Medford City Councilors delay vote on Greenway camping ordinance

MEDFORD, Ore. – Medford City Councilors took the first step toward approving a new law that changes existing camping rules. The new rule is aimed at strengthening current city law.

While nothing is official after Thursday night’s meeting, city councilors did take the first step toward creating a new camping law with a 6-2 vote.

Camping alongside the Greenway at certain parts of the year is one step closer to being illegal. The Medford City Council met Thursday night to vote on a new camping law.

What happens if it passes?

  1. Camping on the Greenway would not be allowed from May 1st to September 30th, as a fire precaution.
  2. It would allow officers to physically remove a person who refuses social services or to move to a new location.
  3. Finally, it would eliminate the prohibition of tent camping and sleep outdoors to better align with case law.
  4. The amendment would list specific times, places, and regulations for sleeping outside and camping.

With thousands of written testimony turned in, Medford City Councilors got an insight into what constituents want. But it’s a divided issue, as local citizens started petitions both for and against it.

“I’ve been really proud of what we’ve been doing, I am not proud of this ordinance I will not support this ordinance,” said one city councilor.

Councilors voted to pass it 6-2 proceeding to a second hearing.

“It’s not right, to vote no and allow these people to continue being victims. Because that’s what they are when you vote no,” said Councilor Kevin Stine.

While councilors were meeting inside, activists against the law gathered outside.

First Presbyterian Church, Pastor Murray Richmond has been working with the homeless for 20 plus years.

He’s against the camping ban.

“Tents are people’s homes. A place of security. It’s a place they can become out of the elements. It’s a place where they can be warm. And we’re taking that away from them; we’re literally taking their homes away,” said Pastor Richmond.

The second reading to make it official is Friday in a special meeting.

It starts at 12pm and will be held virtually.

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