A regional economic development item of note was announced at the Ashland Chamber of Commerce Board meeting Thursday. The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network has selected the Southern Oregon University/Rogue Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to create and develop the SOU Market Research Institute to provide market research services to the 19 SBDCs throughout Oregon. (Click here
for the full press release.) Staff from the Chamber and the City have already met with staff from the newly formed Market Research Institute to connect the valuable local data compilation and analysis services provided by the Institute to the Ashland Business Resource Portal website. The Portal project has been described briefly in previous economic development presentations and is scheduled for its formal public debut on April 11th
in conjunction with the Ashland Innovators Conference. Additional details on the Research Institute, the Ashland Business Portal and the Ashland Innovators Conference will be provided in the Economic Development Strategy quarterly update to the Council in March.
The Mayor and I met with Fire Chief John Karns and Forestry Division Chief Chris Chambers earlier this week to discuss a proposal to maintain a Forest Service presence in Ashland. The Forest Service is planning to move out of its leased space in Ashland later this year and consolidate all of its operations in a building it owns out in the Applegate. We believe we can provide office space for the USFS personnel who have been working on the AFR project and we may be able to provide space for a USFS pumper truck that’s stationed in the watershed during the summer. A formal proposal for the Forest Service has not yet been developed, but staff is working on it.
For what it’s worth, here’s a link to an article in today’s Oregonian
regarding PGE’s request for a rate increase on top of the 7.4% rate increase that went into effect at the start of this year. I realize that other utilities’ rate increases are no consolation for our own rate increases, but it does drive home the point that we are not alone in dealing with rate pressures and those rate pressures are actually much greater for other utilities than they are for us.
Ashland Fire & Rescue has trained sixteen City of Ashland employees on how to prepare their worksite for a disaster, lead their colleagues through evacuation and sheltering, first aid, patient transport, search and rescue, fire safety, triage, blood borne pathogens and hands-only CPR. The culmination of this training creates the City’s first Employee Emergency Response Team
(EERT). By creating this network of trained leaders within the workforce, we create the ability to better respond during disasters and assist fellow employees and community members in recovery efforts. EERT members will be identified by brightly colored t-shirts and backpacks carrying essential supplies for response and recovery. Members carry a high level of responsibility and will be given on-going training and skills building.
The Police Department has completed the reaccreditation process. Only 22% of the police departments in Oregon are accredited. The director of the Oregon Accreditation Alliance was at the department for just over a day. At some other departments, it has taken up to four days to determine if they are meeting all standards. Overall, he found the department “outstanding.” APD meets or exceeds the requirements in 101 of the 102 accreditation standards. (He found that while APD can show it is meeting the training requirement, the department needs to make a minor change in its written policy to reflect that.) He was especially impressed with the job Administrative Supervisor Gail Rosenberg did in preparing for his visit (which was the main reason he had to be here for such a short time.) He said that Gail was clearly one of the best accreditation managers in the state.
The following email was sent following a presentation by Officer Lisa Evans and Detective Theron Hull at Ashland Middle School;
Lisa and Theron-
Many thanks for your terrific presentation last night. Even though it ended up being a small group, due to all the competing events, I felt it went extraordinarily well. Thank you both for being so knowledgeable and personable. We hope that we can invite the two of you back next year to give a similar presentation.
Jenni Egan and the AMS Community.
Regional Problem Solving (RPS) -
Planners with municipalities involved in adoption of the RPS Plan continue to meet regularly to work out the details for implementation of the regional plan. The cities of Medford, Central Point and Talent are working on conceptual plans for identified urban reserve areas and looking at initiating the process to bring some areas into their urban growth boundaries. The RPS group recently created a draft conceptual plan for one urban reserve area in Central Point to identify the elements, issues and level of detail necessary for the required conceptual plans. The next meeting will focus on Medford conceptual planning effort for its urban reserves and how/when other agencies such as the irrigation districts and Metropolitan Planning Organization can best be incorporated into the process as required in the RPS Plan.
Ashland, Central Point, Medford and RVCOG staff have been working with affordable housing and social service agencies from around the region and representatives of the Governor's Regional Solutions Team to craft a vision for the required regional housing strategies that were included in the RPS Plan at the urging of the Ashland City Council. Generally, the providers say they can compete for available market rate property as long as adequate multi-family zoned land is available in proximity to services such as public transit and employment areas and those lands are not concentrated in one part of a city. The Housing Authority of Jackson County noted that they feel Snowberry Brook on Clay Street has been a very successful project, that it has the lowest turn-over of any of their projects and a waiting list for new tenants of more than four years. They stated that Ashland was their #1 priority for new development at the moment and they are actively looking for properties.
EV-Ready Pilot Project -
A review committee for the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) recommended approval of the City of Ashland’s EV-ready pilot proposal. The pilot program would require home builders and owners of new residential construction to provide the infrastructure to facilitate the installation of charging systems for electric vehicles. General contractors would need to make garages and carports in one- and two-family dwellings EV-ready by installing a complete EV-Level II battery charger circuit or by the installation of raceways, boxes, or pre-wire in anticipation of a future charging station. The committee’s recommendation was based upon the following conditions that the City still has to meet:
Board and Commission updates
- Adopt a city ordinance that requires, rather than encourages, new residential construction within parts or all of the city to be EV-ready
- Clarify the scope of EV-ready
- Work with BCD to develop a process for sharing data
At its February 11, 2014, regular meeting, the Commission denied an appeal and upheld the approval of a conditional use permit and variance to setbacks for the construction of single family residence at 270 N. First St. The application included a request to permit the home to exceed the city's Maximum Permitted Floor Area standard in the historic district. The primary issues raised in the appeal include concerns over the compatibility of the new residence design with historic district design standards, including the square footage of the proposed residence, material choices, exterior facade treatments and roof composition. Other concerns include tree removal, landscaping, parking and site access. The proposed residence will be constructed across the street from the Ashland Food Co-op located at 237 N. First Street.
Friday, February 7, 2014