January 9, 2006
CALL TO ORDER - Chair Faye Weisler called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services building,
Commissioners Present: Faye Weisler, Chair
Matt Small, Vice Chair
Absent Members: Jennifer Henderson
Sunny Lindley, Student Liaison
Council Liaison: Cate Hartzell, present
Staff: Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes from the December 19th meeting were not provided
No one came forth to speak at public forum
Education – Carol Voisin said they are set for the Employer Assisted Housing follow up meeting scheduled for January 13th from 3p.m. to 5 p.m. The invitations have gone out to participants at the EAH workshop and its anticipated it would be a small group discussion. Voisin also discussed a tour she, Alice Hardesty, Bill Street, and Brandon Goldman took an informative tour around Ashland looking at potential sites for affordable housing.
Council, Parks, Schools – A group comprised of representatives from the Parks Commission, School Board and City Council met on January 4th, 2006, and Hardesty and Voisin attended. The topics discussed included playgrounds, playing fields, maintenance and possible contribution from the Parks Department and City, in addition to School portion, to maintain the grounds to a higher standard.
Hardesty said the concept of co-ownership of the grounds was brought up during the meeting. She noted the next “tripartite” meeting was scheduled for January 19th at 7:00pm in the City Council chambers.
Cate Hartzell suggested the Housing Commission draft a scenario, or several alternatives, for affordable housing for schools and stated she could request the group further examine “surplus” property at each campus. Peck asked whether there are examples of other school districts that have developed housing. Hardesty cited the Save our Schools and Playgrounds Report and Harvard Report [on Employer Assisted Housing] as having examples of housing on school property. She noted that Goldman had sent the article on Santa Barbara’s teacher housing to the School Board.
Faye Weisler questioned whether there was a consensus on the commission that it would be best to forward the concept of “housing for teachers”, as opposed to affordable housing in general, to the School Board.
Don Mackin asked if the School Board had expressed recognition of a problem in having their teachers find housing. Street and Hardesty expressed that members of the School Board have shown interest in exploring the issue. Hardesty elaborated that the district is preparing for a retirement bubble and as such is aware of the pending need.
Hartzell suggested that we work to define a project, perhaps working with Diana Shavey or another expert to help define the constraints. She stated the a subcommittee of the “tripartite group” which includes Ruth Alexander, Jim Lewis and herself is focused on housing and Housing Commissioner members could come speak to that group. She stated that providing input to the facility bonds committee could also be a means to raise the issue. She also suggested that the Housing Commission potentially have a Joint Study Session with the School Board. There was general consensus to have a joint study session. Goldman asked for clarification whether the Commission wanted to be on the regular agenda
Hartzell recommended that the chair of the Housing Commission draft a letter to the chair of the School Board requesting a joint session.
Planning – no report (Peck is liaison)
Conservation – Weisler questioned what the conservation density bonus is. Goldman briefly explained the proposed Density Bonus provisions for conservation measures and noted the proposed measures [Earth Advantage] had had first reading before the Council and is to go before Council for second reading. Hartzell further explained the program and the incentives.
Peck expressed that the increase in density may allow more second homes as investments and that any increases in density should highly promote affordability.
Goldman noted that during the review of housing priorities by the Land Use subcommittee that forwarding changes to the Density Bonus provisions was designated as a “low priority”. He further noted that the whole commission was to review the goals and priorities further down on the agenda.
Hartzell recommended that Weisler , Liaison to the Conservation Commission to collaborate with them on the conservation density program.
Hardesty noted that the idea of combining conservation and housing within the density bonus provisions had not come up before which may explain the low-priority designation from the subcommittee, but they may be more effective combined.
Hartzell noted than on January 29th the Council will undertake visioning and long term goal setting to establish fewer goals. She thought that it was a good time for commissioners to contact other Councilors to raise housing as an issue for the Councilors to consider it in their thinking.
Hardesty stated that she wants the Commission to look again at the requirements for zone changes and annexations. Goldman clarified what those requirements currently are. Hardesty questioned whether the Commission could place the item on the next, or subsequent agenda. Weisler suggested the issue be on the next agenda.
Goldman explained the staff memo and assessment of the Ashland Community Land Trust proposal. Goldman clarified that the memo should be corrected to note the Food Bank component still needs to complete a Planning Application for administrative approval. He explained that the proposal is conceptual and would need further refinement but at first glance the rents would need to be adjusted to be affordable to extremely low income.
Tom Bradley, Ashland Community Land Trust Board, stated that the proposal at this point is conceptual and that ACLT was bringing the proposal to the Housing Commission to get some initial feedback to help evaluate the idea, collaborate, and restructure the proposal to take to the City Council. At this point the analysis and synopsis was kept simple to catalyze discussion. He noted that Alan DeBoer (property owner) has indicated a willingness to sell the property at below market value.
