ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
OCTOBER 23, 2002
CALL TO ORDER - Chair Nancy Richardson called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Jon Uto, Joan Legg, Diana Shavey, Andy Dungan, Kim Blackwolf, Richard Seidman, and Larry Medinger. Cate Hartzell was absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- Dungan moved to approve the minutes of the September 25, 2002 meeting, Blackwolf seconded and the minutes were approved.
JENNIFER HENDERSON, Housing Coalition, reported that the Housing Coalition presented to a group of mobile home park owners, manufacturers of mobile homes, mobile home lenders and renters, their concept about the mobile home ordinance Ashland has been working on. Other mobile home park owners within Ashland have presented their group with another idea to go before the state regulators. They have allotted time on their November 22, 2002 agenda that she will attend. She would like to delay Ashland's continuing of the ordinance so they can see further how the statewide possibility will pan out.
Molnar understood the mobile home ordinance has been tabled for an indefinite period
SOU STUDENT REPRESENTATIVES AND WAYNE SCHUMACHER.
Danielle S., Jessie Corbet, Jason Gilliland, SOU students and Wayne Schumacher, Director of Housing, SOU were present.
Danielle said the group was here to talk about the housing issues affecting students in Ashland. She believes there is a discrimination problem. Housing is expensive and access to housing is difficult. This has historically been an issue with students. However, it is not fair to generalize about students as renters. Some landlords are not the best landlords either. Students make up a large part of the community and they do care. This student group is trying to define the problem and then find out what is possible to do and what is not. They would like to find out the thoughts and perspective from the City of Ashland. They have created a survey for students.
Blackwolf commented she is concerned about the standards of some housing. Last winter she answered ads to go see places and she was appalled at the condition of housing, especially near the University.
On the survey, she thought they should ask if the students are married and do they have children.
Seidman wondered if there was a way to research other communities to find out what they have done.
Shavey thought it would be beneficial for the group to do parallel or companion interviews with landlords.
Schumacher wanted to be here to support the concern the students have. Residence halls house about 1000 students. While it's true there might be a small handful of people that he would hesitate to rent to, the vast majority of students are responsible.
Shavey agreed that there are just a small number of students that don't make good renters. She knows it is a problem for both students and landlords. She believes a dialogue should start about the ways to guard against the negatives and what can be done in a pooled setting so no one would have to bear the financial consequences one time.
Jessie said the second part of this is the educational aspect of it. They would like to do planning applicant brochures, talk to classes about various issues, talk to the students about being a responsible renter and discuss the things the landlord is responsible for. They want to convey to the students that if they want equal opportunity, they need to take responsibility for their actions.
Shavey said if a renter creates damage, someone may be responsible, but her likelihood of recovering from that person is zero. She thinks the dialogue could lead down a dead end alley unless they figure out a way to back up the responsibility message with a way to step up to the plate and cover one's responsibility.
Dungan wondered if there could be some sort of insurance program to cover landlords for damages.
The Commissioners seemed to agree that they themselves would like to rent to students, but just a few spoil it for everyone.
Seidman wondered if there are any landlords that have been willing to rent to students and would be willing to be part of team to come up with solutions that address the concerns from the landlord's perspective.
Jessie said their next step is to make contact with landlords to see who is willing to help them and look for viable solutions.
Seidman mentioned conversations in the past about renter's certification. That has not seemed too promising to him.
Richardson rents to students. She used to work with discrimination with Native Americans in Montana. The education route did not work. What did work was keeping a file of landlords that were willing to rent to students. She also kept a cross-reference of Native Americans that had good references. When Richardson makes a decision not to rent to a student, it is not because of bad references, it is because of the time they will rent. If they leave at the end of June, then she has lost revenue over a summer when her units remain empty. She tends to rent more to students who plan to be there for a couple of years.
Uto asked how student government was planing to keep this alive. Danielle said one step at a time. Jason expressed his appreciation for Uto's membership on the Commission that will help with continuity for SOU.
Molnar said Webring forwarded the latest changed copy to him and he has not had a chance to review it. There was some discussion Molnar had with Webring today, that while their budget is pretty much used up, was there some interest in having at least a brief presentation to the Council. This would mainly be a way to get a formal nod by the Council to the Housing Commission and Staff to move ahead with some of the items in the Action Plan.
Shavey believes it is critical. With the new Council elected and the budget cycle starting, this is a good opportunity to get serious buy-off.
