ASHLAND CONSERVATION COMMISSION
September 26, 2001
CALL TO ORDER- Chairperson Susan Reid called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Members present were Susan Reid, Bruce Moats, Russ Chapman, Charles Bennett, Joanne Krippaehne and Paige Prewett. Staff present was Sonja Akerman. Dan Murphy represented Ashland Sanitary & Recycling. Member Mort Smith is taking an approved leave of absence, Russ Otte is no longer the representative from Ashland School District (new representative will be appointed later), and Howard Braham was absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Regarding the minutes from the August 22, 2001 meeting, Chapman said under the "Ashland Sanitary & Recycling Update", item 2, second sentence should be clarified as follows: ...this will be the final on-route chipper event since Ashland Sanitary now has year round yard debris service at the Transfer Station and will be starting a residential yard debris program in March. Chipper day at the transfer station will continue twice a year. Also, Chapman felt the sentence Chapman is concerned about people not using what can be recycled is unclear and should be removed from the minutes. Krippaehne then moved and Chapman seconded to approve the August 22, 2001 minutes as corrected. The motion was unanimously passed.
ASHLAND SANITARY & RECYCLING UPDATE - 1) Murphy brought the new plaque commemorating Julian Henry for the Commission to see. He said the next project will be to mount it at the Recycle Center. All agreed it turned out very nicely. 2) Computer day at the Transfer Station will be October 6. Murphy related there is an established program in the Portland area that distributes used computers and parts to schools, so this is where the majority of computer components will end up. Reuse tables for peripheral computer component parts will also be set up at the Transfer Station for local citizens. As a reminder, Murphy stated this program is for residential households only. 3) Murphy informed the Commission he had recently attended an Ashland School District Destination Conservation meeting. This is, in part, a program that monitors the electric and water usage of the various schools for three years. The physical component of this program is to audit all the schools (which Russ Otte, who was the Resource Conservation Manager for the school district, has basically already done). Each school will have a teacher who will be responsible for training a class to look for certain details in order to monitor and keep track of usage and keep the posters up to date. In-service days to accomplish this will involve teachers, students and parents. Outside consultants will be brought in as the program progresses. Murphy explained the school district received a grant to implement the program this year, but money will be needed in the future to keep it operating. He does not know if the school district will be looking for sponsorship once the grant money runs out. 4) The high school essay contest will be moved back a month. 5) Chapman gave a brief report on the recent Association of Oregon Recyclers (AOR) meeting he had attended, noting the people that belong are very active and represent such entities as government, schools and the private sector. 6) When asked by Prewett about the worm bin situation, Murphy responded Ashland Sanitary has plenty. Prewett stated the next worm composting class will be on October 21.
PUBLIC FORUM - Brent Thompson, 582 Allison Street, said he had three matters to discuss with the Commission. First of all, it has been three years since Ken Hagen had died. Since Hagen's movement for conservation was so great, Thompson suggested his efforts be honored every year, perhaps by launching a conservation-related program or something similar that would keep his efforts alive. Hagen helped raise the consciousness level in the Rogue Valley and Thompson wants to make sure that momentum is not lost. Reid agreed and informed him the Commission will discuss it next month. Secondly, Thompson said that as an apartment owner, he is aware there was an ordinance passed in 1989 that requires apartment complexes to provide for recycling areas. Many apartments still do not have these areas available and Thompson is concerned the ordinance is not currently being enforced. Reid mentioned that since Ashland Sanitary is moving toward co-mingling recyclable materials, it seems that for many apartment owners, this will provide an easier approach to designating such an area. Chapman provided more information, stating that the trucks will alternate weeks in picking up yard waste and recyclables. With this method, no more trucks will be required. Rogue Disposal is nearly ready to go out for bid with its design. The co-mingled bin will have a red lid and all recyclable materials except for motor oil can be put in it. For multi-family situations, 95-gallon carts will be available and tenants will not have to presort anything. Ashland Sanitary will be initiating the yard waste program first and should be ready for the fully co-mingled system in about 18 months. Thompson stated he has a recycling quiz on the back of applications to live in his houses/apartments. The third item Thompson wanted to discuss concerned a letter he wrote the Commission a while back about conserving land as a resource. He said he feels very strongly that the City should be using its land more efficiently. By allowing buildings and land developments to spread out rather than be built up, unnecessary impervious property results. Also, there is an impact on wildlife habitat, an excess amount of vehicle trips are created, etc. Reid explained to Thompson that the Commission is in the process of discussing sustainable housing and has talked about some of these points.
