Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Joint SS - Now x2

Tuesday, October 28, 2003




Greater Bear Creek Valley Regional Problem Solving "Now x2"

Call to Order Meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

Council: Alex Amarotico, Don Laws, Kate Jackson, Chris Hearn, Cate Hartzell
Staff: John McLaughlin, Gary Collord
Planning: Russ Chapman, Colin Swales, Raymond Kistler, Cameron Hanson, Marilyn Briggs, David Dotterrer, Michael Morris
Housing: Joan Legg, Jonathan Uto, Larry Medinger, Andy Dungan

1. Review and Recommendation of Potential Growth Areas
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained they are gathered to discuss the Now x2 Program, and to consider what the valley will look like with double the population and how Ashland will accommodate the growth.

Councilor Jackson noted the goal is to accommodate the population growth, but this program was initially created with the serious intent of preserving farmland.

John McLaughlin explained Ashland currently has constraints, including not wanting to expand across the freeway or into the hillside for environmental concerns. He also noted that Ashland and Talent are only a few hundred yards apart and they are not planning on expanding out towards Immigrant Lake.

With this in mind, there are two small areas that they are looking at. The first is AD1: approximately 90 acres located south of Siskiyou Blvd, between Tollman Road and Crowson Road. And the second is AD2: approximately 96 acres located along the south side of East Main Street. There have also been the three other areas proposed by residents, including the Young Property and the Mountain Meadows Property.

At the last meeting, they had put forth 2 options. Option 1 recommended the inclusion of one or more of the potential growth areas outlined, and Option 2 recommended that no potential growth areas be adopted at the present time. Option was 2 was chosen after a split straw vote.

McLaughlin explained AD1 would be more difficult to build multi-family housing, due to the slopes, but noted it is close to schools and the Bi-mart and Albertson shopping centers. The flatness of AD2 would provide a great opportunity, and the proximity to services makes it a likely candidate. However if AD2 was built up, the present views of the agricultural land and Mt. Grizzly could be affected.

David Dotterrer asked if AD2 was chosen, would East Main need to be widened to accommodate? McLaughlin replied No.

McLaughlin explained the North Mountain areas have constraints that would make it difficult to develop and the closeness to services has been a concern. Also, there is a component of how people view Ashland from the freeway, which could be hampered by this development.

Another option is 400 acres adjacent to the city limits next to the airport. This is located on the other side of the freeway, and does not have access to city streets or services and is not recommended.

McLaughlin explained the next step is for this item to go to the City Council for final consideration, and that they are holding this second Study Session to give the Housing Commission and others the opportunity to voice their comments.

McLaughlin stated they are looking at the long-term changes (20-50 years from now), including how will the valley look, and where the growth should take place.

Councilor Hearn asked how the traffic plan related to this project. McLaughlin stated that road improvements will need to be made, including signals, but they will most likely not need to widen the streets.

Councilor Jackson noted that the increase of traffic on East Main has been partially impacted by the construction on Siskiyou Blvd.

David Dotterrer, Planning Commission, asked how many people would be accommodated by each of the two proposed sites. McLaughlin responded AD1 could create 450 potential single family homes, while the AD2 area could provide more multi-family housing which would allow for more people. AD2 could also allow for neighborhood commercial zoning.

Colin Swales, Planning Commission, expressed his concern that they not only need to look at affordable housing, but also look at the Economic Development Plan to ensure that Ashland can provide decent wage jobs.

Larry Medinger, Housing Commission, stated the problem is that the young professionals cannot afford to live in Ashland, and agrees that wages should be raised. Medinger stated they could only counteract this problem by following the action plan and work on some of the great ideas brought forth, like the program that works with the 5 largest employers. Medinger also stated that they need to look at what types of housing these people would be interested in. Some of the young professionals are seeking a house with a yard and the City needs to make sure this type of property is provided. Medinger asked how binding the Now x2 plan was. McLaughlin clarified that there will be a process to update the plan over the years.

Councilor Hartzell asked what the impacts would be of closing this issue until the next review cycle came about. McLaughlin clarified that the regional plan does give flexibility, and could be revised after about 5 years. McLaughlin noted some of the other areas on the valley will have a higher increase, but the goal is to have Ashland share in the responsibility for the growth and housing issue.

Andy Dungan, Housing Commission, stated he felt the attitude of looking to other cities to accommodate their growth needs in irresponsible and morally inappropriate. He expressed his concern about Ashland becoming even more exclusive and stated the lower end housing problem can only be solved by rentals, and wants to have this in the discussion.

Ali Turiel, Jackson County Planning Manager, informed the council and commissioner of an unpublished study that was done with White City. The results of which showed that people were not moving to White City to be closer to their work and community, but rather citizens were commuting further, and living in White City for its reasonable house prices.

