Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

MARCH 17, 2004

Vice Chair Jon Uto called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m.

Members Present: Jon Uto, Vice Chair
Faye Weisler
Liz Peck
Matt Small
Don Mackin
New Members: Amy Korth
Carol Voisin
Council Liaison: Kate Jackson (present)
Absent Members: Kim Miller
High School Liaison: None
SOU Liaison: Ryan Heihn
Staff: Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist
Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

The minutes of the February 24, 2004 Housing Commission were approved as submitted.

RICH ROHDE, with Oregon Action and Jackson County Housing Coalition, wanted to alert the Commission to a training opportunity. The Jackson County Housing Coalition is a coalition of housing groups throughout the county. The next meeting is a Housing Strategies Training on April 12, 2004 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Santo Center in Medford.

Carol Voisin introduced herself to the Commission. Amy Korth was also appointed to the Commission and arrived later in the meeting.

Goldman introduced the City's Finance Director, Lee Tuneberg. He will be talking about accounting of funds from the sale of the Strawberry Lane property into the Housing Trust Fund. Goldman put together a workbook he found that addresses affordable housing trust funds. He will add it to next month's agenda.

LEE TUNEBERG said in the past, the Finance Department has created a separate account for the funds such as the Strawberry Lane property proceeds within the existing general ledger and credits the appropriate funds to that account. Before any money can be appropriated, a request has to go through the supplemental budget process.

Jackson asked once the monies are there, could the money be borrowed for other projects. Tuneberg said the City does not borrow from the general ledger accounts. Weisler asked if the City is legally restricted from borrowing the money or is it discretionary? Tuneberg cannot envision that, as they are not loaning any money from the general fund, but it is possible. Any loan would be paid back to the fund. Interest can be earned on the account and it is whatever is earned in the local investment fund.

Voisin expressed an interest in seeing a monthly accounting of the fund. Tuneberg can include a monthly report.

Jackson said the supplemental budget has to be approved by the Council. The Council did specify funds from the sale of the Strawberry Lane property would be put into a Housing Trust Fund with the exception of the funds needed to buy out The Grove. Jackson asked if we need to ask for the money to be in an account that earns interest. Tuneberg said he would investigate that further.

Goldman provided the minutes of the November 4, 2003 Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council considered Sandler's request. He read the Council's motion to refer Sandler's request to the Housing Commission and that the Housing Commission make a recommendation on Sandler's request back to the Council and the potential RFP process. There was a previous motion that directed Staff work with the Housing Commission to look at standards for the development of parking lots downtown for affordable housing in general. Goldman said the Council's motion does not specifically say to develop an RFP. Sandler's request is to purchase and/or lease the airspace above the parking structure for the development of housing tax credit project. He would like to build at least 20 units of housing targeted at 60 percent of median income.

Small recalled that Cate Hartzell promoted the RFP. He doesn't think anyone thought about this type of development until Sandler made his presentation. It could have been Hartzell's way of holding off the decision and bringing other ideas to the table.

Weisler asked if there would be other entities competing if we did a reasonable RFP. Goldman said we would advertise out of the area, but it is a relatively small project.

Mackin is concerned about the purchase versus lease of the property. We would be selling a City asset. Sandler stated his reason for requesting purchase of the property is for financing. It is Mackin's experience that leasing the property shouldn't be a problem. He would like to see other options explored. There is so much information and he would like to see Staff and the Commission investigate this further. Have we had Staff review or Legal Dept. review? We need to have the RFP before us. He would like to bring this forward again next month. Weisler agreed.

Small thought there are two questions that need answering from the Council's motion made in November. Should we continue with the RFP process? He thinks we should commit today to the RFP process and further review the RFP document.

Mackin wondered if Sandler's proposal would fit within the RFP, as proposed. Goldman said the RFP is broad in scope and Sandler's proposal should fit. Mackin asked if there is also an option of lease or purchase. Goldman said there is. Mackin thought we should give the RFP to Sandler and have him tell us the difference between the lease and purchase. For a new commissioner, it is important we do our homework.

