ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
JUNE 26, 2002
CALL TO ORDER - Chair Nancy Richardson called the meeting to order at 4:10 p.m. Other members present were Jonathan Uto, Joan Legg, Kim Blackwolf, Andy Dungan, Diana Shavey, Larry Medinger, and Cate Hartzell. Richard Seidman was absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- Hartzell had the following corrections to the minutes of the May 22, 2002 Housing Commission meeting: page 2, paragraph 5, last sentence, "Hartzell is concerned builders are Ďnotí typically using density bonuses...". At the top of page 3, paragraph 1, "...if people are 'not' forced to educate themselves about these tools...", and on page 4, remove "The Jackson County Housing Coalition came from that meeting." Shavey moved to approve the minutes as amended, Medinger seconded the motion and the minutes were approved as amended.
AGENDA CHANGES -Shavey wished to discuss the City formed open space panel mentioned in todayís Daily Tidings. The article states a committee will examine options for future park land purchases within Ashland. Shavey feels the City Council should look at options for future land purchases within Ashland, whether for parks or affordable housing. Looking at parkland only is a narrow target. This item will be discussed after #6, Jackson County Coalition.
"Interim Meetings" will be discussed under #5, Subcommittee Reports/Updates.
Shavey would like to discuss meeting at a time when the public can more easily come to our meetings.
PUBLIC FORUM -Aaron Benjamin agreed with Shavey that the City should be looking at a land bank.
ZONE CHANGES/ANNEXATION - Affordability Requirements
Molnar reported the draft ordinance is slated to go to the Planning Commission at the July 9, 2002 meeting. This item was placed on the agenda for the Joint Study Session of the Planning Commission and Council on July 25th (last night). Molnar gave a brief presentation at that meeting.
Shavey attended the meeting and the notes she took reflected that Ray Kistler said we need to provide affordable housing with no extra density bonus. Colin Swales liked the idea of the 60 year affordability restriction. David Lane (audience) said something should be provided for the 80 to 120 percent of median income group. Someone said they wanted additional incentives for affordable housing. Shavey had the sense that both groups were saying "yes, we need to do something".
Hartzell reiterated her comment from the last Housing Commission meeting that when this goes to the Planning Commission, we might want to craft a letter, capturing the discussion regarding which groups (80 to 120 percent, at or below 80 percent, or at or below 60 percent of median income) to target. She is not finished talking about this issue. It might be hard to do for 100 percent of median, but is a lot easier to do than trying to do 60 to 80 percent of median. If we donít have to do 60 to 80 percent, itís because we pushed that group out. Letís bank off the Needs Assessment and put some more information in when it goes to the Planning Commission.
Molnar said the Housing Commission might want to discuss how they want to represent themselves at the Planning Commission meeting. Staff will give a presentation. After that, Staff would turn it over to someone on the Housing Commission to make comments. Staff will still raise some concerns about the level of affordability and potential impacts on other community goals such as mixed use.
Shavey is listening hard to this dialogue about 80 to 100 percent. There is nothing in these ordinances that prevent people from developing at 80 to 100 percent. If we say 100 percent of median, we exclude ourselves from receiving funding from other sources that are limited to 80 percent. Every single funding source says "this is for housing for families at 80 percent of median or below". If you write the ordinance to say 100 percent, that is exactly where 99 percent of the housing is going to come in and we wonít be able to go after any money. What good does that do us?
Blackwolf wondered about putting in a tiering process. Shavey said we started to tier this. It is complex.
Molnar said as a planner, he sees that generally annexations and zone changes are brought through by a private property owner or developer that has purchased the property at building market rate and they are not looking at going to some federal or state program for funding. However, if ACLT wanted to rezone a piece of property zoned single family and they wanted to rezone it at a higher density to get more units, even though they would be tied to these requirements, they would probably go for a lower level of affordability in order to obtain state or federal funding.
Shavey thought that there was more flexibility with the wording as it is now, for private profit motivated owners as well as non-profit motivated owners to obtain funding.
Hartzell is trying to look at where the highest need is. Then we should look at the capacity to meet that need. Can we put forward programs that will help developers meet that need and use the ordinance amendment to hit the highest need and the most difficult level?
Dungan believes new housing is the wrong place to target the highest need and fix the problem.
Hartzell said we need to use the Needs Assessment that give us numbers that could lead us to solutions.
Blackwolf is not certain we should only focus on 60 to 80 percent because the Needs Assessment targets that group. That would drop out a critical need that is dropping through this town right now and that is, the 80 to 120 percent of median. That doesnít negate the 60 to 80 percent. She has serious doubts that a developer would give land away rather than build units.
Medinger said he is currently trying to do some affordable senior apartments for the Clay Street Community Church of God. It is a real experience to see how the rental market stacks up. Even the rentals that are in place are barely affordable because the rents canít go anywhere. If owners raise rents, it will start pushing their vacancy rates because people wonít be able to afford to live in them. Thatís why we are seeing rental conversions into condominiums. The rental market is like a two class system. The poor people live in the rentals and the rich people live in the houses and there is a huge middle place in between. What Medinger is trying to do is bring some state funds and fund 60 percent of median and below into his project. It is committing a piece of property to 50 years of affordability with a 30-year mortgage. The most you can get out of state funding is $10,000 to $20,000 a year. No property owner in his right mind would build something like this. Only a church would come forward and say it was their mission.
Richardson asked that the Commission stay focused on annexations and re-zone only. This is one way we can get the 80 percent and below, a very small part of the market. There is a whole different section we can focus on the 80 up to 120 percent.
Richardson and Dungan volunteered to speak at the Planning Commission meeting.
