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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

NOVEMBER 19, 2003

Chair Andy Dungan called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m.

Commissioners Present:
Andy Dungan, Chair
Matt Small
Kim Blackwolf
Chris Oswald

Absent Members:
Joan Legg
Kim Miller
Jon Uto

Council Liaison: Cate Hartzell

High School Liaison: None

SOU Liaison: None

John McLaughlin, Director, Community Development
Bill Molnar, Senior Planner
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

McLaughlin announced that Larry Medinger had called the Mayor and has resigned from the Housing Commission.

NEXT MONTH'S MEETING - December 17, 2003, 4:00 p.m. Note: The 2004 March meeting will be held the third week in March due to spring break.

Oswald asked on Page 5, paragraph four, rather than "take a creative risk and take a bigger bite" that she meant to say, "The potential rewards of finding a big project and taking risks is something we should do". It was moved and seconded to approve the amended minutes. The motion carried.

thought it advisable for the Housing Commission to at least be aware, if not involved, in playing a role in the development of downtown. He mentioned the most recent project that was approved by the Planning Commission at First and Hargadine. The Housing Commission needs to look at the broad scope of infill in the downtown.

Molnar noted that the project Benjamin is referring to is required to have one affordable unit.

RICH ROHDE asked if the Housing Commissioners ask for public comment before a vote is taken. Dungan said the Commissioners always encourage audience members to participate. McLaughlin said the Commission might want to formalize the process, especially as they get into more complex issues. He suggested the following format for public input: (1) Staff Input, (2) Public Response, (3) Commissioners' Discussion and (4) Decision.

Sandler said he does not need to apply for money to fund this project. He will be looking for tax credits from the federal government. He will take credits from the Planning Commission should that come up. He gave a presentation to the Council (see packet), but met with Rich Rohde after the Council meeting (see written comments in record) . He plans to do rental housing at 60 percent of median income, and lower if possible. Ashland needs to have some successes with affordable housing. He wants to pull the "for-profit" in and work with non-profits (see packet). He is proposing 20 affordable rental housing units over the air space of the City parking lot.

Molnar asked, if after 60 years, the property becomes market rate. Sandler said after 60 years there may be a better use for the property and he could sell it back to the City at market value. Dungan said 60 years is a long-term ownership of the property.

Blackwolf asked why Sandler didn't want to lease it from the City. Sandler said he might need to get financing at some time and he could not get a loan with a lease. Circumstances can change.

Hartzell said that Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) is a non-profit that could do the project with a lease. Sandler responded that if a non-profit can do it, he'll gladly back out and support someone else. He just wants an affordable housing project to be completed. Hartzell said this has been on the minds of RVCDC. Sandler said it is not acceptable by the State for RVCDC to be involved with this project. Krista Berry (audience) said ACCESS is the only group that can do federal tax credits.

McLaughlin said it is his understanding there are two types of tax credits. Generally, the non-profits get involved with the competitive process because there is more money. Debbie Price from State Housing told him and Brandon Goldman that her department would not approve tax credits for RVCDC because of capacity issues with RVCDC's organization.

Berry said a non-profit has to do at least 30 units in order to make it break even.

Hartzell wondered if the City leased the airspace and the City still owns it, what if at the end of 60 years it might be needed for another purpose. She asked Sandler if he had looked at any other parcels. Sandler has been looking at the old Handyman store.

Blackwolf believes it behooves us to explore all options. She is asking Sandler to relax and let the Commission discuss options.

Blackwolf asked where OSF is on this deal. McLaughlin said it is written in their lease agreement that they have six months to propose their own project that would show similar or greater benefits than what someone else would propose.

Hartzell is concerned because she sees City property as common property and she is not comfortable entering into exclusive negotiations. As a community is this a good opportunity for the short-term and/or the long-term? We have to look at it as keepers of the public trust.

Sandler understands the Commission is saying that one issue is buying the property back. He is very agreeable to putting out a Request for Proposal for the project.