Small asked if we have the assurance if a project like this has the backing of the Council. Jackson said the Council wasn't arguing whether or not there should be housing over the parking garage. The question was more about how we would proceed in doing that. Small said he doesn't want the Commission to take the time to develop an RFP and find out the Council had something else in mind.

Jackson wondered what it would take for the Commission to be comfortable with the affordable income targets. She believes it should be broadly written. Mixed-use implies different income brackets. Do we want to push it down to the lower brackets?

Heihn has questions about the legalities of this proposal. What happens if we sell the airspace? It seems the Council wasn't saying they wanted to do this, but they wanted the Housing Commission to recommend to them what to do.

Peck believes the leasing versus selling is an important point. The City has set a precedent by previously entering into lease agreements. She is not clear on the income ranges. Who would it affect? Where in the City are other types of housing? Where is the need? Goldman said much of that information can be found in the Housing Needs Analysis.

Small wondered if we should be discussing the details of the RFP at this point. It is critical there is Council support for the concept of affordable housing over the parking garage.

Jackson said the Council referred it back to the Housing Commission to do an RFP. It is important to get the leasing versus sale question answered. The RFP would be soliciting a mixed-use affordable project on top of the parking structure. It is important the Council finds an affordable project to build. The Council unanimously approved the Housing Action Plan and Needs Analysis and the housing specialist position. They need to keep justifying this to the budget committee and the community.

Weisler moved to use the RFP process instead of accepting a single proposal. Jackson seconded the motion and the motion carried unanimously.

The Commission discussed the cost of responding to an RFP and asked Goldman to contact Ron Demele of RVCDC for his input.

Small added that Cate Hartzell has expressed a concern as to whether or not affordable housing is a proper use for the parking garage property. It might be better used for a park or sculpture garden or something else. He believes it is important the Housing Commission discuss that aspect as well.

Small recommended continuing development of the RFP. He would like to ask the Council to commit to affordable housing above the parking structure. Until we have their backing, he is concerned about the amount of time and work the Commission would devote to this. Mackin said the Council would put out the RFP.

Uto recommended directing Staff to look into the legal implications of lease versus purchase of the airspace over the parking structure as well as the other issues discussed.

Mackin suggested deferring any further discussion until next month. Although Weisler is anxious to move this along, Mackin thought we will do what we can with the time we have. Next month's meeting is April 28th.

Jackson recommended continuing the discussion on how we want to phrase affordability for the target income levels.

Uto said any further questions the Commission might have can be e-mailed to Goldman or the group.

Mackin said we don't want to exclude input. He suggested having sign-up sheets for the audience members. They can sign up for Public Forum or a specific agenda item. The sign-up sheets would be forwarded from Yates to the Chair and the Chair would invite participants to speak at the appropriate time.

The Commissioners discussed time limits for the public to speak. Some favored three to five minutes and others favored ten to fifteen minutes. In order to allow some flexibility, the time limits will be kept from three to five minutes but can be longer at the discretion of the Chair.

Rhode asked that whatever policy is adopted that it be put it on the agenda.

The Commission decided to try the sign-ups and see how it works.

The Commission also discussed moving the meeting place during the summer to the Council Chambers due to parking difficulties at the 51 Winburn Way location. They decided to continue meeting at the 51 Winburn Way location for now.

Uto said he would be on the Commission until June. Weisler nominated Uto for Chair and he was elected unanimously. Mackin nominated Small for Vice Chair and he was elected unanimously.

In addition to the items mentioned above, add Report of Subcommittees.

The subcommittees are broken down as follows:

00 Education: Faye Weisler
Jon Uto
Amy Korth
Carol Voisin
Finance: Matt Small
Kim Miller
Land Use: Ryan Heihn
Liz Peck
Don Mackin

Agenda Item: Land Use Code Changes
Start with a recap. What are the issues and what might help?

Mackin felt it was premature for his subcommittee to meet. They will probably wait until something is referred to them (Land Use).

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.

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