ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
AUGUST 27, 2003
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by Chair Andy Dungan at 4:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg and Chris Oswald. Larry Medinger and Matt Small arrived at 4:15 p.m. Kim Miller arrived at 5:00 p.m. Staff present were Gary Collord, Brandon Goldman, and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- The minutes of the July 23, 2003 meeting could not be approved as there was not a quorum.
There were some adjustments made to the agenda. Dungan said there is a problem that needs to be dealt with immediately and he wanted to add an item: "Big Box - CDBG Committee".
RON DEMELE, Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) wondered how items to be considered are placed on the agenda. He sent a letter to Brandon Goldman on May 22, 2003 outlining his project evaluation, status of their project, and recommendations on how the project could move forward.
Goldman responded that on April 19, 2003, he sent out letters to all subrecipients who had past carry-over asking them for a progress report. Staff needs to determine if those projects are moving forward in a timely manner. In trying to give that information back to the Housing Commission and City Council, it was their goal that information would be key in modification of subsequent action plans. Goldman said the Council would have that information before their September 3rd study session and their deliberations at their September 16th meeting.
AARON BENJAMINcomplimented Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) for their article in the September edition of their magazine relating to affordable housing. Benjamin offered to write a commendation to JPR on behalf of the Housing Commission. Dungan thanked Benjamin and said he would check with JPR about reproducing the article.
JENNIFER HENDERSONsaid she has heard there is a conflict with their CDBG funds that ACLT are using on the Patterson Street project. There is someone who is an affordable housing advocate, a developer, and a person who would sell below market value and who as also sat on this Commission working on the Patterson Street project. This is a small town and there are going to be only a few people who have parcels that they are going to be willing to sell at a price that ACLT can buy with CDBG funds. She is asking for the Commissionís advocacy.
Dungan said the person Henderson is referring to is Larry Medinger. He is a "covered person" (an appointed or elected person). If he is involved in the transaction, there are ways to deal with this. There are exemptions. The one thing that needs to happen is that Medinger will have to recuse himself from discussions, voting or anything that has to do with any money that he could end up being connected with. If we get to the point where this is creating a problem, he would hope that Medinger would resign from the Commission. Dungan told Medinger he is valuable to this town in actually getting affordable housing on the ground and he would hate to see him off the Commission. Medinger said he has thought the same thing. Dungan feels there is probably a way to deal with this successfully.
Goldman said there are exemptions in the regulations for no financial benefit to the covered person. There are benefits to the site that would not be possible without that covered personís involvement and that could probably be demonstrated because he sold the property below market value. He understands there were competitive bids. The one item he is concerned with is work done prior to a competitive bid process, namely site planning work and excavation of the site and monies paid by RVCDC to Medinger. It is not clear whether or not HUD will find there has been a conflict of interest.
POTENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR CHANGING PAST CDBG ACTION PLANS
Medinger recused himself from this discussion. However, there was not a quorum so Medinger re-joined the meeting and the discussion will be postponed until a later date.
BIG BOX/CDBG COMMITTEE
Dungan said the Commission has an opportunity, as a result of the Council meeting on August 19, 2003, to have some input before September 19, 2003 regarding the "Big Box" ordinance. He feels the Commission needs to say something about affordable housing becoming a part of this ordinance in some way. We need to form a committee to decide what we are going to say as a Commission, writing a letter, and helping Collord.
Kate Jackson said there is a strong momentum to get the original language of the "Big Box" ordinance clarified. We need to get gross floor area versus building footprint straightened out now. She was prepared to separate the discussion of affordable housing as an exemption in the downtown area for bigger buildings until such time as our housing and planning staff had a chance to look at the whole package. In reviewing the ordinance, the Council left the total building floor area either inside or outside the downtown, at 45,000 square feet. They took exception to residential square footage because it didnít say affordable. There was an exemption for internal parking garage space. The Council was split on the parking.
Dungan believes the real opportunity for affordable housing is downtown. He and Jackson both mentioned the need for creativity. Jackson said there is nothing stopping the Commissioners from going before the Council and expressing the need for affordable housing and asking for some type of variance procedure.
