people for illegal camping or trespassing downtown. As of Thursday afternoon, none of the protesters had been taken to jail because they had all agreed to move after being cited, Holderness said.

Since Monday, as many as 40 homeless residents have been protesting recent police citations for illegal camping. They have said they intend to continue their protest until they can work out an agreement with the city that involves having a legal place to sleep in Ashland.

"The protest is definitely going to be on in the morning," participant John Gilmour said Thursday afternoon. "This is not over, I can tell you that."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456, ext. 226, or

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