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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Regular Meeting

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012
Chair Regina Ayars called the meeting to order at 4:20 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, arrived at 4:25  
Barb Barasa Staff Present:
Evan Lasley Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Ben Scott Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Clerk
Commissioners Absent  
Lasley/Scott m/s to approve the minutes of the July 25, 2012 regular Housing Commission meeting. Voice Vote:  All Ayes; minutes were approved with suggested changes. 
Ayars acknowledged that Richard Billin has resigned from the Commission due to time constraints and family obligations. 
Michael Gutman was present to observe the meeting.  He is interested in joining the Commission.  Mr. Gutman has been in the housing industry for over thirty years and is particularly interested in affordable housing in Ashland. 
The presentation was postponed until the September meeting.
Reid met with City Attorney Dave Lohman, City Planner Brandon Goldman and Community Development Director Bill Molnar. Their main concern was with section 10.110.050 Procedures.  The Fair Housing Ordinance was originally adopted in 1989.  At that time the Housing Commission had not been established yet and the City was not a CDBG entitlement jurisdiction.  The original ordinance was put together by the Planning Commission and the Citizens Review Board.  The ordinance has remained substantially unchanged since its original adoption in 1989.
Section 10.110.050 Procedures states; any person who feels that an unlawful practice in regard to the Fair Housing Ordinance has taken place may file a complaint with the Fair Housing Officer.  Traditionally that person has been the City Attorney. Section 10.110.050 further states, “The Fair Housing Officer or a duly authorized representative shall investigate each complaint and attempt to resolve each complaint.  Failure to achieve a resolution acceptable to both parties and compliance with this ordinance shall cause the Fair Housing Officer to forward the complaint and findings to appropriate state and federal officials”.  Lohman’s concern is that the City does not have the capacity at this time to take care of code compliance and Fair Housing should someone wish to file a complaint and go through the City’s process.  The City has never gone through this process and does not at this time have the staffing capacity or training to do this.
Lohman suggested two options:
  • The City maintains the option to process Fair Housing complaints locally but change the wording and give it a qualifier – In the event that concrete evidence is provided that demonstrates possible discrimination the Fair Housing Officer may also file a complaint with the Ashland Municipal Court as provided in Section 10.110.070. 
  • The City will still have the ability to investigate and mediate Fair Housing complaints but will not process them locally. Remove the sentence that talks about local level compliance – The Fair Housing Officer may also file a complaint with the Ashland Municipal Court as provided in Section 10.110.070.  If this section is removed we would also remove section 10.110.090 Penalties and section 10.110.060 Authority of City Administrator to adopt rules. If you have compliance you have to adopt procedures and forms to assist in the implementation. 
When this ordinance was drafted the City identified more protected classes than the State or Federal Fair Housing laws. The City had added gender identity and sexual orientation which both are now protected classes under State law.  In the event that the City identifies a protected class that is not identified as a protected class by State or Federal Fair Housing law and there is no compliance procedure in the jurisdiction then those members of that protected class who feel that they have been discriminated against will have no legal recourse.  They cannot file a complaint with the State or Federal governments because that class is not recognized as a protected class outside of the jurisdiction.  If the City of Ashland added students as a protected class in the future then the City would need to re-instate that compliance mechanism. 
The Commissioners discussed the options and made a motion. 
Ainsworth/Barasa m/s to recommend to City Council to go with option two and remove the local compliance.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed unanimously.    
Ainsworth distributed information regarding dedicated revenue sources for the Housing Trust Fund. The information was put together by the Housing Trust Fund Project Center for Community Change.  The list included examples of jurisdictions throughout the United States and what their different methods are for sustained revenue sources.  Some of those examples are:
  • Developer impact fees
  • Transient occupancy tax
  • MF rental conversion fee
  • Unexpended funds from utility
  • Demolition tax
  • Electronic filing fees
  • Percent of valuation on building permits
Ainsworth mentioned that it is important to consider that any revenue source that is currently being used elsewhere might be somewhat of a challenge to utilize. Often developers are subject to the most impact fees which can be a burden to them.   It was suggested that the Commission look at more creative revenue sources such as recording and filing fees.  The Commissioners discussed Tax Increment Finance Districts. This is similar to an Urban Renewal District. A District is created in which benefits are given. Reid said the City is looking at the feasibility of it in the Pedestrian Places Zones to encourage more housing, shopping etc.  The Croman Mill Site was looked at specifically.  Another idea was the ability to transfer your development rights to another land owner who then can use that extra density on their property.  That transfer would have a fee which could partially go to the Housing Trust Fund. 
