Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

November 4, 2003 - 7:00 p.m.
Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

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

The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of October 21, and Executive Session Minutes of October 21 were approved as presented.

Mayor's Proclamation of November 8 - 15, 2003 as "Recycling Awareness Week" was read aloud by Councilor Jackson.

1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions and Committees.
2. Termination of a Public Utility Easement located in the Skycrest Hills Phase II Subdivision.

Councilor Hartzell requested that item #2 be pulled for a question.

Councilor Hartzell / Jackson m/s to approve Consent Agenda #1. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

Councilor Hartzell asked if the City was moving to abandon this easement because there are no water rights that could flow through this water easement.

Public Works Director Paula Brown stated the City does not use these pipelines anymore.

Councilor Hearn asked if these are active lines. Brown stated the water lines are empty.

Councilor Hartzell / Morrison m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #2. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

1. Public Hearing on the Modification of the 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 Annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plans for reallocation of unexpended CDBG funds.
Assistant Planner Brandon Goldman explained this is for the reallocation of past action plans for Community Development Block Grants. On September 10th, the Housing Commission reviewed the proposal to take all previously unexpended funds, and roll them into the 2004 RFP process to receive proposals for an affordable housing project. Goldman noted the 2001 activity shown on the attached chart was for the acquisition of property by the ACLT, which is still being proposed for acquisition of the Hersey Street sites. Additionally, RVCDC received awards in 2002 & 2003 and the City Council has previously decided to allow RVCDC to retain those funds for the acquisition of the Siskiyou property. The remainder of the funds, namely accessibility projects and previously owned program funds, would be rolled into the 2004 award. Ultimately, this would address the concerns regarding Ashland's expenditure of funds. By pulling these funds into this years allocation, the City should be able to expend an appropriate amount of money to fall underneath the 1.5x the cap on their yearly allocation, and avoid any sanctions by HUD. Staff recommends approval of the modification of the prior years CDBG Action Plans in accordance with Table 1.

Public Hearing Open: 7:10 p.m.

Public Hearing Closed: 7:10 p.m.

Councilor Hartzell / Amarotico m/s to approve staff recommendation. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

2. Public Hearing on Grant Award for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Affordable Housing Project Proposal for Program 2004.
Assistant Planner Brandon Goldman explained for the program year 2004, the City anticipates receiving a CDBG award in an amount similar to what was received last year, and have combined that with the funds identified for reallocation through the modification of the past action plan. The cumulative total of approximately $285,000 is available for the selected sub-recipients for use in developing affordable housing. Proposals have been received from ACLT and RVCDC. ACLT proposes to purchase an existing duplex at 264 Grant Street, and operate it as affordable housing. RVCDC's proposal involves the acquisition of the rear portion of the property located at 631 Clay Street for the development of 16 townhouse units to be developed in conjunction with the USDA Self-Help Program. The Housing Commission has reviewed both proposals and is recommending that the Council award the funds to the ACLT project on Grant Street. Staff supports the recommendation of the Housing Commission, but would like to set the conditions that both units address low income, as opposed to low-moderate income.

Councilor Hartzell stated after reviewing the minutes from the Housing Commission, it was clear that there was a split vote, and asked what had tipped the scale towards ACLT. Goldman stated the readiness to proceed on the part of RVCDC, and the necessity to spend money in a timely manner played a part in their decision.

Councilor Hartzell asked if it was a possibility to have a grant that would allow CDBG funds to go towards the land separately, and then finance the housing on top of the land over time. Goldman stated it was a possibility, but would raise the question as to whether ACLT could gain the financing for the housing units. The Housing Commission has also raised this question, and ACLT indicated that they might not be able to complete the project if they had a lesser subsidy than the amount they are requesting.

Councilor Laws asked if ACLT had reached an agreement with the property owners. Goldman stated ACLT has indicated that they do have an option agreement to purchase the property. Goldman explained it is his understanding that the property was going to be sold on the open market, when the property owner approached ACLT and asked if they would be interested in purchasing the property.

Jennifer Henderson/321 Clay Street/Representing ACLT/ Stated this was a simple, basic deal. ACLT would be able to save two units, and keep them at a low rental rate, while protecting the CDBG funds.

Merry Hart/200 Mt. Castle Drive, Eagle Point/Representing ACLT/ Stated they had prepared a proposed budget to calculate whether this property would be able to afford a debt. Hart noted there are two different incomes coming into this property, and at this point the amount of income that is being received versus the expenses are not sufficient to be able to afford a debt.

