Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, February 26, 2003



FEBRUARY 26, 2003


Chair Andy Dungan called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Richard Seidman, Kim Blackwolf, Larry Medinger, Cate Hartzell and Ashland High School representative Evian Distefano. Dungan introduced new member, Chris Oswald. Jon Uto and Kim Miller were absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.


The minutes of the December 18, 2003 meeting and January 22, 2003 meeting were approved. Oswald abstained.


AARON CORBETT, 148 4th Street, said he sent an e-mail today to all the Housing Commissioners regarding Section 8 vouchers for housing. It could go into effect now and HUD could do the administration. Hartzell and Blackwolf responded that the vouchers are applied for and administered through HUD. It is their understanding people get their names on a list. There is a lengthy waiting list. There are only a certain number of landlords that deal with Section 8. Blackwolf said she would look into this.


MELANIE MINDLIN, 1338 Seena Lane, and


Blackwolf stepped down because she is part of the application.

Seidman recused himself from any discussion because it could be a conflict of interest.

Mindlin said they are proposing to do a small cohousing project on a piece of property they have obtained. off Fordyce Street. It is infill property. Their handout explains the concept of cohousing and outlines their project. The basic principles are: 1) enhanced sense of community, 2) sharing common facilities, 3) residentsí involvement, and 4) separation of car and having pedestrian access to homes with service drives.

They are proposing 12 units ranging from a 650 square foot one-bedroom unit to an 1800 square foot, four-bedroom unit. There are public yards, gardens, plaza, common house, and picnic area/patio. They are very interested in making these units affordable. Everyone working on the project needs affordable housing. They are looking for the support of the Housing Commission, however, what they are looking at as affordable is not as inexpensive as the guidelines the City has established. These guidelines are very restrictive in terms of income (not as restrictive), how much money you can have in the bank, down payment, etc. All these things make it difficult to qualify. Even with the significant savings for the land, and lower developer costs, they still cannot meet the affordable levels. They can do 65 to 75 percent and that brings them in at prices they feel normal professionals (teachers, nurses, government employees) in Ashland can afford. The units should sell anywhere from $120,000 for the smallest unit up to $200,000.

Mindlin stated this project is not as low cost as the requirements, but within the context of Ashland affordability. In order to achieve this, they are going to need considerable assistance and cooperation from the Planning Department and Planning Commission. Except for the parking lot, the design matches the other development in the neighborhood. Mindlin said this concept has been explored minimally with the Planning Department.

Medinger disclosed he has been a supporter of Blackwolf and Mindlin for many years. They are probably putting equal or less square footage on the lot than what might be on Kirk Lane. Werenít we encouraging adaptive use of R-1 lands to R-2 if they could be used for affordable housing?

Molnar said this change has gone to the Planning Commission and is scheduled for the Council for March 18th. He said it follows the concept of the ordinance in attempting to justify the zone change for affordable housing. However, the purchase price they are showing would not meet the standard as proposed in the ordinance.

Medinger thought there could be a middle ground of what is market (mid-$200,000 +) and what is affordable (Mindlinís project) that hasnít been served. He asked Mindlin to show some income levels. This project might stimulate the Commission to define that area and look at it more closely. He also noted this is a peculiar property that begs for some kind of use like this.

Hartzell asked Molnar how receptive the Planning Commission would be to this project. Molnar said there are some really big hurdles to cross based on zoning standards. The current zoning would allow for five to six units. It takes a zone change to double the density in an existing neighborhood. Generally, a zone change would raise neighborís concerns because it is an isolated zone change. It doesnít matter how small the lots are, it requires public street access. They are showing a much narrower street. The question would be, what is the overall community benefit for doing this? There are major deviations from the current requirements and there are good reasons why those requirements are currently on the books. What is the benefit of allowing for flexibility? Is there willingness, if there is an affordable component to require long-term affordability? The purchase price is above what is already inside the city. It exceeds what the Commission is taking forth to the Council. Molnar said it is a unique piece of property that lends itself for a more innovative design.

Oswald asked if this proposal had been presented to neighbors. Blackwolf said she has talked with five neighbors and they were positive.

Hartzell said she is supportive, but wondered how the Commission could be useful at this point. Blackwolf said we have to push the entire city to start thinking outside the box. If we are really going to create affordable housing in the long-term, we have to start looking at all kinds of new models and finding a way it will fit the rules or changing the rules to fit what we can do. It goes way beyond cohousing.

Molnar said there is a similar cottage housing development (12 units, 800 square feet each) being built next to the Ashland Senior Center on Siskiyou Boulevard in an R-2 zone.

Seidman wondered if Goal 10 requires cities to provide housing for residents of all income levels in the community. Molnar said we are required to insure there is enough property to provide housing for all income levels. The goal does not say the City has to provide the housing. The inventory must be available.

Molnar felt a good next step would be the pre-application meeting. Hartzell asked to have an update on next monthís agenda.

NEXT MONTHíS MEETING - Dungan announced the next meeting will be March 19, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. at the new Community Development and Engineering Services Building at 51 Winburn Way.

HOUSING COMMISSION MEETING TIME & PLACE - Discuss Format, Activities, Location and Time

Dungan said the newly formed Medford Housing Commission is having speakers on a regular basis. Do we want to invite speakers? Would that attract more public attention?

Hartzell wants to explore different meeting times. Blackwolf has to get childcare in the evening. Kim Miller has a different time need. Dungan asked what would best meet the publicís needs? Blackwolf said a lot of our lack of public input is a lack of marketing and making it clear there is a reason to come.

