Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Monday, November 21, 2005



NOVEMBER 21, 2005


CALL TO ORDER - Vice Chair Matt Small called the meeting to order at 6:40 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services building, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR.


            Commissioners Present:  Matt Small, Vice Chair

                                                            Alice Hardesty

                                                            Carol Voisin

                                                            Don Mackin

                                                            Jennifer Henderson

                                                            Bill Street (arrived at 7:00)

               Absent Members:                              Faye Weisler

                                                            Liz Peck

               Council Liaison:                 Cate Hartzell, present

               Staff:                                    Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

                                                            Sue Yates, Executive Secretary


APPROVAL OF MINUTES  - Voisin/Hardesty m/s to approve the minutes of the October 17, 2005 meeting with corrections.  Under “Staff Present:  Goldman, Goldman” should read “Brandon Goldman.”  Correct the spelling of Carol Voisin’s and Cate Hartzell’s names.  Approve the minutes of the October 24, 2005 meeting with corrections.  Correct the spelling Voisin’s name.  Voice Vote:  Approved.



HUELES spoke about zero net energy homes and buildings that don’t have utility bills and don’t pollute.  He said a zero net energy home pollutes considerably less than a standard code home.  .


AARON BENJAMIN, attended a joint meeting of the Parks Commission, School Board and City Council last week.  The topic covered cooperation and use of surplus lands owned by the Parks, Schools and the City, particularly land made available by school closings.  Agreement was reached and a resolution adopted on the possibility of joint utilization of surplus school playground lands. Benjamin is concerned there has not been adequate publicity given to this joint agreement and resolution. 


Hartzell said the resolution that passed had more to do with the playgrounds and the playing fields.  Hartzell said Bill Street attended and brought up the housing problem, thereby keeping Housing’s foot in the door.  The group will continue to meet to talk about what playing fields need to be reserved and what other lands in and around schools can be used for other purposes.  The next meeting is scheduled for January 19, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers.  Street is the usual liaison to the Parks Department and Hardesty is the school liaison.



Subcommittee Reports

Education – Voisin said they are set for the Employer Assisted Housing on December 2, 2005 from 9a.m. to 2 p.m.  The invitations have gone out.  They have lined up four case studies and panelists.  Mayor John Morrison will emcee the meeting.  The Chamber is co-sponsoring the event and sent out a notice to their 700 members and invitations to 130 businesses.  Goldman has received six RSVPS’. 


Finance - Small said the committee phoned the author of the handbook concerning trust funds for help with setting up our trust fund.    The author, Mary Brooks who is with Center for Community Chage, a national non-profit organization was informative, answering general questions about how to establish a trust fund, who the players are, and possible sources of funding.  The committee also spent time establishing priorities, as listed in their handout.


Henderson said Mary Brooks would come to Ashland and do some work for free provided another community organization asked for her to come.  The timing would be good because Oregon Action recently received more funding to put energy back into housing as part of next year’s efforts.  Henderson said she would be willing to assist in this and to contact Rich Rohde, Oregon Action.  Brooks would probably meet with various groups rather than just the Housing Commission.


Land Use - Henderson said they set priorities.  She handed out “Housing Commission Priorities  11-21-2005”.  Time permitting, they can discuss it tonight.  If not, it can be discussed at the next meeting.


Liaison Reports

Council – Parks, School Board and Council meeting as noted above.

Parks – Street – no report

Schools – Parks, School Board and Council meeting as noted above.  Hardesty had a written report from “Save Our Schools and Playground” task force. Workforce housing is mentioned in this impressive report and noted as follows: (1) Possibly opening up available land for workforce housing, (2) explore the idea of workforce housing on public land that does not currently house a playground or playing field, and (3) encourage the donation of land to the City or School District for the purpose of workforce housing.  The Finance Committee and Land Use Committee might consider taking this on.  Hardesty e-mailed the recommendations from the report to the Housing Commission.  One recommendation of the report is that the Chamber of Commerce should consider discontinuing the advertising in retirement magazines entirely and start advertising in family oriented publications.  The report points to several case studies finding out what other schools and communities have done when they have had to close schools.  A copy of the report can be obtained by e-mailing


Street arrived at 7:00 p.m.


Planning – no report (Peck is liaison)

Conservation – no report (Weisler is liaison)

Parks – Street said he went to the joint meeting (as stated above) and spoke about workforce housing.  He felt the group was receptive.  The task force will meet with Don Robertson, Parks Director, to better define by July 2006 what they want to preserve as parks and what might be available as workforce housing land.  Street will let the Housing Commissioners know when a meeting is scheduled.



