Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Monday, June 13, 2005



JUNE 13, 2005




Chair Matt Small called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. at the Community Development/Engineering Services Building in the Siskiyou Room located at 51 Winburn Way.


                              Commissioners Present:                              Matt Small, Chair

                                                                                          Faye Weisler

                                                                                          Bill Street

                                                                                          Alice Hardesty

                                                                                          Carol Voisin

                                                                                          Don Mackin (arrived at 7:45 p.m.)

                              Absent Members:                           Liz Peck

                              Council Liaison:                                             Cate Hartzell (absent)

                              Staff Present:                                  Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

                                                                                          Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk



Before the minutes were approved Matt Small announced that Kim Miller is resigning from the Commission due to health concerns.  Mr. Miller is interested in coming back in the future if he receives approval from his doctor. 


It was noted that Susan Yates and Brandon Goldman did a masterful job with last monthís minutes. Hardesty/Voisin m/s to approve the minutes of the May 25, 2005 meeting.



Allan Sandler inquired if he would be able to speak on item number five the Lithia Parking Lot Proposal.  Mr. Goldman explained that he had previously told respondants that the public hearing had been closed and that it would be up to the Commission to decide if they want to allow more public testimony.  It was decided by Small that since the public forum was closed last month it should not be reopened.  Goldman shared that all applicants or interested parties will be able to speak before the City Council on that agenda item.


Aaron Benjamin spoke regarding two items he wanted to bring before the Commission.  Mr. Benjamin stated that the Charter Review Committee made it very clear that it will recommend to the Council that the Park Commission remain independent and that Commissioners be elected.  Benjamin requested that the Commission make a pitch to the Charter Review Committee to make a recommendation to encourage joint use of publicly owned land. 


Benjaminís second topic for discussion was that he wanted Goldman to give a progress report on the joint project that was undertaken by the University Department of Geography and the Housing Commission.


Commissioner Hardesty addressed Mr. Benjaminís first comment.  Hardesty stated that after talking with some of the Charter Review Members it was her understanding that they felt this was such an enormous change they were reluctant to do so at this time.  She encouraged Mr. Benjamin to pursue the issue even though he might have felt it was roundly rejected the first time.   Commissioner Street said to remember that the Parks Commissioners are elected and therefore they can make this topic an issue during the next campaign.  He suggested getting Commissioners on the board that are receptive to the idea of collaboration.


Mr. Goldman then gave an update to the inventory that the SOU students are working on.  Eighteen students participated making maps of each of the neighborhoods that are zoned multi-family.  Those eighteen students then went into those neighborhoods to count the number of units per parcel. The buildable lands inventory is structured on how many units per acre could there be but this inventory told us how many units there are on each parcel, said Goldman.  The students have completed the inventory work and Goldman will be meeting with the coordinator on June 24, 2005 to go over the information.  The coordinator will be imputing the information into the GIS system so that Ashland will have an accurate map that reflects how many units we have on each property in the multi-family zones.


Commissioner Weisler wanted to make a follow up comment to the parks discussion.  She feels like the real issue for the Commission is the source of funding.  Weisler stated that the Commission needs to be advocating for additional tax dollars that would be dedicated for affordable housing.  Mr. Goldman said that there is a potential in working with some of the institutions such as Parks and SOU by doing a transfer of density off of the remaining property.  Mr. Goldman gave the example of Lincoln School to explain the transfer of density.  Itís an opportunity that exists when a portion of the property is designed for parks and they donít need that density. 


The Commission discussed the idea of sending a liaison to the Parks Department, School Board, Planning Commission and the City Council.  Commissioner Street stated the purpose would be to have a spokesperson to represent the Housing Commission. Commissioner Hardesty volunteered to be the liaison to the School Board, Street volunteered for the Parks Commission and Weisler volunteered to be the liaison for the Planning Commission.  Hartzell is already the liaison for the City Council.



Commissioner Voisin gave a report from the Education Sub Committee.  She presented an item they would like the Housing Commission to put on the agenda for the City Council. Voisin said they would like the real estate tax to be put to a vote in 2005.  Goldman explained that the City Council could not impose a real estate transfer fee except by vote of the citizens. 


Voisin clarified that in order to get this item on the City Council July 10, 2005 meeting she requested it be on todayís Housing Commission meeting agenda. 

Voisin/Street m/s to approve putting this item on tonightís agenda.  Voice Vote:  All AYES, Motion passed. 


Voisin also stated that the Commission is planning on meeting with realtors to talk about the real estate tax, both those in favor and those opposed. 


Commissioner Voisin recommended that the Commission have another study session and each Sub Committee come to that session with some homework done with regard to priorities and a time line for the next year.  It was suggested that the study session be Saturday July 23, 2005.  Goldman will keep everyone informed by email regarding the date.


The next Education Sub Committee meeting will be determined at a later date.

Finance Committee will be meeting next Monday June 20, 2005 and again  on Monday July 11, 2005 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Community Development/ Engineering Services Building.



Commissioner Street asked if it was appropriate to talk about the mayorís appointment to the Housing Commission.  Goldman confirmed it would be vital that the Commissioners touch basis with other people they know who are interested in serving on the Commission and urging them to submit an application.  Weisler suggested it might be a good idea rather then individuals suggesting recommendations that the Housing Commission be supportive of a certain individual and recommending them to the Mayor.  Goldman said he doubted that a Commission had ever sent a recommendation for an individual forward and that the Mayor appoints positions. He did encourage the Commissioners if they had strong feelings of support for an individual to write a letter informing the mayor.


