Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December 6, 2005
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Hardesty, Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson and Chapman were present. Councilor Silbiger was absent.
The minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of November 15, 2005 were approved as presented.
1. Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees.
2. Confirmation of Mayor's appointment of Dee Anne Everson to the Budget Committee for a term to expire December 31, 2006.
Mayor Morrison pulled Consent Agenda Item #2. Council will vote on this item at their next meeting.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda Item #1. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Public hearing and first reading by title only of "An Ordinance Amending Chapters 18.24, 18.28, and 18.88 of the Ashland Municipal Code - Land Use Ordinance, Regarding Conservation Density Bonus Point Calculations for Residential Development".
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid noted that Council discussed this issue at their October 13, 2005 Study Session and explained that the proposed ordinance would replace the currently out of date table used to award density bonuses. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that the proposed ordinance has changed since it was last discussed by Council and now includes the requirement that 100% of the homes need to be built to the Earth Advantage Standards in order to receive the density bonus. It was noted that both the Planning Commission and Conservation Commission reviewed the ordinance and recommended adoption by the Council.

Mr. Wanderscheid explained the Council's options, which are: 1) Do nothing, which leaves the current bonus option in place, 2) Amend the ordinance to require that a 15% conservation bonus can be achieved by constructing all of the homes to the Earth Advantage Standards, or 3) Amend the ordinance to eliminate the earning of any density bonuses.

Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder proposed a minor change to the ordinance to include language that states the Earth Advantage Program will be adopted by resolution. Mayor Morrison requested that Staff bring forward this resolution at the time this ordinance is adopted.

Public Hearing Opened: 7:11 p.m.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road/Stated that he and two other Planning Commissioners have previously voiced their concerns with the implementation of the Earth Advantage Program and claimed that Staff has not offered a response to the points they raised. Mr. Stromberg suggested that Council: 1) Table the motion, 2) Direct Staff to respond to their concerns, 3) Ask Staff to look for alternatives, and 4) Eliminate the existing program.

Steve Vincent/870 Forest Glen Drive, Central Point/Stated that is a member of the Earth Advantage Board and explained that they are moving forward with the program and have hired a new executive director. He noted that he represents Southern Oregon and voiced his support of the City's effort to adopt the Earth Advantage Program.

Public Hearing Closed: 7:16 p.m.

Mr. Wanderscheid stated that taking no action would continue to reward builders with increased density without requiring very much of them. He noted that at the Study Session the Council raised the need to look at the whole issue of density, infill, and all of the options for granting density bonuses. Mr. Wanderscheid suggested that the Council move forward with this ordinance in the interim, and stated that they could amend this ordinance if needed after they have had the more in depth discussion.

It was questioned if the City could require all new houses to be built to the Earth Advantage Standards. Mr. Reeder clarified that there is a Uniform Building Code for Oregon and the State Statute does not permit the City to go beyond this code. Mr. Wanderscheid commented that if the Earth Advantage Program is successful in Ashland and throughout Oregon, hopefully in the next few years, the Oregon Building Code will be elevated and all homes will be built to these standards.

Mr. Wanderscheid provided a brief explanation of the program incentives. He stated that whoever builds the house receives a $1,000 cash rebate and a 15% increase in density if all of the homes in the development are built to the Earth Advantage Standards. He stated that he would be hesitant to remove the cash rebate, as it would eliminate the only incentive for individuals building on a single lot. Mr. Wanderscheid clarified that the City's conservation programs have a budget of $200,000. To date, there have been twelve homes certified with this program, so it has cost the City $12,000 in the past year and a half.

Mr. Wanderscheid clarified that he did offer a response to the concerns raised by the three Planning Commissioners. He explained that the entire region benefits when houses are built to the Earth Advantage Standards because less power is needed and the City has an immediate savings on whole power cost. He noted the upcoming changes with Bonneville Power in 2011 when each utility will be responsible to meet the load growth. Mr. Wanderscheid stated that if the City can ensure that its housing stock is as efficient as possible, it will save the City money on wholesale power costs in the future.

Councilor Hardesty/Hartzell m/s to amend the ordinance to eliminate the earning of any density bonus for conservation housing until the broader issue of infill has had a more thorough review by the Planning Commission and the Council. DISCUSSION: Support was voiced for repealing the current density bonus program, however several councilors disagreed that the Earth Advantage Program should be tabled until the more thorough discussion is complete. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty and Hartzell, YES. Councilor Amarotico, Chapman and Jackson, NO. Motion fails 3-2.

