Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, January 07, 2003


January 7, 2003 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:10 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

City Recorder Barbara Christensen administered the Oath of Office to City Councilors Alex Amarotico, Kate Jackson, and Chris Hearn for terms to expire December 31, 2006, and Parks Commissioners Rich Rosenthal and Mike Gardiner for terms to expire December 31, 2006.

Councilor Amarotico, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn were present. Councilor Laws and Hartzell were absent.

Mayor DeBoer delivered the Official State of Ashland Address.

The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of December 17, 2002 and Executive Session minutes of December 14, 2002 were approved as presented. Mayor DeBoer clarified that on page 3 of the minutes for the December 19th meeting, there was only one vote because he interpreted the second motion as being an amendment to the original motion made by the originators of the motion.

The City of Ashland's Finance Department was presented the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the current fiscal year from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).


1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointments of the following to the Public Arts Commission:

· Bruce Bayard, Sharon Dvora and Richard Benson for terms to expire April 30, 2006;

· Kip Todd and Inger Jorgensen for terms to expire April 30, 2005; and,

· Arnold Kriger and Ron Demele for terms to expire April 30, 2004.

3. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of David Dotterrer to the Planning Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2005.
4. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Carol Carlson to the Conservation Commission for a term to expire April 30, 2003.

Councilors Morrison/Hearn m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public Hearing regarding Vacating Three Unopened Alleys between Hersey Street, Helman Street and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad and a Portion of the East West Alley between Laurel and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad.

Engineering Services Manager Jim Olsen noted that these are alleys that were dedicated as part of the original town in 1888. When the Parson's Pine factory was built in the 1940's the buildings were built in the alleys and the alleys had never been opened. At this time, the owners would like to reduce the encumbrance of those alleys. They have provided petitions, filing fees, and application for vacation of the alleys. The City has not received any written objections to these vacations. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the vacation of the alleys.


Michelle Rudd/Of Stoel Rives, Representing Meridian Park Medical Foundation/Clarified that in 1940's the existing building was built in such a way that it encroached upon both alleys, so today this shows up as an encumbrance on the title report. The alleys have never been open and don't serve as access ways. She expressed appreciation for Staff and Commission support.

Colin Swales/461 Allison Street/Expressed reservations concerning the vacation of these alleys. He noted that they are City-owned property owned by the public and it is valuable. He suggested that a trade-off could be made when that parcel is developed in the future, allowing a pedestrian and cyclist right-of-way along the Railroad right-of-way.


City Attorney Paul Nolte clarified that these are public right-of-way easements, and the City doesn't actually own any property there. Olsen explained that the small (35' x 25') triangular lot is City owned but too small for use as a building lot and that Joe Garfas has expressed interest in purchasing it. The right-of-way is only for access and could not be used for other purposes. At this time none of the alleys are operable. It was clarified that making a pedestrian/cyclist right-of-way in this location would not get the City anywhere.

Councilors Hearn/Morrison m/s to excuse Amarotico from voting on this issue as he served on the Planning Commission when application was presented. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilors Hearn/Jackson m/s to vacate these alleys including the one that crosses the Garfas property based on the recommendation of Staff. Discussion: It was clarified that the City does not have the flexibility to do a trade-off, but can only vacate or not vacate the alleys. Nolte noted that the ordinance must be voted on. Motion was withdrawn.

First reading of "An Ordinance Vacating Three Unopened Alleys between Hersey Street, Helman Street and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad and a portion of the East West Alley between Laurel and the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad."

Councilors Hearn/Jackson m/s to approve first reading and move forward to second reading of Ordinance. Roll Call Vote: Jackson, Morrison and Hearn, YES. Councilor Amarotico was excused from voting. Motion passed.

2. Public Hearing on Appeal of Planning Action 2002-106, 916 East Main Street.

Mayor DeBoer announced the procedure for a Land Use Hearing.

Councilors Hearn/Jackson m/s to excuse Amarotico from voting on this issue as he served on the Planning Commission and voted on this issue. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.



  • Jackson noted her conversation with Councilor Hartzell concerning this issue.

  • Hearn, as Council Liaison, watched the Public Hearing on television, and noted Hartzell's testimony as an opponent to the application.

  • DeBoer disclosed that the applicant is his former brother-in-law.

Associate Planner Maria Harris, using an over-head map presentation, explained that this was a proposal requiring site review approval, tree permit approval, and a variance to reduce the distance between buildings. She outlined criteria for the variance and approvals noting that the basis for the Planning Commission denial was the variance.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin noted that it was Staff's recommendation to separate the buildings to follow a more historic pattern. The Planning Commission disagreed and found there was not enough evidence to support the finding for a variance. It was clarified that if the building were one large building it would meet all criteria and would be a permitted use on the property.

Harris announced that a model of the proposed buildings was available for viewing at the meeting.

