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Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Monthly Meeting

Tuesday, April 02, 2002



APRIL 2, 2002

CALL TO ORDER - Chair Nancy Richardson called the meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Jan Vaughn, Andy Dungan, Richard Seidman, Diana Goodwin Shavey, Aaron Benjamin, Larry Medinger, and Cate Hartzell.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - Shavey moved and Dungan seconded the motion to defer approval of last monthís minutes until the next meeting. The motion carried.

PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.


Guest speaker, Malena Marvin, was unable to attend todayís meeting. Seidman explained that he had spoken to Marvin of Ashland Community Action, and suggested she present their ideas regarding cooperative housing on the railroad property to the Housing Commission. In turn, the Housing Commission could possibly be interested in lending support.


Richardson said Joan Krippaehne, Conservation Commission, put together a list of green housing development items that Richardson sent to the Commissioners. Krippaehne was concerned about the affect a green housing proposal would have on affordable housing. Richardson said it would depend on how the city set up the incentives. Some cities use the point system and the higher the points, the sooner builderís plans are reviewed. She said it costs about ten percent more to build "green", however, homes would appreciate more in value. Legg believes ten percent more in cost is significant.

Molnar explained around 1990, the City offered in the subdivision code, density bonus provisions for affordable housing, increased open space, major recreational facilities, and a conservation bonus. It was based on a point system. If all the units within a residential development incorporated certain elements, they would receive a 15 percent bonus in the density bonus. This program has not been evaluated in a awhile. It was based more on energy efficiency and water conservation rather than more sustainable development practices. It would probably work in a similar way where one would get an increase in density or reduction in certain fees. He believes it has to be incentive based, not mandatory.

Medinger, as a builder, said as far as energy efficiency, they are doing everything included in the code. If there are any flaws in sustainability, it might have to do with using "green" lumber. The one thing that is energy efficiency oriented, could be special inspections on heating systems and duct systems, because this is an area with the most problems. There is a huge potential for heat loss in a leaky or poorly insulated duct.

Shavey said all these items look great, however, if you are dealing with a five to ten percent cost increase, the thing that will make the difference is the interest rate on a home loan. A one percent rate reduction in the borrowing costs completely cancels out the five percent increase in expenses.

Richardson said this is just in the idea stage. The main thing to remember when looking at affordability is to look at the long-term. What do we want to give future generations?

Seidman believes the Conservation Commission is looking for the Housing Commissionís input on how this would affect house pricing. Most of the things sound great but he has no way to gauge the cost benefits.

Medinger said if costs can be recovered in the near term, thatís good, but if you are looking at 25 years before recuperating costs, then it probably is not worthwhile.

Richardson said they would like to put together a subcommittee with the Planning, Conservation and Housing Commissioners. Medinger and Richardson are interested.



Education and Outreach - Seidman said they talked about the website. Most of it is up and running. They are still looking at ideas to make it more user-friendly.

Seidman has talked with Jeff Land, Rogue Valley cable TV producer and realtor. He has invited the Housing Commission to participate in a show or series of shows on affordable housing, and/or a call-in show. If the Commissioners are interested, it is important to contact the program manager.

Hartzell talked to Tim Bewley about having various commissions on his show each month. Greg Scoles, City Administrator did not seem opposed. Hartzell volunteered to contact Pete Belcastro.

Seidman said the subcommittee discussed community meetings. Should they try to shoot for a community meeting concerning affordable housing in May? They donít want to just outline the problem and predicament without having some positive direction and suggestions. They werenít sure if they would have that direction by May. Would they rather wait until fall?

Hartzell would like to see a something in May. Several people have approached her with their feelings of hopelessness and misunderstanding about affordable housing.

Shavey is opposed to doing it in May. She believes it is important to have the Action Plan in place we can use as a fulcrum for some pressure. She is very, very frustrated from things coming from the City. The Cityís leadership continues saying affordable housing is one of the highest priorities but more priorities have been added to the Cityís list. There is not enough time to get ready to do a meeting in May. She suggested promoting the Needs Assessment presentation on April 17th and get it put on RVTV.

Hartzell is hesitant about waiting through the summer. The opportunity to do a video is available through RVTV.

Legg would like to see us put together a whole presentation packet containing slides, information, etc. She would favor a whole variety of smaller meetings. If we had a packet, any commissioner could make a presentation. We would have to decide who we would involve.

Shavey is really hesitant to do a series of "yak yak" meetings. If we go out without resources behind any given plan, we are just in "yak yak". She does not think the City or community as a whole is going to come forward and demand affordable housing. Affordable housing will show up on the ground because a small group of dedicated, informed, action-oriented people make it happen. This means finding the money to make it happen. This is an economic situation.

Hartzell believes there needs to be buy-in from the community and it is important to sway the Council.

Benjamin believes we are jumping the gun. We have undertaken the Needs Assessment to identify what the problem is. The next step is that an Action Plan will be devised to implement the solutions that have to be taken. Heís talking about a six month process.

Richardson suggested putting press releases out as soon as the Needs Assessment is done. Shavey suggested putting the Needs Assessment on the website.

Legg suggested finding out what the content of the ACLT meeting will be in May. Are there ways we could contribute to that? With some of the things going on, fall would be a good time to have a packet together.

