MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
December 3, 2002, 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Laws, Reid, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present. Councilor Hartzell arrived late at 7:05 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of November 19, 2002 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS (None)
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
Councilors Morrison/Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS (None)
Jeff Harpain/2300 Abbott Ave/Spoke regarding the East Village Development and requested that the Council consider an appeal of this development.
Andrew Kuzmitz/710 Roca Street/Spoke regarding light pollution and his concern that it robs us of our joys of the night sky.
Rick Landt/468 Helman/Spoke regarding light pollution and requested that the City change its lighting policy and install alternative light fixtures. He explained that there are fixtures available that would be more cost effective and less disruptive to the night sky.
Robynne Whitaker/361 Scenic/Requested three year funding for Ballet in the Park in the amount of $8,000 per year. She noted that this amount is half of what is needed each year to fund the free Ballet in the Park performances.
Katie Elias/2675 David Lane/Spoke as a Ballet in the Park dancer and commented on the benefit the community realizes through the performances in the park.
Jill Jacobs/639 Vincent Ave, Central Point/ Spoke as a Ballet in the Park dancer and noted the value of the dance to both the community and the dancers.
Kirk Tierney/no address/Spoke regarding his support of the Interfaith Care Community of Ashland (ICCA) and requested that the City consider allowing this organization to utilize Ashland's public utilities at no cost.
Mayor DeBoer briefly explained the process of filing an appeal to the Council and urged Harpain to contact the Planning Department for further information and direction. He also responded that ICCA receives grant monies and explained that the Ballet in the Park can apply for grants through the same process. He noted that the night sky lighting issue would be passed on to the Public Works Department.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (None)
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Presentation by ACCESS, Inc.
Russ Koehler, Resource Development Manager for Access, Inc. presented a general overview of the ACCESS program and the wide range of services rendered to Ashland residents. ACCESS is a non-profit organization staffed by 60 full-time employees and supported by 450 volunteers. He explained that it is not what ACCESS does that is unique, but rather how they do it, noting that 95% of funds are spent on programs. ACCESS programs are fluid and are driven by local needs. ACCESS programs served one in four Jackson County residents in the last year.
It was noted that ACCESS is involved in Affordable Housing Land Trusts, and administers several units in Ashland.
2. Presentation of Housing Action Plan.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin introduced Kurt Webring of Sextant Consultants who spoke about the Housing Action Plan, noting that this is the road map for the efforts of the Housing Commission, the new Housing Program Coordinator, and the Staff.
Webring gave an overview of the plan recommendations, noting the unique conditions in Ashland in terms of affordability, including the low number of homeowners vs. renters, the median purchase price of a house, and the high number of commuters. He explained that the plan proposes specific solutions but the exact mechanisms to accomplish those still need to be worked out in terms of timing, funding, and how they fit into other priorities. He noted that housing prices in Ashland are increasing due to many things, including; low interest rates, persons relocating in Ashland from other parts of the country, and multifamily zoned parcels being used for single family units.
It was pointed out that while the statistics for owners vs. renters might be skewed due to the presence of the University population, the need for affordable housing is not diminished. Also, that in light of housing competition from neighboring communities Ashland needs to be smart in leading developers in such a way that they provide what the market needs and satisfies problem housing needs.
Webring outlined and the Council discussed the Plan's six strategies:
1.) Provide funding for affordable housing.
A.) Have a Housing Coordinator facilitate the process of applying for Housing Development funds from various sources.
B.) Create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Webring suggested that the Housing Commission prepare a specific proposal for such a fund in order to create a corporate shell and then the fund would allocate monies to projects based on a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
C.) Develop long-term continuous funding sources for the Housing Trust Fund. It was noted that a real estate transfer tax could be a source of funds if the present law prohibiting it could be passed by the State Legislature. It was noted that a coalition would have to be built that is stronger than the building coalition that got that law passed to begin with.
D.) Continue and deepen the Housing Commission's Employer's Group which encourages employers to provide assistance to employees when they want to buy housing.
2.) Reduce development and operating costs.
A.) Continue the current system of deferring System Development Charges (SDCs) for affordable housing and establish a limit on the total amount of SDCs to be waived.