Tom Giordano, agent for the applicant, spoke to the issue of the distance between the buildings. He noted that the building did not have to be one large mass and could meet criteria by having an attachment between the buildings. He felt that while this would meet ordinance requirements, it would not be as good a project as the one proposed in terms of fitting into the historic district. A number of neighborhood meetings were held and the neighbors requested three units rather than four. He felt this was an ideal way to provide in-fill for the community.

Robert Owens/67 ½ Alida/Noted that he accesses his residence via the alleyway abutting the property in question. He spoke in favor of project and supported additional units on this project. He felt that density is important close to the downtown area.

Mark Tveskov/72 Dewey St/Voiced his opposition to the project and commented that he had been unaware of any neighborhood meetings until two nights ago. He noted that this area already serves as affordable housing, and that the project will increase traffic, create additional parking problems, exacerbate an already crowded area, and that the circumstances requiring the variance are 100% self-imposed.

Becky Martin/52 Morton St/Read aloud a letter from Joan Langley who expressed concern over the negative impact the project would have on the neighborhood. She did not believe criteria for a variance had been met, and noted the difference between "affordable housing," and "livable affordable housing." She urged the Council to uphold the Planning Commission's decision.

Charlotte Horning/46 Alida/Read aloud a letter from Cate Hartzell who expressed concern over significant livability and safety issues in regard to the front yard setbacks. She noted that the need for the variance is self-imposed and that the design appears to impose more negative impacts than benefits to the neighborhood.

Jim Martin/52 Morton St/Spoke in opposition to the project citing traffic, pedestrian safety, and parking problems. He urged the Council to support the Planning Commission's decision.

Ken Frires/92 Dewey/Spoke of his emotional upset over the demolition of the old house on the project's lot and the potential approval of the new development. He expressed concern over traffic and parking problems. He felt that the developers are ruining the neighborhood under the guise of affordable housing.

Peter Cotten/76 Dewey/Spoke on behalf of Michael Ganio and presented a scale model of the project to illustrate problems he sees with the project. He cited problems with scale, density, traffic, livability, fire safety, and parking.

Colin Swales/461 Allison/Spoke in opposition to the demolition of the existing house noting that it was part of the historic district, having been built prior to 1907.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith/Voiced opposition to the demolition of the existing house and deplored community leaders' lack of respect for historic buildings.

Jerry Quast/431 Parkside/Spoke in support of the Planning Commission's denial of the project and of the process that led to that denial. He explained that thought and logic went into the decision and urged the Council to uphold the purpose and meaning of the Planning Commission and to deny the project as they did. He suggested a compromise by moving from 4 units to 3 and from 3 structures to 2.


McLaughlin responded to the issues raised:

1.) Self-imposition. Regards the initial circumstance-did they create the circumstance that requires the variance. In this case the argument is that the unusual circumstance is the character of this historic neighborhood.

2.) Density Bonuses. Regarding density bonuses, the language is mandatory -if they provide an affordable unit in compliance with City requirements for affordability, density shall be increased. There is no discretion.

3.) Setbacks. Staff's opinion is that the exception to the front yard setback applies independent of whether that setback is 20 feet or 25 feet wherever it is measured. The front yard set back has a general exception that allows averaging using adjoining properties. General exceptions governs and allows using the adjoining properties to set the average. The purpose of this is to balance the streetscape.

4.) Parking. The City has a specific standing Ordinance of 1.75 spaces per two-bedroom unit. No variance is requested and the application meets all parking standards and requirements. There is difficulty in saying that they must provide more than the Ordinance requires when the adjoining properties are responsible for the problem. On-street parking is an existing issue that should be addressed but not be the burden of someone coming in. If they were asking for a parking variance, then Council would have a basis to look at that situation.

5.) Fire Access. The Fire Department reviewed this project and is okay with the design as presented. Primary access points will be from main streets. Alleys are rarely used.

6.) Demolition. Demolition is not a criterion used in review of this, however our Building Official reviewed it and when he inspected the house he fell through the floor. Further, he saw structural difficulties, felt it was an unsafe building and okayed its removal. There is nothing out of line with this in any manner whatsoever.

The Council discussed the issue and wondered if paving the alley could be a requirement of approval. McLaughlin confirmed that the Council could impose that condition if they found that paving the remainder of the alley is needed in order to accommodate the additional traffic generated by the project. It was suggested that if there is concern about how development is occurring, then the place to start is with changing Ordinances. Also, some current problems with parking could be handled through code enforcement. It was noted that the Traffic Safety Commission does not typically review planning actions.

Hearn questioned if standards would be met if the applicant wanted all 4 units in one big building. McLaughlin confirmed that this was so. The flexibility of the Building Code was noted in that by just adding a breezeway between two of the buildings, those two would be considered one building.

Tom Giordano commented that Staff had covered all the issues of the project and suggested that the Council listen to what they said as they are the City's professional planners and are in touch with the goals and policies of the community. He was dismayed that this project has been called a sub-standard project as he felt the project has scale, quality, architectural flair, and affordability. He suggested that more trees could be planted in the nine-foot park row in order to provide buffering from the street. He noted that the project was approved by the Historic Commission and incorporates some of their suggestions. Also that the Planning Commission vote was a split vote.