Voisin inquired about where they were with replacing the student liaison.  Goldman stated that he had contacted the student government requesting a student liaison and has not heard back.  He also spoke with professor Acklin and she will voice it to all her classes.  Voisin stated that she had a student that would be interested.  Goldman told her to have the student  submit a letter of interest to the mayor. 



Lithia Parking Lot Proposal Evaluation:  It was decided by the commission to come back to this agenda item in hopes that they would have a quorum later in the evening.



Affordable Housing Program Changes and System Development Charges:  Currently the city exempts properties that are considered affordable from paying the SDC.  Goldman stated that it doesnít exempt them but provides them a loan with no repayment. If the property stays affordable for a period of 20 years the loan is then forgiven entirely.  Whenever this is done with a rental or for ownership they have to provide income qualifications for the city to qualify that the person is affordable.  That happens every time there is a change of tenancy.  Goldman explained there is a deed restriction recorded on the property that requires it to be affordable through a land use action or through public funds going into the project.  There is not a deed restriction for those who voluntarily enter the program.  Those people can voluntarily buy out of the program by paying off the SDC and 6% interest as it accrued from the time that they took out the loan until the time they left the program.   Goldman used the Chautauqua Trace example.  Many of those home buyers voluntarily bought out of the program because the SDC were far less then the appreciation.  They then could sell the property at full market rate. 


When the city provides the subsidy units they want to ensure that households are not paying more then they can afford for the property, stated Goldman.  Goldman reviewed the tables that he had included in the Commissioners packet that correlates the purchase price of the house and what someoneís ability to pay is. 

Whether or not to include utilities in the number would be a discussion point for the Commission. The detriment is that they are highly variable.  What it aims to do is establish instead of a maximum purchase price a maximum ability to pay.  After the Land Use Committee has time to review it and discuss it Goldman would like the Commissioners to present either a modification or an elimination of the existing resolution and then a new resolution would be adopted by City Council that establishes what an affordable housing unit is and what the city will grant a SDC for.  Weisler asked what the downside is.  Goldman stated that the concerns might be how a maximum monthly cost would effect there ability to get SDC deferrals. 


Weisler inquired about the success in Ashland with our climate of solar panels. She felt that for affordability it would make since to try and get energy efficient units rather then just an energy refrigerator for example.  Goldman talked with Larry Giardina, City Conservation Analyst, who felt that the repayment of the solar panel is 30 years at a $30,000 cost.  Weisler felt it would be worth looking into programs that might help with that cost so it doesnít add to the cost of the unit for those needing affordable housing.


Hardesty inquired what determines what people can pay. Itís an established process.  The applicant submits an application to the city and Mr. Goldman screens the buyer. He reviews their W-2 and income earning statements to determine what their income level is and then contacts the seller to let them know if they are an eligible buyer.  At this time Mr. Goldman reviews about 18 to 20 changes in occupancy a year.  Hardesty asked if they should be making a decision regarding this today.  Brandon said he has it on next monthís agenda.  His hope was to begin the conversation but conclude it at next months meeting.


Weisler asked Goldman why have a voluntary exit.  Goldman explained if they enter the program voluntarily the idea was that it  might encourage people to offer an affordable unit that might not otherwise have to. Weisler commented that they probably enter the program originally because they get the SDC waived.  Should we allow them to get out asked Weisler?  Goldman commented that any SDC are mandated under state law that any proceeds for those have to go to provide for city wide systems such as transportation and sewer.  Goldman stated that in recent yearís non profits have used it more often then private developers though in the coming years he anticipates a shift to more private developers.


Weisler would like to have this item placed back on next months agenda.  The topic for discussion would be what kind of penalty should be implemented.   


Street suggested that instead of assessing a penalty we require that they donate to the Housing Trust Fund. Frame it more positively.  Street suggested that perhaps there could be a financial incentive over a period of time.  Hardesty asked about paying the SDC up front and them getting rebates back throughout the years.  It was agreed by the Commission that the waived SDC up front really helps the home owner and they might not like the idea of having to pay it at all.


Small asked Goldman about the for profit developers. Does he see any problem with the whole set up with developers and their inability to make ends meet.  Brandon offered to talk with non profit large developers in town who are currently proposing annexations and give them the opportunity to come back with an analysis regarding how it is going to work for them.  They will be best to tell the commission how it will affect them adversely stated Goldman


Commissioner Street asked someone to call Don and Cate so that they could discuss the Lithia parking lot proposal.  They cannot forward a recommendation to the City Council without a quorum.  Don Mackin arrived shortly after but no one was able to get a hold of Cate Hartzell.



City Council Lithia Lot proposal evaluation. 

It was the legal departments position that it should go before the City Council at the soonest opportunity to limit any kind of suite on behalf of the respondent saying we werenít meeting the provisions of the advertisement.


Hardesty suggested that the Commission meet again since they do not have a quorum.


Street asked Goldman if he could remind the commissioners of the meeting on the day of it.




Oregon Housing and Community Services

Darcy Strahan will be here on July 18, 2005 for the meeting.  She will have a 10 minute presentation and then be available for general questions about those programs.


SDC deferral program changes:  Goldman will talk to the legal department about the penalty provisions of that and provide a copy back of a common deed restriction that will be recorded on the property.  Goldman will also request developers and non profits to attend.


Small mentioned with the SDC discussion next month we will need to include regarding whether to include utilities in that and PITI and to include that too.

Weisler asked if there were state incentives currently and local for solar panels or a program that might also offset the cost to the home owner.  Goldman stated there was an article in the sneak preview by Don Laws talking about the city engaging in an aggressive way of helping fund solar panels.


ADJOURNMENT:  The Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m. 



Submitted by,

Carolyn Schwendener, Secretary





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