Hartzell suggested writing a prep packet to incorporate the issues raised by the Housing Commission, giving the Planning Commission and City Council the benefit of the discussions and arguments the Housing Commission has already had. Shavey said she would be willing to write something.
Molnar said with regard to residential overlay, do we need a minimum number of units? Hartzell is concerned because she believes we would be granting mixed-use developments under the myth that mixed use is good. Molnar said it is in the Comprehensive Plan. Hartzell said we are allowing for the little studio above the art gallery and isnít this just fueling the development of high end units that drive the market up? We give the developer a benefit by allowing them to change a zone. Hartzell suggested either adding this item to next monthís agenda or let the Planning Commission do what they want with it. The Commissioners decided to leave the wording as it is at "four units or greater".
Medinger would like to see a section added for non-profits such as CDC, a church, or ACLT to be able to have a piece of property rezoned from Single Family Residential to Multi-Family Residential if they agree to build 100 percent affordable housing that will be locked in for 50 years. Molnar said this came up in the Needs Assessment. It is another incentive. It would be a change in the land use process that could include a more expeditious review process.
Medinger is a little concerned that a private developer will not want to be locked into 60 years. He thought 50 years would be more realistic. Think of what we were building 50 years ago and what it is worth now. Shavey noted there are numerous properties around the country that are being donated.
COMMISSION RETREAT - Review
Richardson and the other Commissioners had high praise for Hartzellís efforts with the retreat. Everyone left with an overall feeling that the retreat was a success.
Action Items-The Commission did not find a need to make any changes to the Action Items.
Hartzell compiled a list of priority action items along with a worksheet for each Commissioner to decide how much time they could devote to Housing Commission activities. The Commissioners decided to begin work on the first six items.
1. Move on city-school plan for land; build relationships with ASD and tie schools and housing/campaign; process on Willow Wind land. Set targets for number of families gained through affordable housing and work with allies to achieve it.
Volunteers: Hartzell, Shavey, Blackwolf. (Back-ups: Medinger and Dungan).
2. Develop a vision for staff support, a job description, draft a proposed scope of work (mid-August) and suggestions for realistic funding sources for a long-term staff position.
Volunteers: Shavey, Legg, Richardson.
3. Develop options for projects (air, land, or money) that the city can support. Ties into #5.
Volunteers: Legg, Hartzell, Richardson. (Back-up: Shavey).
4. Build on recent efforts by establishing an employer-assisted working group with involvement from at least SOU, ASD, ACH, OSF, and the City. Make partners aware of potential strategies and link them to builders; help make "Stone Soup" collaborations happen.
Volunteers: Richardson, Medinger (not the leader), Uto.
5. Support the work of the Housing Coalition to establish a Housing Trust Fund.
Volunteers: same as #3.
6. Meet/develop relationships with Councilors and Budget Committee members to develop a readiness for the Action Plan and related activities.
Each Commissioner to continue developing relationship with Council.
NOMINATION OF VICE CHAIR
Shavey nominated Dungan for Vice Chair. Medinger seconded the motion and Dungan was nominated unanimously.
Blackwolf left the meeting.
Hartzell and Shavey met yesterday with Mayor DeBoer, Superintentdent of Schools Juli DiChiro, School Board Member Terry Littleton. Their basic goals were to advance employer-assisted housing and attract more students to the district. Hartzell has minutes of that meeting. They had a discussion about the Willow Wind property. The idea that came from that meeting is that they look at the 6.5 acres on the front of the property. Shavey heard the Mayor state that they should annex this property into the city because it would be a great thing for the Housing Commission to work on. There seems to be a real interest on everyoneís part to have this in the hands of a non-profit entity. Medinger hoped the private sector could be included.
It was moved, seconded and approved to continue the meeting until 6:00 p.m.
JACKSON COUNTY COALITION MEETING -They will be meeting on July 1, 2002 in the Council Chambers from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
PARKS MEETING REGARDING LAND PURCHASE
Hartzell explained that there is a request on next Tuesdayís Council agenda by the Parks Commission to have the Councilís blessing to allow a committee to proceed in identifying new funding for acquisition of property for open space. She is advocating the Housing Commission be equal partners at a meeting like that. She wants to work cooperatively. This is our community and these are initiatives that we all want to collectively fund. Sometimes land will be purchased that gets shared. Perhaps the Housing Commission could speak to the Council and let them know they have been talking about the Housing Trust Fund. They could ask for a meeting with staff to talk about the options. Shavey thought the Housing Commission should encourage the City Council to look at this question comprehensively, given the fact that the Council has given a higher priority to affordable housing than additional acquisition of open space. Hartzell said Greg Scoles, City Administrator, is concerned the Parks committee initiative will get bogged down. Hartzell said she is willing to keep it separate, but when they do a meeting with staff, the Housing Commission will want to be there. Shavey said if the process bogs down, it should bog down in favor of the community being able to look at the comprehensive needs of the community. Hartzell said it seems Shavey is talking about writing a letter to the Council.
Shavey remembered that when Seattle put their housing levy on the ballot, they put it on with the art museum. The art patrons were advocating for housing and the housing patrons were advocating for the arts. These were two unlikely sets of persons working together for the greater good of the entire community. Maybe there could be a Parks and Housing levy combined.
Dungan said he would write a letter and e-mail to the Commissioners for their edits. He volunteered to read the letter at the Tuesday meeting. He said basically, the letter should recommend to the Council that rather than establishing a separate committee, that they establish a committee to look at the comprehensive land needs for the whole city.
UPCOMING MEETING- Richardson will not be at the July meeting. Hartzell asked Molnar to bring the budget to the next meeting.
NEXT AGENDA- Topic: How to attract the public to Housing Commission meetings.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 p.m.