Ron Demele/165 Crocker/ Representing Rogue Valley Community Development Corporation/ Summarized his project as an "impact project", explaining it would provide a lot of affordable housing at a reasonable cost to the city. The $285,000 would allow them to create 16 townhouses, 7 of which would be at the 50% area median income. Demele spoke regarding the unit subsidy, and also explained that if the owner of the townhouse decided to sell, the City would be paid back $10,000 per unit, which could re-finance future projects. If awarded, none of the funds would go to RVCDC; all of the money would go towards land acquisition. Demele stated they have a willing seller, and have the ability to close 6 months to a year from now. He also explained that this project would be the second portion of the Self-Help program that RVCDC is doing, the first being the Siskiyou property. RVCDC has held public meetings for those interested in the Self-Help project, and 30 people have attended, the vast majority of which had families. Demele explained how this project could make a significant impact on the City's desire to have families who work in Ashland, live in Ashland as well. Demele explained the only item that may cause a problem is that the zoning for this site is not correct to do this project, and would need to be re-zoned. However, they are fairly certain this zoning change would be granted.

Councilor Hearn asked when selecting the families for this project, does the criteria include selecting families that work in Ashland? Demele explained they have to abide to the Fair Housing Criteria, but would encourage people in Ashland to participate.

Councilor Hartzell asked if they could preference families? Demele explained they could target the scope of the project, for example very large families or a single individual might not be attracted to a three-bedroom townhouse.

Councilor Hartzell asked what was the average time for the house to be built. Demele answered 8 months to a year.

Councilor Amarotico asked what was the driving force behind the 20-year restriction? Demele explained the driving force was to assist low-income families, and they do not want the owner to turn around and immediately sell the property for profit. After 20 years, the accrued equity (minus the $10,000) would belong to the property owner.

Public Hearing Open: 7:48 p.m.

Public Hearing Closed: 7:48 p.m.

Councilor Hartzell asked Staff if they anticipated a problem with rezoning for the RVCDC project.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin stated it would be dependent on the information provided and whether it is a beneficial design for the community. McLaughlin explained the previous application for re-zoning did not have a lot of neighbor concerns, so it is possible that the re-zoning would go through pretty smoothly, given the community values for affordable housing.

Councilor Morrison noted the previous agenda item, which required the Council to modify the previous funds allocated and action plans, and asked which of the two proposals seemed to have the same conditions that caused these problems.

McLaughlin stated the RVCDC proposal clearly has more steps that need to be taken, which takes time and there is uncertainty in each of the steps. The ACLT proposal has a willing seller and buyer, and is more prepared to go without running into issues.

Councilor Hartzell talked about the possibility of proceeding with both projects in conjunction with the allocation of the Strawberry Lane property assets. She also spoke about bringing this back to the council after they have had time to meet with both groups to work on a win-win situation for both.

Goldman stated that they are up against a timeline, and the action plan needs to be prepared by November 15th. Otherwise, an extension would need to be requested, which would only add to the concerns of HUD.

Councilor Jackson stated both are good projects, however they do need to make decisions, and would prefer to follow Staff's recommendations.

Councilor Laws stated that under the circumstances, he would prefer to choose the proposal that is assured to go through.

Mayor DeBoer stated they are walking a "fine line" with HUD, and does not want to have to ask them for an extension. He also expressed his support for the Housing Commission vote and the Staff's recommendations.

Councilor Morrison / Laws m/s to accept Housing Commission recommendation and award full amount to ACLT. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hartzell asked staff what RVCDC's timeframe was for securing the second round of the Self-Help program. Staff stated they do not know when that deadline is. Voice Vote: Laws, Amarotico, Jackson, Morrison and Hearn, YES; Hartzell, NO. Motion Passed.

David Young/348 S. Modoc, Medford/
Young is the owner of a 5 acre parcel at North Mountain and Nevada, and is proposing donating 2 1/2 acres to the City for the use of affordable housing, as well as insure that the development would be done by a non-profit agency. Young explained the remainder of the acreage would remain under his ownership, and would be zoned as the City deemed appropriate.

Iraj Ostovar/389 E. Hersey/ Stated he was there to answer any questions the Council may have regarding the Young property.

Daniel Rueff/no address/ Stated he was saddened by the war in Iraq, and requested that the Council show opposition to the war and for the impeachment of President Bush.

1. Status Report on 2003-2004 Council Goals and Suggested Timeline and process for 2004-2005 Goal Setting.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated this was the appropriate time for the Council to ask questions regarding the updates, and noted there has been a significant amount of activity by both the Council and City Staff that were not part of the goals.