Collord said the action the Council took is at odds with the Housing Action Plan and the Land Use Strategies. Both plans call for development incentives for housing throughout the City including higher densities and encouragement affordable housing. One strategy is to market city-owned properties. In the downtown, we have the City owned parking structure and a city service parking lot on Pioneer Street. Both could be marketed for affordable housing purposes. The 45,000 square foot limit will, however, prohibit residential over the parking structure even though it was specifically designed for that purpose and also prevents us from building even one level of housing over the Pioneer lot. Given Ashlandís high land and development cost, if we want to promote the great opportunities for affordable housing, we have to provide higher densities making it feasible to be built. He generally agrees that the Housing Commission should make a formal recommendation to the Council that they are very concerned about the affect this may have on the ability to accommodate affordable housing downtown and present some ways to mitigate the effect. The planning staff was making a recommendation that there be an exemption for housing or on-site parking included within the floor area or footprint of the building.
Medinger said the Commission has to be in a real leadership position by saying that and quantifying it, showing how it will work.
Because a quorum was not present, and the timeline is tight for the CDBG item, the Commission voted unanimously to meet in two weeks on September 10, 2003 at 4:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.
Goldman said the City Council will be reviewing the changes to past CDBG Action Plans on September 16, 2003. If the Commission meeting took place in two weeks, we would be able to provide the Commissionís concerns to the City Council on the 16th.
BIG BOX/CDBG COMMITTEE
Dungan, Oswald and Medinger volunteered for the committee. They committed Hartzell too. Collord will e-mail Hartzell and let her know about the upcoming meetings.
September 3, 2003, noon until 2:00 p.m. is the Council study session. The agenda item is CDBG and Big Box.
Jackson felt Collord needed to coordinate and communicate with the Planning Department and Council on any housing issues that come up. On September 2, 2003, Regional Problem Solving - Now X2 will be coming before the Council. The Council will be expected to make a decision. Everyone agreed that there needed to be better communication.
Small feels like the Commission is reacting to emergency situations. Can we postpone some actions until the Housing Commission has its comments together? It seems we should address all these things simultaneously. It would be preferable to go the Council with a well thought out plan. How can we avoid this happening in the future? Should Collord attend every Planning Commission and Council meeting? It seems the Commission should discuss the issue, give the comments to Collord and Collord will represent the Housing Commission.
Collord believes the Council needs to make a commitment to find out if there has been input from the Commission.
Jackson said each Housing Commissioner can e-mail the Mayor, City Administrator and Council and Planning Director.
Oswald would love to e-mail her comments but she has nothing intelligent to say because they havenít discussed these issues.
Legg suggested we write a letter for the September 2nd meeting stating the Housing Commission has not had an opportunity to review the information and comment regarding the UGB. They are requesting a final decision come at a later meeting. Collord and Small will work on the letter. Jackson said she would try to get everything from last nightís meeting on the website. Dungan, Medinger, and Small volunteered to attend that meeting. Dungan moved that Collord officially speak about the pros and cons of expanding the UGB and the possible opportunity for affordable housing. Oswald seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously. Legg thought we should stress how some of the Councilís actions are in conflict with the Housing Action Plan.
Kim Miller arrived at 5:30 p.m.
COUNCIL STUDY SESSION ON CDBG & BIG BOX
Dungan moved that Collord be ready to speak to pros and cons and some of the issues involved. If possible, Collord might bring specific language, examples, or specifics of things they can do. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously. Legg, Medinger, Dungan and Small volunteered to attend the meeting.
COUNCIL MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2003
Dungan thought the Commission needed to be prepared for second reading of the Big Box ordinance. The newly formed committee of four needs to meet with Kate Jackson as soon as possible. Can Collord send his comments about what they should do over e-mail to the committee? The Big Box could be an agenda item on September 10, 2003. Medinger is concerned that the Big Box ordinance will somehow constrain future creativity.
FUTURE MEETING PLACE
The Commission agreed to meet permanently at the Siskiyou Room in the Community Development and Engineering Services building from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
MAJOR EMPLOYER WORKING GROUP
Collord said the Housing Action Plan encourages major employers to get involved to see if they can bring some resources to Ashlandís housing problems and is being encouraged by the Mayor. It would be beneficial to have an on-going committee that meets. Dungan asked who would be interested in working on this. Medinger expressed an interest. Hartzell had expressed an interest earlier. Legg noted that Diana Shavey, former Housing Commissioner, spearheaded this before.
Jackson thought there was a group currently meeting on diversity issues. She will get the name of the group and give that information to Collord.
Dungan solicited the Commissionís input on how the Commission is working and how he is doing as Chair. He is very interested in anyoneís input.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.