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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Regular Meeting 11/25/08

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



November 25, 2008



Chair Bill Smith called the meeting to order at 4:30 p.m. at the Community Development and Engineering Services Building, 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.


Commissioners Present:

Carol Voisin


SOU Liaison:  Alexandra Amarotico,

Nick Frost



Graham Lewis, absent


Council Liaison:  Alice Hardesty, arrived at 4:40

Steve Hauck



Bill Smith


Staff Present:: 

Aaron Benjamin


Linda Reid, Housing  Specialist

Regina Ayars


Carolyn Schwendener, Account Clerk

Richard Billin, absent








Page four, second paragraph second line should read “HAJC proposal be funded in full contingent upon…”Voisin/Ayars m/s to approve the minutes of the October 23, 2008 Housing Commission meeting as corrected. Voice Vote:  Approved.




Jason Elzy, Development Specialist with the Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC), was present to represent the applicant. Mr. Elzy distributed the site plan and narrative of their proposal to the Commissioners. The development is sixty units of affordable housing (59 will be affordable and one unit will be the managers) targeted to low income renters of 30% to 60% of Area Medium Income (AMI).  The information showed the modified site plan, project amenities and unit amenities.  



Questions from the Commissioners -

Is the new proposed street that runs parallel with the vacant land a dead-end?

The site plan shows the street only to the point that the Housing Authority will be taking it.  It’s possible that there could be a connection to Clay Street. Until that connection is made the Housing Authority will put in bollards so the children from the site could walk over to the park. 


What’s the possibility of having solar and the units being greener?

The Housing Authority would like to incorporate as much green building as possible but due to the expense of solar panels it currently is very cost prohibitive.  Because the HAJC is tax exempt, the tax credits do not help them though they utilize business energy tax credits whenever possible.  The HAJC will not own this project they will be the general partner.  The project is funded through low income housing federal tax credits.  A local bank has also expressed interest in investing in the project.


When putting in the street how many trees will this project affect?  

There are two trees located in the proposed interior street right of way.  A 12 inch pine and an 8 inch oak.   


If the bank is the owner after the loan is paid off who then owns the property?

The bank is obligated for a minimum of twelve years.  Sometime between years twelve and fifteen the partnership will dissolve. In the partnership agreement with the bank HAJC will have provisions for first right of refusal.   Normally the HAJC will purchase the project for the amount of debt and tax obligations of the bank and become the sole owner usually around the fifteenth years.


Is this project a unique arrangement or standard procedure?

Very standard for our new construction projects.  Maple Terrace in Medford was done exactly this way along with a new project under construction in Central Point.   


You referred to the high efficiency heating and cooling.  How high is that efficiency?

Normally they look at SEER rating. We will be installing heat pumps with a SEER rating of 14 or 15 which is above standard.


When do you start taking applications? 

About two months prior to completion.  The tenants sign a one year lease but it doesn’t necessarily obligate them to stay a year.


What is the cost for these units?

One Bedroom Unit - $453.00, two bedroom unit - $540.00, three bedroom unit - $620.00.


The project is scheduled to begin construction in late fall 2009 and completion would be around one year from the start date.



David Chapman – City Councilor, came forward to speak.  Mr. Chapman came to the meeting to explain to the Commissioners why he was against  the Clay Street project. He was speaking on his own behalf not representing the City Council. Mr. Chapman said he has always been interested in that piece of land but has not always been happy with the options on how to acquire it. Once the land is acquired the next step would be to discuss how to best utilize it.  Mr. Chapman stated that was a step the City Council never got to.


Mr. Chapman stated that the land is in the perfect location for shopping, schools, the Croman site, industrial areas, SOU and the High School making it perfect for a high density transit oriented development.  The ten acres of land could provide housing for up to 260 units.  Mr. Chapman proposed the questions; were possibilities overlooked, should the buildings be built higher, perhaps three stories, could there have been more open space?  Mr. Chapman compared the Clay Street property to Verde Village on West Nevada. He believes Verde Village made all the right decisions.  Zero net energy, they protected the water, put in paths and community gardens.  He would have liked to have seen the same kinds of design criteria be applied to this property for multi-family use along with connectivity for the pedestrians and cyclists to get where they need to go. Mr. Chapman stated that though affordable housing should be a major component of this site, he felt that the city is losing a really important opportunity. 


Ayars inquired if the 3.75 acre parcel that hasn’t been designated could it be used for the higher density as Mr. Chapman is suggesting. Reid acknowledged that at this time the City’s land use ordinance would have to change in order to do this.


Mr. Chapman provided a handout to the Housing Commission that compared the percentage of income spent for housing against that spent for transportation.  The handout showed that most people spend more on transportation then housing. 


