What is the huge homeless camp? – Ashland News
Traveling north through Medford on the freeway this morning, I counted about a dozen tents along the greenway between Little League Fields and the south end of the I-5 overpass. I thought Medford City Council had passed an ordinance banning all camping along the Greenway from May through September. Why are people still camping there?
– Robert J., Ashland
According to Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau, the short answer is that the town is well aware of this section of the Bear Creek Greenway – it even has a street name that refers to its convenient location (“paradise”) – but doesn’t just hasn’t gotten there yet.
Medford City Council passed a law on April 1 banning all form of camping on the Greenway in Medford from May 1 to September 30, or longer depending on the fire season.
So far, Budreau said, enforcement of the new ordinance has focused on the area at the northern end of town between Railroad Park and Biddle Road. Seven camps were cleared near Railroad Park in early May, for example, a job that required the removal of two 22-foot dumpsters from the area.
Soon, however, the police department will turn its attention to the camps near the Medford Little League grounds to the south.
“We have been in constant contact with these people, informing them of the order, in the hope of achieving voluntary compliance before we have to physically come in and start making decisions,” Budreau said. “But we see that this is still a fairly populated area for the camps and we are getting there in the very near future. I don’t want to get locked into an exact timeline, but this is our next location we’ll get to. “
Breaking a camp of this size is more complicated than it looks, added Budreau.
“These situations are delicate,” he said. “It’s not really about going in and telling people that they have five minutes to go or that they are going to be arrested. We really take the time to put them in touch with resources, to put them in touch with their family members, trying to understand what their situation is. If there are addiction issues, if there are mental health issues, we really try to attack that from all angles to get resources for the person, but also to get them out of this place.
“So it’s just not a quick process, and once we’ve taken the individuals out of the area, we have to clean up any leftover garbage, which is important. “
Budreau said the area clean-up process is a team effort overseen by Medford Police. At the camp near Railroad Park, for example, Medford Parks and Recreation, Medford Public Works, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and the nonprofit Rogue Retreat worked together to collect about 60 cubic meters of debris. Community corrections may also handle part of the cleaning during community service hours.
Budreau said the city can generally restore a “exploitable section” homeless camp to its old state in about a week.
“Basically,” he said, “we’ll post it at the start of the week, give them time to do their best with the hosting. And while we publish it, we try to make as much contact as possible with our outreach organizations.
The police will then soon check whether they will need to take enforcement action. In the camps in northern Medford which were cleaned up in early May, everyone in the seven camps left voluntarily. Medford Police are hoping for the same kind of cooperation in south Medford.
“So usually they’ll be gone by the end of the week, but the ones that are left,” Budreau said, “we’ll figure out what it takes to get them out and then at the very end of the week we clean them up. garbage from the area. So this is a very typical snapshot of a week, but we have to do it in achievable sections.
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