Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, May 22, 2002



MAY 22, 2002

CALL TO ORDER - The meeting was called to order at 4:05 p.m. by Chair Nancy Richardson. Other Commissioners present were Andy Dungan, Diana Shavey, Cate Hartzell, Richard Seidman, Jonathan Uto (new member), and Kim Blackwolf (new member). Larry Medinger arrived at 4:45 p.m. Joan Legg was absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.

The new members introduced themselves.

PUBLIC FORUM - JOHN MICHAELS, City Councilor, City of Medford and Council Liaison to their Ad-Hoc Affordable Housing Committee said he wanted to introduce himself and find ways to work together with the Ashland Housing Commission.

Shavey said she hoped the communities could work together on employer assisted housing.

Richardson noted out of this Commission was started the Jackson County Housing Coalition that has been meeting for the last three months.

Seidman mentioned to Michaels the annual meeting of the Ashland Community Land Trust to he held at the Community Center at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - The minutes of the April 24, 2002 meeting were approved.

AGENDA CHANGES - The brochure will be discussed under subcommittees. Shavey will report on conversations with various people under Other Business.

ZONING CHANGES/ANNEXATION - Molnar said the Commission has been struggling over the past several months how to have an impact on affordable housing as part of zone change requests.How can it be incorporated into the process for a zone change as well as annexation? Under our current annexation standards for approval, consideration for affordable housing is already included. There are certain state statutes limiting what can be done.

Molnar stepped through the process. If someone wants to re-zone their property, they have to prepare an application. The burden of proof is on the applicant to show: a) if there is a public need to re-zone the property, b) if there is a need to correct mistakes, c) if there is a need to adjust to new conditions, or d) do circumstances that relate to the general welfare of the community require such an action. The approval authority has pretty wide latitude because the language says "may" be approved if one or more conditions exist.

Hartzell wondered if "public welfare" is interchangeable with "public need"? Molnar said in the past, public need has related to a general goal or policy in the Comprehensive Plan. General public welfare has been used more as a safety issue. For example, we shouldn't downzone a hillside area of 40 percent slope to encourage a higher density level due to fire, erosion, etc.

Hartzell wondered if the Needs Assessment document would address "adjusting to new conditions".

Molnar suggested as a housekeeping measure that b. be deleted (need to correct mistakes).

The main change under a. is clarification to say: It furthers a public need other than the provision of affordable housing. We are trying further in the standards to clarify what the public need for affordable housing is. It still allows for zone changes to be approved if there are other needs in the Comprehensive Plan that are valid. Over the last couple of years with the issue of affordable housing, applicants ask what the city wants. The city responds that there is large need for affordable housing and we recommend a big component of their application push affordable housing. An applicant might provide residential housing in an application but it doesnít necessarily mean it will be affordable. The new wording defines that there are other public needs that an applicant could use to get a zone change besides affordable housing. The newest addition is d., which sets a specific standard for affordable housing. One way to meet the burden of proof would be to provide 25 percent of residential units as affordable for sale or rent to those buyers or renters that make 80 percent or less of the area median. Or, 15 percent will be available for purchase or rent by those that make 60 percent of the area media. Or, rather than constructing the units, that an equal area of property be set aside that has been transferred to a suitable affordable housing developer that will build the affordable housing.

Hartzell wondered if we should insert "a percentage of the developable project". Shavey agreed and thought it should say "the necessary amount of land for development" or "an appropriate amount of land for development of the project for the purposes of complying with sections one and two above". What is "a percentage of land"?

Shavey said d. (applications involving an increase in residential zoning density) doesnít address the opportunity for mixed use.

Blackwolf wondered what would prevent a developer from giving the least desirable corner of land for affordable housing to a non-profit and circumventing the integration issue. Molnar said as long as it is serviced by the cityís infrastructure, there isnít much that could be done.

Hartzell asked if "dedicated" meant transfer of ownership? Can it say "donate"? Molnar said what happens if the land is set aside, but five years later the developer still hasnít sold it to an affordable housing provider because they want top dollar? Hartzell said she would be more specific to the status the receiver has to have.

Hartzell read a note she received from Ray Kistler, Planning Commissioner. Kistler has reservations about increasing the base density from one zoning district to another because base densities are already so tight in Ashland. Hartzell is concerned that builders are typically using density bonuses now and this may be part of the reason why.

Molnar said in our residential zones, a 25 to 35 percent density is allowed for affordable housing. The new wording does set a limit.

What is the process from here? Hartzell proposed doing any modifications as soon as possible and send it to the Planning Commission.

Shavey moved to recommend the affordable housing proposed ordinance amendments as provided by Staff with the following exception. In the applicable paragraph d.3 in each section that the first sentence be changed to read: "An appropriate amount of land for development within the project shall be dedicated to a qualified, non-profit housing developer or comparable development corporation for the purpose of complying with sections 1 or 2 above". The other sentence remains the same. Dungan seconded the motion. Shavey amended the motion to add language that there be services be provided to the property. Dungan seconded the amended motion.

