ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
CALL TO ORDER– The meeting was called to order by Chair Nancy Richardson at 4:07 p.m. Other commissioners present were Joan Legg, Jonathan Uto, Richard Seidman, Andy Dungan, and Diana Shavey. Larry Medinger, Kim Blackwell and Cate Hartzell were absent. Staff present were Brandon Goldman and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES– Shavey moved to defer approving the minutes until the September meeting in order to spend more time discussing the CDBG proposals. Legg seconded the motion and everyone approved.
AGENDA CHANGES– Dungan wants to report on last night's Planning Commission meeting. Richardson has a short message at the end of the meeting.
PUBLIC FORUM– No one came forth to speak.
CDBG APPLICATIONS - PUBLIC HEARING
Goldman distributed his memo dated August 28, 2002 regarding the CDBG Award Selection Calendar Year 2003. This is the tenth year the City of Ashland has been allocated CDBG grant funds. He is anticipating a 13.8 percent increase in the yearly allocation. This means there will be funds in addition to the $168,750 already noticed in the RFP. In 2002, $22,000 was awarded to the City of Ashland for sidewalk installation. Although the project was completed, we did not receive Davis-Bacon wage determinations from the contractor showing the employees made Davis-Bacon wages. As a result, the funds were not released and are now to be reprogrammed and available yet again for another project. The Consolidated Plan has changed during that time period, eliminating the use of funds for sidewalk installation. The funds have now been added to the pool for this RFP. There is approximately $214,000 available instead of the $168,750 originally anticipated.
Three applications were received requesting CDBG funds before the August 19, 2002 deadline. Staff has evaluated the proposals and has made their recommendations as outlined in Goldman's memo of August 28, 2002. Goldman reviewed his memo with the Commission.
Proposal #1 - Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) - Land Acquisition
They are proposing to purchase a half-acre site at 2001 Siskiyou Boulevard and construct ten to eleven units on the property. The application has not gone through the pre-application with the city and has not been completely evaluated for conformance with all ordinances, however, it appears to be appropriate for the site. Staff has spoken with the property owner and found the property is indeed for sale and available for acquisition. The existing house on the property is unoccupied.
Goldman identified the strengths and weaknesses associated with the proposal as outlined in his memo of August 28, 2002.
Shavey asked if the money coming back from Davis-Bacon is jeopardized by the 150 percent carryover rule since it is year 2000 money. Goldman said we have a backlog of carryover money. Shavey asked what the drop-dead date is for the carryover money. Goldman said July of 2003. It is Staff's endeavor to expend the funds in a timely manner and that's why they are reprogramming them instead of waiting for the Davis-Bacon requirements. Goldman said RVCDC could purchase the property once it has passed an environmental review, establish site control and then apply for tax credits. The project hitting the ground will be delayed, but Goldman does not anticipate land acquisition will be delayed.
Proposal #2 - Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation (RVCDC) - Technical Assistance.
Goldman said our HUD representative, Nancy Donovan, said this application does not technically qualify as technical assistance, however, she said the uses are eligible as related to the affordable housing development for the Lower Pines Trailer site. RVCDC is requesting $7500 toward the creation of a relocation plan, $6000 for architectural costs and $7500 toward their consultant's development fee. In conversations with HUD, they determined the relocation plan as a prerequisite imposed by the City prior to the purchase of the property. The $7500 for a relocation plan is considered eligible as a pre-development cost and directly relates to the relocation approved by the Housing Commission and City Council last program year. The architectural costs will need to be more clearly delineated. CDBG eligible activities would not relate to those construction activities. CDBG funding may not be the most appropriate source to fund the development consultant fee ($7500). The development consultant works throughout the project and it may be very cumbersome to delineate what portion of their work is isolated to pre-development.
Goldman addressed the strengths and weaknesses of this proposal as outlined in his memo of August 28, 2002.
