ASHLAND HOUSING COMMISSION
SEPTEMBER 25, 2002
CALL TO ORDER- Vice Chair Andy Dungan called the meeting to order at 4:05 p.m. Other Commissioners present were Joan Legg, Kim Blackwolf, Jonathan Uto, Larry Medinger, Richard Seidman, and Cate Hartzell. Absent members were Diana Shavey and Nancy Richardson. Staff present were Bill Molnar and Sue Yates.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES- Blackwolf moved to approve the minutes of the July 24, 2002 meeting and the August 28, 2002 meeting. Medinger seconded the motion and the minutes were approved.
PUBLIC FORUM- No one came forth to speak.
BROCHUREĖ The Housing Commission flyer is going to the printer and will soon be located in the Council Chambers, Planning Department and City Hall.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACTION PLAN REVIEW & DISCUSSIONS- Draft Plan Dated September 18, 2002.
Molnar said the Action Plan was reviewed at last nightís Planning/Housing Joint Study Session. He wondered if the Housing Commission thought the six goals should be prioritized or are they all equal. Dungan had talked with the consultant at the Housing Coalition meeting about prioritizing.
Legg has no problem with the Coalition coming up with ideas for the Housing Commission to consider. She was disappointed there was no clear timeline set up in the Action Plan. She believes the Commission can do this.
Molnar thought the Commission might want to talk a little about the process from here forward. He assumes the consultant's time is limited. Once any changes are done, then they can try to create priorities and timelines and perhaps a small work plan. Then they will meet with the Council for a small presentation to get the Councilís go ahead.
Blackwolf said she was surprised by the product. She felt the consultants seemed a little surprised that we wanted changes. The plan doesnít go far enough and we donít have enough specifics.
Molnar said this is a small contract. We budgeted around $15,000 for a plan to be developed in two to three months.
Blackwolf thought the plan is very weighted for non-profits to be the answer to affordable housing. Legg agreed the plan is narrow.
Hartzell asked how Molnar would recommend the Commission move forward. Molnar said he is having a conference call with the consultant on Monday. He will know more then. After the joint meeting, the consultants seemed concerned there could be more time involved in working out the adjustments to the plan than what is in their contract. The Commission needs to decide what is feasible to do with their remaining hours.
Seidman felt the Action Plan is not adequate. He wondered if Staff, with the help of some of the Commissioners, could review the document to make some adjustments. Would it be worthwhile to take $3,000 to finish the plan?
Legg would be opposed to putting any more money into the Action Plan.
Hartzell wondered if the Housing Coordinator position was going to be a contract position or City of Ashland employee. The document says City of Ashland, but the Housing Commission asked whether this is the most cost efficient.
Kate Jackson suggested the Housing Commission do what they think is best (contract vs. city employee). The job description can be very specific. That will help push the decision one way or the other when the Budget Committee makes their decision.
Molnar said he got an e-mail from a Planning Commissioner asking if the city has thought if it would be more efficient to look at a contract with an organization that deals with housing. Blackwolf thought the Commission needed to be careful about being beholden to another entity and wondered if it would be difficult to find someone with enough expertise.
Hartzell reminded the Commission that Shavey has put together some information for the job description.
Molnar believes the key is what that person ends up doing for six months. The Commission should all be in agreement about what should be accomplished in the six month period. John McLaughlin, Planning Director, seemed to think a lot of the job description would come out of the Action Plan. It needs to be very specific what this person does. Someone from Planning should be involved in working up the job description.
Uto wondered if, in order to be at a place where the position would continue, are we hiring someone to be a housing person or a money go-getter.
Legg said she is willing to write a grant for $40,000 match. She is looking for continuity and a housing expert in the City of Ashland who can speak for the interests of everyone in Ashland. She canít get money if we arenít talking about continuity. She said we won't get money if we have just contract people. This will have to be a position that has a long-term future.
Dungan said we can say this is a six month commitment for a long-term deal and we can approach this as though it is a permanent position.
Hartzell thought Molnar could get a sense from talking to the consultant how their notes from last evening's study session compare.