Councilor Morrison pointed out the need to hire a new Housing Program Specialist, and asked when that would be completed.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin clarified the advertising for this position will start next week, and will be done on a much smaller scale than for the previous hire. He also stated they have looked at the previous applicants, and will be calling some back for another interview along with the new applicants.

Councilor Hartzell asked when the Riparian Ordinance would be developed. McLaughlin explained the inventory is the first step, but that they may be able to complete this prior to the timeline provided, and will know more after the November 20th meeting with the consultant.

The Council decided on the 9th and 10th of January to work on goal setting.

Councilor Hartzell asked why the activity for continued efforts for aggressive water conservation practices had been crossed out. City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated these efforts are mainly targeted during the summer months and that the summer water season is over. Paula Brown clarified that it is only crossed out because they are doing it, and continuing to put effort towards the water conservation program.

1. Ashland Housing Commission Request to allocate Strawberry Lane Property as an Asset of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained the Housing Commission has asked that the Council move forward with the signing of the Strawberry Lane property as an asset of the Housing Trust Fund, and direct staff to see that this happens.

Councilor Laws asked if Staff has talked about this idea, and asked if there are any needs that should be considered along with this proposal.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi stated they have not had a lengthy discussion, however they are dealing with a one time source of money, and would want to avoid using this for ongoing programs. He also stated it is appropriate to use this for a one time expenditure, such as the Housing Program.

Mayor DeBoer explained that the prior City Administrator, Brian Almquist purchased a large piece of land at the top of Strawberry Lane to install a water storage tank as part of the City's water delivery system. Included in this purchase was some land that he felt could be sold at a later date. They have since completed the installation of curbs and gutters at the Strawberry and Westwood intersection. There are now 3 or 4 highly desirable lots that could be worth $300,000 or $400,000 per lot that the City has clear title to. The discussion is now where the proceeds from this land would go. DeBoer suggested that some of the funds go towards removing the Grove, which would put the funds back into the CDBG process they just completed. He also suggested not to commit themselves to a project until the property has been sold.

Councilor Jackson stated she supported the idea of using the funds as seed money for the Affordable Housing Trust.

Councilor Hartzell asked how many parcels are they dealing with, 3 or 4, and questioned the urgency. McLaughlin explained that 4 parcels would require a sub-division, and a more lengthy process; while 3 parcels could be done rather quickly as a partition. McLaughlin further clarified there are 4 potential lots on the land.

Mayor DeBoer stated he would prefer to sell two lots, wait a year, and then sell the other two lots.

Councilor Hearn advocated allowing other stake holders to come forward and make a proposal for the use of the funds. Hearn also stated that if they went through the sub-division process and maximized the number of lots to four, it would take longer, but it would also maximize the profit.

Councilor Laws suggested putting all of the funds into "one pot", stating it was enough money to do something with when its all together, but might not be if it starts to get divided up for different projects. Laws also asked Staff how long the sub-division would take. McLaughlin responded 3 to 4 months, however they may run into problems and have to do a two step process of partitions in order to create the four lots. Laws further commented that he feels that the housing "bubble" is going to burst, and there is a good chance that the housing prices will level off or go lower, and supports moving quickly on this matter.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith/ Stated he does not support selling the Strawberry Lane property or allowing high income development, but rather supports open space. Navickas proposes contributing the city owned land to the Ashland Land Trust or to RVCDC as a better way produce affordable housing.

Rich Rohde/124 Ohio/ Stated he strongly supports the dedication of the Strawberry Lane property to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Rohde explained that obtaining a dedicated source of revenue for the Trust Fund is key to obtaining affordable housing in our community.

Jennifer Henderson/321 Clay/ Stated she supports dedicating the Strawberry Lane property to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Henderson does not feel that the lots would be suitable for low-income, affordable housing as Navickas suggested. She also expressed this is an opportunity to allocate funds to affordable housing and to give the City the chance to be available to reach out towards matching grants that are available.

Councilor Hartzell / Morrison m/s to request that Staff assess the options of the scenarios and include a timeline in order to understand the trade-offs. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hearn stated this is a good time to move forward now that the LID has been completed. Councilor Laws expressed his concern that they leave the option to use the funds for the Grove open.