Proposal #3 - Creative Alternatives Foundation - (CAF)
The application relates to a 19-unit senior housing project located at 631 Clay Street. The request is for a total of $85,000 to complete required street improvements and service improvements related to the housing project. Staff has determined it is an eligible use of funds, in part. Eligible use of funds includes improvement to "public" facilities that total approximately $23,893 (as related to improvements to Clay Street). The Housing Commission and City Council will need to determine whether the limited CDBG funds are best used to reimburse city required fees. The City would impose the fee, the applicant would pay the fee, and CDBG funds would reimburse the City. The floodplain encroaches onto the public right-of-way and Staff has some concerns with regard to environmental review. Will improvements in that area be possible?
Goldman noted the strengths and weaknesses of the application. Strength of the application is that CAF will be contracting with Jackson County Housing Authority.
Staff made their recommendations based on the revisions to the Consolidated Plan to limit the number of grants awarded to one, or potentially two, in any program year. The purpose of limiting the number of grants is to make more effective use of the limited funds and to limit staff time to each of the projects. Staff has recommended that RVCDC's proposal for land acquisition be funded this project year and receive a grant award for CDBG funds in the amount of $201,500. Staff also recommends funds be awarded to RVCDC in the amount of $13,500, delineating any pre-development and actual construction related work and how the technical development is pre-development.
The CAF proposal also has merit, however, Staff is not recommending an award of funds at this time.
Seidman asked if limiting the awards to two was hard and fast. Goldman said it is. It is in the Consolidated Plan and approved by the City Council. It was initially proposed it be limited to one but expanded to potentially two in the event there are multiple projects that have merit. It is possible there could be some latitude with the technical assistance in the RVCDC proposal.
Dungan wondered if the two RVCDC proposals can be called one. Goldman thought they could not because one proposal is for land acquisition at 2001 Siskiyou Boulevard and does not involve relocation. Yet, the technical assistance is related to relocation on Ashland Street. Even though it is a multi-phased project, Goldman does see a distinction between the two and Staff has approached them as separate proposals for each land acquisition. The technical assistance related to architectural services, preliminary application for the 2001 Siskiyou application, Goldman would say yes, but the relocation plan is related to last year's approved project.
Seidman asked Goldman how much of a burden is it for staff to administer another proposal. Goldman said the land acquisition project would have the same requirements of staff as any other project. The smaller project (CAF) also involves construction and is a little more cumbersome because the City would have to monitor Davis-Bacon. He said the technical assistance does not significantly increase staff time. It does increase staff time at the end of the year in identifying action plans and accomplishments.
PRESENTATIONS OF PROPOSALS
Ron Demele, Executive Director of RVCDC introduced Sharon Neilson, developing consultant and co-developer on the project. He introduced Carlos Delgado and Doyle Brightenburg who will be doing the design and architectural work on the project.
Demele said they are intending to use CDBG funds for the acquisition of the Faith Street property (2001 Siskiyou Boulevard). He explained that a synthesis of the project is outlined in the chart on page A-7 of their submittal. It gives a perspective of how this fits in with the other sites. The only major difference in the original proposal to the present, is that three sites will be needed instead of two. They believe it is important to have scattered sites. They expect some of the pieces they started in the first round of funding to be forthcoming. Their purchase option is pending on the first project and have a letter stating they are close on their terms.
Demele said the Faith Street project is close to transportation, access to schools and jobs. There will be some three-bedroom homes on the site. They believe this will lend itself to families.
Neilson spoke to the weakness outlined by staff. They are negotiating with the seller to have the balance of the site acquisition on the Faith Street site on a land sales contract. The seller would carry the paper, RVCDC would get funding, and they would take him out once they get full financing. They would anticipate, as shown on their timeline, having all sites closed by March 2003. They anticipate closing the Lower Pines site by December 1, 2002. Neilson explained they are working on preliminary assessment and they are beginning to prepare the first site and the Faith Street site. That is part of the request for technical assistance. They will soon be ready to do a pre-application on two sites. She does not believe the 2003 low income housing and affordable tax credit application will affect the CDBG timing issue. Neilson said she is the consultant and reminded the Commission she has done a number of projects in the state.
