Adoption of the Conservation Density Bonus Ordinance-Second Reading
|Meeting Date:||January 17, 2006||Primary Staff Contact:||Dick Wanderscheid, 552-2061 us|
|Contributing Departments:||Planning||Secondary Staff Contact:||Bill Molnar, 552-2042|
|Estimate Time:||5 minutes|
This is an amendment to the City Land Use Ordinance that changes how Conservation Density bonuses are earned. First reading was approved by the Council on December 6, 2005.
The City's current Land Use Ordinance has a provision which allows a 15% density bonus if conservation measures are installed in the homes. It utilizes a simple table which lists measures and points associated with the measures. A total of 15 points must be earned from the table for each home in a development that received the density bonus increase. Because of changes in current building practices and the lots size of most new developments, it is quite easy for builders to comply with the necessary 15 points from the table.
The City's Conservation staff, whose efforts relied heavily on the regional Super Good Cents Program to advance new residential construction, began searching for a new program to replace the Super Good Cents Program about 3 years ago. We evaluated a number of options and decided to purchase the license rights to the Earth Advantage Program to achieve this task. It had the advantage of focusing on more than just energy efficiency, was fuel blind and was flexible enough to allow builders many more options to meet the program's standards. Presentations were made to both the Ashland City Council and Planning Commission with the details of the Earth Advantage Program, before purchasing and implementing it.
The staff proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would allow a 15% increase in density of 85% of all homes in the development that was to Earth Advantage Standards.
This was presented to the Planning Commission on June 28, 2005 at a study session. The Planning Commission took no action on the item because some Commissioners were concerned about the complexity of the program compared to the simpler table version of the current system. There was also a concern expressed about some of the requirements of the program which seemed to some Commissioners to be outside the scope of resource efficiency.
This issue was again presented to the Planning commission on August 9, 2005 for action. Staff had prepared a memo which attempted to address some of the earlier expressed concerns and Conservation staff spent about 30 minutes answering questions and discussing this issue with the planning commission.
After this discussion, the Planning Commission voted 6-3 to recommend that the City Council amend the ordinance to allow a 15% Conservation Density Bonus if 85% of the homes are constructed to Earth Advantage Standards as recommended by both the Planning and Conservation staffs.
This issue was brought to the Mayor and Council in a study session on October 13, 2005. During the session, 10 points of concern were raised. This is staff's response to these concerns.
The current energy efficient density bonus program achieves no significant benefit to the community.
The proposed Earth Advantage density bonus program and the Electric Utility's Earth Advantage subsidy program are not coordinated or provide duplicate rewards. If this ordinance is adopted there would be duplicate rewards.
Back in the mid 1980's we offered The Super Good Cents Program, a regional new home building program. It was so successful in Ashland that after a couple of years of operation, virtually every new home was built to the SGC standards. It also was so successful in the State of Oregon that the building code was eventually improved to SGC standards. A voluntary standard that is marketed and promoted on various levels, results in improving the quality, durability, and energy efficiency of all homes because building codes generally follow building practice and hence the code was upgraded to recognize this fact.
Developers reap large benefits and home buyers become responsible for conforming to EA measures.
If homes aren't built to EA standards the entire City will be looking at higher wholesale power costs as low cost Federal base electric power supply is used up and the City must buy more expensive power to meet load growth. The homes that are being built today will be consuming power for 70-100 years and we have only one opportunity to build them right as you can never go back and retrofit efficiency measures as well or as cheaply as when a home is initially constructed. New construction is deemed a "lost opportunity resource" because of this fact. That is why all 5 regional power plans that have been developed over the last 20+ years stress the importance of building conservation in new residential construction.
Staff must evaluate, inspect, negotiate corrections, and keep records for each house that participates to ensure compliance.
No one has reliable numbers or estimates of the operating costs and benefits of the density bonus approach.
The combined energy savings of the EA houses is less than the additional energy use of the density bonus house
No one has quantified the cost to the community of building more densely than the comprehensive plan calls for.
What are the effects on the buildable lands inventory and the effect on residential growth rates as a result of the density bonus program?
With respect to effects on residential growth rates it seems that growth is driven more by demand for new housing than by supply. If 15% more homes aren't built because there are no Conservation Density bonuses granted, it seems that additional developments will occur to meet that demand if it exists.
The EA program is owned by an independent nonprofit organization. Is it wise or legal to incorporate policies that the City doesn't control?
At the October Study session, staff was directed to change the amendment to require 100% of the homes be built to Earth Advantage Standards in order to earn the bonus. The attached ordinance that includes this requirement was passed to first reading on December 6, 2005.
The City started the Earth Advantage program in September 2003. Since that time there have been a total of 273 building permits issued for single family homes in Ashland.
During that time, 108 residences have been built under the City's Conservation Density Bonus program. This represents about 39.6%. In addition, 20 homes or about 7.3% have been built or are currently under construction under the Earth Advantage Program.
An EA home with electric heating, according to NW Power Planning Council numbers, will save about 3,860 kWh's annually. Based on the City's current electric rates this home will save the occupants about $280 per year. Over 70 years this amounts to savings of $19,600, assuming no increase in energy costs.
Without additional incentives besides the City's current rebate offering, the percentage of EA homes will probably never exceed 15% for the next few years. This is because builders who make efficiency decisions don't pay energy bills and are not inclined to increase their first costs by $3,000- $4,000 for a $1,000 rebate from the City. Therefore, 85% of all new homes will continue to incur much higher operating costs. If our experience with the current density Bonus program is replicable for EA and we can improve the EA percentage to 40% and an additional 68 homes are built to EA standards, the new owners collectively will save about $19,040 annually or $1,332,800 over 70 years at current rates.
In addition, using Bonneville Environmental Foundation numbers for Greenhouse gas emissions, these savings represent a total annual reduction of 5,404 lbs per home. This means that certification of 68 additional EA homes will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 184 tons. Over their 70 year life this total equals 12,880 tons of CO2.
The City pays an annual licensing fee of $4,200 for use of the trademark and logos, program requirements and technical assistance for the program. In addition, we have incurred $6,000 in program costs for rebates for the six homes certified since the program inception.
|Related City Policies:|
There are a number of City policies in the City's comprehensive plan that is related to this ordinance amendment.
Chapter XI-Energy, Air and Water Conservation - of Ashland's Comprehensive Plan describe the community's philosophy and principles with respect to the conservation of critical natural resources.
The goals associated with Chapter XI-Energy, Air and Water Conservation-are outlined as follows:
In general, policies that effect change through a combination of economic incentives and public education shall be considered more appropriate than policies involving strict legal requirements or mandates.
The City shall give due attention to energy and resource conservation and air quality enhancement in all planning actions and city activities.
Chapter XI of the Comprehensive plan identifies numerous Council policies relative to resource conservation and the establishment of programs and incentives to achieve this goal. These appear to endorse and encourage economic incentives and public education over strict legal mandates. Staff has identified one specific policy that recognizes the benefits of the bonus point code provision. The plan policy not only reflects the past success of such code provision, but also clearly requires that these incentives "be preserved and maintained in future version" of the land use ordinance.
Approve the second reading of the ordinance amending Chapter 18.24, 18.28, and 18.88 of the Ashland Municipal Code.
Planning and Conservation Staff recommend the Council approve the second reading of the attached Ordinance.
Move to approve Second Reading of the attached Ordinance amending Chapter 18.24, 18.28 and 18.88 o the Ashland municipal Code.