Ashland resident Huelz Gutcheon, agreed with what Mr. Chapman stated, that he would have liked to have seen a zero net energy design on Clay Street as well. Mr. Gutcheon thought that the City would first purchase the land and then figure out the design.



Sub-committee Reports

Finance – No report


Education – No report


Land Use – Ayars reported at the last sub committee meeting on November 12th the Commissioners agreed there were potentially too many barriers to developing the Hargadine parking lot, primarily the big box ordinance. Staff felt there is a lot on the table right now and maybe their time would be better spent looking at the potential development of the 1.25 acres within the Clay Street project.  They also talked about using the strip along the side for employer assisted housing.


Liaison Reports

Council – Hardesty reported that the Council did award the CDBG funds to the HAJC.  Hardesty questioned whether or not the City could have done the land swap without the HAJC purchasing a portion. Hardesty does hope that things will work out well so that the City can afford to buy another piece and the planning might be more long range and increase the density and energy efficiency. 


Parks Commission – Hauck reported that the Parks Commission talked about looking at ways to come up with the funding to purchase parkland on Clay Street.  The Parks Commission considered whether or not they even want to do the project at all.  The City has two years to decide whether or not to purchase the Clay Street property.  If the Parks department chooses not to purchase park land on Clay Street then the City could sell it or build on it themselves. 


School Board – No report


Planning Commission – Benjamin reported he found two items interesting at the November 12, 2008 meeting. The Planning Commission approved a Commercial Site Review for 2200 Ashland St. for Coming Attractions.  He was concerned that with such a large site some consideration could be given to the use of some of the property for Housing. Secondly there is a proposal to build thirteen condominiums at 2300 Siskiyou Blvd.  The hearing was continued until the December 9, 2008 meeting. 



Reid stated that the resolution needs to be made into an Ordinance and put into the Ashland Municipal Code. Reid suggested the Commissioners spend some time reviewing the resolution to see if they would like to make changes.  The Commissioners discussed Section 3 – Quorum, rules and regulations and made the following suggestions.

  • A quorum will be half plus one but not less then three. 
  • The City Council Liaison would be a voting member
  • No need for a secretary. 
  • Add “provide advice and guidance to commissions, the Council and city departments on all housing matters”
  • To educate the citizenry and to promote public knowledge and understanding of the benefits of affordable housing.
  • Section 5 C needs to be added back in
  • Consider putting something in regarding the affordable housing trust fund.  


The Commissioners discussed the possibility of rather then serving in an advisory capacity, they would actually be part of the decision making process.  The Housing Commission had previously asked the City Council to expand their powers and duties to include review of planning actions.  The council decided not to allow the housing commission to review planning actions, but did allow them to weigh in on the pre-application process for affordable housing projects. The Commissioners discussed what are the trigger points for a review by the Housing Commission.  Are there areas of a planning action that would make sense for the Housing Commission to review that would not be a burden on the applicant?


Hardesty/Ayars m/s that staff works with legal to draft our resolution in the form of an ordinance include provide guidance to other commissions; include that a quorum will be defined as half the number of sitting commissioners plus one and staff investigates and include as part of our mission educating the citizenry in promoting public knowledge and understanding of the benefits of affordable housing, and that staff investigate additional roles for the housing commission to be more involved in the planning process.    Linda will draft an ordinance and come back with it to the Commission for them to reevaluate it.  Voice Vote:  Passed unanimously. 








It is Frost’s concern that the City in the future will be dealing with not just homeless people who are traveling but also local residents who may become homeless. Frost understands the concern for quality of the information the commission receives.  This might be alleviated if we are careful about who we select in the first place.  We are the only Commission with homelessness as part of our purview and I would like to see the Commission do something to deal directly with homelessness stated Frost.


Smith commented that early on when discussing goals of the Commission it was decided that the Commission’s time and effort would be best spent in the housing area.  It was suggested that perhaps someone who works with the homeless population might be a good choice for a liaison in order to get a perspective beyond one person’s experience.  The Faith Community often addresses homelessness in our community and it was suggested to check on what they might be doing at this time.


Graham Lewis has the most experience with the homeless and would be a good representative.  The Commissioners agreed to put this on next month’s agenda so that Lewis could participate in the discussion. It was suggested that SOU might be interested in this project also.


Several Commissioners received a phone message from John Darling at the Tidings asking to talk about the homelessness in Ashland and what they are doing about it.  



Homeless Liaison discussion

First draft of Ordinance




Next Regular Housing Commission meeting will be December 17, 2008 at 4:30 p.m

Ayars will not be able to attend


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by, Carolyn Schwendener

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