Agendas and Minutes

Housing Commission (View All)

Regular Meeting

Wednesday, July 24, 2002


JULY 24, 2002


CALL TO ORDER – The meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m. by Andy Dungan. Other Commissioners present were Jonathon Uto, Kim Blackwolf, Diana Shavey, Larry Medinger, and Richard Seidman. Cate Hartzell arrived at 4:25 p.m. Joan Legg and Nancy Richardson were absent. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES - The minutes of the June 26, 2002 meeting were approved. Seidman abstained.

PUBLIC FORUM - No one came forth to speak.

ZONE CHANGES/ANNEXATIONS - Affordability Requirements

Molnar explained this item went before the Planning Commission on July 9, 2002. Overall, the Planning Commission was supportive of the changes. They wanted the amendments to come back with some of the issues addressed before forwarding it on to the Council. The City Attorney will make some language changes. The Planning Commission had a concern that a project under annexation or zone change is required to have a certain number of affordable units that are clustered all together. They wondered if the ordinance could address scattering of units. Could language be added that no more than three of the affordable units are adjacent to one another in order to create a true neighborhood? Molnar responded that is a legitimate idea for single family units, but it would be more difficult with multi-family. Medinger thought, as a developer, it would be easy to scatter them around. Medinger said two's are easy. We would just want to make sure we aren't ruling out any good strategies.

Molnar said the Planning Commission also wondered if there is a minimum size affordable unit. Do they have to be within 80 percent of the rest of the units? Medinger said if you don't build a decent house, even if the house is affordable, people won't put their money into it. Molnar said in order to market their product, developers would want to have the houses compatible. Shavey agreed that the market would work it out. She believes the reality is that you'll see smaller size units with similar appearance to other homes in the development. Blackwolf agreed with letting the market work it out. Shavey is hesitant to put any instructions, disclaimers, square footage, etc., in an ordinance like this. In order to do this and meet the income test, you'll need outside cash to buy the costs down whether in the form of a land grant or other money. [Cate Hartzell arrived.] Seidman is not convinced the market won't support smaller style houses if they are properly situated and properly built.

Molnar said the Planning Commission questioned whether or not the affordable units would be built of lesser exterior materials. This was brought up by just a couple of Commissioners. Molnar wondered if they wanted to add wording at the end of the ordinance stating the location, size and materials of the affordable units should be compatible with other units in the project. However, the building codes require a high level of building materials. Medinger reiterated the market would dictate this too.

Ron Demele, audience member, agreed that the market would take care of it. You have appraiser's and developer's reputations on the line.

The Housing Commission decided not to include any further guidelines with regard to size, materials and location and let the market take care of it.

The Planning Commission wasn't certain if someone chose the option to set aside a certain amount of property if that meant the property is required to be located within that development, not property located someplace else. Hartzell noted that the ordinance does not specify timing. Does the 25 percent get built out within a set amount of time? Dungan thought the affordable houses should be completed concurrent with the rest of the development. Molnar said he would check with the City Attorney.

Molnar said two Planning Commissioners wanted to consider holding the affordable housing "in perpetuity" instead of "60 years". He doesn't know if the Commission as a whole felt that way. Medinger said it could hamper a project. So much changes over the years. Shavey said 60 years is two mortgages and one economic life, generally. It is Molnar's understanding the Housing Commission wants the wording left at "60 years" because perpetuity is too rigid, it's two mortgage cycles, and the lenders and government partners don't want it.

Molnar said the ordinance would go back to the Planning Commission in August and then be scheduled for a Council meeting. It will be helpful if someone on the Housing Commission can be present to reiterate these points. Shavey said she would be there.

SHORT-TERM WORK PLAN - This item will be under Upcoming Meetings.

Shavey reported on the following three items.

1. Shavey said with regard to the "Vision for staff support - job description", she needs to meet with Molnar and John McLaughlin to see how they would like the Housing Commission to go with this. Who will do the job description-staff or the subcommittee? Molnar suggested Shavey work on a draft and bring it to McLaughlin or him and then they can work from there. Shavey said she would try to have a draft by mid-August. Molnar assumed a lot of the job description would be developed from the final Action Plan. Seidman said he would like to join the group working on the job description.

2. Shavey said with regard to the "Land Use Issues and Buildable Lands Inventory", she got a buildable lands inventory from Brandon Goldman and she sorted it by land type, etc. She believes the inventory ties into how easy or difficult it would be to get the Urban Growth Boundary expanded. That ties into the school property and the concept of employer-assisted housing. Shavey had some questions about the buildable lands. Molnar said the specific methodology is state law on how the buildable lands inventory is to be conducted. He thought he could assist her with the table that contains the information she wants. He said there is public land available even though it is listed (for state purposes) as zero percent buildable.