Councilor Jackson / Amarotico m/s to amend the motion to dedicate the proceeds from the lands for affordable housing, including the option for using it as CDBG funding. DISCUSSION: Councilor Hearn expressed his concern over stifling public opinion, and does not see the benefit of dedicating the funds right now instead of waiting 4 or 5 months until the partitions are completed. Councilor Jackson stated passing this now would portray the Council's commitment to getting the Housing Action Plan implemented. Councilor Morrison stated this was two issues, and thinks that they should be handled separately. Morrison explained he is very open to the possibility of using this funding for affordable housing, but feels it is premature to dedicate the funds at this time. Voice Vote: Laws, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson and Hearn, YES; Morrison, NO. Motion passed.

Vote on original motion: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Request from Allan Frank Sandler to Purchase Air Space above Hargadine Parking Structure for 20-unit Affordable Housing Project.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that the Hargadine Parking Structure was constructed in a way that allowed for future development of additional levels to be added. McLaughlin also noted that the Housing Action Plan has a policy that the City should consider looking at its parking lots as opportunities for affordable housing. Since the parking structure has been completed, RVCDC has had some preliminary ideas for housing on top of the structure, and now the Council has received a formal request from Mr. Sandler. Mr. Sandler is requesting to purchase the air space above the parking structure for the development of 20 affordable housing units, utilizing tax credits as a way to finance. Mr. Sandler is also proposing that a deed restriction be placed on the property guaranteeing the units remain affordable for 60 years. McLaughlin stated that this proposal is in the very preliminary stages and Staff is seeking direction as to how to proceed.

Staff has put forward 5 options for the Council to consider:
1) proceed with exclusive negotiations with Mr. Sandler
2) prepare a Request for Proposals to allow other developers to submit ideas
3) refer the request to the Housing Commission
4) evaluate all of the City parking lots, not just Hargadine
5) maintain the parking structure as is, and not entertain any requests from developers.

Councilor Hearn asked if this would conflict with the Big Box ordinance. McLaughlin responded, No. Under the ordinance, the parking structure is allowed an additional 15,000 sq. ft.

Mayor DeBoer noted that the City has an agreement with OSF. McLaughlin clarified that OSF has the right to submit a proposal for equal consideration, within six months of being informed of a potential development over the parking structure.

Allen Sandler/1260 Prospect/ Explained that his affordable housing would be for individuals with 60% median income, for all 20 units. Sandler stated it was imperative that the City maintains the diversity that has made it so great, noting the need to keep the younger citizens in Ashland in order to balance the influx of older retired persons. Sandler stated that this would not infringe on the big box ordinance, and stated he will be working with Debra Price of the Oregon Housing and Community Services in Southern Oregon, who is very excited about his opportunity.

Sandler explained the deal points for the Council:
1) he would purchase the air space over the parking area based upon an appraised value for its intended use
2) the property would be deed restricted for 60 years for the intended use, and be recorded in the official records
3) the primary use and administration would be governed by the rules as stipulated by the State and Federal guidelines relating to affordable housing.

Sandler suggests turning this request over to the Housing Commission and the City Staff to continue to work with him. He would then come back to the Council with all of the input to finalize the agreement, and follow the standard process with the Planning Dept. and Commission.

Councilor Hartzell asked if he would be interested in leasing the air space instead of purchasing. Sandler stated he would be open to that discussion, but feels that it probably wouldn't work that well and would be too complicated.

Councilor Jackson asked if he has had any experience with an air right purchase. Sandler stated his attorneys have had experience with these types of issues.

Eric Navickas/711 Faith Avenue/ Feels that this property should be donated to the ACLT or the RVCDC. He finds it difficult to image housing being built on top of a parking garage, but if they did move forward suggested making more studio apartments. Navickas also noted that gable roofs, as shown in the drawings, are prohibited in the detail site review standards for the downtown area. Navickas suggested moving towards a more urban type design with a large courtyard, and move away from the domestic type housing units.

Mr. Sandler stated they did have one studio apartment in their plan, and relayed the square footage for the other rentals, stating you really wouldn't want to live in anything much smaller. He also noted that they do have courtyards and open areas in their plan.

Councilor Hartzell voiced her appreciation for this type of project, and recommended that the Council considers a number of factors, including: consideration of assets that would trigger OSF's participation, maximum square footage, parking spaces for the tenants, energy consumption, leasing vs. selling, perpetuity, and the number of units.

Councilor Amarotico stated he supported this type of project, but questioned why the City wouldn't do this project itself. Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator, stated it was a matter of money.

Mayor DeBoer stated he was concerned with what would happen after the 60 years was up.

Councilor Morrison stated he was not prepared to say no tonight, but he did want to have further discussions on this proposal.

Councilor Jackson stated it was a nice proposal, but supports further exploration. Jackson explained she is not sure the questions that are being asked are questions that the Housing Commission would be able to answer, and feels the legal issues would need to be explored.

