Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Housing Commission Regular Meeting

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23, 2013
Chair Regina Ayars called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Building located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland, OR  97520.
Andrew Ensslin introduced himself as the new SOU Liaison to the Housing Commission.  He is a Political Science and History Major with a Minor in Psychology.  Ensslin is very interested in politics and the public service process. He is currently doing an internship with Congressman Walden.
Commissioners Present: Council Liaison
Regina Ayars Carol Voisin
Brett Ainsworth  
Barb Barasa SOU Liaison
Evan Lasley Andrew Ensslin
Michael Gutman  
  Staff Present:
Commissioners Absent: Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
Ben Scott, excused Carolyn Schwendener
Lasley/Barasa m/s to approve the minutes of the October 22, 2012 regular Housing Commission meeting. Voice Vote:  All Ayes; minutes were approved as presented. 
No one spoke
Ward Wilson from the Ashland Emergency Food Bank (AEFB) was present to give an update.  Wilson distributed to the Commissioners two different types of brochures.  One brochure targeted the large donors the smaller brochure was intended for a wider distribution; two thousand of which will be going out to the Ashland Food Project volunteers.   Wilson acknowledged they did not get started very quickly with their fundraising. He attributed this to three things; they are not fundraising professionals, the three primary members of the board have had a difficult time getting together and they had not put together any brochures until recently. 
Wilson pointed out they received what they call a “lead donation” of $50,000 from a high profile local individual.  That donor would like to work with the board and help solicit similar individuals.  They also were interested in talking to them about how much money the AEFB would require for a gift that would result in naming their building.
Currently AEFB has a total of $176,000 in pledges and gifts including the funds that were awarded from the City of Ashland. 
The Commissioners had some questions for Wilson.
Originally AEFB stated that they were expecting gifts last year, one in May and one in December.  Were there delays with those gifts?
Yes, we only received one.  We attribute this to the fact we have never done fundraising before and didn’t aggressively seek out those gifts.
You mentioned last year that the bank might consider extending the deadline for the purchase of the property.  Is this still a possibility?
Peoples Bank of Commerce owns the property through bankruptcy.  The bank is still very supportive.  They have leased the building to us at 18 cents a square foot.  The deadline for purchase is August 31. At that time we can discuss that possibility if necessary.
Who is the point person responsible for fund raising?
Initially it was Greg Lemhouse but he found he didn’t have enough time so he asked me to help.  I declined though offered my support to the others who would be doing the fundraising.  We do not have a point person but are doing the fundraising together as a group.  The campaign committee consists of four individuals; Greg Lemhouse, Kate Jackson, Pam Marsh, George Kramer and myself. 
How many donors make up the $176,000?
Our goal is $600,000.  We have approximately thirty donors two of which make up $137,000.  One donor is the City of Ashland and the other is the private donor who gave the $50,000.
Are you planning on asking for CDBG funds again this year?
Yes.  We are hoping to have made more progress by the time of application.  The Request For Proposal (RFP) closes on February 15, 2013.
Reid pointed out that staff will review applications making a recommendation to the Housing Commission.  At February’s meeting the Commissioners will hear the presentations and then make a recommendation to the Council.  The Council will make the final determination at their April meeting.  
Reid implied that the City is obligated to hold the awarded funds from last year until August 31.  The City does have the ability to re-award those funds should the AEFB not make their ultimate goal to purchase the property.
Maria Harris, City Planning Manger, gave an update on the progress of the Unified Land Use Ordinance Project.  The Planning Commission has been reviewing the draft of this reorganized code.  Most of the amendments being made have been housekeeping issues and policy issues from the 2006 Analysis. 
Harris briefly described some of those changes. 
Accessory Residential Units (ARUs) ARUs currently require a conditional use permit in the single-family zones and a site review in the multi-family zones.  The proposed amendment discussed by the Planning Commission is to make ARUs a permitted use in all zones and removing the conditional use permit requirement.  This still requires a planning action with noticing to the neighbors.  This change does not take away the neighbors ability to make comments. 
Manufactured Homes on Individual Lots - There were four recommended changes.  Three were revised for consistency with the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) regarding placement of manufactured homes on individual lots. Those amendments included the deletion of the requirement that a home be 20 feet in width, a change in wording for exterior building materials and the maximum height above grade.  The ORS does allow jurisdictions to require a garage to be constructed with manufactured homes on individual lots.  The Planning Commission concurred with the Housing Commission regarding this requirement suggesting using the same requirements as single-family homes which in Ashland are to provide the required number of off-street parking spaces, but not requiring a garage or carport.
Affordable Housing Density Bonus – The current ordinance allows for an equivalent density bonus for every percent of units that are affordable.  The 2006 Land Use Ordinance Review recommends doubling the density bonus for affordable housing to provide a greater incentive for affordability. 
Cottage Housing or Pocket Neighborhoods – This description is typically used to describe a type of development involving relatively small homes (750 to 1250) clustered around a common open space.  The Planning Commission directed staff to pursue revisions to the code to promote the development of pocket neighborhoods.  Harris will email Reid the list of Cities with cottage Housing or Pocket neighborhoods. 