Molnar explained there could be a situation where there is commercial property with no residential overlay and a developer is required to do affordable housing in re-zoning. The developer may decide he/she does not want to do affordable housing and no mixed use would be gained at all. Does the Commission want to discourage mixed-use projects? Molnar said mixed use is encouraged through the Comprehensive Plan.

Medinger arrived.

Molnar said recently Tara Labs applied to build a 20,000 square foot commercial facility. They requested a residential overlay because they thought in the long-term they would like to do six or seven apartments at the back of the property that looks over the Oaks Subdivision. When Staff brought up affordable housing, the owners said they might just then reserve this extra land for warehouse space. Is it better to have some housing in a commercial area for other reasons or benefits?

The motion carried with Uto abstaining.

Molnar said the Commission might want to think about, based on the Needs Analysis, whether or not to include the category of 100 percent of area median.

Medinger said we certainly want 60 percent and 80 percent of area median to be served, however, the huge lack is in the mid-range, young family grouping who are at 100 to 120 percent. This is the group that is migrating with their kids.

Hartzell said this is the only place we have leverage as a city. If developers want to step forward and do the 100 percent that is easier, but we are talking about trying to put something out there to get what we really donít have.

Medinger said it is probably valid to use this particular leverage to address the lower end of the spectrum. What worries him is that we keep raising the bar and sooner or later, no one will want to re-zone. They will build what is zoned and wonít even try.

Shavey said this community has refused to develop within its own ranks by itself. People are unwilling to go after funding mechanisms to address the 80 and 60 percent because no one anywhere has forced them to do it. The tools are here to do it, but if people are forced to educate themselves about those tools, they will not do it.

Hartzell said when this goes to the Planning Commission, we might want to craft a letter that will capture this discussion.

RETREAT - Dungan said the retreat is scheduled for Saturday, June 8th from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Seidman said the subcommittee decided at the retreat, they will want to get an overall vision of where they want to go in a long-term way but very specifically lay out an achievable plan for now until January. The Action Plan should be in place by then and then they can come up with a more detailed short-term plan after January.

Dungan believes this is a way to set up a discussion with the Council.

Seidman said they would discuss the Strategic Plan developed last year.


Education and Outreach

Seidman sent an e-mail to all the members with minutes from their meeting. The Housing Commission will have a table at the ACLT annual meeting. They have worked out the Housing Commission information flyer.

The flyer should go on the website with the date. The flyer can be put on card stock.

Seidman said they talked about the overall objectives of Education and Outreach. They have two audiences--the general public and the City Council/Budget Committee.

Both audiences need to increase their basic understanding of affordable housing but also build a commitment to doing something. From the City, that means committing staff and revenue. To accomplish the general education, they talked about launching a media campaign maybe with a pro bono expert in public relations to help them. They will continue their letter to the editor plan. Seidman will write a letter in May, Richardson in June on sustainability, Dungan in July from an economic perspective. They suggested Shavey write a letter in August about state and federal resources, Medinger in September about affordable housing from a developerís perspective, Uto in October from students perspective, Blackwolf from a grassroots perspective, and Legg in December from an ecumenical perspective. These are just suggested topics.

The subcommittee is suggesting after the Action Plan is developed to have some meetings in the fall to discuss the Action Plan. They talked about identifying key opponents and ways to address their arguments and objections. They could develop a fact sheet with questions, answers and myths about affordable housing.

They might develop a lobbying campaign to meet with every Councilperson.

Their next meeting is June 13th.

Shavey said at the end of the Budget Committee meeting last week, she asked John Morrison and Chris Hearn if they would want to meet for lunch. She has a lunch meeting set with Hearn and Kate Jackson next week and she is meeting with Morrison later that week. She doesnít think they have to wait until August to do that.

Employer Assisted Housing

Shavey got a call from Home Street Bank in Portland that has a large home mortgage program affiliated with public employees. They were interested in knowing about possibly expanding into the Rogue Valley. She called JimWatson, ACH. Watson reiterated that the employee group is less than 50 percent Ashland residents. He said that is completely unacceptable to him because it is really wreaking havoc with their work culture.

Mayor Alan DeBoer arrived at the meeting. He delivered certificates and gifts to those who had not been in attendance at the Volunteer Recognition party. DeBoer expressed his appreciation for the Commissionsí plea to the Budget Committee and though they didnít get the funds requested, he believes the Council has heard their case very clearly. He reiterated his commitment to affordable housing. He doesn'tí agree with hiring a person but thought there are other ways to do that.

Medinger left the meeting.

HOUSING TRUST FUND - There was a meeting put on by Oregon Action recently. The Jackson County Housing Coalition came from that meeting. The next meeting of the Coalition will be held the first Monday of June and focus on housing trust funds. It is from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Council Chambers.

RESULTS OF BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETING - Shavey said the final budget comes before the City Council in June. She moved to request the City Council to allocate $40,000 for a contract position, not a staff position, to work on housing issue. This would be a half-year appointment. Dungan seconded the motion. Shavey asked the motion go to the City Council in the form of a letter. The Commission voted unanimously in favor of the motion. Richardson will write the letter.

ADJOURNMENT - The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.





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