Medford defends constitutionality of camping orders – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
A Medford Police Sergeant walks through a homeless camp near the north end of Alba Little League Fields in Medford in this 2021 Mail Tribune file photo.
In response to a lawsuit filed last week to seek class action status for homeless people living in the city of Medford, the city attorney’s office has released statements and documents that disagree with the lawsuit allegations .
Medford Deputy City Attorney Eric Mitton released the following statement on Thursday in response to the lawsuit filed earlier this week by Medford attorney Justin Rosas:
“Due to the ongoing litigation, the City’s comments must be limited,” one reads in part. “That said, the City respectfully disagrees that its banned camping, civil exclusion, theft or trespassing orders are illegal.”
The city’s statement is not a formal response to the proposed class action lawsuit – US District Court in Medford shows the city has 120 days to respond from the May 18 lawsuit filing date – but Mitton says that earlier this month, the city explained the constitutionality “of Medford’s code relating to Camping, sleeping and sleeping prohibited at the National Homelessness Law Center.
In a May 5 letter, Mitton argued that Medford’s codes limiting camps along the town’s section of Bear Creek Greenway and at Prescott Park differ from widespread camping restrictions at the center of lawsuits against the towns of Grants Pass and Boise, Idaho.
Mitton argues that the Medfords are “time-place rules” – not laws that restrict outside sleep on all public property in the city.
Courts have ruled in Grants Pass and Boise that cities are not allowed to ban sleeping outside the city unless the city is able to provide “low barrier shelter beds” – similar to the Rogue Retreat and Kelly Shelter Urban Campground – for everyone who is homeless.
The court’s findings in those earlier cases, however, “expressly allow cities to regulate when, where and how to sleep outdoors,” Mitton argues, “even without empty shelter beds. are visible ”.
Mitton disputed claims in the Rosas lawsuit that the city’s anti-tent camping ordinance would allow people to “sleep only with blankets during the wet, cold winter of southern Oregon.” He said Thursday that the city code “has a number of exceptions to the general rule on tents.”
Rosas alleges that one of his clients in the lawsuit, Robert Bessy, lost access to social services because Bessy was kicked out of downtown Medford after police surprised Bessy using a non-power outlet allowed to charge a mobile phone.
Mitton’s statement Thursday defends Medford’s “civil exclusion order” by citing a June 2018 Jackson County Circuit Court ruling.
In the case of Richard William Harris Jr. against the city of Medford, Judge Benjamin Bloom has ruled that the order prohibiting people in downtown Medford for 90 days from containing “guarantees that make it constitutionally admissible.”
“For example, a person subject to the exclusion order may enter the exclusion zone to work or look for work, travel through the exclusion zone, obtain health services, attend religious services. .. attend court hearings … or otherwise carry out constitutional proceedings. right, ”Bloom ruled.