Juli DiChiro, School Superintendent, stated the young families in Ashland are declining, and would like to see good family housing provided. She stated about 90% of the Ashland school teachers are living in Ashland, but that they are also in their 50s. The schools have not been able to hire any new teacher due to the drop in enrolling children, but will be able to hire again once some of the current teachers start to retire. DiChiro also stated that the City needs good family wage job housing, not the low level affordable housing. She also noted that police officers, firemen, doctors, etc., cannot afford to live here, and that it affects the quality of life when the people you depend on are not able to be residents.

McLaughlin clarified that the project at hand is long term, and way down the road. If the council wants to address the city's current affordable housing problems, that is a completely different issue.

Councilor Hartzell asked if the City would be able to control how the land was developed in terms of affordability. McLaughlin stated they would not be able to state a specific percentage that needs to be affordable housing. Dungan explained that they could not apply it towards for sale housing, but they could for rentals, which is not against OR Statutes.

Public Comment
Eric Navickas / 711 Faith Ave. /
Stated increased growth would result in a greater water use, worse traffic, and a decrease of aesthetic value as a tourist town. He stated the City has not yet developed fully within the present UGB, and would like to see that done before they look outward. Navickas noted the Railroad District as a good area to increase residential and affordable housing, and expressed his disappointment that they were putting so much focus on the Willow Wind Property.

Iraj Ostovar / 389 E. Hersey St. / Stated he was representing the David Young Property off of East Nevada, and feels this would be a good opportunity for the City. He noted a portion of the property is already part of the City, and the capacity for the traffic is already there. He stated this use could be expedited and used within the next 3-5 years, of they could wait and use it 20+ years from now.

Gary Collord / Housing Specialist / Stated this is a tough situation. They could address affordable housing by adding rentals and multi-family properties, but that is not typically the first choice for families. Collord stated the City needs to work on the land use development policies for incentives to developers for building low income housing, and that the City will fail if they do not take the appropriate land use steps.

Jonathan Uto, Housing Commission, stated he is frustrated because the people who are making these decisions don't represent him or his peer group. Uto expressed the value of being able to live, work, and send your children to school in the same neighborhood. Uto would like the Council to give this younger group of citizens the option and to not close the door on the issue.

Councilor Laws stated they all agree that they need lower cost housing in Ashland, want more children, and would like for the people who work in Ashland to live in Ashland. But also stated he does not think that has to do with Now x2. Laws believes they have areas now that can be used to address these issues, and feels they will have a much better idea of what should be done with the UGB after the 5 years has passed.

Marilyn Briggs, Planning Commission, asked if Collord would be able to provide a packet that lists the tools that are at their disposal, as well as what works in other communities that might be applied here. Briggs stated there maybe something that they could start right now, and if they know they will be able to accomplish their goal, everyone will be able to relax.

Andy Dungan, Housing Commission, stated the problem is putting all the tools in the same box, and then making the commitment to do something. Dungan stated they need to work with the community and work together with the use of the land use laws. He also expressed this is mainly about keeping their options open and stressed the need to keep flexibility.

David Dotterrer, Planning Commission, agreed, stating this is in no way committing themselves and does not think they should cut if off right now.

Russ Chapman, Planning Commission, disagrees, and stated they should stay within the UGB and develop it to its full potential, which will take at least 5 years. At the end of those 5 years, they will still have the chance to revisit this issue. He also noted the City can not sprawl its way into affordable housing.

Councilor Amarotico agrees with Chapman. Expressing he thought this project was about what Ashland would look like in 50 years.

Jonathan Uto, Housing Commission, asked what the danger was of creating the option. Noting they would still have to go through the process if they decided to act.

Councilor Hearn stated a potential problem is that things like this tend to gather momentum.

Councilor Laws stated he did not want to give the property owners the false impression that they would be able to develop their land and make money.

McLaughlin stated the main intention of this meeting was to get advice from the Council and to hear eveyones concerns.

Colin Swales, Planning Commission, stated he has not heard anything tonight that is different, and does not feel that the majority vote from the previous meeting has changed.

Councilor Hartzell stated there have been a number of options that have been put on the table, and feels there could be value in taking this back to the commissions. However, she suggests giving them the same options to choose from.

Andy Dungan, Housing Commission, stated he would like to have this joint meeting again to discuss specifically affordable housing.

McLaughlin stated this was scheduled to go the council at the next meeting, but it can be delayed if they wanted to take it to vote at the commission meetings first.

Adjourn: 9:09 PM

Respectfully Submitted,
April Lucas, Asst. to City Recorder

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