Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

January 22, 2003 -12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Laws and Hearn were present. Councilor Morrison was absent. Staff: Community Development Planner Bill Molnar, Marketing Manager Ann Seltzer, Finance Director Lee Tuneberg, and Assistant Planner Brandon Goldman.

I. Presentation by Housing Commission

Introduction of Housing Commission members Kim Wolf, Andy Dungan, Joan Legg, Larry Medinger, Kim Miller, Christine Oswald, Richard Siedman, and Jonathan Uto. Members performed a short educational skit regarding housing. Special thanks were given to Councilors Hartzell and Jackson.

Andy Dungan, Housing Commission Chair, presented the introduction and overall mission. The mission is to "Create a balanced community where we, our children, and our grandchildren can live and thrive." The hope of the commission is to stop the exodus of long-term residents and families with children, and to create a balanced community where all residents can afford to live.

He explained that meeting these needs will require political will, permanent funding, a Housing Coordinator, City policy, partnership, education, and outreach. The recommendations from the Commission are to adopt an Action Plan and Needs Assessment, fund a staff position, allow for a housing budget, establish Housing Trust Fund & preliminary income stream, and a long-term commitment.

He used several charts as examples indicating population growth and annual salary and place of residence for City employees and Southern Oregon University employees. Also included were financially attainable housing in 2001 and housing stock from 1990 and 2000. He indicated that through the years of 1990-2000 only 9% of permits issued were for multi-family, that Ashland builds high-density single family units on multi-family zoned land and that there is a small inventory of multi-family zoned land. A rough estimate of income and affordability in Ashland in 2001 was presented.

A Review of the Action Plan and Needs Analysis was presented along with proposed solutions:

  • Political Will - Council as community architects, commitment and action. Responsibility of government involves impacts on tax deductions, gain on sales, HUD, zoning, Urban Growth Boundary and planning.
  • Funding - Suggestions for permanent funding included tax levies, city bonds and real estate transfer tax. Less permanent funding options include general fund allocation, temporary tax allocations and other grants. Other important sources of funding include Federal funds, tax credits and CDBG, employee/employer programs, public/private financing programs and city land/assets. Funding vehicles were identified as the Housing Trust Fund, ACLT (Land Banking), and partnerships.
  • Land - Identified land as a key part of the solution. Suggestions made included City owned land, air rights over city and other structures, and creative projects.
  • Staffing - A permanent position (Housing Coordinator) with a minimum 5-year commitment, utilize existing staff support for marketing, grant writing/clerical and CDBG.
  • City Policy - "Inclusionary Zoning," is an important tool that is missing. Review recommendations from reports, establish new policies, provide incentives, increase multi-family zoning inventory, change existing zoning an uses, accessory units and lot size standards. Review Urban Growth Boundary as option for the future.
  • Partnerships - Review report recommendations, build partnerships with major employers, nonprofits, banks and real estate industry. Essential elements for partnerships include money and implementation.
  • Education and Outreach - Review report recommendations, public information program through City government and general public and on-going effort by the City, Council and Commission members and Media.

Recommendations were presented as:

  • Adopt Action Plan and Needs Assessment Recommendations.
  • Fund Staff Position by authorizing staff to hire permanent position now.
  • Create a Housing budget for new hire, support and commission.
  • Establish Housing Trust Fund and preliminary income stream.
  • Provide long-term commitment by directing staff to implement the plan and to meet with the Housing Commission on a quarterly basis.

Council/Public comments:

  • We need to care about Affordable Housing.
  • Inability to control who moves to our community or who will benefit from affordable housing projects.
  • Any affordable housing project would be a benefit to all and especially to our community.
  • Find a way to fund a staff position, as it is a key element to the success of this plan.
  • Utilize the Land Trust when considering hiring a Housing Coordinator rather than as a City staff position.
  • Do we have a program to purchase land or housing?
  • Problems associated with our current city ordinance in allowing resale of affordable housing with limited penalties.
  • Importance of placing a staff position within the city as it would allow a broader scope of responsibility and access to essential tools.
  • Need to continue to work toward qualifying for grants.
  • If housing position were created, the mission of this position would need to be quite broad.
  • Basic fundamental questions were raised: 1) Do we want a larger population due to the increased availability of affordable housing? 2) Open Space funding? 3) Transit?
  • Make existing housing more affordable rather than building additional affordable housing.
  • Population growth cannot be controlled. Need to keep in mind that the City's goal was to keep the community together in a smaller area and become a more dense.
  • Discussion regarding population growth and how it affects our community.
  • A Housing Coordinator in Community Development would allow interaction with other City staff and better variety in creating partnerships.
  • Questioned allowing other funding for other projects without seriously considering funding for a housing position.
  • Fair housing issues were raised and legal issues associated with this.
  • Disappointment in regards to the expense related to the Action Plan and the assumptions used.
  • Families are leaving the community due to not being able to afford to live here. Should not try to build our way out of this. Need to find resources, address imbalances, and fund a housing position.
  • Backbone of discussion should include what type of housing is being made available. Not supportive of annexations.
  • The Action Plan is a realizable plan which outlines how all can work together to accomplish the goal. Strongly supports the funding for a housing position.
  • Political Will is extremely important along with funding sources. Web site sources for affordable housing were handed out.
  • Comment that this is not a one-action program. Need to look at Economic Element from the Comprehensive Plan. Affordable housing is becoming a "lightening rod" issue and requires attention with consideration of city policy.

Appreciation was extended to the Housing Commissioner members and the request that recommendations are brought forward to the Council for action. The Council extended basic support for the plan. The Mayor supported making things happen.

Meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Christensen
City Recorder

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