B.) Waive other planning, permitting, or other fees and establish a yearly cap on the total amount to be waived.
3.) Adopt Land Use regulations promoting affordable housing.
A.) Identify and zone additional land for multi-family use. Identify a target site with the potential for multi-story mixed use development. Webring noted that the State has a new vertical housing tax exemption law and that there may be some downtown properties that could be useful for this.
B.) Limit or restrict single-family units in multi-family zones. It was noted that the City could control the rental vs. sale of apartment units by adopting legislation precluding the units being converted to townhouses or condominiums. Reid commented that some of the most affordable housing units in Ashland are townhouses and condominiums. McLaughlin clarified that there have essentially been no apartments built in Ashland in the last 5 years so there is no long-term balance in rentals. He noted that the reason is complex but in the terms of rentals Ashland has higher costs yet must compete in a regional market. He noted that the idea of small cottages as a supplement to standard apartment houses is a balance we want to look at in rental opportunities.
C.) Allow accessory dwelling units as a permitted use. Currently the City allows this as a conditional use. Webring recommended changing to an outright permitted use or relaxing some of the setback and lot coverage requirements.
D.) Allow for or require a certain percentage of development on small lots within new subdivisions.
4.) Preserve existing affordable housing and create new affordable housing.
A.) Work with various non-profits that have experience in developing new and preserving existing affordable housing.
B.) Promote long-term affordability by requiring that housing remain affordable for a period of 60 years if it has received fee deferments or waivers.
5.) Develop organizational capacity for affordable housing.
A.) Create a full-time long-term Housing Coordinator Position to bring together all function directly related to affordable housing.
B.) Develop working relationships with housing organizations.
C.) Continue the Ashland Housing Commission, including holding annual housing conferences.
6.) Build understanding and support for affordable housing.
A.) Develop a public information program for affordable housing that explains the needs and build support among the general public as well as community leaders.
B.) Prepare an annual Affordable Housing Report describing progress towards goals and document what is going on.
C.) Hold annual Affordable Housing Conferences for local organizations and individuals concerned with Ashland's affordable housing issues.
Webring commented that this is a set of recommendations that the Council is being asked to accept and see as a framework for the affordable housing work that will be done.
McLaughlin clarified that acceptance by the Council gives the Housing Commission, the Housing Coordinator, and the Council itself flexibility in amending the Plan as need for adjustments arise. He explained that he sees the Plan more as a road map, and that it is not an update of the Housing element of the Comp Plan, but a direction that we are trying to go.
Hearn hoped that the Housing Coordinator could work with employers on the affordable housing issue. Webring agreed that this makes sense.
It was commented that the Plan seems like a shotgun approach and wondered how it would make a difference. McLaughlin clarified that the Housing Coordinator position is a different approach than was taken in the past. He stated that now is the time to take another step and that step can be as big a step as we want to take or as small a step as we want to fund. He noted that we have a lot of years of effort into making Ashland a very desirable community, that demand to live here will continue to go up, and that the strategies in the Plan will try to balance that.
Jackson expressed concern that Ashland is losing numbers of school age children and noted the importance of retaining that age bracket for the livability of the town. She favored acceptance of the Housing Action Plan.
Laws pointed out that Ashland is at a disadvantage because obtaining low-cost housing is an enormously expensive proposition. He noted that while many would like to see Ashland as a self-sustaining unit, we live in a comparatively small "metro" area and people will continue to want to live on larger lots. He commented that the key in the Action Plan is the position of the Housing Coordinator and noted that the problem will be to find the money to fund the position. It was clarified that the Housing Commission and Staff had met to discuss funding possibilities.
Hearn commented that he repeatedly hears that Ashland is in danger of losing its charm due to issues with affordable housing, traffic, and too many people. He noted that the question is how to maintain the charm and atmosphere of the town while encouraging economic diversity and providing places for service members of the community to live.
Diana Shavey/694 Oak Knoll/Housing professional and former member of the Housing Commission, read aloud portions of the 1990 Housing Plan noting similarities between it and the current 2002 Plan. She challenged the Council to have the courage and the wisdom to do what will make sure that in the year 2014 we don't get another report that says the same thing.
