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Housing Commission Minutes

Minutes
Monday, July 31, 2006

ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION

MINUTES

JULY 31, 2006

 

**  See Secretary’s note at the end of the minutes.  Changes to minutes in italics.

 

CALL TO ORDER - Chair Fay Weisler called the meeting to order at 5:35 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building.

 

Commissioners Present

SOU Liaison

Faye Weisler, Chair

Sunny Lindley, present

Liz Peck

 

Don Mackin

Council Liaison

Aaron Benjamin

Cate Hartzell, present

Commissioners Absent

 

Carol Voisin

Staff Present

Jennifer Henderson

Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

Bill Street

Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Mackin/Hartzell m/s to approve the minutes of June 19, 2006 meeting.  Voice Vote:  Approved.

 

PUBLIC FORUM

ANDREA MIRANDA, a Medford resident and Chair of Oregon Action’s Affordable Housing Committee and Statewide Treasurer, stated that Oregon Action is fully supportive of a condominium conversion ordinance, though they would like to see the details of the ordinance.  They have concerns regarding tenant protections.  She has been working with an Ashland resident that was recently displaced due to a condo conversion.  The Commission requested Miranda have any written comments submitted before August 21st.

 

PAT HAYS had been a resident of 928 Glendale, a recent dwelling that was converted to a “for purchase” condominium.  He is not opposed to apartment owners making a return on their investment, but a community has an obligation to try to mitigate the harm that comes when markets shift quickly.  Most renters don’t have an understanding of their legal rights.  Even though the residents have a 90 day option to purchase the condominium, they didn’t receive a notification until some time later.  Can the Commission have a process that gives tenants time and money since most will not be able to buy, in order to alleviate the pain and help folks move to another place in the City?

  

ALICE HARDESTY announced she is no longer a member of the Housing Commission because she was just appointed as a member of the City Council and is at the meeting as a visitor.  She introduced her neighbors, Kelly Cruiser and Rich Billen, who are both very interested in housing issues and the Housing Commission.

 

Goldman noted that the condo conversion ordinance is on the Housing Commission’s August 21st meeting agenda.  It will then move to the Planning Commission. 

 

OTHER BUSINESS FROM HOUSING COMMISSION MEMBERS

Weisler thanked Hardesty for her work on the Commission and looks forward to having her on the Council.  Hardesty’s absence leaves a vacancy for Vice Chair.  The Commission will fill that position next month.

 

Rental Needs Assessment Status – Goldman said the general scope of work has been reviewed and the RFQ will be drafted by Staff and issued in 20 to 30 days but the RFQ has not yet been sent out.  The Rental Needs Assessment will be supplemental to the Action Plan and Housing Needs Analysis because the Needs Analysis had a rental needs gap of information.  Hartzell said if it doesn’t delay it, it might be good to run it by the Commission.  Weisler said the Land Use Committee has been involved with it.

 

NEW BUSINESS

Pre-Application Review Process

Goldman went over a list of items he provided in the packet for the Commission to consider in reviewing pre-applications.  He discussed the timing of the review board.  Will they rotate the board or have a committee that handles pre-applications?  They discussed a retreat for a training session for the items Goldman presented. 

 

Mackin remembered that when the review of pre-apps was first discussed, it was to create a process whereby there would be dialog focusing strictly on affordability issues. 

 

Goldman said if the Commission would like the review board to look at pre-apps only after Staff review, he could schedule accordingly.  Applicants would be told they would have to meet with the Housing Commission review board before submitting a formal application.  That meeting could be two weeks prior to the full Commission meeting or it might be at the full Commission.  An idea behind the review board is to lessen the burden to the full Commission.   The Commission agreed to use the list Goldman provided as a starting point to review tonight’s Ashland Greenhouse project.  Goldman said if they are going to rotate on a review board, he could build in a one hour training before they meet. 

