Ashland Housing and Human Services Commission
Minutes July 23, 2015
CALL TO ORDER
Chair Boettiger called the meeting to order at 4:35 pm in the Siskiyou Room at the Community Development and Engineering Offices located at 51 Winburn Way, Ashland OR 97520.
Approval of Minutes
||Pam Marsh, arrived at 5:00 pm
||Linda Reid, Housing Specialist
||Carolyn Schwendener, Admin Assistant
Parker/Rohde m/s to approve the minutes of the June 25, 2015 Housing and Human Services Commission meeting. Voice Vote: All ayes, minutes were approved as presented.
Chair Boettiger added to the agenda, Housing Trust Fund Study Session discussion and Inclusionary Zoning.
Reid will be meeting with SOU student, Megan Mercier, who is interested in becoming the SOU Liaison for the Commission.
No one from the public spoke
ASHLAND POLICE CHIEF TIGHE O’MEARA UPDATE ON HOMELESS ISSUES
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara introduced himself explaining he was asked by this Commission to address the issues surrounding homelessness and camping citations in the City. Chief O’Meara emphasized that camping is prohibited on both public property as well as the City Parks. This is something that the police deal with on a regular basis. Due to a lack of resources Chief O’Meara acknowledged that this issue is not always on their radar. If a person puts a little effort into not bringing attention to themselves they probably will get by with camping. If an issue of camping is reported to the attention of the police department they then take action.
There has been some pretty significant camping activity at the South end of Ashland and at the Crowman Mill Site, stated Chief O’Meara. Though the Crowman Mill site is private property a tent city was developing there which could not be ignored. Another area of concern was the field adjacent to Rite Aid and behind the ARCO gas station. The field behind the gas station was the spot in which the 2010 fire started that burned down the homes in the Oak Knoll subdivision. Chief O’Meara called attention to the fact that when they displace a large number of people they work directly with the Ashland Resource Center to get assistance for those people.
The Commission asked questions of Chief O’Meara
Chief O’Meara explained that the Police Station has recently gone through a renovation and the lobby is no longer open twenty-four hours a day. The lobby is locked starting at 5:00 pm. every evening. Chief O’Meara is open to this discussion and will speak with City Administrator Dave Kanner and Parks Superintendent Michael Black. Perhaps the lobby hours might be able to be altered or a port-a-potty provided, commented O’Meara.
- A Committee was formed to study the issue of homelessness in our Community.From that Committee came the realization that there is no designated place for homeless people to stay overnight at in their cars. Parker pointed out that the previous Chief of Police, Holderness was working with the Committee to try and find a safe place for woman and children who sleep in their cars. It was suggested to use the parking lot at the police station as a potential overnight camping spot. The police station waiting room has a bathroom or the option of a port-a- potty was mentioned. What are your thoughts regarding this?
The citation is the lowest level violation and is not a crime. It’s a civil matter between the City and the defendant
- What happens to people after they have been given a citation for camping in their car?
. When someone is given a ticket there is a court date set usually two to four weeks out. At the court date the defendant makes a plea of responsible or not responsible. If a fine is levied the person would be responsible for paying that fine. If they pay it all is good if not the court files a credit entry against them. Chief O’Meara was not sure if interest or fees get added on to the unpaid fine but he will check and find out. He also commented that a warrant is only issued if a citizen is routinely ignoring citations that are given to them.
The first step, stated Chief O’Meara, is to educate the person regarding the ordinance in our town. Many police officers have made referrals to the Ashland Resource Center, Hearts with a Mission in Medford as well as give rides to homeless shelters if operational needs allow it. It’s important to educate people where they can get the resources they need for assistance.
- What tools do officers have to work with to help those people who might be camping in their cars?
Law enforcement is recognizing that we are behind the curve when it comes to mental health resources. We would like a better relationship with the mental health community and need the ability to recognize mental health issues in order to help connect people with the necessary resources.
- Can you identify additional tools that would be useful to you and the police force?
Commissioner Ayars announced that Jackson County Mental Health is going to open a facility in Ashland. They will be operating an outpatient facility at the old Forest Service Building located on Jefferson Avenue.