Jennifer Henderson/321 Clay #8/Member of Jackson County Housing Coalition voiced support of the Action Plan and the Housing Commission's efforts. She feels the Plan is a beginning and urged the Council to support the Housing Trust Fund.
Rich Rohde/124 Ohio/Spoke on behalf of Oregon Action in support of the Housing Action Plan, noting that it is a critical step because it identifies workable solutions.
William Barchet/961 B Street/Real estate broker and past Vice President of Habitat for Humanity in the Rogue Valley, spoke in support of the Action Plan and urged the Council to consider strategic partnerships with the private sector.
Fred Caruso/102 Garfield #15/Spoke in support of creating affordable housing and commented that the people using the affordable housing would do so in order to live in Ashland, not to commute to Medford.
It was noted that the Housing Commission would continue to present other strategies and recommendations to help the Council refine and target the Action Plan in order to address housing needs.
Councilors Hartzell/Reid m/s to accept the Affordable Housing Action Plan. DISCUSSION: Morrison expressed hope that this Plan is not an end, but a beginning that could be added to. Hearn hoped that the Housing Coordinator would be a visionary, with creative approaches to making this happen. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
3. Update on BPA Electric Rates.
Electric & Telecommunications Director Dick Wanderscheid explained that at this time BPA has decided not to trigger the Safety Net Cost Recovery Adjustment Clause (SNCRAC), but to wait until more information on water supply and power prices are available. The SNCRAC is triggered when BPA feels they have less than a fifty-percent chance of making a treasury payment. BPA will reconsider the issue in January 2003. A decision to trigger the SNCRAC in January would probably result in an additional wholesale rate increase to the City in October 2003 and there is no need to increase our electric rates until July 2003, if at all. He explained that a retail rate increase usually translates into 40% to 60% of the wholesale rate increase.
Wanderscheid noted that BPA has been able to cut their costs by $350 million and the best we can hope for now is a lot of snow and higher surplus power prices.
4. Library Intergovernmental Agreement with Jackson County.
City Attorney Paul Nolte explained that this is a 50-year agreement with Jackson County for the operation, maintenance, and repair of the Ashland branch of the Jackson County Library. It would provide that the County will operate the library, will maintain the building both interior and exterior, provide for its utilities, and maintain casualty and liability insurance for the building. The City remains responsible for the grounds, parking areas, and the sidewalks. He noted that the contract does not require the City to carry insurance but the City is insured for those areas we are liable for on this property.
The termination clause of the agreement was questioned. Nolte clarified that the County must give 15 days notice of termination but that the City would know before then that the County was having problems operating the Ashland branch. Also, if the County fails to budget funds for operations they could get out of the agreement.
Councilors Reid/Hartzell m/s to approve Library Intergovernmental Agreement with Jackson County. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Declaring the Canvass of the Vote of the Election Held in and for the City of Ashland, Oregon, on November 5, 2002, and Mayoral Proclamation."
Councilors Morrison/Hartzell m/s to approve Resolution #2002-33. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Reid, Hartzell, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn, YES. Motion passed.
Councilors Morrison/Hartzell m/s to adopt Mayoral Proclamation. Roll Call Vote: Hearn, Morrison, Jackson, Hartzell, Reid and Laws, YES. Motion passed.
Mayor DeBoer read aloud the Proclamation.
2. First reading of "An Ordinance Repealing Chapter 18.114 of the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Regulatory Taking Claims (Ballot Measure 7-2000 Amendment to Article I, Section 18, Oregon Constitution)."
Nolte read aloud the Ordinance in full.
Councilors Hartzell/Morrison m/s to approve first reading and place on agenda for second reading of ordinance. Roll Call Vote: Jackson, Reid, Hartzell, Hearn, Morrison and Laws, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS
Reid noted that the next Council meeting would be the last she would attend as a Council member but that she might not be able to attend due to a court case in San Francisco. DeBoer asked that if she is not able to attend would she attend the first meeting in January. Reid agreed.
Nolte noted that the court case in question was the Mark Cooper litigation against the City and that he and the City Administrator, Brian Almquist, might also be absent from the next Council meeting.
DeBoer reminded Council of the Study Session at noon on December 4, with topics to include the update regarding Forest Interface Wildfire Fuels Reduction and an update on the development of the Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.