Marketing - Krippaehne stated she is now a committee of one. Chapman and Prewett both volunteered to be on this subcommittee since the Adopt-A-Street brochure has now been completed.
Adopt-A-Street - The members discussed a few changes they would like to see in the brochure and the mock-up ad. Other than that, they are ready for print.
Street Sweeping/Leaf Collection - The Commission decided Public Works should be the contact for street sweeping questions and Ashland Sanitary for questions on the Free Leaf Drop Off Day.
Up-for-Grabs-Day - Bennett stated he thought that basically, people could put items that are reusable on the curb twice a year - in the spring and the fall. It could be a citywide event, not necessarily for garage sale items but for bricks, broken concrete, etc. This would help keep those items out of the landfill. After discussing the concept, it was decided that it may be possible to absorb this through a different program which will be discussed later (Waste to Work Partnership).
Budget - The balance is still $4,000. The Commission has authorized money but none has been spent yet.
Compost Class Update - 20 people attended the final compost class on September 15. Prewett stated she consistently receives calls about compost classes, and while she knows a great deal about worm composting, she doesn't know enough to inform people about other types of composting. Therefore, she would like to have some sort of brochure put together explaining the basic differences, dates of classes, telephone numbers, etc. Reid suggested getting something from the Oregon State University Extension Office for a starter. This will be discussed to a greater extent at the November meeting.
COMMISSION ITEMS NOT ON AGENDA:
New Member Discussion - Reid reported she had spoken with Loren Lumen, from the Ashland School District, regarding a replacement for Russ Otte as a Conservation Commission member. Lumen told her it is very difficult to get someone to attend meetings once a month, so Reid suggested having two representatives that can take turns coming to meetings, thus only having to attend six a year rather than 12. In this capacity, she feels a broader base can be reached. Reid said Lumen had also told her that high school teacher Jim Hartman had applied for the grant enabling the school district to participate in Destination Conservation. She remarked this program is teaching young people to look at old ways of conservation. Prewett said Hartman is very active in conservation matters. Personally, she would like to see an environmental education teacher become a member of the Commission rather than a person who runs the physical plant. It would be a good strategy to seize the opportunity to make an impact on the school system and students. Bennett wondered if it would work to have two people sharing the position, as it may be difficult to keep current. Reid explained it was an idea to discuss since teachers have so much to do, and by sharing the membership, it may not overburden the curriculum. Bennett maintained the position needs to be filled by someone who is committed, not only to monthly meetings, but also subcommittees. Prewett commented teachers could use this as an opportunity to increase conservation awareness. Reid said that since one of the conservation goals is to cut down wasteful use of excess energy, it seems logical that if it is possible to conserve energy in the school buildings through the physical plant, it is important for us as a community. It is also important to look at a physical plant representative and educator to try and get students to understand energy efficiency. Krippaehne noted that from a practical standpoint, the school district does not have a lot of resources for physical plant management. Chapman agreed and added the Physical Plant Director needs to be committed. It was the general agreement of the Commission that Jim Hartman would be the best choice for Otte's replacement.
Reid then stated she would like all members to be able to attend the Conservation Commission meetings as often as possible. She will contact Smith to find out when he will be able to resume his attendance at the meetings. She will also call Braham to ascertain if he will be able to continue attending meetings.
October meeting - Bennett will not be able to attend the October meeting.