Vacation Rental properties have become a code compliance issue within our City.  Reid said other community’s tax vacation rentals to offset their negative impact on the rental housing market. This tax is designed to offset the impact by helping to develop affordable housing.  A portion of the Business License fee for those rentals could also be assessed. 
Voisin acknowledged that at a recent City Council Study Session they discussed whether or not there needs to be an ordinance that would govern Vacation Rentals similar to the Bed & Breakfast guidelines.  They did not come to any conclusions but directed staff to return with more information and suggestions. 
Reid will discuss with Molnar the possibility of using a small portion of the Transient Occupant Tax for the Housing Trust fund.  She will also present the possibility of using vacation rental licensing fees, business licenses fees and demo permit fees. Any of these fees would need to go before the City Council for approval. 
Continue this discussion at next month’s meeting.
Reid reported that last year the City initiated a market analysis for the property.  The evaluation said that the market was down and not a lot of lending was occurring. The property was valued at an amount of $360,000. The City also investigated to see if there were any affordable housing providers who would be interested in developing the property.  The Housing Authority of Jackson County was the only interested party. City Council directed staff to take no action on the Clay Street property with the intent to re-evaluate the City’s options upon significant changes in the lending markets. 
Reid recently contacted the various housing providers; Umpqua CDC, ACCESS Inc., Housing Authority of Jackson County, ACLT and Habitat for Humanity, and received the same response as last year.  Though everyone seemed somewhat interested in the property none of them felt they would be ready to move forward at this time. Molnar directed Reid to check with a Real Estate Agent and get an idea of the market and the development community.  Reid found that there were no significant changes in the housing market and lending is still down. 
Reid presented four options. 
  • Delay the evaluation for another six months until spring when Reid’s schedule will be a little bit lighter and at that time the Housing Needs Analysis’ will be adopted.  The Housing Needs Analysis’ would serve as criteria for the evaluation for the RFP proposals.
  • Land Bank
  • Sell the Land for market value.  This would require other actions.  Determine market value of property.  Public hearing and execute purchase and sale agreement
  • Solicit a proposal for an RFP.  Determine development potential.
The Commissioners discussed the options. 
Lasley/Ainsworth m/s to recommend to City Council Option 1, Delay the evaluation.  Voice Vote; All Ayes, motion passed unanimously. 
Barasa is still interested in helping with this project and has done some research as to how to proceed.  One option is to get some training from RVTV and do the project herself.  The college has purchased new equipment and Barasa said she is confident she could do the project using this new equipment.  Another option is to try and work through the Emergency Media and Digital Arts (EMDA) Program.    The college is already getting a lot of requests for collaborative work utilizing students so they will have to be somewhat selective. Barasa will give an update at the October Housing Commission meeting. 
Ayars asked to have a discussion about the possibility of not allowing Single Family homes in Multi-family zones.
Reid explained this would be a very long legislative action process because it is a legislative ordinance change.  Voisin suggested the Commission set up a Study Session with the City Council.  This is a recommendation in the Housing Needs Analysis of things that can be done to encourage more rental housing.    After the Housing Needs Analysis is adopted this item may be able to move forward.  The Commission could put it on the agenda for the goal setting meeting in December. 
Council – Voisin encouraged the Commissioners to give a report to the City Council explaining their goals as well as their achievements. The Council would like to hear any goals the Commission might like to see them adopt.  Both the conservation sub-committee and the AWAC meeting explored the idea of developing a progressive rate structure for water and electric usage in order to encourage conservation. The more a customer uses the more expensive it will be.  This will be presented to Council at a study session on October 15th
Staff- Reid announced that representatives from Dignity Village out of Portland will be coming down in September.  The Homeless task force will be hosting a community forum at their regular meeting at the Community Center on September 18th in which the representatives will speak.
Quorum Check – Everyone will be able to attend
First Reading of the Fair Housing Ordinance, City Council-Aug 7th, 2012
Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting
September 26, 2012 4:00-6:00 PM in the Siskiyou Room located at the Community Development and Engineering Building at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland Oregon.
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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