Hartzell said they are continuing to work on the Lithia Way lot.  Negotiations are proceeding.  Goldman said Sam Fung [a Certified Commercial Investment Member] has been hired to do a “valuation” of the property in terms of the land area as well as the commercial space using an income approach as well as a comparable value approach. He’ll be providing an opinion of value from looking at other commercial property in the downtown and income potential.  Goldman hopes to come back to the Council in January with a negotiated agreement.



Willowbrook Subdivision Presentation – Mark Knox, land use consultant, 320 E. Main Street, Suite 202, said he worked for the City of Ashland as a land use planner for 12 years and has appreciated the work of the Housing Commission.


He introduced Doug Irvine, owner of a ten acre parcel on lower Clay Street and Mark DiRienzo, land use planner in his office.  They are requesting annexation of this property..  The property is zoned R-2 with a base density of 135 units.  Knox said the project will consist of a total of 72 duplex units and 44 units in the fourplex buildings ranging from 500 to 700 square feet.  There will be 500 square foot units built over the garage.  Mixed housing types make the best neighborhoods.  There are 58 one-bedroom, 500 square foot units proposed and 58 two-bedroom units. 


Knox spoke about the benefits of the location of this housing.  It is within walking distance to the YMCA, restaurants, shopping,  movie theater, etc.  Mass transit is on Ashland Street in front of the old McDonald’s. The project will connect with the Barclay Square project, for use by pedestrians, bicycles and automobiles. 


Goldman interjected that this project has already gone through Site Review approval.  The layout of the buildings and streets has already been approved by the Planning Commission.  The next step is to seek approval from the Council for annexation of the property.  He recommended directing comments to the applicant that would pertain to annexation.  He noted that Hartzell, with regard to ex parte contacts, would be able to reference this meeting’s minutes as to what deliberation she heard.  The Planning Commission has looked at the number and location of units, but not necessarily size of the units. 


Irvine briefly shared his background.  He lives in Ashland and his children have gone to school here. He is involved in the community and he is a developer, developing mostly in California.  He’s always talked about giving back to the community.  Ashland is losing government employees, teachers, police, actors, and artists. Eighty percent of those that work her can’t afford to live here.  They have been priced out of the market.  He feels this project will present the opportunity for ownership for some.


The affordable units in this development are in the fourplex units with a mix of the one and two bedroom units.  Not one fourplex is completely affordable.  There will be a total of 17 affordable units.  Knox asked the Commission for guidance – does the project have too many one and two bedroom units?  The affordable units are 60 percent of median family income.  For a family of two earning $25,000 the units would be priced at $57,500.  Rent would be $480 per month.


Forty-four units are “condo-ized.”  It doesn’t mean they still won’t have to meet the definition of the affordable program.  The duplex buildings are one lot.  One unit will be market and the other guaranteed rentals.  A mix of “for sale” housing and a mix of “rental housing” is guaranteed.  Knox explained further that 80 of the units can be sold.  Thirty-six cannot.  Of the 80, they are locking into 17 affordable units.  They don’t know if they will be for rent or for ownership, but either way, there will be a deed restriction on the unit itself once it is established concerning which units are affordable.  Rentals are looking better with regard to financing.  They could be sold, then rented.


They have talked about going down to 80 percent of median income, the equivalent of about six units.  They wouldn’t change the design, but take six of the duplex units and not do the unit over the garage.  Those would be three-bedroom units, but not affordable.  Henderson asked if they could have a three-bedroom affordable unit.  She applauds the applicants because she knows how hard it is to get the one bedroom buyer. 


Knox envisions that at some point having to choose the 17 units.  Do they really want 17 different landlords?  Developers end up backing off from the program because it is complex. 


Goldman briefly explained the deed restriction that is placed on an affordable unit.  It establishes that whoever is an occupant of the building is qualified under the program.  Whenever there is a transfer of ownership, the deed restriction is assumable for the subsequent qualified buyer. 


Knox said there is a big disparity in “for sale” units versus the rental units.  The rental amount seems to be close to what the market is bearing.


Goldman noted that annexation establishes affordability for 60 years on the project’s affordable units. 


Hartzell asked about homeowner’s association fees.  DiRienzo said the rentals would not be required to pay anything for homeowner’s association fees.  She reminded everyone this is a glitch in the program that needs to be fixed. 


Will there be playgrounds?  Knox said there will be some type of tot lot area.  Hartzell said it is not a requirement but she has wanted it to be a requirement for a long time.  Knox said there will be a gate from the area to the Y soccer fields.


Street asked if they had considered having more than 17 affordable units.  Knox said if they went to an income qualification of 80 percent they would end up with 23 units.  Street hopes they will look at all the possibilities and that they are aware of the specific need in the community. 


DiRienzo said with a project of this size, it’s easy to use the 60 percent and deal with the potential sales prices and low rents.  On smaller projects that are two and three units, the land cost will be higher as well as the overall construction costs.  The per unit cost is so much higher, that you’d likely get more people interested in the smaller projects. 