Shavey wondered why they submitted two applications this time instead of one. Demele said it was offered as a result of a site visit done by Nancy Donovan. They were talking to her about some need for technical assistance up front to jumpstart the project. There was discussion at that time about the availability of Davis-Bacon funds that may not have been accounted for by the City. They asked if they could put forth an application.
Seidman asked what kind of a burden would it put on RVCDC if they received just $168,000. Neilson said they could live with that. Would they like more money? Yes. If the seller needs to be cashed out, it means RVCDC has to borrow less to bridge finance.
Demele said the request for technical assistance is because there is money to be spent before the project gets going and to move this project through the pre-development stage, they have outlined some of the identified costs. Neilson said all of her activities have involved acquisition. They are at the phase of assembling the site for the project. It is pretty easy to delineate her activities and believe it could be documented. She believes all of the $21,000 would be eligible.
Goldman said in the spring round the applicants stated they had administrative capacity and at this point staff is concerned they are retroactively asking for funding. Goldman said it was HUD's initial impression the consultant fee was not necessarily eligible but the application was not outlined to the degree it could be evaluated closely. If RVCDC is willing to submit further information, the Housing Commission is in a position to make a recommendation to the Council to award that money, and it could be worked out prior to the Council hearing it on September 3, 2002.
Shavey wondered if RVCDC would be willing to accept an additional $7500 for land acquisition. Demele said they are willing to accept more than they have asked for.
Bob Vos, Medinger Construction, was just informed today that the funds would only be eligible for public off-site improvements. They would like to revise the amount they are asking for to $27,793. On their breakdown, the items excavation through storm drain are directly related to public facilities. Those items add up to $24,793, not $23,793. They would also be asking for engineering and survey fees of $3,000. They would like to place CDBG money in a trust fund for the improvement of Clay Street that should happen in a couple years.
Goldman said the money is a reimbursement for costs incurred. In order to reimburse the applicant, CAF would have to present to staff the actual costs after completion and that the costs were paid. The City reimburses that cost. The trust fund it would be sitting in would be HUD's bank account. There might be other alternatives.
Vos said they have been planning to do the half-street improvement but were told that rather than improving a short section of Clay Street, the City would rather wait and do the whole street at once.
Goldman said they can clarify this issue before the City Council.
Seidman asked the CAF representatives to speak to their background in running this type of project. Elycia Witters said she wrote the application. She said Medinger and Jackson County Housing Authority are driving the project.The Creative Alternatives Foundation has had this idea for awhile and hired Larry Medinger.
Legg said the strongest part of this application is that it involves a donation of land and the commitment to do this project and make it work. The land is valued at around $300,000 and she believes this is a strength of the application not mentioned in the staff report. Goldman said there is some concern with the donation of land. The approval of the zone change was tied to the development of 19 affordable housing units based on the density of the entire parcel. As far as donating the rear portion of property, Goldman did not know if this was actually feasible. He agrees that having the land identified and paid for is definitely a strength.
Seidman asked the applicant the consequences to CAF if they are not awarded $27,000. Vos said it would not sink the project, but it would make it harder.
Legg said if we gave the two RVCDC projects $168,750 and $13,500, and we receive $214,000, that would leave $31,650.
Dungan asked what's involved if the Housing Commission and Council want to give CAF $28,000. Goldman said his major concern has to do with the timeliness of the expenditure. His recommendation if they choose to give the funds to Proposal #3 is to tie it to an improvement date. The $28,000 is more than ten percent of our yearly allocation, so with the 1.5 carryover for the next two to three years, they are assuming ten percent is already accounted for. As far as the administrative burden by staff, they would be looking at an additional project. The additional project would involve the environmental review pre-construction conferences with the contractors. He's hearing the conferences may not happen for two to three years. At that point in time, that would be on top of whatever CDBG allocations were made in, let's say, 2005.
[Shavey moved and Dungan seconded to extend the meeting one-half hour. Everyone approved.]
It is Goldman's understanding that CAF has to make application for any eligible CDBG grants, but the City is not obligated to award funds to them.
