ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
April 13, 2005
1. CALL TO ORDER
Vice-Chair Faye Weisler called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 1175 E Main St, Ashland, OR 97520.
Commissioners Present: Faye Weisler
Absent Members: Matt Small, (recused)
Carol Voisin (recused)
Council Liaison: Cate Hartzell (arrived at 6:15)
SOU Liaison: None
Staff Present: Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist
2. REVIEW OF PROPOSALS
LITHIA PARKING LOT PROPOSAL EVALUATION
Faye Weisler read a memo provided by the Ashland Legal Department that outlined the options available to the Commission. Specifically the memo indicated that the Commission could not entertain substantive modifications to the proposals received. Further, Wiesler read page 11 section D of the Request for Proposals to explain that the Commission could not orally modify the RFP and would not be evaluating modifications to the proposals received:
“The provisions of this RFP cannot be modified by oral interpretations or statements. If inquiries or comments by offerors raise issues that require clarification by the City, or the City decides to revise any part of this RFP, addenda will be provided to all persons known to the contact person who have received or will subsequently receive the RFP. Receipt of addenda must be acknowledged by signing and returning it with the proposal”.
Goldman voiced that concerns had been raised regarding interpretation of the RFP, and whether the City could or could not accept proposals that included a commercial component. Goldman expressed staff’s opinion that the City could accept proposals with a commercial component and that upon review the legal department found that page 6 section F5 of the RFP allowed the City the ability to make such an interpretation . Goldman read this section:
“In cases of doubt or differences of opinion concerning the interpretation of this RFP, the city reserves the exclusive right to determine the intent, purpose and meaning of any provision in this RFP.”
Allan Sandler submitted a letter expressing his concerns regarding the RFP process and a letter outlining modifications to his original proposal. He stated that he felt that option #3 indicated in the Legal Department Memo (Recommend an addendum to the RFP be sent to each respondent) was preferable. He stated opposition to the City accepting any proposal containing a commercial component citing that commercial development is no where addressed anywhere in the RFP. Sandler feels the cost of land as a donation is enough to support the development of housing. He did not feel that it was appropriate for the City to provide land for commercial development in competition with private property. Sandler stated that if he could provide a commercial component the rents for the affordable units could go from 80%AMI to 60%AMI. Sandler then read his letter to the commission.
KENDRICK ENTERPRISES & ASHLAND COMMUNITY LAND TRUST (ACLT)
Representatives for the proposal explained that one of the goals of the Kendrick Enterprise proposal is to utilize the proposed commercial space for a “business collective”. They further explained the community benefits of a business collective. Goldman explained that the proposal received from Kendrick Enterprises does not specifically mention a co-operative or collective and noted that it is his understanding that the commercial space would be available for any permitted use in the downtown zone at the discretion of the developer. Goldman stated that this could be seen as an addition to the proposal as received and the Commission would want to restrict their evaluation to clarifications of the proposals, and not entertain modifications. Therefore, although a co-operative or business collective is an interesting concept, Goldman urged the Commission not to base a recommendation upon the value of this type of commercial use.
Shelley Austin, Ashland Community Land Trust Executive Director, provided answers to a series of questions raised by Commissioners at the March 30th meeting:
Q: Would the Commercial Component revert to City ownership at the end of 40 years?
A: (Austin) Yes, the commercial space would be a condominium space at it would revert to City ownership
Q How does the commercial component subsidize the affordable housing Development?
Weisler explained that because there is no mention of a financial relationship between the commercial component and the housing in the original proposal she was uncomfortable allowing this question to be addressed by Austin in that it could be considered a modification to the proposal.
Q: What are the advantages of an Eco Roof?
A: John Echlin, Architect expressed that as this project was a demonstration project Kendrick Enterprises wanted to provide an eco roof for storm water management purposes, to benefit energy efficiency as well as provide a visual appeal from above. In this way the benefits of eco-roofs could be demonstrated as a model for future developments. With many eco-roofs the “heat island” effect would be reduced.
Alice Hardesty asked for clarification on what an eco roof was. Echlin explained that the roof is constructed essentially like a bath-tub that then allows a small layer of soil to be used to grow grasses or other vegetation, and filter layers allow water to drain. Specifically in a storm event Echlin mentioned an eco-roof will act to retain water.
Q: The Kendrick proposal contains wording stating a “separate legal entity” could be formed, what does this mean?
A: Austin noted that this is a standard clause intended to allow the formation of a financial pool, or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), as a partnership to complete the project. She stated that Kendrick would remain owner for full duration of possession.
Q: The proposal mentions parking fees, how would this work?
A: Austin explained that they do not want to see the affordable housing absorb the costs of the parking. Fees for public parking would be one way to cover these costs. She further stated that the applicant would agree to share maintenance. Weisler clarified that this meant the developer would be responsible for the costs of creating the parking, that we were discussing ongoing maintenance costs.
Q: Could the developer commit to underground parking instead of providing two alternatives?