Dungan said more people might come after regular working hours, however Hartzell said the exception might be that housing developers could come during their work times.

Five oíclock was suggested as a time to meet. Dungan feels the goal is to create an opportunity where there is an opportunity for more public input and more public participation.

Hartzell said we might want to consider adding a public presentation every three months and meet an hour longer. Oswald suggested having an elongated meeting periodically or a completely different day of the week, completely different time and to publicize it. That could set it apart as something specifically for public input rather than getting all wrapped up in all the other business. Legg thought it would be more interesting for the public to do it that way. She likes the meeting time the way it is now.

Hartzell handed out her ideas for a public forum. She brought forth the idea of creating community subcommittees and arranging a meeting time that would be convenient for the committees so they could interface with the Commission. Hartzell said the purpose of the forum would be to bring visibility to housing. Have a time to showcase those that are doing things with affordable housing. It is a place to start building a structure. The Commission cannot do it all. People in the community want to help.



Seidman said he and Dungan attended the League of Women Voters presentation on affordable housing. It was an excellent presentation. Seidman spoke with Anita and asked if they would be interested in meeting with the Housing Commission to do a presentation. They were enthusiastic about that.

Dungan said we need to form a committee that can make things happen and to organize the forum. Hartzell, Blackwolf, Oswald, and Dungan volunteered. Seidman said he would be the interim chair.

AARON BENJAMIN asked if the League of Women Voters receives a copy of the agenda. The Association of University Women is another group to tap into. He suggested publishing the agenda in the newspaper.

Hartzell said anyone can get on the mailing list for agendas. Give any names to Sue Yates. Hartzell said she would find out the cost of putting the agenda in the paper. Blackwolf suggested having the meeting notice under Community Notes.

Seidman will be leaving the Commission after his term is up in April. Can we encourage Anita (LWV) to join?


Blackwolf met with Amy Amrhein about Willow Winds. It is not a viable proposal at this time to build anything out there. Amrhein said a proposal would be entertained for doing something with the Briscoe property.

Hartzell met with CDC and ACLT and Brandon Goldman to talk about CDBG. It is the first time those two groups had an opportunity to meet together and ask how they can work together. This will be another opportunity to involve the new housing coordinator.

Hartzell mentioned a poster contest sponsored by the Fair Housing Council. She gave the information to Distefano.

Hartzell will be meeting with Diana Shavey and Brandon Goldman tomorrow to draft a letter to Ron Wyden to take to Washington, DC to try and get some legislative relief on a carryover for CDBG. We have a threatening letter from HUD.


Seidman was wondering if we want to spearhead some type of lobbying effort for the state legislature to make it possible for a real estate transfer tax. Dungan said Rich Rohde and the Housing Coalition are doing a lot. We can support it through letters but the best way to support it is through participation in the Housing Coalition. Jennifer Henderson is involved. Give Jennifer Henderson your e-mail address.

Hartzell suggested writing a letter to the League of Women Voters saying several of our members were so impressed with their presentation. The Housing Commission sees an important role for them to play in this issue. Also, mention the Housing Coalition and how they are working on the real estate transfer tax and possible inclusionary zoning. Explain how the Commission is considering a public forum too.

Seidman will write the letter.


Seidman wondered if the chairs could be moved up in this room.


Dungan reported that Rural Collaborative has paid for Deb Holladay to do a study of Missoula and Ashland/Medford/Jackson County. Holladay did a study in Lee County, Florida, looking at economic indicators to make the argument that if you donít do anything about affordable housing, you will pay in other ways. The impact will cost.

Dungan invited everyone to attend the Housing Coalition meeting next Monday at 3:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.

Henderson talked with Holladay and she indicated she will do a satellite report that will include Ashland specifically, but she will also have the broader picture. She plans to have a draft report in two months.

Dungan noted that his affordable housing Power Point presentation is on the City of Ashland website.

INCLUSIONARY ZONING - Put on next monthís agenda.


Three houses are scheduled to be demolished or moved soon from SOU property. Dungan said it is a long-shot opportunity for a non-profit to get the houses. A meeting is scheduled on Friday with some non-profits to see if something can happen. Dungan needs a list of the non-profits. Is there any place to put the houses temporarily? It is unlikely the University will want to put them on their property. The non-profits have the first opportunity.

Hartzell suggested in a month or two the Commission should have an agenda item to discuss the SOU Master Plan. She would like to talk about a mitigation strategy for their entire Master Plan and understanding what their plans are for affordable housing.


Hartzell was surprised when this item came before the Council that it wasnít ready for adoption. John McLaughlin said it was not ready as it was his intention to re-write it and clean it up. She noted Chris Hearnís letter outlining his concerns. Molnar thought McLaughlin told the Council it would come back in May or June. It would not necessarily be rewritten but reformatted. Molnar said if this is going for adoption as part of the Comprehensive Plan, everything has to be worded appropriately, as it becomes a very legal document. Hartzell asked this be put on next monthís agenda for an update.


Hartzell said we have done this survey for a fairly long time. The questions should be standard over time or you lose the comparative function. They wanted to add two questions about housing. Ann Seltzer suggested the two questions contained in the packet. There was consensus that the Commission could come up with two better questions. Oswald didnít think we want to ask questions the general public does not have enough information to answer. She thought we needed to hear more about how citizens have been impacted personally. Hartzell asked if you own or rent and percentage of income spent on housing. They will e-mail each other with their suggestions.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.



















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