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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Regular meeting

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23, 2012
Chair Regina Ayars called the meeting to order at 4:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers located at 1175 East Main St. Ashland, OR  97520.
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Regina Ayars Carol Voisin
Brett Ainsworth  
Barb Barasa Staff Present:
Evan Lasley Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
  Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Clerk
Commissioners Absent  
Richard Billin, excused  
Ben Scott, excused  
Lasley/Ainsworth m/s to approve the minutes of the April 25, 2012 regular Housing Commission meeting. Voice Vote:  All Ayes minutes were approved as presented. 
No public comments were made.
Maria Harris Planning Manager with the City of Ashland Community Development Department introduced herself.  She has been a professional planner for eighteen years and has spent the last fifteen years at the City of Ashland.  Harris explained that the City of Ashland is undertaking a project to combine the Ashland Land Use Ordinance and related development standards into a Unified Land Use Code with improved organization, wording, formatting and graphics.  The original document was adopted in 1964 and has been amended many times throughout the years.
Harris explained that the goal of the project is to present the information contained in the existing codes and standards so the Land Use Ordinance is clear, consistent, concise, adaptable and user-friendly.  This project directly meets the City Council goal to “Increase the clarity, responsiveness and certainty of the development process.” The City is looking at a twelve month timeline with the goal to finish by March of 2013.  
Recognizing that the Housing Commission might be interested in codes revolving around affordable housing the staff will bring any changes that would affect Housing directly to their Commission.   Brandon Goldman, Harris and Reid will be available for any questions they might have.  Updated information including project information, meeting schedules and materials will be put on the city website at
Pat Acklin, Associate Professor of Geography in the Social Sciences Policy and Culture Department at SOU gave some background about her class and this project.  Acklin is largely responsible for the land use planning concentration in the SOU environmental studies degree. Acklin has a goal to provide students with an experience that is authentic, to do work that is actually used by the public.  Her class has worked on projects such as riparian inventories, investigations into accessory units in various zones, fire zones, transportation counts, parking counts, whatever needs to be done. She approached Reid and asked if she had ideas on what needed to be done and Reid and Goldman suggestion looking into “Housing First.”
Acklin said that all of these students have done posters as individual research projects that relate in some way to Urban Planning with a housing focus.  Acklin will send the pdf of these posters to Reid to provide her with additional information.
The first presentation was given by Katy Higgins and Emily Carpenter.  (James Johnstone was on their team but is currently out of town at a track meet in Indiana) 
Higgins explained that Housing First is part of Pathways to Housing Inc.  They work with immensely disabled individuals and individuals who have addictions to drug and alcohol with the intent of trying to find them stable permanent housing in order to give them a better life. Higgins did her research for this project by reviewing various cities website that have a Housing First Program.  After reviewing various case studies it was determined that the Housing First Program is a successful program.  The next objective was to determine if it would be possible to implement the program in Ashland.
Currently Ashland does not have a Housing First Program.  With a population of twenty-two thousand people there are approximately two-hundred twenty affordable housing units in Ashland.  It has been estimated there are approximately one thousand forty-nine homeless people in Jackson County. Various reasons for homelessness are cited, some of which include; eroding employment opportunities, decline in public services and assistance, lack of affordable housing and health care, mental illness, and addiction disorders.
The two questions to ask ourselves are: Are there people in our community who are experiencing homelessness as well as psychiatric disabilities and co-occurring disorders who remain chronically homeless even after receiving the available services? Are there people known to shelters, emergency rooms and employees who are frequently users of their services and remain homeless?  We believe the answer is yes to both questions and one way to improve the situation is to have a Housing First Program, stated Carpenter.
The students suggested implementing the program by initiating it through an existing agency that is already in place. After checking various communities it was determined that the approximate budget would be one million five hundred thousand dollars to run the program for a year.  This includes salaries, nurses, and benefits for employees etc. 
The students determined that Housing First is possible in Ashland if we can fulfill the identified resources.  They acknowledged the City has homeless issues due to mental illness, drug or alcohol addictions and chronically homelessness individuals. With proper funding re allocation of money and with community members willing to take on the project we would be able to implement the program.
The next group of students, Kayla Carroll, Brian Cole, Andrew Hill, Kevin Moore, Shadassa Ourshalimian, Helim Picado, Vincent Shelton, and Jolene Walker presented on the need for affordable housing in our Community.
