Law & Order: SO Unit A Sampling of Criminal and Civil Matters Around the Region
Medford: A month ago, Medford police posted ads to several websites and apps suspected of sex trafficking or solicitation. Eleven different men from the Medford area responded to the ads, and set up meetings with who they believed were women they planned to pay for sex. The ages ranged from 21 to 52. When the men arrived at various hotels around Medford, they were arrested. (The names of the hotel have been withheld, but acted in cooperation with the police.)
As well, seven women responded to the ads and set up meetings at local hotels, planning to exchange sex for money. It is believed that those women were part of an organized “sex ring,” and two men from California—Stockton and Sacramento—were arrested as the ring leaders, and also for tampering with evidence and resisting arrest.
Grants Pass: In late June, Grants Pass city council passed regulations for short-term rentals, like the popular AirBnB site. The new regulations arrive within the context of other cities throughout Oregon, and the world, setting in place regulations for short-term house rentals.. With short-term rentals steadily gaining popularity, cities have scrambled to put in place to manage the burgeoning business, with estimated revenue of $3 billion for AirBnB this year alone.
There is no standard yet, as each city seems to be managing the short-term rentals in their jurisdiction on an individual basis. Tourist cities like Bend have limited the number of AirBnb rentals and collected taxes on those allowed, while Ashland has all but banned them. When Ashland set in place a regulation several years ago, there were reported “sting” operations to check whether home-owners were complying.
Grants Pass regulations for short-term rentals are much more elementary, simply requiring home-owners to obtain a business license and pay standard hospitality taxes.
“Council just felt that since VRBOs are already here,” explained councilmember Dennis Roler. “(and) that we wanted to protect the integrity of neighborhoods by regulating them.”
Short-term rentals are moderate active in the Grants Pass area, with roughly 100 available. As well as requiring hosts to registered and obtain a business license, they will pass hotel taxes, but councilmember Roler added, “It wasn’t a money thing.”
By rough calculations, the City of Grants Pass will collect about $30,000 each year in tax revenue.
Ashland: For the past seven years, Detective Carrie Hull with the Ashland police department has steadily been building the You Have Options Program (YHOP), a method to “remove barriers” for reporting sexual assault. The program has been lauded for the compassion and support it provides sexual assault survivors.
In early June, Ashland City Council voted to divest from the program. Detective Hull had been operating YHOP within the police department and with public funding, and will now privatize the program as a company called Veracities, Inc.
In a prepared statement, the police department explained, “(a) department our size cannot lose one of its 28 officers without sacrificing service in another area.” The department only has 28 officers, and part of the city’s resolution is to return a full-time position from the responsibilities of managing YHOP to general duties.
Hull did not respond to questions asking what opportunities or liabilities privatization of the program creates.