Dungan asked what Staff's reaction to the report has been. Molnar said they are a little disappointed as to the depth of the report. They would like to have had more specific details on some of the strategies. The consultants seemed reluctant to push the envelope for new ideas.
Hartzell proposed identifying our priorities. If the consultants have ten hours left, let's use two to make the whole thing coherent and tie it to the Needs Assessment. She would like to see some time spent in packaging the really important items.
Dungan feels the Commission should be very careful not to have a negative reaction to this report because it will undermine the reportís value. We need to walk away with a positive attitude about the finished product.
Hartzell is concerned that the report is just not strong.
Molnar said he and McLaughlin accessed the document and made some specific changes with certain sentences that were incorrect. They will make suggestions to make certain parts of the plan stronger.
Medinger said on page 24, the plan discusses long-term affordability. No one is going to buy a property if they are locked into a 60-year affordability. That statement could be destructive.
Seidman would like to have the consultants quantify the potential costs to the city from the various components. And, quantify the results of housing units created as a result of the plan. He would like the plan to be very specific as to how many units we can expect by 2020.
Hartzell is concerned that there is no coherent connection between the Needs Analysis and the Action Plan.
Molnar feels the consultants could be making some wild guesses on Seidman's questions. He is concerned if we choose targets that are too specific, and we don't meet them, there are those people who might say the program is a failure.
The Commission decided they would wait until Molnar talks to the consultants on Monday and finds out how much time is left on the contract. At that point, Blackwolf, Hartzell and Seidman expressed an interest in sitting down with Molnar to work out any corrections to the plan they see that can then be related to the consultant. Everyone agreed.
Blackwolf suggested leaving it to the subcommittee to come up with a draft job description. The subcommittee consists of Legg, Blackwolf, Seidman, and Molnar.
Seidman wanted to discuss timelines. When should the final job description be completed? When should it be posted? When will interviews occur? He is assuming the consultant will begin January 2, 2003.
Dungan feels those answers can be left to the subcommittee. They can see how it evolves. The process of writing the job description will begin to create the answers to the questions.
Hartzell thought it would be appropriate to have a draft at the October meeting. They could begin to advertise in November and interview in December.
Medinger would like to see a politically motivated person who is an affordable housing advocate.
Legg would like some direction on whether she should be putting together a grant request. Foundations have their money committed right after the first of the year. She will need the job description and whether the position will be permanent. She will have a draft at the October meeting.
Legg asked who we want to be the recipient of the grant funds. Answer: The City of Ashland. Hartzell asked Legg to find out if the foundation likes funding municipalities, and if Legg hears a "no" then we need to re-think the strategy.
HOW TO ATTRACT THE PUBLIC TO MEETINGS
Blackwolf noticed other commissions/committees had their meetings listed under the "Community Events" section or "Meeting Notices".
Hartzell thought some catchy wording in the paper would be good. She believes the Council Chambers setting is a deterrent and a barrier. We could restructure the chairs and have ways for people to plug in. They could attend a sub-committee meeting.
Legg said it would help in news stories to state when the Housing Commission meets.
Uto said his peer group would be more interested in the meetings if renter's issues were covered more. That was the reason Mayor DeBoer was willing to put someone Uto's age on the Commission. There is a committee addressing renter's rights. Hartzell suggested getting someone from the committee to come to the October meeting. Uto will coordinate. Dungan suggested Wayne Schumacher, SOU Housing Coordinator, could talk to the Commission about student housing needs.
Dungan would like this topic on the agenda for next month.
Hartzell feels we need to get more aggressive with the Brownsfield and gain access to large tracts of land. There are plenty of developers looking at the land on the north side of the railroad. There is state and federal funding that would help us clean it up as a municipality.
Molnar just met with someone and found that a lot of the Brownsfield money has been spent in large urban areas on very complex sites. The EPA is letting us know there are different pots of Brownsfield money all over and there is an interest from EPA to make it available to smaller communities with problematic sites who are interested in doing something with the land that would serve a broader public interest. Molnar said we might get someone to come to make a presentation.
ADJOURNMENT- The meeting was adjourned at 5:50 p.m.