A: Austin explained that the site needs a detailed evaluation including a geologic assessment to determine what is underground. They see the advantage of underground parking and it is the intension and that they do not desire to provide parking off of
Q: What is the relationship between ACLT, and what if ACLT is unable to partner on the project?
A: (Austin) The LLC will execute a sale agreement for the affordable units. If ACLT is unable to participate, then Kendrick would still have the responsibility to find a solution. Kendrick would not be absolved of the requirement to provide affordable housing as proposed. Austin further explained that there is a lot of interest at the State [Oregon Housing and Community Services] to support affordable housing in Ashland. This project would also open up opportunities and operating funds that would benefit ACLT.
Q: Why are the units sized as proposed?
A: (Echlin) Smaller units not only reduce construction costs but open the market to more people. 2-3 bedroom units are less affordable. There is a resurgence of efficiency apartments of less than 500sq.ft. and they’ve proven to be very desirable in urban areas.
Echlin concluded the clarification questions by stating that from their perspective housing alone is not appropriate for the site. He noted that the Kendrick response to the RFP compliments the context of the area and fulfills the downtown guidelines.
Betty McRoberts, Housing Authority of Jackson County, noted that the response to the RFP they provided was thourough, provides accurate rents and development costs. She stated that the large units are nice and as such provide for longer term housing. Specifying amenities like washer dryer hook ups in each apartment she feels the units will be livable and encourage low turnover. She stated that the Housing Authority parking component would provide 12 parking spaces off of Lithia Way, unless an existing underground power line can not be raised into the constructed platform, in which case parking would be reduced to 10.
Don Mackin questioned McRoberts as to what the need for resident parking is in such developments. McRoberts responded that as the RFP requested the parking remain public that is what they’d proposed. She elaborated that in an urban setting there will be competition for parking but given the day vs night change in availability it is workable. She further stated that low income housing for the elderly typically has very low parking needs.
Weisler questioned the square footage of units and asked how the Housing Authority established the size. McRoberts stated that as this would be a HOME funded project the unit size minimum is established by the HOME program at 600sq.ft. The proposed units exceed this, though not by much ranging from 625 to 860.
Mackin questioned why they would not be seeking funding until 2006. McRoberts explained that HOME funds are less available in the Fall round for small projects such as this. Thus the Housing Authority would be applying in Spring ’06.
Hardesty explained to McRoberts that she was familiar with the proposals although she’d missed the previous meeting she had listened to all tapes and read the proposals thoroughly. She then questioned McRoberts on the site plan and parking layout. McRoberts explained the site-plan noting trees, handicap parking, trash and recycling areas and pedestrian connections.
Goldman clarified that the Housing Authority proposal showed the floor level parking lot to be level with the Lithia Way elevation, therefore not actually sunken, although they would have to excavate down about 4’ from the Will Dodge Way elevation.
LDC DESIGN GROUP
No representative from LDC Design was present although they did submit a letter clarifying their proposal which was included in the commissioners packet materials.
Weisler asked if any commissioners felt comfortable recommending one proposal.
Mackin responded that he sees that all four proposals have merit and he was not comfortable recommending one.
Amy Korth, addressing the 2nd option presented in the Legal Department Memo, stated she very much supported the mixed use development. She further indicated concerns over the LDC proposal due to the 4th story and density, noting she would have difficulty supporting something that would need an ordinance change to develop.
Liz Peck stated “I am supportive of mixed use” and expressed that affordable housing in airspace above commercial in the downtown is where a lot of the youth workforce would like to live.
Hardesty stated she supported the mixed use, but sympathizes with Sandler in that there was a lack of clarity in the RFP. She voiced that the stream of income from commercial should benefit the affordable housing directly.
Mackin stated that the LDC proposal to sell the commercial space off is not favorable and he has concerns over accepting a proposal that exceeds the maximum density. He stated: “the Kendrick proposal has allot of components that I really like, but I still have issue with Scheme and Scheme B”, noting that the proposal should not provide alternative development schemes. He further noted that there was not a consideration from Council to have a mixed use development. Mackin voiced that he would rather see the commercial space revert to the City than the income from the commercial space go to the City as there is a disincentive to generate an income stream in that case. Mackin noted that the Sandler proposal includes a lien on the property for the original construction costs and that he would not be favorable to that in a mixed use proposal. He feels the 40 year commercial income stream is the incentive to the developer.
Hardesty recommended that the commercial element should provide enough incentive that additional money from the non-profit should be unnecessary.
The commission briefly discussed the options of amending the RFP (or sending a second stage RFP), issuing a new RFP, and or sending consensus items to Council for Consideration. Mackin expressed that should the Council send out a revised RFP, that he is comfortable limiting it to the original respondents and there was general consensus among the Commission. Korth stated that she believes all proposals have merit and as such would not want to open it further. Weisler questioned whether there was consensus that mixed use was desirable and all commissioners agreed. Further all commissioners agreed that no one was in favor of allowing a commercial component to be sold and never revert to the City’s ownership.
Deliberations were continued to the April 27th regular meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.