ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
JULY 23, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
Vice Chair Kim Blackwolf called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Jon Uto, Chris Oswald, Matt Small, Kim Miller, and Larry Medinger. Cate Hartzell arrived at 4:35 p.m. Staff present were Bill Molnar, Gary Collord, and Sue Yates
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- The minutes of the June 25, 2003 meeting were approved.
Aaron Benjamin gave a newspaper article to the Housing Commissioners with regard to down payment assistance for residents in Scranton, PA.
COMMISSION PROGRESS IN PRIORITIZING THE ACTION PLAN
Land Use Subcommittee - Blackwolf reported they have met twice this month. They are taking the land use items from the Action Plan and coming up with steps, timelines and priorities.
Molnar will send Blackwolf the list of people who signed up to work on the subcommittee from the public meeting held in late May. He thought Hartzell had the list for the Employer Assisted Housing and Rich Rohde had the list of those interested in Political Action. There was a fourth group. Someone will check with Dungan to see if he has the fourth list.
Legg suggested having available a panel of experts they could call on for certain special things the Housing Commission would need.
Education & Outreach- Oswald said they have met twice and they have agreed to develop some fact sheets addressing different audiences. For example, Joan will put together a fact sheet that she could take to faith-based organizations. There would be a general fact sheet as well as those geared to developers, real estate agents, possible funding, national housing, etc. These would be in our files and could be pulled and used for a variety of purposes. They will bring their drafts to the next subcommittee meeting. Oswald asked for input on the fact sheets from the other Commissioners. Legg noted there will be one core fact sheet to work from.
Oswald said the packets will be just part of a public outreach campaign. They are still struggling to come up with a theme or catch phrase or concept that would encompass the entire campaign.
Collord heard from Hartzell that the Action Plan is supposed to be brought before the Council in August. Blackwolf understood the Action Plan needs to go before the Budget Committee. Molnar said the Action Plan went to the Council in May for acknowledgement to use the plan as a guiding document. Staff will find out why this has to go back to the Council. Blackwolf would rather move that meeting with the Council to their September meeting. She does not want to miss the budget process but would like a little longer to flush out their timelines and priorities.
Collord asked if the Housing Commissioners could make their best guess when they would be ready to present to the Council. Blackwolf thought mid-September.
Creation of the City Housing Trust Fund
Collord reported that the Planning Department put in request to the Finance Department to set up a local government trust fund. Finance wants to meet with the Planning Department to work out the logistics.
Molnar noted that next week there will be a meeting with Planning staff and the owners of the Croman property. He is assuming they are looking at a new Master Plan for the area. Medinger asked if Molnar would look for an opportunity to get the Housing Commission around the table.
URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT
The Housing Commissioners had asked for further explanation of the urban renewal project. Collord reviewed the information he e-mailed to the Commission last week. He was hopeful it would give the Commissioners a better idea of how this can better help the City meet its housing needs.
Collord feels it might be most appropriate for Ashland to form a housing authority to administer their affordable housing.
Medinger wondered what sites Collord had identified around town to include in an urban renewal area. Collord said the Croman Mill site would be the most likely. There is vacant and underutilized land north of the Railroad District. Molnar said there are clean-up issues there. Collord said they could adopt a series of project areas.
Collord added this is a very long and difficult process that requires a lot strategizing. They might need some consultant help.
Small asked if the decision now is to determine whether or not we want to pursue an urban renewal project. In order to make an educated decision, he would need to know what it would take to actually pursue it. If we hired consultants, what would it cost?What is the process?
Collord can’t think of any other approaches that have as much potential for generating revenue for affordable housing for the City than the urban renewal process. On the other hand, it would take at least two years before any revenue would be coming into the City.
Hartzell asked how this would benefit a landowner. Collord said there is potential for the area to generate revenue that the City could use for affordable housing or economic development with a potential funding source for the property owners to develop whatever activities they would wish to do. As far as Collord could determine, the funds generated have to be used within the urban renewal area.
Miller suggested Collord check with the City of Wilsonville. What used to be Dammasch State Hospital has become the biggest urban renewal project in Oregon - Village of the Woods.
Blackwolf asked where we go from here. Collord said it is up to the City Council to determine if they want to form an urban renewal area. The Housing Commission would make a recommendation.
Small felt some up-front work would need to be done to see if this is a reasonable idea. Collord said it might be possible to get someone associated with an Oregon association of urban renewal agencies to make a presentation to the Housing Commission.
Medinger could not think of any areas of blight in Ashland. A good share of the population does not have enough money to afford housing. Collord generally agrees but he sees this as a tool to generate funds for affordable housing. Why not take advantage of the tool?
Miller asked about the downside of creating an urban renewal agency. Collord said that probably the biggest downside would result in property tax revenues being diverted from the county.
Collord senses there could be a way to move the funds outside the urban renewal area if you can show that it benefits what you are hoping to accomplish within the project area. He believes this method is the single best option the City has to create a stable, long-term source of funding for the housing trust fund. In his view, it would be worth pursuing.
Medinger is not sure it is worth our time.
Hartzell suggested Collord talk to the City of Medford about their project and see if someone could speak to the Housing Commission.
Collord agreed to pursue the various ideas the Commissioners have.
SOU HOUSING DISCRIMINATION
Molnar would ask Wayne Schumacher, SOU, to come to the August meeting to discuss student housing. What does the Commission expect from his visit?
Hartzell suggested the Commissioners contact Sue Yates with any questions they would have for Schumacher. Uto said Schumacher only deals with on-campus housing. Hartzell would like to talk about the influence SOU has on the housing market and the influence of our market on SOU students.
Uto asked if it was the City’s goal to have students live in Ashland.
Blackwolf is concerned about the additional traffic and parking problem that has occurred because of students living in Phoenix and Talent.
Oswald said if there is nothing affordable for students, then discrimination won’t matter. What is the most serious problem?
Molnar said most of the conversations over the last two years have surrounded the difficulty students have in renting single family homes. Staff has encouraged student housing and has worked with SOU and their master planning efforts. They have identified areas within the SOU where it is appropriate so it doesn’t take special zone changes for housing to occur on these parts of campus.
Uto said one question is how much housing is SOU proposing to build in the next 20 years?
Miller said SOU owns 38 houses. Eight are being moved or demolished. Medinger said they could do multi-family housing on the land.
Blackwolf noted one problem is that the rental units in Ashland are managed by just a few companies and their policy is "No Students".
AGENDA AND NEXT MEETING DATE
The next meeting is August 27, 2003.
Urban renewal areas
Action Plan status - Timeline for Council and Budget Committee
Hartzell moved to form a Trust Fund subcommittee. Everyone voted in favor. Small, Miller, Rich Rohde and Jennifer Henderson volunteered for the subcommittee. Collord volunteered to coordinate the first meeting.
ADJOURNMENT– The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.