Assistant City Attorney Mike Reeder read the ordinance by title and read aloud the amendments.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve first reading of the ordinance and place on agenda for second reading. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty and Hartzell, NO. Councilor Chapman, Amarotico and Jackson, YES. Motion passed 3-2.

Art Bullock/791 Glendower/Spoke regarding concerns he has in regards to Local Improvement Districts.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi clarified that the Council is scheduled to discuss the City's LID process on April 13, 2006. In the interim, Staff has decided to not bring any LIDs forward for Council action until they have had this discussion.

Pam Vavra/2800 Dead Indian Memorial Road/Spoke regarding Instant Runoff Voting.

1. Passport Services
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained that a new law established by the Intelligence Reform Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, requires that by January 2008, all travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will need to have a passport to enter or re-enter the United States. Currently, the closest passport agency to Ashland is the Medford Post Office and the second closest is located in Klamath Falls. Ms. Christensen explained that she applied for, and the Recorder's Office has received certification as a Passport Acceptance Agency. She would like to offer this service to the community one day a week beginning January 2006 and requested Council's approval.

Councilor Chapman/Amarotico m/s to approve the implementation of Passport Services. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Adoption of Findings for Planning Action 2005-01050 regarding 720 and 730 Liberty Street.
Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated that Council approved the Land Partition and Physical Constraints Review Permit for this Planning Action at their October 18, 2005 meeting. Before the Council are the Findings of that decision, which were prepared by Staff with oversight by the Legal Department. Mr. Molnar noted the time sensitivity of this matter and recommended that Council adopt the Findings as presented.

Mr. Molnar provided a brief explanation of the intent of the flag drive screening and stated that Staff typically works with the applicant to determine where the screening should occur in order to restrict headlights. A correction was noted on Condition #25, which should read "...the full length shall be graded to 12 feet in width...".

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to approve Findings for Planning Action 2005-01050. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Termination of Agreement No. 86-01502 between the City and Our Lady of the Mountain Catholic Church requiring public improvements.
City Administrator Gino Grimaldi presented the Staff report and clarified that this request involves only one lot.

Councilor Jackson/Amarotico m/s to authorize the Mayor to execute the Quitclaim Deed releasing the City's interest in Agreement No. 86-01502 from the property described as Lot 4, Block 2 of the Peachey Estates Subdivision. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Second reading by title only of "An Ordinance Granting a Franchise to Avista".
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg stated that Staff worked with the representative from Avista and the ordinance satisfies the changes requested by the Council, including assurances of insurance coverage, notification if the coverage changes, and request for annual reports.

Mr. Reeder noted a correction to Sections 1 and 14, which should state the term of the contract will begin January 1st, 2006.

Steve Vincent/PO Box 1709, Medford/Representing Avista Utilities. Mr. Vincent was available for Council questions and clarified that he could mail information or meet with Councilor Chapman regarding incentives for gas supported hot water systems.

Mr. Reeder read aloud the amendments to the ordinance.

Councilor Hartzell/Jackson m/s to approve Ordinance #2922. Roll Call Vote: Councilors Jackson, Amarotico, Chapman, Hardesty and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

4. Motion for Authorization to Negotiate Extending the Parking Enforcement Contract and Revising Hargadine Parking Structure Operations.
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg stated that he is in the process of finalizing an RFP for a bid, but the process will not be done until April 2006. Staff is requesting authorization to extend the contract with Diamond Parking to June 30, 2006, which will allow time to go through the RFP process and start service July 1, 2006. Staff is also requesting authorization to make minor adjustments to the Hargadine Structure, including needed repairs and upgrades.

Councilor Amarotico/Hartzell m/s to authorize Staff to extend the contract for downtown and Hargadine parking enforcement with Diamond Parking to June 30, 2006; to make minor adjustments as needed including those mentioned in staff report and to proceed with a formal bid for services beginning no later than July 1, 2006. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

3. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Establishing Cable Television and Internet Rates for the Ashland Fiber Network, Readopting All Other Rates Without Change and Repealing Resolution No. 2004-40".
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg stated that the proposed resolution replaces Resolution 2005-37, which was approved by the Council in September, and corrects the omissions in the orginal documentation. Mr. Tuneberg requested that Council approve the resolution as presented.

Catherine Shaw/886 Oak Street/Expressed her disappointment that the electric utility surcharge for AFN was being abandoned and hopes that it will be put in place next year. Ms. Shaw stated that there are many in the community who feel that a $7.50 charge per month is a reasonable amount to pay for community-owned data services and stated that AFN is an important tool for the community. She compared the AFN surcharge to the street maintenance charge and questioned how these two differed. Ms. Shaw expressed her support of AFN and stated that the community deserves to have this type of infrastructure in place.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve Resolution #2005-44. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hartzell, Jackson, Chapman, Hardesty, and Amarotico, YES. Motion passed.