Councilor Laws stated he likes the idea of putting out RFPs and asking anyone who in interested to participate. Laws also stated that he would not want to sell any of the City's property without going through a competitive process.

Councilor Hartzell / Morrison m/s to direct staff to work with the Housing Commission to define alternatives for processes and standards, and policy related decisions for developing parking lots downtown for affordable housing.

Councilor Amarotico/Hartzell motion to extend meeting to 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

Councilor Laws stated he feels the Council is making this much more complicated that it is. They have ordinances, guidelines, and standards for the downtown housing, and does not see how housing over a garage is any different than housing over any other downtown building. Laws stated he would like to see Staff make suggestions to the Housing Commission, and then have it come back to the Council.

Councilor Jackson stated what they are lacking are guidelines for how to proceed with this type of use of public space.

Mayor DeBoer stated he had a lot of questions, but supports moving forward with Sandler's proposal.

Councilor Hearn stated that his preference would be to go along with Option 3.

Voice Vote: Hartzell, Morrison, YES; Laws, Amarotico, Jackson and Hearn, NO. Motion failed 2-4.

Councilor Hearn / Amarotico m/s to approve Option 3: Refer the request of Mr. Sandler to the Housing Commission with specific direction form the Council, and request that the Housing Commission provide a recommendation on Mr. Sandler's request, or perhaps recommendation on the potential RFP process. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

3. Adoption of an Anti-Displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan.
Assistant City Planner Brandon Goldman explained the adoption of an anti-displacement and relocation plan is two-fold. One part is the anti-displacement. If the affordable housing unit is demolished or converted into non-affordable with the use of CDBG funds, the City is responsible to indicate where the replacement affordable housing unit will be. The second component has to do with the relocation assistance. The City currently complies with the URA and this codifies those requirements to meet the requirement by HUD to have a relocation assistance plan on hand. Goldman noted there is one change that needs to be made to the draft plan, explaining Staff recommends that item 3.3 on the last page be stricken in its entirety. Goldman stated that Staff recommends the approval of the Plan with the noted correction.

Councilor Morrison / Jackson m/s to approve adoption of an Anti-Displacement and Relocation Assistance Plan. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion Passed.

4. Economic Development Strategy and Reallocation of Transient Occupancy Test.
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained staff is recommending that a subcommittee of the Council be formed to discuss and recommend options regarding the allocation of the Transient Occupancy Tax, and present final recommendations to the full City Council for consideration and adoption.

Councilor Jackson, Hartzell, and Hearn volunteered to be members of the subcommittee.

1. First reading of "An Ordinance Amending Ashland Municipal Code Section 2.04.040 by Revising Rules of the City Council with respect to Public Hearings and First Reading of an Ordinance Pertaining to the Public Hearing."

Councilor Jackson / Morrison m/s to approve first reading of ordinance and move to second reading. Roll Call Vote: Amarotico, Hearn, Laws, Morrison, Hartzell and Jackson, YES. Motion Passed.

2. Reading by title only of "A Resolution amending Resolution No. 2002-22 entitled 'A Resolution Amending the Pay Schedule for Management and Confidential Employees for Fiscal Year 2002-2003' by amending the Pay Schedule for the Municipal Judge and City Recorder."

Councilor Morrison / Amarotico m/s to approve Resolution #2003-34. Roll Call Vote: Laws, Jackson, Amarotico, Morrison, Hartzell and Hearn, YES. Motion Passed.

3. Reading by title only of "A Resolution amending Resolution No. 2003-24 entitled 'A Resolution Amending the Pay Schedule for Management and Confidential Employees for Fiscal Year 2003-2004' by amending the Pay Schedule for the Municipal Judge and City Recorder."

Councilor Laws / Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2003-35. Roll Call Vote: Morrison, Hartzell, Laws, Hearn, Jackson, and Amarotico, YES. Motion Passed.

Councilor Hearn stated he had heard that John McLaughlin wanted to add a council member to Master Trails Committee, and volunteered to be considered as the liaison to that committee. McLaughlin clarified that the Parks Commission had made the request for a council member on the Master Trails Committee.

Mayor DeBoer appoint Council Hearn to the Master Trails Committee.

Councilor Amarotico stated they should respond to David Young's proposal. Council discussed analyzing his proposal with the Now x2 project.

Mayor DeBoer noted the open house for the Police Chief Recruitment, at the Plaza Inn & Suites, Thursday at 5:30, and stated the public was welcome to attend.

Mayor DeBoer noted there is a Study Session tomorrow at noon.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

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