March 27, 2015

I’ve been asked by a couple of Councilors, as well as members of the public, about the Red Oak tree that was planted on the plaza last fall, because the tree is still covered with dead, brown leaves while all of the other trees on the plaza are budding. According to Parks Superintendent Bruce Dickens, the Red Oak is very much alive and well and should start to bud out soon. All of the other trees on the plaza are healthy as well. The project to place planter boxes and additional landscaping material to the plaza is currently in design. That design will come to the Council later this spring.
I mentioned in my March 13 update that the Vinyl Club had been cited for noise ordinance violations and was scheduled for a Municipal Court trial on March 24. That trial has been postponed to July 14.
One city in Washington State, where cities are prohibited from adopting local sales taxes, has decided to make money from legal recreational marijuana by opening its own marijuana shop.  Click here to read the article that appeared in the Vancouver Columbian earlier this month about North Bonneville, WA, which is across the Columbia from Hood River. Note that I am NOT suggesting we do this, but if our local tax gets thrown out by the courts…

Fire Department
Ashland Fire & Rescue firefighters participated in skid truck training provided by the Oregon Department of Safety, Standards and Training (DPSST). This is the first time DPPST has made an effort to provide this training to all firefighters in every rank in southern Oregon. The skid truck, designed to be similar to a fire engine, is a 10-ton Ford F-650 crew cab truck placed on a frame that allows the trainers to mimic slick road conditions that cause the driver to lose control. The trainers then teach the trainees how to control the vehicle. The purpose of the training is to teach firefighters to be able to handle any kind of road condition and regain control of apparatus, thereby reducing the number of firefighter injuries and fatalities caused by vehicle accidents. According to the Oregon State Police, the number of fire engine crashes has been reduced by 25% since the training began five years ago. Battalion Chief Scott Hollingsworth, Captain Matt Freiheit and Firefighter Nick Palmesano are pictured here with the skid truck.

Ten more Firewise applications have been submitted, bringing Ashland’s Firewise total to 22. Ashland leads the nation in Firewise by a long shot! With the potential of getting a Community Assistance grant in July for $250,000, Ashland can continue to grow rapidly. AF&R and the Street Division are getting the first seven Firewise Communities signs installed and all should be in place by the time you read this.

Public Works Department
On Tuesday of this week personnel at the Water Treatment Plant had another unusual encounter with local wildlife. This time two ringtail cats actually find their way inside the lab located in the main operations building at the plant. There have been problems in the past with these cats getting into the attic but this is the first time they’ve found their way into the building.  Earlier that morning a ceiling tile had been removed to access an area of a suspected leak in the roof. While the ceiling tile was removed, the cats jumped through the open hole into the lab. According to plant personnel, the cats had been fighting in the attic and continued to do so while in the lab. Obviously we don’t want wild animals running around the inside of the treatment plant, so both cats were  trapped in buckets.

Staff knew if the cats were just released outside, it would only be a matter of time before they found their way back into the building, or into one of the other buildings at the treatment plant.  These cats fall within the purview of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which prohibits transporting them without a permit. ODFW agreed that if released outside the plant, the cats would just return to the spot where they’d been trapped, so ODFW quickly issued a relocation permit. With permit in hand, staff took the cats up the road to an area near Reeder Reservoir where they were released.
After they relocated the cats, the treatment plant staff went into the attic space and were able to find the location where the cats entered. A cover and screen over a vent pipe was missing, which had allowed just enough space for the cats to enter. This was also the source of the water originally thought to be a leak in the roof. That problem is now being corrected. 

Community Development Department
Planning Division
The Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) hosted the Local Planners Meeting in March. Staff was present to hear Connie Saldana from RVCOG Senior and Disability Services give a presentation on the Lifelong Housing Certification Project. This is a voluntary certification project designed to help meet the growing market demand for accessible housing and to enable older adults and people with disabilities to age in place safely and independently.  The group also discussed the coordination of review of conceptual land use and transportation plans for UGB amendments with the Rogue Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (RVMPO). The 2013 Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Plan requires cities to collaborate with the RVMPO, irrigation districts and other effected agencies in the development of the conceptual plans. Finally, the group discussed the state rulemaking process for recreational marijuana and how growing operations may impact current county regulations for farm uses, farm dwellings and farm stands.  
Staff today participated in a webinar by the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) on the State of Oregon’s medical and recreational marijuana regulations. The webinar covered the latest legislative developments and recent court cases relating to medical and recreational marijuana. The growing aspect of the industry was identified as “a regulatory gap” in existing state law since growers are unlicensed and relatively unregulated. It does appear that the new recreational marijuana regulations will include a growing license but no other information was available at this time. The LOC’s conclusion is that cities can regulate and even prohibit the growing of marijuana.
Community Development front office staff recently attended a training session on Front Desk Safety & Security. Staff received instruction on how to deal with dangerous situations, difficult people, and workplace emergencies. Front office clerk Regan Trapp has volunteered to share her training with the rest of the department.
Building Safety Division
The Southern Oregon Chapter of the International Code Council (SOCICC) held its monthly meeting on March 25th in Grants Pass. The Chapter welcomed Bill Clemens, newly appointed Building Official for Douglas County and new member to SOCICC. Bill replaces former Douglas County Building Official Aaron Yuma who has joined Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) as the Central Regional Coordinator. Guest Speaker and BCD Regional and Local Governmental Relations Manager Tom Phillips briefed the chapter on the upcoming BCD and CCB joint training for contractors scheduled for April 24th in Medford. City of Ashland Building Official and Chairman of the SOCICC Education Committee Jeremy Payne updated the chapter on the committee’s recent intent of becoming an International Code Council Preferred Provider. The Education Committee hosted a recent successful Building Codes Means of Egress Training class in Medford last December and has May 14th slated for the 2012 International Mechanical Code Design and Installation Principle training outreach class that will be available to local municipalities and members of the local construction industry. 

Police Department
APD hosted its second set of community classes today in its new series of crime prevention classes. This class was on preventing ID theft. The public response was so large, the class had to move from the Otte/Peterson room to the Council chambers. The next class, scheduled for late April, will be on residential security tips to minimize your home’s exposure to burglaries and such. So far the program is very well received.

This was entered into Guardian Tracking for one of our officers:
On March 26th we were dispatched to a welfare check on an older male who was operating a vehicle in the area of Oak Street. It was believed he was possibly suffering from dementia. The reporting party had stated the male had stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road and was asking for help, saying he was lost. Officer Damian Amarillas located the elderly male a short time later on Oak Street and was able to escort the male back to his residence on North Mountain Avenue. Later that day I received a call from Mr. Gomez who wanted to thank Officer Amarillas for his kindness, understanding and for making sure he got home safe. Good job Damian.

Previous Updates:

March 13, 2015

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