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Housing Commission Minutes

Minutes
Monday, August 21, 2006

ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION

MINUTES

AUGUST 21, 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 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR.

 

Commissioners Present

SOU Liaison

Faye Weisler, Chair

Sunny Lindley, absent

Bill Street

 

Aaron Benjamin

Council Liaison

Liz Peck

Alice Hardesty substituting for  Cate Hartzell

Don Mackin

 

 

 

Absent Members

Staff Present

Jennifer Henderson

Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

Carol Voisin

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES 

The Commissioners did not feel the July 31, 2006 minutes accurately reflected the discussion regarding the Ashland Greenhouse subdivision pre-application review.  The Commissioners decided they would write up draft changes to the minutes to be presented at the September Housing Commission meeting.  Benjamin noted a change he wished to make with regard to the overall re-application review process.  The minutes will be reviewed and approved at the September meeting.

 

PUBLIC FORUM – No one came forth to speak.

 

OTHER BUSINESS FROM HOUSING COMMISSION MEMBERS

Peck and Mackin discussed at a Land Use Subcommittee the idea of sending a Housing Commission liaison to the Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee.  It seemed to Peck and Mackin that economic development could be the missing link that goes along with affordable housing.  It could be a way to educate and do outreach to the business community. Goldman said he’d contact the Chamber to see if someone could attend their economic development meetings.  Weisler said she’d like to see if someone could be allowed to sit in on a few meetings to see if it relates enough to the Housing Commission to make it worthwhile for someone to continue attending. 

 

PROJECT UPDATES

REGIONAL PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT - KATE JACKSON said if the Commissioners are interested in more written information concerning this subject, it can be found online in the Council packet from their August 15, 2006 meeting.  All the information can be found on the Rogue Valley Council of Governments website at:  www.rvcog.org.  In 2000-2002 they had the regional  “Where do we want to grow?”.  During 2000-2005 they were going on a city-by-city basis creating  maps of proposed growth areas.  ECONorthwest is currently working on a regional Housing Needs Analysis and a regional Economic Opportunities Analysis.  Ashland is in the enviable position of having a local Economic Opportunities Analysis done in the near future by ECONorthwest and funded by a LCDC grant.  Jackson further explained how these analyses are done.

 

 The Regional Problem Solving Project is attempting to allow some shifting based on what different cities are seeing happen and wanting in a map.  In 2004 the Ashland City Council voted 4-2 not to add any growth areas.  The Planning Commission also voted not to have any more growth areas.  She suggested this group look at some of the materials online and look at the study then do the survey online or come to the open house that will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2006, 6:30 p.m. at the Talent Middle School Library.  The state wants the cities to look inside their boundaries to see what can be built upon.  Comments will be collated and lumped by topic areas.  The Policy Committee plans to discuss the growth areas.  This is just a framework.  The need for housing is tremendous and the ability of workers to remain here is a huge problem.

 

NEW BUSINESS

CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION ORDINANCE AMENDMENTS

Goldman said there is a copy of the draft language included in this month’s packet.  The ordinance process is outlined in his memo to the Housing Commission of August 21, 2006.  The next steps are as follows:   1) The Housing Commission will review the draft language and accept public testimony and make recommendations that would be forwarded to the Planning Commission for consideration, 2) Draft language gets legal review, and 3) Planning Commission will hold a public hearing (date not set).

 

Goldman discussed both the proposed changes to the ordinance and the draft resolution establishing tenants’ rights as written in this month’s packet..  

 

Weisler wondered if the committee discussed any other approaches used by other communities that might have been more supportive of maintaining affordable housing.  Hardesty said there were some communities that had more stringent tenants’ rights, however, the committee decided what they came up with was fine for their purposes. 

 

Mackin has concerns about tenants afforded a one year lease if the landlord wants to do a conversion. There was definitely an intent on the part of the ad hoc committee not to make the conversion easy.  He believes the tenants’ rights should be fair.  If he was a landlord under the new ordinance, it would be beneficial for him to hike his rents and get as much revenue as he can before he converts because he now has penalties to pay if he converts.  Mackin said he was in the minority with the ad hoc committee.

 

Hardesty said even though the tenants might be paying below market rate and have a nice relationship with the landlord, when they move they may very well have to pay full market rate.  The resolution would help to ease the pain a little.

 

DON RIST, 260 Joy Drive, Talent, OR, said he is a realtor in Ashland.  He asked two attorneys to review the ordinance and resolution.  Both attorneys thought there was an opportunity for a Measure 37 claim for a landlord.  Also, the 60 percent is telling a landlord what they charge for rent.  The attorneys did not even believe the relocation benefit was legal.  It appears some of this conflicts with land use law. 

 

RICH ROHDE, 124 Otis Street, representing Oregon Action, thanked the Commission for including some tenants’ rights.  Oregon Action strongly supports the draft ordinance.  The closure of affordable rental units means a real loss of affordable housing in the community.  We have to look not only at what we are producing but what are we protecting in terms of affordable units.  This ordinance addresses the goals of preserving affordable housing as well as addressing fairly the balance between tenants and landlords.  He would recommend they get legal advice for strengthening the language.  This also highlights the need for a housing trust fund with a dedicated source of funding.

 

KATHIE KENNEDY, realtor, said  no apartment buildings have been built in the last 13 years.  The cost of land is so high and the rents are too low.  Many owners augment rent or have a smaller return on the rents.  She is not sure the Commission will get a lot of affordable units by revising the ordinance. Owners would have to wonder if they would want to go through the daunting task of converting.  Even though the tenants’ rights are very strong, they are pretty strident for landowners.