All members of the Housing Commission are supportive of all three projects and would like to find a way to grant funds to all three. Dungan said there is not enough information to make the best decision now. Could they suggest support of three projects and let Goldman work out some of the questions. Goldman said the meeting is scheduled for September 3, 2002, but he will check to see if they can hear it on September 17, 2002.
Goldman said the correct figure for CAF funds is $24,793 plus $3,000 in engineering costs for a total of $27,793.
Goldman said the figure should be $214,000, not $215,000 (total funds requested by RVCDC). Staff would recommend Proposal #1 amount to $200,500.
Uto wondered if staff considered the Housing Needs Analysis in making their recommendation. Goldman said all three proposals address the highest priority need identified in the Needs Analysis. Uto remembered at the ACLT meeting, they were showing the population of Ashland was aging and we needed to target young families. Goldman said his recommendations are not based on the Housing Needs Analysis but on the Consolidated Plan.
Richardson closed the public hearing.
Shavey moved to find a way to combine Proposals #1 and #2 for RVCDC on the theory it is all one project in multi-phases. And, recommend to the City Council that since RVCDC told us last spring that it was a multi-phase project, they would be coming back. We knew then it was one project and we know now it is one project. She would propose we fund $27,750 for CAF and whatever the balance is to RVCDC in a combined proposal that includes $13,500 for the technical assistance and the balance for land acquisition. She recommends we fund RVCDC and CAF for the other amount of money, subject to the solution to the off-site problem. If they can't get it solved by September 17, 2002, give RVCDC the whole amount of money and ask CAF get the technical issue solved and come back again next year.
(Aside: Shavey believes a lot of non-profit organizations get started on a shoestring and get managed by professional management. She is convinced the more affordable housing we can get on the ground, the better off we are. Even though there are technical problems with the application, she would like to give CAF a chance to rectify it.)
Dungan seconded the motion.
Shavey said if we can't combine RVCDC's request, then it is really important to keep the integrity of what we pushed for and that is two grants. She does not make a motion to fund three, only two. Goldman said the previous award was already identified in the last action plan--the land acquisition for the Lower Pines. 2001 Siskiyou would be a separate action. There is only one site that has relocation needs and has a relocation plan associated with it. The City took the position of separating it into two projects so the City was bound to monitor the activity on additional sites.
Dungan said what the Commission wants is if Goldman cannot work out the details, to give RVCDC the remaining funds for land acquisition. Goldman added if CAF is not workable as far as posting the bond or other methods, then the $27,750 goes into land acquisition.
Seidman thought if the funds were all lumped into one for RVCDC that it might mean that one portion of it cannot be applied to the relocation. Would that free up other funds that would apply to relocation from other sources? Neilson raised the relocation this time to $100,000. They don't know until they get the plan how much it will cost. That cost includes hiring the person to help RVCDC. It was not made clear in her first application.
Goldman will check with public works to find out a timeline for a LID for Clay Street. In the event a bond cannot be done through HUD requirements, would CAF still be permitted to have the $27,750 three years hence or when the actual improvements are done? The intent of Shavey's motion was to expend the money in a timeframe that we do not jeopardize the 150 percent rule.
Shavey restated her motion. She moved that we recommend to the City Council that they grant RVCDC $186,250 composed of $172,750 for land and $13,500 for technical assistance, either as one contract this year or as part of last year. And, we grant $27,750 to CAF for eligible off-site improvements on the Clay Street property if it can be spent in a timely fashion (by December 31, 2003). If it cannot, then the balance of that money would go to RVCDC. Dungan again seconded the motion.
Shavey amended the motion. If the money cannot be spent by CAF, roll it over and reallocate it in an applicable round. Legg seconded the amendment. The vote was unanimous for the motion with the amendment.
[Dungan moved and Shavey seconded to extend the meeting to 6:15 p.m. All favored.]
MEETING LENGT- Dungan moved to extend the Housing Commission's meeting time from this date forward to two hours. Shavey seconded the motion. All Commissioners voted in favor.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 6:10 p.m.
Richardson said she would be gone most of September. She will not be at the Jackson County Coalition meeting. She asked is someone could chair that meeting. Dungan offered to chair the September meeting. Shavey will not be at the September meeting.