The Climate and Energy Action Plan (CEAP) Committee recently began its review of the initial draft document that incorporates the work of the Committee, City staff and project consultant, along with substantial public input gathered in two public open houses, several online surveys and public testimony at the twenty-plus CEAP committee meetings over the past 12-14 months. The draft plan will be presented to the public at the third and final project public open house on December 7, 2016. The draft plan does not yet contain the still-in-development implementation plan or a number of the suggestions discussed and recommended by the Committee at its meeting on November 16, 2016. Itís expected that there will be one updated draft plan developed for Committee and public review before the final draft is prepared for City Council deliberation, currently scheduled for February 7, 2017. Click here to view and download the initial CEAP draft plan. For complete background information on the Climate and Energy Plan project, go to: www.ashland.or.us/climateplan
The City this week received its official July 1, 2016, population estimate from the Portland State University Population Research Center. Our population is now 20,620, a 1% increase over the 2015 estimate of 20,405. These estimates are very important to us, as they form the basis for distribution formulas for a number of state shared revenues. Click here to see the complete statewide population report for Oregon.
The Ashland Forest Resiliency Partners recently presented information on smoke and prescribed burning for public comment at a joint meeting of the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) and Oregon Board of Forestry (OBOF). AFR Partners also led a day-long tour of work in the Ashland Watershed for the OBOF meeting participants. More than 80 representatives from state and local agencies visited Reeder Reservoir, White Rabbit, Four Corners and the Epstein Property. This is the first time in recent memory the OBOF held its annual board meeting in Southern Oregon. Topics around smoke from controlled burning included: a review of air quality and public health regulations, how AFR addresses public engagement, and positive outcomes from controlled burning including forest health, community protection, and firefighter safety.
Students from the John Muir School had a field trip to the Ashland Water Treatment Plant, Reeder Gulch Hydro Electric Generator, the USGS West Fork Ashland Creek stream gauge, and AFR project work just uphill of the reservoir. A big thank you to Matt OíConner and Tom McBartlett with the Electric Department for stepping in to explain the hydropower generator! Thanks also to Matt Reeder, Greg Hunter and Alistair Andre with Water Quality for a tour of the water treatment plant. AFR project partner Lomakatsi Restoration Project taught students how to use tools to survey trees and collect data in the forest. Forest Division Chief Chris Chambers taught students about fire ecology and the history of fire in the watershed. Students also built dams on a model of the watershed to see how water collects at Reeder Reservoir with help from Sara Jones, the Cityís new AFR Community Engagement Coordinator.
This past Monday morning a vehicle traveling south on I-5 drove into the median and struck the Phoenix exit bridge support. The lone occupant was reported trapped and the vehicle was on fire. Off-duty Ashland Fire & Rescue firefighter David Roselip, along with others, stopped to render aid. Several fire extinguishers were used on the vehicle while others pulled the driver to safety. JCFD5 Phoenix engine arrived and finished extinguishing the fire while Mercy Flights treated and transported the driver.
Two Ashland Forest Resiliency controlled burns aimed at protecting our community from wildfire took place on Tuesday, November 15th. Crews from Lomakatsi, Grayback Forestry Inc., and the U.S. Forest Service worked through 250 acres of burn piles (12,500 piles!) under excellent conditions for smoke dispersal.
Thanks to Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, a new interactive AFR Controlled Burn Map is now up and running so citizens can see where burning is taking place each day in relation to town, roads, and trails. Burning is likely to continue if the weather pans out as predicted. Also, citizens can check hourly air quality at www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/ for any concerns with smoke coming into Ashland.
Last week Deputy Chief Warren Hensman and Administrative Sergeant Jim Alderman attended a class in Portland on using de-escalation techniques to avoid use of force situations. The Ashland Police Department will host this training for southern Oregon law enforcement and related services in February of 2017. The APD feels that training like this is an important part of continuing to build trust with all members of the community.
The Cityís bicycle theft rate continues to fall thanks to the departmentís bait bike program and increased awareness and diligence by the community. The bike theft program was at its worst in 2013, which is when the bait bike program was introduced. Here are the bike thefts reported year to date for the last four years:
Chief Tighe OíMeara received a note of appreciation from Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon Director Margie Moulin praising Deputy Chief Warren Hensman for his leadership in the area:
I know I have said this before, but I cannot tell you enough how much we appreciate working with D.C. Hensman. Yesterday at the LEAH meeting when he expressed his thanks on behalf of you and him for all of the agencies helping with Halloween, he specifically mentioned ECSO. He named all of the agencies, but typically when agencies do this, they only mention the other LE or Fire; dispatch is usually not included. While this seems like a small thing, it is just another way he makes it obvious that he considers us part of the team.
You truly have a great department, and in my mind, that is because of great leaders like you and Warren.
Commission and Committee Updates
The Planning Commission held two public hearings at its regular meeting this month.
1098 B Street. The Commission considered an appeal by Brent Thompson of staff's initial approval of a Site Review, Exceptions to Street Standards and Tree Removal Permit for the property at 1098 B Street, at the corner of North Mountain Avenue and B Street. The proposal would demolish and reconstruct one small unit and expand the other, essentially doubling the number of bedrooms, increasing the floor area by 327%, and adding four off-street parking spaces where there was no clear off-street parking or circulation before. Mr. Thompson appealed arguing that the magnitude of the additional square footage, added bedrooms, and impacts of increased parking and circulation necessitated sidewalks. The Commission upheld the appeal, requiring the applicants to install full sidewalk improvements along the property's Mountain Avenue frontage and also require frontage improvements along B Street. (In conjunction with consideration of the appeal, Public Works indicated that it would cover the cost of relocating a fire hydrant and participate in the cost of design and construction of the ADA ramp at the corner of Mountain and B, given that the improvements along Mountain help in completing the sidewalk system on an identified Safe Route to School.)
601-691 Fair Oaks Avenue. The Commission also heard a request for Site Design Review approval for a new three-story mixed use building at 601-631 Fair Oaks along with some exterior design modifications to a previously approved building on the adjacent property at 651-691 Fair Oaks. These buildings will complete the neighborhood commercial core at North Mountain and Fair Oaks, near Julian Square. The commission has seen these designs evolve through several applications, with the current request bringing in design elements to tie into the building nearing completion across the street.
Coming up for the Planning Commission:
1651 Ashland Street
Rogue Federal Credit Union (RFCU): An application has been received from Rogue Credit Union for the vacant property at 1651 Ashland Street, across from Wendy's. The proposal involves development of a new RCFU branch as an initial phase with mixed use development of the remainder of the property in later phases. An architectural rendering of the proposed Ashland Street facade of the new credit union is shown here. Staff is reviewing the application and anticipates a hearing before the Planning Commission in January.
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