A new level of entitlement
The recent homeless protests have taken the idea of entitlement to new heights. The protesters who are "fighting for their right to sleep" have a strange sense of rights. In an uncivilized world, there would be no rights at all, because there are no obligations, only the fight for survival. But as we evolved to a civil society, rights were formulated along with obligations of citizenship.
My point is that this protest movement is driven by people who feel community exists to serve them. When we subtract the sympathetic, non-homeless and those who think being home-free is a noble choice, and the able-bodied who are averse to working, there are very few "victims" of our terrible city ordinance that says the rest of us 20,000 Ashlanders have a right to a town that, yes, looks presentable.
I'm not even going to get started on public hygiene or drugs or panhandling or you name it!
Many homeless made a choice
Stop calling them all "homeless." Its proper connotation denotes its bearer did not choose it, but had it forced upon him by unfortunate circumstances. This group, deserving of assistance, mustn't have the "live free" folks hanging onto their coattails. The Ashland contingent protesting, mostly young and healthy, are where they are by choice, hence "vagrants." Definitions include an idle person, no permanent home, a beggar.
It is hypocritical to choose to "live free" and also to demand daily access to showers, toilets, laundry facilities and message phones. What do they offer in exchange? Civilization functions via contributions, give and take, not just take as in "panhandling."
In the past, when the old hardware store near Bi-Mart was generously offered as a shelter, it was refused as "inconvenient," ditto the Medford facilities.
Significantly, taxpaying citizens don't want to subsidize vagrants' chosen lifestyle! Realistically, campgrounds are not viable because of organization and maintenance. The Medford Mail Tribune, Dec. 12, notes that, "Other communities have tried that with less than satisfactory results. . . .." Further noted, is that campgrounds with rules attract very few campers compared with large populations at campgrounds with no rules.
Putting Ashland's entire community at risk, especially of wildfire, so that parasites can "live free," is neither a democratic nor an ethical solution. It's foolhardy to rescind Ashland's no camping laws!
Since citizens offering work to these vagrants have been refused, maybe the sympathetic citizens could try a pilot program, "Adopt a Vagrant, Dogs Optional."
Fund a small shelter
My family no longer goes to Lithia Park because of the growing homeless population there. The aggressive panhandling, open and constant smoking of marijuana and unpredictable behavior of those folks has made the park off-limits for us.
We need more vigorous law enforcement of existing laws and perhaps more laws to cover loitering, open consumption of drugs and alcohol and obstruction of pedestrian traffic.
It is absolutely laughable that these mostly able-bodied, largely youthful homeless "travelers" are demanding the right to camp in the park and more generous city services to fill their needs. Most of them appear to be able-bodied and capable of productive work.
Several years ago, a food charity pulled out of Ashland because the vast majority of the homeless here appeared to be homeless by their own choice and the charity felt the homeless in Ashland were undeserving of their aid.
For the most part, these people have chosen to forgo work and responsibility. Others are mentally ill. A very small minority are victims of circumstance and deserve help.
Maybe the city should look into funding a small, strictly-run shelter for the truly needy, giving priority to families. Those that do not adhere to the strict requirements of the shelter would be denied aid and then the city could strictly enforce the ban on camping.
The money spent on the shelter might be recouped by increased tax revenues from downtown, as I see the attractiveness and revenues from downtown swiftly fading as the homeless population increases and becomes arrogantly visible and vocal to boot.
If nothing is done, it is conceivable we will have a "skid row" type of downtown with more shuttered storefronts and big-city crime, and few locals enjoying the area.
Having one lame-duck advocate for the homeless on the City Council is no reason to cede control of the park and downtown to a non-contributing vocal minority of people who are technically not even residents.