 

(Original wording:  Benjamin said there is always going to be a tendency for the commission to micro-manage.  The first source of information will come from Staff.  Staff will make a recommendation to the subcommittee.  The subcommittee will discuss the recommendations with Staff.  Recommendations are made to the Commission as a whole.  The subcommittee will sit down and recommend.  Each project will have its own characteristics.  Over time, the Commission will learn.  It will not happen overnight.  The Commission needs to use the professional staff they have.)   **The Commission voted to change the wording to the following: Benjamin said there is always going to be a tendency for the Commission to micro-manage.  Therefore, the Commission should rely on the advice of its professional staff to help it make technical decisions.  Staff would review the project, make recommendations to the subcommittee.  Staff and the subcommittee would then discuss the recommendations.  After these discussions, the final recommendations would be made to the full Commission.  Clearly, each project would have its own distinct characteristics and its own problems.  However, in time, the Commission would become more comfortable with the review process and will be able to come to appropriate decisions expeditiously.

 

Goldman will send out possible dates for a study session for training.

 

Housing Project Task Force

The project currently under construction by RVCDC on Siskiyou and Faith has encountered some problems along the way.  Hartzell was asked by RVCDC to be a liaison between the City and RVCDC.  She thought it might be good to institutionalize a process for checking in periodically to make sure any projects like this are going forward.  It would require one or two representatives from the Housing Commission to come together as needed to monitor projects.

 

Hardesty felt it was a great idea but it could be difficult to tap into more of the Housing Commissioner’s time unless the Housing Commission could be expanded.  There is a lot of work to be done and we need more people.

 

It was suggested the project providers would be asked to come and report on a rotating basis as a subcommittee before the whole Commission.  Some of the providers are:  ACCESS, Ashland Community Land Trust, Rogue Valley Development Corporation, Lithia Lot project.

 

Sunny Lindley arrived at 6:30 p.m.

 

Benjamin/Hartzell m/s to recommend that an opportunity be given to organizations that currently receive City resources for affordable housing projects to make presentations at the regular Housing Commission meeting every month on a rotating basis, but not limited to a monthly report.  Voice Vote:  The motion carried unanimously.

 

RETF Charter Amendment

The discussion regarding this issue is reflected in the minutes from last month’s meeting. 

 

RICH ROHDE, 124 Ohio Street, staff member for Oregon Action, noted that at the last meeting, the Commissioners took a vote to oppose the Charter Amendment for the RETF tax.  A real estate transfer tax has been used in other cities and states as an effective way of raising resources.  There has been no effort at this point either in the legislature or locally to put a RETF on the ballot without a vote of the people.  In other words, we are being asked to vote on something for the City Charter that is totally moot.   Having it on the ballot only muddies the water and does not help advance affordable housing.  It would be helpful if all the groups working on affordable housing took the same stand and opposed it.

 

Hardesty asked Rohde how you explain to someone how it is not unpatriotic to vote against this Charter Amendment.  Rohde said they will take the time to talk to people about what really will advance affordable housing. 

 

Weisler would like to see this on next month’s agenda to see if we can use this an opportunity to educate the public about the need for something like the RETF tax.

 

Hardesty urged that the Land Use Committee meet soon and select a new chair. She would like to continue coming to their meetings. Goldman said the next meeting is August 17th at noon in the Community Development and Engineering Services Building. 

 

Hartzell and Hardesty left the meeting at 6:45 p.m.

 

PROJECT REVIEWS

Pre-Application:  Ashland Greenhouse Annexation

Greg and Valri Williams, 744 Helman Street

Ron Demele, Rogue Valley Community Development Commission, 165 Crocker Street

 

G. Williams said they are proposing to have a sustainable green subdivision.  They want zero net homes (no electric bill).  They want a mixed-use development using small footprints and build approximately 59 homes that are 900 to 1200 square feet.  The largest home will be 2600 square feet.  They want to have affordable housing and believe it is important to build smaller homes that are energy efficient.  This will also be a way to work toward keeping our earth sustainable. 