Land Use Subcommittee - Hartzell is trying to get a meeting next week. Ray Kistler was questioning whether we would want to use density as incentives. Why arenít density bonus credits being used now?


Molnar received a letter from Carlus Harris declining to do the Action Plan because heís encountered some unanticipated circumstances. Second in line for the Action Plan was Cogan & Cogan. They have said they can start the latter half of this month. It will be roughly a four month process (end of August). They will be making four visits to Ashland. They are trying to finalize that contract.

Molnar asked the Commissioners to read the Needs Assessment and send any questions or comments by e-mail to him. ECONorthwest would like to have feedback from this Commission. Molnar would like to give ECO a week to review the comments.

Richardson said the Needs Assessment uses $277,000 as an average house price, but all the way through the document they use $225,000 as an average. That should be clarified, using the same number all the way through. Dungan thinks they switched from single family sales to everything.

Richardson said in the Executive Summary they say land price is a "decreasing?" factor in total housing. Molnar said the proportion in the whole value of improvements and land value allocated to the cost of improvements is getting smaller. Perhaps this should be stated in a different way.

Shavey believes this document is very rich and full of incredible data. She would like to see a one page set of bullet points that show where Ashland has experienced something dramatic or has a condition that is an incredible anomaly which dramatizes in easily readable fashion why this challenge is so huge for us. For example, the average house price went up in three years from $177,000 to $279,00. She doesnít know where else this has happened in Oregon. It also says there are a lot of young people here and a lot of older people here but there are a small number of families in family formation years who live here. It says some pretty dramatic things about the consequences for the balance of the town in terms of infrastructure and what may happen to the town in the future if we have a big hole in the middle of our population age-wise.

Seidman moved to extend the meeting to 4:45 p.m. The motion carried.

Seidman wondered if the Housing Commission will have a role at the City Council meeting in making the presentation of the Needs Assessment. Hartzell said she thought it was a joint study session. We can work with Greg Scoles and script the agenda.

Legg suggested e-mailing any bullet points to Shavey. Shavey is willing to pull together those points. Legg thought it would be good to hand that list to the Council.

Seidman wondered who will put together a press release with the results of the Needs Assessment. Molnar assumed Ann Seltzer would do that. There should be a pre-notice and coverage of the study session and a final article.

Hartzell would like the Commission to consider some recommendations for action the Council needs to start considering. It may be premature but that would be a nice time to bring it up.

Vaughn left the meeting. This is her last meeting.


Molnar said there are two multi-family zones--low density and high density. The most cavalier step would be to remove single family ownership as an outright permitted use. It would mean anything newly built in these zones would have to be rentals. It doesnít allow the City to control the cost of the rentals.

Medinger would like to see a project so the cost of a condominium would not cost any more than a rental.

Molnar said currently the construction of condominiums in multi-family zones is permitted outright. Heís concerned over time that condominiums will become very expensive.

Shavey said the only time she has ever seen affordable housing for the consumer is to get a mission driven owner who pays the market price for the ground and makes a business decision, whether it is a social business decision or economic profit motivated decision, to hold the housing for affordable uses. There is nothing you can do about the price of the land.

Molnar said we can dictate a mix of housing types but it still doesnít get to Shaveyís question. They are trying to get to something that will guarantee some affordability. Example: A piece of property allows for 20 units. Ten of the units would have to be "for-rent" apartments. Individual ownership could be allowed if they guarantee a certain percentage of those town homes or single family residences to be affordable. They are trying to provide an incentive where you can build out the density that has always been allowed but it has to be apartments. If individual ownership is desired, this is what you have to do. Condominiums can kept as permitted outright and see what happens.

Shavey said if you look at the data, this is getting to the affordability question because it is not stringent enough. Molnar said if you get really radical, you can sink the whole thing. There are going to be people who own multi-family property that will be very concerned with some of these changes. Shavey said if you set your rules too lax, it will have no impact and everyone goes home feeling good and you havenít done anything.

Medinger said we are getting the multi-family land developed at lower densities and higher prices than what we want. What we really need is to make our land use efficient. There should be an absolute minimum density. If, for example, you are doing 20 units per acre, you arenít talking about luxury condominiums. Legg would agree.

Molnar said it is playing out that the developments arenít coming in at less than the base densities.

Richardson said Goal 10 requires communities to provide needed housing types for households at all income levels. Forty-six percent of our town lives at 80 percent or below. If 80 percent is required, that is what will come in. It wonít come in below.

Shavey noted that 42 percent of the single family homes in Ashland are on lots of 10,000 square feet or greater. Can the city make it advantageous for people to split their lots through land use ordinances? Molnar said it is a possibility, especially if there were some deed restrictions creating some affordable housing.

Legg would like some of this e-mailed to the Commissioners.


Benjaminís term will be ending at the end of the month. He expressed his gratitude in working with everyone. This will leave two positions available.

The next Commission meeting will be April 24th at 4:00 to review the CDBG applications. On April 17th, Brandon Goldman and Maria Harris will present the CDBG applications for review before the meeting on the 24th.

The regular Commission meeting will be April 24th at 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.






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