Shavey had talked at an earlier meeting about legislation to fix the CDBG issue and the 150 percent carryover. She got the Community Development Block Grant list for the whole country. The communities with block grants smaller than Ashland’s are all on the East Coast. She contacted each city and asked them how they deal with money. One city gives it back. She plans to ask each city if they would be supportive in a joint request for legislation to forgive the 150 percent rule for communities that get $300,000 or less for block grants. The one community she spoke with is very much in favor of lending support. Her thought is to gather the information and present it to the City Council.

Hartzell said she thought they wanted to ask Staff if they could get a letter from HUD substantiating the verbal discussion we’ve had stating that HUD will not grant a waiver.

3. Shavey informed the Commission that she contacted the developers of Nogi(sp?) Gardens in Seattle. They sent her two CD’s of the construction process of their two-story manufactured housing.

Hartzell reported there is a Brownfield conference September 5th and 6th in Portland. Ashland has three sites. Hartzell, Shavey and Blackwolf might be able to go to the conference. Hartzell asked Molnar for the Housing Commission’s budget.

Seidman noted there is also a northwest affordable housing conference in Portland September 16th. Seidman will e-mail this information to the Commissioners.

Shavey updated the Commission on the school property. She talked with Mac and she gets a definite sense there is a slowly building understanding that one of the things that will happen in the next year is to get at the least the front part of it into the Urban Growth Boundary. That is one of the items the staff person will work on.

PERSONAL COMMITMENTS - Dungan and Blackwolf will be gone for most of August. Shavey, Medinger, Seidman will be in town.

Hartzell suggested the Commission have at least the committees they came up with and have some kind of list of things they agree as a Commission to come back with before the next meeting. They would be looking at benchmarks, goals, outcomes and timelines. Everyone agreed. Seidman wondered if the old subcommittees would be folded in? Dungan thought the Education subcommittee would remain as it is.

Shavey wondered if someone would take on the task of making a grid for the old and new committees with the primary tasks and who is one each one? Seidman and Shavey volunteered to work on this.

Hartzell asked if Medinger would forward any e-mail he receives from the State Housing Commission to draw the Commission in. She would be interested in dates of meetings, meeting minutes, and/or notes. Medinger agreed. Hartzell said there is a lot of education and outreach that needs to take place in southern Oregon.

REQUEST FROM MEDINGER - Medinger mentioned that he has wanted to focus on a private interest to do affordable housing. He has taken on the funding and building of a 19-unit affordable senior apartment project in the back half of a church property. Two units serve up to 80 percent of median income and the remaining 17 serve 60 percent of median income. He wants to understand the process through the state. His funding application is due August 16th and it is a daunting task. There is so much work and money spent before the application is even finished. He is hoping he can go to the Commission and explain the hurdles he’s had. It would really help him if the Ashland Housing Commission would provide him with something such as a resolution of support for this type of project in Ashland.

Hartzell is supportive of the project in concept. If in the future, these kinds of things can come to the Commission earlier. It is hard for Hartzell to vote on something without getting a little more familiar with it.

Medinger is asking for a letter from the Housing Commission supporting him getting funding from the State. Hartzell reiterated she would like more information and knowing whether or not it is going to compete with anything else in town. Molnar suggested Medinger not vote if it comes to a motion.

Shavey moved that the Housing Commission write a letter stating a definite need for this number of units serving this income group, and that we are supportive of an application meeting the needs demonstrated in the Housing Needs Assessment. Blackwolf seconded the motion.

Seidman agreed that in the future it would help to have more notice. He is supportive.

Uto said he has a huge problem with a member of a commission going to his own commission to ask for approval for something they are doing. It would seem more legitimate to go to the Council to ask for support.

Medinger said it is for the grant application and he is asking for support, not approval.

Seidman believes Uto’s point is well taken and appreciates his courage in speaking it. Seidman does not have a problem supporting the motion because he feels it is not a legal motion but a general statement of support. Shavey said they are not funding anything. Uto wondered if they would create a generic letter of support for anyone that wants it? Hartzell is asking that future requests would be put on the agenda.

Vote: Hartzell and Medinger recused themselves, Uto abstained and Blackwolf, Seidman, Shavey, and Dungan voted "yes".

Medinger offered to draft the letter.

Shavey moved to extend the meeting to 6:00 p.m., Dungan seconded the motion and it was approved.

Hartzell would like more of our partners at regular meetings to keep us abreast of what they are doing.

Report from Ron Demele - He agreed with Hartzell and he is trying to keep the connection. Maybe the Commission would have a reporting of projects funded by the City. RVCDC’s consultant, Sharon Neilson, will be in town next week. He said there are two points they are challenging for the City. They are waiting for two determinations from HUD. They have asked for determinations outside the region. Determinations are points that need to be defined on how funds are to be expended.

UPCOMING MEETINGS - There will be an August meeting. Molnar and Dungan will not be there.

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













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