Oswald believes there are a lot of details. She senses reluctance on the part of the Commissioners to take any risks. We need affordable housing on the ground. This is exactly the kind of thing we need to try.

Sandler is asking the Commission to recommend to the Council that they support his project.

The Commissioners reviewed the Council's motion contained in the City Council's minutes of the November 4, 2003 meeting.

Hartzell said she has huge concerns that RVCDC came forward a year ago to the Planning Staff and nothing happened. Now we are looking at a for-profit project. Why now? We are supposed to be supporting the non-profits. McLaughlin did not want Hartzell to think Staff put in more time with RVCDC on the parking lot than they have with Sandler. Staff did not put RVCDC's request on the back burner. They spent more time with RVCDC than they have with Sandler. Sandler has been proceeding on his own. RVCDC is welcome to come back again and Staff is willing to work with them.

The Commission discussed how to proceed from here. Small said the Housing Commission is responsible for affordable housing issues. He supports the idea of affordable housing at that location. He would like to leave the mechanics and how it works to someone else. He would support an RFP process. Hartzell felt the Council's motion asked that the Housing Commission work out some of the details before making a recommendation. She believes they need more information and she would like Debbie Price to make a presentation to them. She would like to see what RVCDC could offer. Blackwolf liked the idea of making some comparisons with other groups. Dungan believes time is of the essence. Hartzell believes it is important to take time before making a recommendation to the Council.

McLaughlin suggested the Commission could do a Request for Qualification process. It would be less costly for an applicant. They could outline number of units, income levels, timelines, etc. Hartzell added other items - do we want parking, how many units, what size?

Blackwolf moved to recommend using the RFP process. Then, continue the discussion at the next meeting and work on the RFP process. Small seconded the motion and it carried with Small, Blackwolf and Hartzell voting "yes" and Dungan and Oswald voting "no".

Debbie Price should be available for next month's meeting. Dungan solicited Staff's help with working up an outline for the RFP.

There is potential for future growth outlined in McLaughlin's memo to the Housing Commission dated 11/19/03. McLaughlin discussed the five areas, stating that AD1 and AD2 have both merits and concerns. Staff does not feel the remaining three areas are appropriate for future growth (Mountain Meadows, Young property and Neil Ranch). The Planning Commission recommended to the Council that no areas should be included. The City is constrained in how we can grow. If we decided not to include an area now, there will be a process to request inclusion later, possibly every five years.

Dungan moved that all four parcels be included (not Neil Ranch). Small seconded the motion. Dungan believes by recommending four areas, there will be more options open for affordable housing.

Blackwolf is concerned about the special interest areas, developing across Bear Creek, and using agricultural lands. If any of the future growth areas are included, there is no guarantee of affordable housing.

McLaughlin said the Planning Commission recommended no growth options. They said this is the livable size community we want. Their concern was if the areas are brought in, it won't fix the affordable housing problem.

Hartzell wondered if we should annex for affordable housing or not. Her ecological view is to "shut it off". But her social view is to leave it open. What will the market do if we include areas?

Oswald is a biologist first and a Housing Commissioner second. She does not want to see open areas built out.

Dungan and Small voted to include the four areas. Hartzell, Oswald, and Blackwolf voted "no". Hartzell added that we struggle to get affordable housing. It takes making sacrifices. What are we willing to trade off?

There was no further motion on this matter.

McLaughlin said Staff will be going back to the Council to see how to best divide the property and how to maximize the sale. The Council has committed to putting the funds into affordable housing. A portion may be allocated for purchasing The Grove (on East Main Street).

McLaughlin reported the job posting closes December 5th. A hiring committee has not yet been determined.

SUBCOMMITTEE - Finance Committee - Rohde said they are continuing to pursue funding options. They may need some expertise in analyzing some of the options. They have decided the usage of the Housing Trust Fund should be clearly prioritized.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.

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