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You can't leave that free stuff on the sidewalk indefinitely

On my daily walks around the Ashland neighborhoods it is not uncommon to encounter a box with items marked “free.” Sometimes the giveaway articles are larger — a chair or sofa. I applaud the effort to redistribute the objects instead of assigning them to the landfill. However, the boxes are sometimes left on the sidewalk for days or weeks, and I’m wondering whether there are any city restrictions/regulations on this practice.

— Ned, Ashland

While we here in the SYA newsroom agree with Ned that folks who try to give away used items for free have their hearts in the right place, it looks like they probably don’t have their free stuff in the right place. At least not according to at least a couple city ordinances.

Ordinance 11.16.160 states that, “No person shall park or leave upon a street, including an alley, parking strip, sidewalk or curb, a vehicle or a vehicle part, trailer, box, ware, merchandise of any description, or any other thing that in any way impedes traffic or obstructs the view, except as is allowed by this title or any ordinances of this city.”

Another ordinance, 10.64.020, also addresses the issue, and 10.64.010 provides a handy explainer. The latter reads, in part: “Ashland’s economic vitality depends significantly on attracting tourists and other visitors who want to recreate in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Ashland is a singular destination for tourists and other visitors in part because many of its public spaces and cultural and commercial attractions are readily accessible on foot via public sidewalks and other walkways.”

And 10.64.020 leaves little wiggle room: “Except as otherwise permitted by ordinance or by a conditional use permit or by a special event permit, no person shall use a street or public sidewalk for selling, storing or displaying merchandise or equipment.”

There you have it, Ned. Turns out, if you want to get rid of stuff in Ashland without risking a fine, you’ll have to do it one of the old fashioned ways — organize a garage sale, sell it online, head to the dump or cram it behind that ancient trunk in your attic. Lift with your legs.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.