Medford’s city council votes to approve new camping ordinance

MEDFORD, Ore. – Medford’s city council voted to approve a new camping ordinance that would prevent people from camping near schools and waterways.

The US Department of Environment Quality recently voiced concerns to the city over how camping near places like Bear Creek is impacting water quality.

The new ordinance is an extension of another camping ordinance that was passed in 2021.

Medford’s attorney said the new ordinance took inspiration from a number of other cities like Bend and Los Angeles.

The new ordinance would prevent camping within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds. It will also outlaw camping within 50 feet of the nearest edge of any waterway.

City Attorney Eric Mitton said, “In the current ordinance, it is lawful to sleep, at least with a bedroll, immediately on the banks of Bear Creek or other waterways. That can lead to litter, belongings, other things, falling into the creek and affecting water quality.”

The ordinance passed 7 to 1 in the meeting.

Mitton said the new ordinance will expand camping rules that are usually only in place during fire season. He said the city is looking to be proactive on the issue of homelessness and camping.

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