Jackson noted that the decision is regarding the variance as all other criteria have been met. The other issues are issues that must be dealt with on a broader basis. Morrison commented that regardless of whether the Council upholds the Planning Commission decision or not, the project will still probably happen.

Hearn agreed and commented that it is his job, even it he is unpopular when he does it, to say, "have we met these narrow criteria for a variance," knowing that one of the things we are supposed to balance is the need for affordable housing. He noted that some of the strongest advocates of affordable housing suddenly become opponents of affordable housing when the units are proposed in their neighborhoods. He felt that taking a stand on affordable housing is not always easy and that proposal meets the letter and spirit of the variance request for the reasons set forth in the Staff report. Further, he noted that the applicant was following Staff direction in coming up with this proposal.

Councilors Hearn/Jackson m/s to approve appeal and reverse decision of Planning Commission. DISCUSSION: Jackson agreed that the choice is tough, and that Council must listen to Staff analysis and rely on individual Commissions to give advice to the Planning Commission. She felt the project meets the intent of the Code, including the variance for distance between buildings. Roll Call Vote: Jackson, Hearn, YES; Morrison, NO. Motion passed 2-1.

Marilee Jenkinson/1102 Holton, Talent/Spoke concerning the plight of the homeless and noted homeless services provided by other communities in other States and Countries. She hoped that Ashland would further support the homeless in Ashland.

Daniel Ruff/144 N Second/Challenged the forty-seven churches in the area to help with problem of homelessness in Ashland. He opposed the City's camping ordinance as being against the Constitution.

Kirk Tierney/no address/Advocated for rights for the homeless and read aloud from the Bible.

Rich Borthwick/315 Pine St, Phoenix/Spoke regarding the drumming ordinance noting his belief that it is too restrictive. He spoke in support of being homeless.

Russ Silbiger/562 Ray Lane/Spoke regarding Economic and Cultural Development Grants, noting that by Ordinance, 60% of funds are pre-allocated to the Chamber, 28% to OSF which left only 12% for the rest of the City's applicants. He explained that he had proposed an alternative plan, which had considerable support, to the full budget committee. He reminded Council that there the budget season is approaching and asked that this issue be placed on an upcoming agenda.

Fred Caruso/102 Garfield #15/Advocated for persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and spoke against building pollution. He favored development of a certification, as an addition to Ashland's building code, for building "safe" buildings constructed with less toxic materials.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/Spoke regarding Ski Ashland and comments made by the Mayor in a letter to the Daily Tidings supporting expansion. He noted that historically, financial failure is due to drought, especially in consecutive drought years. He expressed concerns with the costs of failure to taxpayers and the environmental impacts of expansion.

1. Communications Services Subscription-Agreement with City of Medford for 911 Services.

City Administrator Brian Almquist recommended that this issue be postponed until the next meeting of the City Council. The Council agreed.

Russ Silbiger/562 Ray Lane/Questioned how Medford could take a loss of potentially $500,000 and still provide the same service to Ashland for the same money. He encouraged the two competing organizations to stop their turf war, do something that will work for the entire County, and stop playing games with citizen tax money.

DeBoer agreed that there is a turf war going on and that Ashland is in the middle of it. He noted that there was some risk to the City in postponing this issue but thought it was not critical. Morrison noted Council practice of deferring issues if interested Council members could not be present for them until a later time.

1. Election of Citizens' Budget Committee Member (1).

It was noted that applicants included Stephan Hauck, Allen Douma, Brent Thompson, and Jacquie Christensen.

Councilors Morrison/Jackson m/s to appoint Jacquie Christensen to the Citizen's Budget Committee. Discussion: It was noted that Ms. Christensen has training in budget analysis and would bring a fresh point of view to the committee. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Council Election of Chair to City Council.

Councilors Jackson/Hearn m/s to nominate John Morrison as Council Chair for 2003.

Councilor Morrison motioned to nominate Cate Hartzell as Council Chair. Motion died due to lack of second. Voice Vote to appoint John Morrison as Council Chair for 2003, all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Mayor's appointments of Council liaisons to various boards and commissions.

It noted that there was Council concurrence on the reshuffling of liaison appointments and that none were leaving current assignments because they were unhappy there, but for opportunity to work with a broader range of commissions and commissioners and gain wider experience.

4. Council authorization to dispose of surplus property valued in excess of $10,000.

Councilors Morrison/Jackson m/s to authorize the Purchasing Agent to declare as surplus and dispose of a 1997 Melroe Bobcat loader. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.


Mayor DeBoer reminded all that the Boy Scouts are picking up trees this Saturday.

Morrison reminded the Council of the upcoming Goal Setting Session and to get requests in by this Friday.

It was noted that the City Recorder's office, by request, supplies new Council member, Alex Amarotico, the Council Packet in electronic form. He runs this packet from his laptop computer. It was commented that sometime in the future we might see all Council members with something like this and it might be an investment of the City. City Recorder Barbara Christensen commented that her office has the ability to do this now.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:50

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