 

V. Williams talked about the team they have put together to help them with their vision.  They will be working with RVCDC for their affordable component.

 

Demele said the funding for affordable housing for green projects is starting to become available.  The developer has a good attitude about this project and how it will be developed so all the components will work together.  It looks like there will be about 16 affordable units targeting the 30 percent AMI.  There will be a wide variety of funding sources. 

 

Weisler said the type of items the Housing Commission needs to evaluate isn’t yet in the application.  G. Williams said they have only contacted RVCDC within the last ten days.  Their choice of non-profits was limited.  They will meet the requirements of the ordinance, but they will need some flexibility in order to move forward.  They are trying to hit a wide spectrum of incomes.  He suggested, in the future, the Commission look at credits for zero net energy.

 

Mackin said the Housing Commission’s dilemma has been to provide incentives from the City to promote affordable housing.  He said the Commission has never made the correlation between green building and affordable housing.  This project will probably be a learning experience for the City.  He believes it comes down to funding sources for the 15 affordable units.  That’s the critical point that the Housing Commission can help with. 

 

Demele said he is almost certain this project will be in a land trust (land lease) in perpetuity.  He does not know where the affordable units will be located because it is too early in the process.

 

G. Williams noted they are prepared to give an acre of land to the non-profit.

 

Goldman said the existing Comp Plan designation for the property is Single Family Residential.  One of the merits of their proposal is the request for a re-zone to consolidate pavement and increasing the density which increases the affordable units by five. 

 

Mackin mentioned this Commission continues to express an interest in seeing the affordable aspects of the project spread throughout the project and yet Demele is limited because of his funding sources, etc. 

 

(Original wording: The Housing Commission is generally supportive of the project and the sustainability aspect, especially with regard to residents not having an electric bill.  They like having more units because of higher density.  It is commendable that the applicant wants to come in at 30 to 80 percent AMI.  They hope the affordability can last in perpetuity.  The Commission commended the applicants for going way beyond the affordable housing requirement with energy savings.  This project is like a keystone and presents an important combination of factors for which the Commission needs to be aware.)  **The Commission voted to change the wording to the following:  The Housing Commission is generally supportive of the sustainability aspect of the project, especially with regard to residents not having an electric bill.  It is commendable that the applicant wants to come in at 30 to 80 percent AMI.  They hope the affordability can last in perpetuity.   

 

The meeting was extended five minutes. 

 

REPORTS AND UPDATES

Project Update (Stratford Apts.)

The 52-unit USDA apartment complex off Clay Street is currently requesting from the Dept. of Agriculture to buy out its affordability requirements by pre-paying the loan.  The process takes about a year.  The property has to be made available to non-profits for affordable housing providers to buy off the property and maintain it as affordable.  There is a currently a non-profit looking to buy this complex.  If so, USDA would preserve as affordable.

 

Subcommittee Updates

Land Use –The Land Use subcommittee and Planning Commission met and talked about condo conversions.       

Finance – Goldman is going to send a copy of the RFQ for the housing trust fund to the whole commission for their review, giving ten days for input. 

Education – No report.

Pre-App Review – No report

 

Subcommittee assignments are as follows:

Land Use – Mackin, Peck and Henderson

Education – Street, Voisin and Benjamin

Finance – Henderson, Hartzell and new Commission appointee

Preapp Review – Mackin, Street and Benjamin

 

Goldman will plan to contact each of the subcommittees to schedule regular meetings. 

 

Hartzell talked about the Homeless Summit to End Chronic Homelessness.  She said the group is going strong.  She had handouts that Staff will make available to the Commission.  Someone will be here the first week in September for a possible southern Oregon summit. 

 

ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary

 

 

 

**See changes above (in italics) that the Housing Commission made to the minutes at their August 21, 2006 meeting.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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