February 27, 2015

Public Works Department
This week, a crew from the Water Division of the Public Works Department worked with a crew from the Electric Department to begin the installation of security cameras and lighting at Hosler Dam.  This project is a requirement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to maintain compliance with current dam safety regulations.  The recommendation to install cameras was first made several years ago but with no utilities available at the dam, several other projects were required before the cameras and lighting were a possibility.
The first problem regarding the installation of cameras was the lack of power at the reservoir.  Solar panels were considered but the reservoir is located in a canyon.  The heavy tree cover combined with the relatively short duration of direct sunlight in the canyon made installation of adequate solar panels nearly impossible.  In addition to the lack of power, sending a signal from the cameras back to town was very difficult.  Wireless solutions were considered but again, being located in the canyon created insurmountable problems.  The hills in the area make wireless communication of any type difficult to impossible.  Because of these obstacles, it was decided the best solution was to install power and hard-wired communications to the dam. 
The extension of power and communications to the dam was completed last year, allowing for the installation of the cameras and lighting.  The cameras will be connected to the City’s internal network, allowing remote viewing of the dam by authorized personnel.  This will serve a couple purposes.  First, it provides the ability to monitor the dam for safety and security purposes.  Second, in the event of an earthquake or flood, the dam will be viewable within seconds.  Currently, visual inspection of the dam means sending someone up to the canyon which, in the event of an emergency, can take time that could be critical.

Fire Department
On Wednesday of this week, Ashland Fire & Rescue, Asante Ashland Community Hospital, Ashland Police Department, and Jackson County Public Health participated in a live drill to test our local response capabilities in treatment and transport of a person with a known Ebola infection.  AF&R's personnel have trained and prepared special protocols in the wake of the first Ebola infections to reach US soil, last October 2014.  These protocols will ensure in the rare event we may be called to transport someone with a highly infectious disease, our team is trained and ready.  AACH learned a great deal about the challenges a healthcare facility faces with even one highly infectious patient.  Representatives from Mercy Flights, AMR Grants Pass, and AMR Portland came to observe our protocol and practice​

Police Department
The Police Department’s bait bike program has been on hold for the last few months due problems with the tracking equipment.  In addition, the company that supplied the tracker has gone out of business.  The department was able to find another vendor and last weekend the bait bike was again deployed and a suspect was arrested for stealing the bike.  APD will continue to deploy different bikes around the city using the new tracking device. 
APD is in the process of entering into an MOU with the Police Foundation, which is a well known and respected nonprofit research organization committed to improving policing in the United States, based in Washington DC.  The Police Foundation will seek grant funding to enable them to conduct independent research into the effectiveness of the You Have Options Program and to help us fund the program.   
APD officers were responsible for the arrest of suspects in two different cases this week.  Officer Mike Vanderlip was off duty in Safeway and observed a suspect who clearly intending to steal beer.  He called the station and on duty officers were able to arrest the suspect and recover the beer.  In addition to the theft charge the suspect was on probation with a no alcohol clause so he was also arrested for a probation violation.  Officer Damian Amarillas was off duty in the City of Grants Pass when he saw a suspect wanted in Ashland for the felony assault on a woman.  He called the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety whose officers arrested the suspect.  Great observations by both Mike and Damian.
Following are some entries made into the Police Department’s performance tracking system this week;
Supervisor Compliment for Officer Scott Wenzel (39130) occurred on 2/19/2015 
Entered by Deputy Chief Warren Hensman (51271) on 2/25/2015 
Scott: I wanted to formally commend you for the way you managed an Oregon State Patrol vehicle pursuit that came through our town on 02/19/15 – APD Case#15-433. You immediately recognized the pursuit was not in compliance with Ashland Department policy.  Furthermore the pursuit was entering the downtown area where vehicle and pedestrian traffic is typically congested. With a seasoned sense of awareness, you made the right decision to terminate an outside agency’s vehicle pursuit. That night you were acting in an Officer-In-Charge capacity and did your job with great distinction.

Public Recognition for Officer Jason Billings (37434) occurred on 2/25/2015 
Entered by Deputy Chief Warren Hensman (51271) on 2/25/2015 
Jason: I just received a voice mail message from an SOU Student (I could not make out his name, but he did say he was on the football team) who could not stop raving about the outstanding contact he had with you. He did not mention why you contacted him, however I got the impression you were probably enforcing an ordinance or law as he was just extremely impressed with the way you treated him.

Teamwork for Officer Lisa Evans (45185) occurred on 2/21/2015 
Entered by Sergeant Robert Smith (13177) on 2/22/2015 
This is to commend Ofc. Evans for her assistance in identifying the two suspects in the assault of Tavia Johnson. When Ofc. Evans was briefed on the incident, she researched her notebook, located the names of potential suspects and assisted Det. Marical is attempting to locate these suspects.

When Ofc. Evans composed an email to all sworn officers regarding the identification of the suspects, Ofc. Amarillas read the email, spotted one of the suspects near Grants Pass, which resulted in his arrest. Great Job putting all the information together and working with fellow officers to identify and apprehend one of the two offenders. It's a matter of time until the second one is caught.

Community Development Department
Planning staff continues to meet with representatives of the Rogue Valley Council of Governments and other participating cities in the Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Plan.  The group recently reviewed conceptual land use and transportation plans for a proposed UGB expansion in Central Point, as well as preliminary conceptual planning work for urban reserves areas being looked at in Talent.

 Ashland South Holdings recently completed a new 7,500 square foot building for office, retail and manufacturing uses at 650 Mistletoe Road (photo at left).  With completion of the first building, Ashland South Holdings began construction of a new 6,500 square foot building on the adjacent parcel at 696 Mistletoe.  This new building will contain a mix of office, retail, warehouse and climate-controlled mini-storage (see elevations below).  These buildings illustrate the effectiveness of the city's design standards in encouraging a high level of building design and site planning, targeted to create an attractive, pedestrian oriented employment district, as well as to offer an inviting gateway treatment for the Croman Mill Master Plan area.

Board and Commission Updates
Planning Commission
The Planning Commission at its February 24th study session discussed a proposal to expand the wildfire hazard zone boundary to encompass all of Ashland.  The expansion would require lands presently outside of the boundary to provide a Fire Protection and Control Plan when partitioned or subdivided, and all properties obtaining a building permit for additions or new construction would need to meet general fuel break requirements.  The commission discussed the general fuel break requirements with the Fire Department representatives in attendance, and broadly commented on landscaping issues related to developing a prohibited flammable plant list. In addition, the Commission evaluated thresholds for determining when such standards are triggered.  The Tree Commission is expected to discuss existing and potential fuel break regulations at an upcoming meeting.  A revised ordinance will be drafted following these study sessions and presented to the Planning Commission and City Council for formal review and adoption this summer.
Also at its February 24th study session, the Planning Commission reviewed draft code changes to the Airport Overlay Zone.  These changes include expedited processing of hangar proposals, changes to building height limits, landscaping and parking requirements, and tree permitting when trimming or removal is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety reasons.  The Airport Commission has also informally reviewed draft code changes.  Staff will incorporate revisions based on feedback from these commissions and continue to work with Public Works staff to bring code amendments to the Planning Commission and City Council in the coming months.  (Public Works will be initiating a revision of the Airport Master Plan this spring as well.)

In closing…
Below is a 1942 photo sent to me some time ago by City Attorney Dave Lohman.  Evidence that short-term home rentals are not just a wave of the future?​


Previous Updates:

February 20, 2015

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