Street wondered what could persuade them to go to say, five three-bedroom affordable units.  Knox said it’s the 90 percent.  They might not have to change the design significantly if they did the unit over the garage.  He is concerned because he doesn’t want the Council to change their plan.  If the Council would want three bedroom units, that would work.  Street wondered if they are still concerned about ending up with an older age group of people seeking this type of housing and missing young families altogether.



Small believes there is an issue of ownership and rentals for the affordable units.  He would like to see ownership of all the affordable units for workforce housing.  The rent prices are not that much different than what you can find elsewhere in the City.  Knox said that is burdensome.  To build the units costs about $90,000 plus.  If they sell for $57,000, the developer ends up losing a total of about $600,000.  It would be easier to add additional square footage for a three bedroom and lock that in as ownership.  Hardesty said she hopes they can see this as giving a gift to the City.  Most of the Commissioners were in agreement.


Small also recommended that all the affordable units are at least two bedroom units.  Two bedroom units will help get families back into Ashland.


Hartzell stated if there had been a vote on these recommendations, she would have abstained.  She wants to protect her ex parte contact history.  She stated that she did not participate in any discussion toward a decision. 


Buildable Lands Inventory

Goldman gave the Commissioners a packet of materials addressing what is quantified as vacant or partially vacant lands.  For example, if you have a 9,000 square foot R-3 lot with a house on it, under planning rules a lot that size could have three units on it.  That is considered a partially vacant property and the gross acreage available would probably be 66 percent because it has an additional two-unit potential.  It is considered “net buildable.”  Deductions include areas within floodplains or steep slopes or areas that are otherwise unbuildable due to other restrictions or constraints. 


Between 1998 and 1999, the buildable lands inventory of R-2 and R-3 zones (multi-family residential) was roughly 26 acres of land within the City limits.  Currently, there are roughly 15 acres of land included.  With nearly half of our multi-family land consumed within the last five years, it is safe to say there is an issue of an adequate inventory of multi-family land. 


Goldman said the Land Use subcommittee talked about land use modification in the future.  Those would likely revolve around making a determination of what the consumption rate more appropriately is, looking at demographic changes.  Ashland has been seeing a decrease in its persons per household over time. 


The Planning Commission is reviewing the Buildable Lands Inventory tomorrow night.  Staff can do a housing needs analysis update after hearing the Housing Commission’s evaluation and the Planning Commission’s recommendation. 


Everyone agreed to extend the meeting ten more minutes. 


Goldman said the Housing Commission can discuss what they want to do with the BLI data.  Hartzell wanted Goldman to convey to the Planning Commission that the Housing Commission has just begun to look at the information and the Housing Commission would like to participate in anything the Planning Commission might be doing or vice versa.


Vacation Homes Discussion

Hardesty talked with Mike Reeder, Assistant City Attorney, and he did not sound very optimistic.  Goldman has some ideas and will talk further with Reeder.



Employer Assisted Housing Workshop – Diana Shavey will be participating in the workshop and the Housing Commission will be engaging her for two hours of consulting after the meeting is over.  Hardesty would like have the Housing Commission ask her about strategies for placing affordable workforce housing on public property and what that could do for the entity that owns the property as well as provide workforce housing to, for example, the schools.  What could she recommend in terms of financing, general strategies to get this accomplished.  The meeting will run from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 2nd at New Place. Hartzell suggested sending any questions to Hardesty to organize before they meet.  Street would like to put aside some time to get Shavey’s response to the workshop.


Council Presentation by Housing Commission on January 17th

Goldman thought it would be an opportune time to consolidate their annual presentation along with the recommendation that  the Housing Commission be included n the planning process and make recommendations to the Planning Commission.  That means a letter would need to be drafted by that time to submit as a request. 


Hardesty/Street m/s to ask the Chair to use the minutes of the October 24, 2005 study session and to use his own understanding of that meeting to draft a letter to the Council and get it to the City Administrator and get it on the Council agenda.  Voice Vote:  All favored.  The letter does not need to come back to the Commissioners for their review.



Mackin suggested using a consent agenda with reports included in the packet.  The reports are read before coming to the meeting.  Anything in the consent agenda that they want to discuss can be pulled from the consent agenda.  Then it is one motion to adopt, saving the Commission a half hour of discussion time.  The deadline for the reports will be the Tuesday  prior to the meeting.  For December, the reports are due December 13th.  Mackin said normally there would be no subcommittee meetings that last week.


Hartzell requested Staff send out a notice in advance of the the deadline, reminding members to turn in their reports.  Goldman said he needs the reports five days in advance of the meeting.


The next meeting is December 19th at 6:30 p.m.


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.



Respectfully submitted by

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary



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