Chief O’Meara confirmed that Community policing is still taking place on the Plaza. He acknowledged that the two officers assigned to the downtown area are both very familiar with the resources that are available to the homeless.
- Is any effort being put in to outreach on the Plaza?
The ordinance is still on the table and being discussed. Eventually it will be up to the City Council. Chief O’Meara did not think there would be any trouble enforcing the ordinance but again it wouldn’t be something the police would have the desire or ability to scrutinize each person with a dog. Like other ordinances it would be complaint driven.
- Are you familiar with the discussion surrounding an ordinance that will require people to have their dogs licensed and vaccinated?Is that moving forward and if so will there be difficult enforcing it?
The Commissioners and Reid thanked Chief O’Meara for taking the time to come to this meeting and answer questions. They offered their assistance to the police department in any way possible.
Rental Registry Update
Reid gave a brief update of the rental registry. As of July of this year the City has received twenty-five completed rental registry forms representing 1182 rental units.
- 193 are studio units
- 168 are one bedroom units
- 132 are two bedroom units
- 12 are three bedroom units
- 419 units are not broken down by bedroom composition
Reid explained that the City is not sure who will be doing the compliance piece of the rental registry. The Commissioners agreed this information is vital and asked, How do we get more landlords to complete the registry? Currently the finance department, the legal department and code compliance are discussing this issue. The Commission is not ready to do an outreach until the compliance piece can take place.
Boettiger announced that Connie Saldana has resigned from the Commission. The Commission will miss her contributions. The opening is listed on the City of Ashland website.
Social Service Grant Process Evaluation
Reid said that the next step is to put together a sub-committee to discuss the different components of the Social Service Grant and then report back before the larger group. The components are Time line, application, questions and reporting requirements. The sub-committee will be Reid, Rhode, Boettiger, Crader and Parker. (Parker & Crader will tag team)
Council - Marsh reminded the Commission the celebration for all volunteers in the City will be held on August 30, 2015 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at the Oak Knoll Golf Course Club House. Marsh reported that the Council was asked to make changes within the Master Plans that guides the development of Verde Village. Verde Village first was approved in 2007 as a housing development located at the old Ashland Greenhouses on East Nevada Street. Due to the economy the project had been put on hold.
Several years ago the Council approved a Planning Commission undertaking to design a Master Plan for the Normal neighborhood. The Planning Commission worked on this project for more than a year and came back to the Council and we felt there needed to be some changes and put together a working group. That group has finalized their recommendations and is going back to the Planning Commission next Tuesday. Approximately twenty-five percent of the units will be affordable.
Marsh announced there is a Council Study Session on October 5, 2015 in which they will be setting the funding level for the Human Services Grants. She encouraged a representative from this Commission to attend.
A Council topic has been how to sale Marijuana within the City. This will probably be done through the dispensaries. The Council will be looking at the Planning Commission’s recommendation. The ordinance will probably be similar to the Chicken ordinance.
The Council is moving forward with the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on Climate and Energy Plan.
Affordable Housing Letter Discussion
Parker read to the Commission the letter she drafted for the Council regarding the importance of affordable housing in our City. The Commissioners discussed the letter making a few changes.
Matthews/Rohde m/s to adopt the letter with the changes. Voice Vote: All ayes, motion passed.
Reid will send the letter on to City Council
Housing Trust Fund Study Session Update
Reid reported that the Council has directed this Commission to move forward with looking at different revenue sources to fund the affordable Housing Trust Fund: Which included prioritizing activities, looking at community needs, and how would the funding be spent to meet those needs. Parker asked if Brandon Goldman could speak to the commission regarding the Trust Funds.
Inclusionary Zoning Discussion
The Commission would like invite City Senior Planner, Brandon Goldman to the meeting to discuss the City of Ashland’s inclusionary zoning ordinances.
August 27, 2015 Meeting Agenda Items
Louise Dix is available to attend next month’s meeting. She will provide the commissioners with Fair Housing training. Goldman will speak to Housing Trust Fund items.
Next Housing Commission Meeting – 4:30-6:30 PM; August 27, 2015
Boettiger will not be able to attend.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.
Respectfully submitted by Carolyn Schwendener