The students believe one source to provide affordable housing is through manufactured homes and modular homes.  They believe however that the City of Ashland has ordinances in place that prohibit or at least make it difficult to utilize manufactured homes within our community. 
The students gave the many positive reasons why manufactured housing is a good choice for affordable housing. They reviewed the codes in the local ordinance explaining the difficulties surrounding manufactured homes.  They compared like Cities throughout Oregon as well as Davis California explaining their land use codes and how they made it a little more attainable. 
The following are recommendations on ways to allow manufactured housing within our community a little easier to attain.
  • Match the minimum requirements for square footage that HUD requires. There is no minimum square footage for single family homes so there should not be one for manufactured homes.
  • Material consideration should not be more restrictive form manufactured homes than for stick built homes.
  • Garage or storage building requirements should be the same as for stick built
  • Consider more opportunities for manufactured homes in higher density zones
  • Set back requirements should be the same as for single family dwelling
  • Consider allowing manufactured homes to not be placed on permanent foundations to take better advantage of land lease opportunities and allow for “tiny homes”
  • Allow exemptions for green technologies, such as metal roofs for rain catchments
  • There should be no deck or patio requirement.
  • One parking space requirement should allow exemptions for small lot configurations similar to accessory residential units
  • Allow small lot configurations similar to the Living smart program from Portland.
The Commissioners asked what would be the next step with these recommendations.   Goldman said he and Harris would review the recommendations and can propose chapter amendments when appropriate.  Acklin will provide the recommendations to both Reid and Goldman for their review.
Goldman explained that in May of 2012 the City Council authorized an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Transportation and Growth Management (TGM) program to undertake the development of the Normal Avenue neighborhood Plan. This is a ninety-four acre parcel south of East Main Street and North of the Railroad Tracks between Walker Street and Clay Street.
This is the largest remaining parcel that currently has a Comprehensive Plan Designation of 66% suburban residential, which is a similar plan type as Chautauqua Trace or Buds Dairy. The remainder of the parcel has a Comprehensive Plan of Single Family Residential.  This parcel was originally subdivided according to County standards and includes approximately twenty-five property owners and vacant lots. The area is within the Urban Growth Boundary but outside the city limits. Historically the City has not annexed property into the city limits without the applicant first initiating it.  This would still be the case with these properties even though a master plan development would be in place.   
The scope of work is intended to begin on June first.    The City already has organized a neighborhood meeting which was well attended.  Those present shared their concerns such as an increase in traffic, the loss of residential feel, confirmation that they would still be able to develop according to county standards.  By putting together a master plan the property owners would then have a predictable outcome for their neighborhood as opposed to applying for planning actions independently.
This is expected to be about a year long process and as it moves forward Goldman stated they would be coming back to the advisory boards and commissions for their input.  The public will be invited to open houses and the Planning Commission will have a Study Session, ultimately going through the public adoption process.  The reason the City initiated this master plan for this neighborhood is because of the Regional Problem Solving efforts and Ashland’s decision to not expand its Urban Growth Boundary.  It is the City’s responsibility to identify and accommodate for the future population.
Council – No report
Staff – Reid reported that Project Community Connect is moving forward and as always they need volunteers, sponsors and donations.  The event will be held at the Medford Armory on June 22.  Ayars asked to put the Preservation property update including a report on Sun Village on next month’s agenda. 
Reid received a call from Diane Hess at the Fair Housing Council.  They applied for a HUD Grant in order to get a presence in our area. This Regional Person would be available to coordinate the fair housing events, go to meetings, be a resource guide and provide training. Hess let Reid know they received that grant for a part time person though no time line has been established yet. The Commissioners are interested in putting together a survey for new SOU Students to fill out upon orientation.  Perhaps this new person can work on the Fair Housing Ordinance as well as put together the survey for the students.
Ainsworth/Lasley m/s to remove option “O”, including student status as a protected class” from the current draft of the fair housing ordinance and move to forward the current draft to the Council for approval.  Voice Vote:  All Ayes, motion passed.
Quorum check; everyone will be available for the meeting
Project Community Connect Event – June 22, 2012, Medford Armory 9-4 PM
Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting
June 27, 2012 4:30-6:30 PM
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:20 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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