Richardson thought the Housing Commission representatives were scheduled to be on the RVTV call-in show set up by Ann Seltzer. Molnar thought it was set up for November because of the interest in affordable housing.
Medinger felt the Council did not really understand the housing problem. It might be useful to spend some time with the Housing Commission. Seidman wondered about formally requesting a study session with the Council for January or February. Kate Jackson said they can send a request to the Mayor with a copy to Brian Almquist.
Molnar said if Webring comes down to present to the Council, it would probably be toward the end of November.
Shavey moved that we request the City to ask the consultant to come down and make a presentation of the final Action Plan. Dungan seconded the motion and it was approved.
Seidman wondered who would write the letter to the Mayor requesting a study session. Molnar said it usually comes from the Chair and mentions a topic of discussion.
MEETING DATES- The November Housing Commission meeting will be held on the 20th and the December meeting will be held December 18th. Both meetings will be held at 4:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
HOUSING COORDINATOR - Job Description
Shavey would like an opportunity for more dialogue about the job description. The duties talk about things that donít encompass all the Action Plan items. Nothing in it currently points to a project.
Richardson wondered when the RFP has to go out. Molnar said John McLaughlin has been thinking it would be better if this was a full-time temporary City of Ashland employee so it would be easy to access them rather than ultimately getting a product. In that event, the Personnel Department would create an advertisement. How far-reaching do we want this? We would advertise the position with qualifications and then the application packet would include a more elaborate description of their duties and the Action Plan. Molnar said Tina Gray, Personnel Director, has asked Molnar and McLaughlin to get the job description together and she will check it and re-word it. He did not think timing would be a problem in terms of putting out an advertisement.
Richardson asked if Blackwolf, Shavey, Seidman and Legg can meet Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Blackwolfís house, 145 Central, 482-4474, to discuss the particulars of the job description.
Seidman wondered if Molnar included anything about deliverables. Molnar said he will.
Richardson said depending on how the job description is written could depend on how qualified a person you get. We need to make sure someone is there beyond the six months or things will come to a screeching halt. Grant funding can take up a lot time, however, if it is earmarked ahead of time in the job description, anyone who has done this kind of work can sit down and have the grants written and in the mail in short order.
Dungan wondered if there is any sense in having the Commission interview or have the final applicants present to the Commission. That would make the connection with this body right off the bat. Kate Jackson thought that would be a good thing to discuss with McLaughlin and Tina Gray.
Shavey left the meeting at 5:15 p.m.
REAL ESTATE TRANSFER TAX
JENNIFER HENDERSON reported that she had a meeting last week about HB 3400, a bill that failed in the legislature. The people presenting the bill are preparing to go back again for the real estate transfer tax and are looking to see if Ashland should piggy-back with them. They didnít seem to feel we would impede their process. There are questions about whether it would be for Ashland or Jackson County. What is the support within the county for it? Portlandís opposition is the Association of Realtors. Henderson has a meeting tomorrow with the Rogue Valley Association of Realtors. She will be talking about forming a focus group.
Legg believes the focus group is very important. It is mart to look at legislation we can get to make it legal to get a real estate transfer tax. Then, each local jurisdiction can decide whether they want it.
Medinger said generally the State Home Builders do not favor it. He said there is considerable at the state government level allowing locals to pre-empt the use of something like this. He thinks the Home Builders could come in more strongly if there were an offset or a partial offset on SDCís.
Seidman suggested Hendersonís group meet with Alan Bates.
Molnar said he hoped that financial institutions are part of the focus group. In 1993 when the legislation failed, the two chief contributors to the opposition were banks and realtors.
Dungan asked what would be needed from the City of Ashland to move this forward. Henderson said Hartzell was going to develop a resolution to take to the Council. That would be a first step.
Blackwolf and Molnar left the meeting at 5:30 p.m.
HOUSING TRUST FUND STATUS
Jennifer Henderson said she has been working with the Housing Coalition toward trying to see what their process is to develop a housing trust fund. There are two subcommittees: funding and administration. How will we be funded? Who do we fund if we get funding? What do we see the housing trust fund putting money toward? How will it be managed?
Seidman will re-send his e-mail suggesting three subcommittees: Funding, Education and Outreach and Land Use.
Uto wants to kept in the loop and asked other Commissioners to call him if he is needed on a subcommittee.
Seidman is assuming there is a consensus for the three committees. We can ask the committees meet between now and the next meeting to get reactivated. Richardson asked that when Seidman e-mails everyone, that he could make sure there is someone heading up each committee.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.