Sustainable Housing Discussion - Bennett informed the Commission he had worked a day with Russ Levin, whose job at Goodwill Industries is to come up with new programs. Levin said Goodwill would like to collect excess building materials, take them to the warehouse in order to process and clean, and then sell back to the businesses. This would allow Goodwill to take a program to the business side, since household items are already collected and sold. Chapman informed the Commission that Gary Rigotti, from Ashland Sanitary, was able to attend a meeting the previous day with Levin and Diane Garcia, who directs the Waste to Work Partnership for Portland State University. Chapman said there is some grant money available in areas with high tipping fees. Ashland Sanitary could not go out into the field to deconstruct buildings, but it could identify resources and put aside doors, etc. that come to the Transfer Station for Goodwill pickup once a week or so. Reid noted that Garcia was previously an Ashland resident and an original member of the Ashland Recycling Task Force. Bennett said this could at least be an avenue to get information to contractors. Reid said this might provide us with points towards the goal of sustainability. She added the Housing Commission might also be interested in such a program. Bennett commented the Waste to Work Partnership is an exciting program because it involves an established business that has the ability to take used materials and ultimately sell them for reuse. Krippaehne stated this is an interesting concept that has the possibility of incorporation into the sustainable housing program. It gives contractors, as well as consumers, some flexibility. Chapman asked Krippaehne what recycled materials could be resold as far as construction is concerned. She responded there wouldn't be a huge market but it would certainly encourage contractors to look into options. She added that building materials could perhaps be put to use in other areas, not necessarily construction use. Chapman said Goodwill is going to look into this concept and see what can be done with this type of program. Prewett noted it is a hard thing to grasp because some things can be used again and some can't.
Reid asked for ideas on what it would take to get people to build sustainable housing. Krippaehne said we need to develop a broad menu of options in order to give people the flexibility to choose what would work best for them. Reid declared that if energy rates go up, efficiency would undoubtedly get more important. Bennett repeated the importance of Krippaehne's recommendation last month pertaining to a flexible point system so people can be more site responsive to their property. Chapman agreed a point system seems to be the most feasible way to develop the criteria. However, since Community Development Director John McLaughlin would like to stay away from discounting System Development Charges (SDCs), Chapman asked what could be used instead. Krippaehne responded that the notion of SDCs is that you are compensating for impacts that the development has on the City's systems. If an impact is not made, that charge should not be paid. In theory, a site could be developed with a large amount of impervious square footage, but the storm water system can be managed on site by bioremediation or a filtration system. Bennett informed the Commission that the Post Office site in the City of Phoenix has a wetland area. This is a good example of what can be done on certain properties, assuming of course that someone doesn't buy such a property, then fill in the wetland. Reid said this also gets back to the footprint size of buildings. In order to get a certain amount of square footage, a two-story house can be built rather than one story, thus reducing the SDCs. She then read a newspaper article about an area in Portland that is advocating parking lots surfaced in water permeable asphalt with about one-third of the area planted with native species and bioswales, which collect and actually clean storm water. It seems as though this type of development should be encouraged and people could get relief on storm sewer SDCs. Krippaehne said this is merely a reduction of impervious surface and can be taken even farther if someone could come up with a scheme to manage storm water on site. Reid added the Oregon building codes do not allow people to use gray water. As water becomes an even more valuable resource because of scarcity and cost, perhaps the state can take another look at restrictions such as gray water usage. Reid also said she would like to get together with the Housing Commission in order to hear what the members are discussing regarding sustainable housing. Krippaehne said she took the liberty of suggesting the Housing Commission consider sustainable housing as part of its Affordable Housing Request for Proposal (RFP). She said many sustainability elements affect the costs of operating a home and this is an opportunity for the Conservation Commission to have input regarding this.
Krippaehne suggested the Commission move forward by narrowing down a few goals that were suggested last month, then looking more into a point system, given the various possibilities that should be included in the program. Goals would help define and format the process of eliminating and incorporating elements that can be part of the sustainable housing program. Reid then asked each Commissioner for sustainable housing goals. Krippaehne said user friendliness would be an important goal so that a program will be created that people can actually use. Prewett stated affordability is one of her main concerns. Bennett said it needs to be informative by including phone numbers, connections and accessible links. Moats expressed the need to make sure the housing is environmentally friendly. Chapman again stressed the necessity of limiting the use of virgin materials, as there are so many materials already down. Krippaehne stated that technologies change so we don't want to get locked in to something that can't evolve over time. If the criteria are too specific, the document might not last long. Reid stated she would like to see more recycling of existing homes. We need to make it easier to remodel and maintain existing homes than to demolish them and replace with new homes.
ADJOURNMENT: The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.