Matt Small noted he thought it was a great idea and he really liked the concept to create a center for non profits. Further Small recognized the generosity of Alan DeBoer in providing the property at below market cost. He commented that the conceptual rents are nearly market rate, and they’d need to be lower. He also questioned the eligibility for CDBG funds. Goldman noted the use is eligible, as is the applicant (ACLT) , but sound attenuation would likely be required due to the environmental review given the proximity of the railroad and Highway 66 (
Bradley interjected the imputed monthly rent was calculated as a division of units into cost per unit, however this was misleading and likely premature as a careful consideration of the unit sizes and the assessment of need has not been done. He elaborated that this is a first screening and that getting into rent numbers would come later.
Peck saw the proposal as a noble effort and believed that affordable housing could not be located next to railroad tracks. Goldman clarified that it is difficult to apply federal funds such as HOME and CDBG given the noise impacts, but that privately funded, or local funding would not have those restrictions. Bradley stated that ACLT was not planning to apply for CDBG funds but was rather believed it was something the City could support without federal fund involvement. Peck questioned whether the location itself was accessible to the clients of the social service providers. Small noted that the bike path, and bus line does go to the property and thus its very accessible. Hartzell echoed that the property was accessible and that although issues will come up at any location, this site has some advantageous being commercially zoned.
Bradley explained that Pathways, a non-profit, had expressed interest in the site, He also noted that he had not yet spoken with Interfaith Care Community of Ashland, but the zoning is appropriate for the use and that he is hearing that transitional may be preferable to affordable.
Hardesty saw it as a good idea but not a one she felt comfortable to recommend the project due to the fact that the use of CDBG was unlikely, and she was opposed to the use of Strawberry Lane money on the property. Bradley stated that his goal is to see if the idea is worthy enough to flush out the details, he sees that its an opportunity where someone is willing to sell the property below market, there is a need in
Mackin stated that it seemed if the project could not survive without subsidy in some form, and he questioned whether there were other sources, aside from HUD. He felt it would not be a recommendation to use all of Strawberry funds to buy it, but rather as a source to leverage. Mackin said “The misconception is that it may be unrealistic to say the City is going to pay $650,000 to buy it, that’s putting all the eggs in one basket”, elaborating that the assumption that we’ve operated on is that the Strawberry property is being held to fund affordable housing. He stated the commission had not discussed bankrolling a whole project. He said there are a lot of potential to be discussed and if we could find a source of subsidy it would be great for the City to provide leverage.
Bradley stated that the input was helpful and that he had a clearer sense of what will and won’t work for the Commission.
Action Plan and Housing Commission Goals
Goldman distributed the outlined goals and priorities and explained the references within the tables. He noted that it was unfeasible to address all the identified priorities in any given year, and thus a refinement of the priorities would help the Commission articulate at the Council presentation scheduled for January 17th which items were intended to be the focus for the coming year.
Goldman went through each item listed individually to further describe their intent and status. He responded to clarification questions from Commissioners.
Hartzell advised that the Commission shows Council the entire list of goals and not necessarily focus on the prioritization. Street questioned whether it would be good to list the top four priorities from each subcommittee. Hardesty felt the lists were too detailed and would not work as materials to present to Council as formatted. Hartzell agreed that it could be simplified but that there was value in seeing all the items.
Goldman asked whether the Commission wanted the priorities listed in their presentation to Council. Weisler spoke to the fluid nature of revisiting items as opportunities arise. Hartzell recognized that the dynamic nature of affordable housing and the preparation provided by the full list allows the Commission to move on opportunities.
Street said that looking at 30+ goals he expected a question from Council of what are the top priorities. He stated that the top three might be land acquisition, establish the housing trust fund and educating the community about the seriousness of the situation. Peck noted that putting units on the ground was part of that short list. Hartzell explained that protection of vulnerable property acquisition should also be combined with acquisition to ensure such opportunities are not lost.
Housing Commission Update to Council Presentation
Goldman stated that he was prepared to present the distributed power-point that defined affordable housing. Street recommended that the definitions include “family housing”.
Goldman explained the charts and tables within the materials.
The powerpoint also touched on projects completed and projects pending. Additionally the presentation showed examples of built units to show that the perception of affordable housing is not necessarily what it ultimately looks like.
The Commission coordinated on how they will present individually. Weisler recommended individuals from each subcommittee present on behalf the sub groups. Hardesty encouraged Goldman to explain each chart or graph, but just show the photos quickly.
Members of the Commission indicated who would present. Hartzell said there was a value in having each commissioner come forward to allow the Council and audience to see each person. Street stated that each commissioner represents different neighborhoods and communities and as such it’s better if all are present.
Weisler stated that after Goldman’s brief presentation she would summarize the goals, and then a representative from each subcommittee would speak to the Council about the subcommittee work.
Regarding the presentation on the Housing Commission request to be involved in Planning Review functions, it was stated that Bill Street and Jennifer Henderson would present on behalf of the Commission on that topic.
ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 8:50pm.
Minutes Respectfully submitted by
Brandon Goldman, Housing Program Specialist