 

She would like to see the Commission solve the problem of building more apartments by using City owned land to develop some affordable housing.  Hardesty suggested Kennedy talk to the Parks Commission. 

 

Hardesty noted that she is taking Cate Hartzell’s place at this meeting, but not voting.

 

Mackin reiterated that he has a problem recommending an ordinance that has not been reviewed by the Legal Dept. 

Goldman met with the Legal Dept. prior to writing the draft to see what areas could be looked at.   The Legal Dept. has not completed their review of all the issues but said that requiring a percentage of rental units is permitted under state law.  Goldman is not sure where this ordinance is on the Legal Dept.’s list of priorities.

 

Street asked if we are concerned with rental housing at market rate.  Goldman said the Action Plan discusses not losing multi-zoned property, but instead the development of condominiums as “for purchase” townhomes.  The provision that 50 percent be retained as rentals from existing housing stock is an off-set for the lack of multi-family housing stock.  The condominium conversion ordinance is not the end all; it is just one component.

 

Goldman said the ad hoc committee met once and was comprised of members of the Land Use Committee as well as Michael Dawkins and Dave Dotterrer (Dotterrer was unable to attend) of the Planning Commission and Alice Hardesty, City Councilor.

 

Weisler/Peck m/s to support the draft ordinance with the understanding that it gets Legal review.  The Housing Commission expressed support for the condominium conversion ordinance and resolution supporting tenants’ rights. 

 

Goldman said the intent of the ordinance is to allow an outright mechanism by which people can condominiumize their project, provide some ownership opportunities and retain some rental stock without dictating a sales price. 

 

Benjamin amended the motion to make sure included is the purpose of slowing down the conversion of affordable rental units to market rate condos and in addition provide fair relocation benefits and protection of the rights of existing tenants (introduction to the motion).  

 

Hardesty said it is her feeling that the ordinance does what Benjamin stated but she believes the purpose is to retain some rental units, to foster affordability and to give tenants’ rights.  Weisler would accept Hardesty’s wording as a friendly amendment.  Voice Vote:  Weisler, Peck, Street, Benjamin voted “yes” and Mackin voted “no.” 

 

ELECTION OF VICE CHAIR

Weisler/Benjamin m/s to nominate Street for Vice Chair.  Voice Vote:  Unanimous.

 

REAL ESTATE TRANSFER FEE(Note of Explanation:  This item refers to a City ballot measure that will be on the November ballot.  Approval would change how the City Charter now reads.   A “yes” vote would not allow the City to impose a real estate transfer fee until it is referred to the voters for their approval or disapproval.  It is not a vote for or against  a real estate transfer fee.)

 

DON RIST said if this is a good program the citizens will support it.  He noted, however, that he has not seen a real estate transfer tax he could support. 

 

KATHIE KENNEDY also believes it is good this item is on the ballot and it gives the voters a chance to have a vote.  She believes one of the reasons the State of Oregon has always supported restricting a transfer tax is because in Oregon, the taxpayers already carry the burden of paying property taxes.

 

RICH ROHDE, 124 Ohio Street, told the Housing Commissioners that their credibility on affordable housing is what is at stake with this ballot measure.  He told them not to lose their credibility by opposing the ballot measure. 

 

Hardesty said Hartzell asked her to bring forth Hartzell’s opinion.  She would like the Housing Commission to vote against this measure.   She added that the Council voted for self-determination, not the Real Estate Transfer Fee.  She remembers that the Council supported the community to be able to do what the community wanted to do without the state telling them what to do. 

 

Weisler asked if the Commissioners felt this measure would support the Housing Commission’s mission to take a position one way or the other.  Peck does not believe it is supporting the Commission’s mission if it’s already on the ballot.  Hardesty agreed.  Weisler is inclined not to take a position and yet use the opportunity for educating people about why the RETF is a good idea.  She believes it is important the Housing Commission takes a position reiterating their support for any reasonable vehicle that could provide funding for affordable housing, but still stay out of the vote. Weisler asked for a show of hands all those in favor of not taking a position on this, other than educational.  All voting members present raised their hand. 

 

REPORTS AND UPDATES

Subcommittee Liaison Updates

Land Use Subcommittee – Goldman said the RFP for a consultant to do a Rental Needs Analysis is in final draft form.   He said the RFQ for the Revenue Analysis went back to the committee for review but should be issued soon.  Weisler asked if the Commission could review the final copy (by e-mail).

 

Peck said under “Deliverables” it says “Presentation of findings to the Ashland Housing Commission.”  She asked to add “…and Planning Commission.”   Peck would like to see the Planning Commission included so they can be kept in the loop concerning affordable housing issues.  Goldman agreed to amend it. 

 

Finance – Goldman said they’d met with ACCESS, RVCDC and Oregon Action that presented what they saw as the gaps within funding sources by which the Housing Trust Fund, once instituted, should be able to fill those gaps.

 

Education – Goldman said they are working on a putting together a TV program (RVTV) to educate the public about affordable housing.  It should happen in October or November.

 

Liaison Reports – Who will take Hardesty’s place as the liaison to the school board?  This will be discussed at next month’s meeting.

 

STUDY SESSION DISCUSSION

Training for Pre-Applications

How Housing Commission positions on items are reflected in the minutes

The study session will be Tuesday, September 26, 2006 from 4 to 7 pm.

 

NEXT MEETING AGENDA – September 18th

               Homelessness ten year plan presentation

               CDBG Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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