Harris went on to say that after the first draft has been completed the next piece is the evaluation of some green codes incentives and evaluation of procedures based on two of the Council goals.  Will be doing a series of public meetings in late spring.  These meetings will be focus group format where we try to cluster proposed amendments in areas where people might be interested.  Harris would like to have a final draft and formal adoption process in late summer or early fall. 
Reid explained that Staff is looking for some feedback from the Housing Commission mainly regarding how changing the rules around the vacation rentals could impact the housing availability.  The Planning Commission reviewed this last night and it will be going to the City Council soon. 
Ainsworth commented that by allowing houses to be used for short term rental they are then no longer available for long term rental for families nor are available for sale to those who work in Ashland and wish to live here.  This doesn’t necessarily support the mission of what the Housing Commission has for providing a long term housing solution for all residences.  While I applaud the enforcement and its increasing need I don’t necessarily think the solution is to relax the rules in order to receive more tax revenue, stated Ainsworth. It was commented that the Bed & Breakfast owners believe that the City could in fact receive an increase in tax revenue by not allowing those illegal rentals which would increase the occupancy of the legal units providing more revenue. 
Voisin inquired, since the City no longer has a compliance officer how are they going to monitor this and enforce it.  Reid explained that the planners have taken on the code compliance responsibility and duties along with police and fire.  This particular issue will stay within the Community Development Department.  This issue came before the City Council due to a compliance letter that was sent out to property owners regarding the illegal units.  One of the recipients of the letter appeared before the Council inquiring about the opportunity to make illegal units legal. 
Reid said staff is working on compiling a list and making an effort to gain compliance though this is quite time intensive.  This effort has been put on hold because Council directed staff to look at options. The end result could be a citation and court. Generally speaking with code compliance it is the neighbors who monitor the situation.
Gutman felt that by allowing people to apply for vacation rentals some applicants will not do so due to the cost involved. If it becomes a regulated process it will take a lot of people out of it. Due to the price. 
Some considerations the Council is looking at are:
  • Make No changes
  • Expanding the Conditional Use Permit to include the entire multi-family district
  • Allowing them within 200 feet of any arterial street
Barasa agrees that by allowing more homes to be used for short term rental use it takes them out of the housing pool.   She does understand why because if you own an investment property you could perhaps see more revenue by doing the short term rental. If housing stock becomes less and less for students to access which could raise the price. 
Ayars believes it will negatively impact long term and affordability.  The recent City survey showed that the top concern was the reason for not livable was the lack of affordable housing followed by unemployment. 
Ainsworth/Lasley m/s that the commission recommends that we not modify the current policies regarding short term rentals.  Voice Vote:  all ayas.
Council – Voisin said the recent citizen survey mentioned affordable housing as a concern with a number of citizens acknowledging they would be willing to assist financially to help meet the goal of affordable housing. Voisin announced that the Cottonwood at 380 Clay Street is no longer being considered for removal. The tree will remain and be part of the future development of the property. The Council goal setting is Saturday February 2, 2013 between 9:00 am and 4:00 p.m.  The Council will be taken through a process by the City Administrator of setting a goal and establishing a strategy.  This is a public meeting and everyone is welcome.
Staff – Reid clarified that the Cottonwood tree at 380 Clay Street will not be part of the current partition that the City is in the process of doing.  The tree removal is not going to be processed as part of the partition at this time.  The City is seeking an arborist report on the tree.  The tree consumes a large amount of the land area.
Reid announced the City has issued the RFP for the Community Development Block Grant Funds.  Reid remarked that the City has not received any final notification on the fund allocation at this point. Staff has moved forward with the assumption the City will receive the same amount upon direction from our HUD CDBG representative that they expect the amount to stay the same.  Reid said at this point they have not received any applications. 
The Point in Time Homeless count will be happening next week, said Reid.  The County receives funding from HUD to do homeless services and homeless shelters and activities. Many of those services we receive here in Jackson County are funded out of that. The Point in Time Homeless Count is required by HUD.  Each community goes out the last week in January and does a count. Two types of counts; one is an overnight night shelter count, the other a street count for places like Ashland who do not have a shelter, volunteer count people on the street or where people are congregating such as at community meals. 
The Commissioners discussed which goals individual commissioners were most interested in then the goals were assigned.  Commissioners won’t address these goals until after the CDBG awards are completed.
Establishment of Rental Registry – Gutman
Preservation of vulnerable properties – Ayars
Housing Trust fund-identify three options – Ainsworth
Develop a Landlord Tenant Brochure – Barasa
Support the implementation of specific potential strategies identified in the Housing Needs Analysis – pending Council approval
Explore and potentially implement a Student Fair Housing Plan – Lasley and Ensslin
Student Fair Housing Survey
CDBG presentations
Next Housing Commission Regular Meeting WHERE
4:00-6:00 PM; February 27, 2013
ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:45.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener

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