4. Reading by title only of "A Resolution to Repeal Resolution 2005-40 Amending the Implementation of the Ashland Fiber Network Surcharge on Electric Accounts".
Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained that in September the Council approved a surcharge of $7.50 to be applied to electric accounts, which was later delayed for implementation and Staff was directed to look into options for assisting low income families with this charge. Mr. Tuneberg explained that Staff determined it would be very difficult to go beyond the City's existing assistance programs and also noted the difficultly of implementing the surcharge for addresses with multiple meters. He explained that the budget contains a $500,000 subsidy for AFN and Staff is proposing that Council repeal the surcharge for this year and utilize this money. He stated that the subsidy would not cover all of AFN's financial obligations for the year and noted the options listed in the Staff memo.

Mr. Tuneberg provided a brief explanation of AFN's debt service. He stated that $800,000 was paid last July, $432,000 will be due in January, and another $400,000 will be due by July 15th, 2006. He clarified that the $500,000 subsidy would go towards the January 2006 payment.

Ron Roth/6950 Old Hwy 99S/Stated that the electric utility surcharge would not cover what is owed by AFN and suggested that a portion of Oak Knoll Golf Course be sold to payoff AFN's debt. He stated that a portion could be sold to developers to build market rate hosuing and the rest could be kept in public ownership for the possible construction of affordable housing.

Sheri Bowland/165 ½ VanNess/Does not believe that the City should have gotten into the cable business and does not feel that charging a surcharge to the electricity users is fair. Ms. Bowland noted that she had attempted to file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission and stated that she should not have to pay for something she does not use. She suggested that the Council consider selling City assets or determining some other method that would not place a further burden on residents.

James Bowland/165 ½ VanNess/Stated that the users of AFN should be the ones supporting it, and the City should not go after the electric users to subsidize AFN. Mr. Bowland voiced his support for using the money set aside to make the January debt payment and then looking into options for meeting the July payment. He also voiced his support for the idea of selling City assets to meet the total debt obligation.

Ann Marie Hutson/550 Oak Knoll/Stated that she is not opposed to AFN, but is opposed to how it happened. Ms. Hutson stated that the citizens are upset because the City essentially took out a loan in their name without their permission. She stated that she does not agree with how AFN was put into the Utility Department and stated that in order to do this it should have gone before the voters. With regard to the debt options, she stated that the City should take some accountability and make some sacrifices on their part.

It was noted that the Council would be making a decision on the future of AFN at an upcoming meeting. Support was voiced for approving Staff's recommendation to meet the January debt payment with the $500,000 subsidy set aside in the budget while continuing to look at their options for meeting future payments. Comment was made that a surcharge should not be set until they have established what form AFN will take and how the debt will be structured.

Councilor Chapman/Hartzell m/s to accept Staff's recommendation to use the budgeted $500,000 to make the January payment; have Finance continue to look at options for making the debt payments; and to adopt Resolution #2005-45. DISCUSSION: Comment was made that this is just sidestepping the issue and they will still have a debt to pay after the decision regarding the future of AFN has been made. It was clarified that the motion only addresses the debt payment due next month and will allow Council to make a decision regarding the remainder of the debt after the future of AFN has been decided. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Hardesty, Chapman, Hartzell, Amarotico and Jackson, YES. Motion passed.

5. Request for Council to Accept the Downtown Selection Committee's Recommendation to Award Preparation of the Downtown Plan-Phase 1.
Interim Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented the Staff report on the acceptance of the Downtown Plan - Phase 1. He noted that the 2005/06 Council Goals identifies the revision of the Downtown Plan, which will be a two-phase process. Phase 1 involves defining the process and creating a work program for the production of a revised Downtown Plan; Phase 2 will involve contracting a consultant to perform the task of implementing the work program and ultimately producing a document to be used as the City's Downtown Plan. Mr. Molnar stated that the Planning Department received four proposals after sending out an RFQ, and the Downtown Selection Committee was then formed and conducted interviews. He stated that the Selection Committee unanimously recommended the firm of Crandall Arambula PC be contracted to conduct Phase 1 on the Downtown Plan. It was noted that there is $15,000 in the budget for Phase 1, however no funding has been identified for Phase 2 and this will need to be discussed as the City moves toward the 2006/07 budget process.

Mr. Molnar clarified how Phase 1 would be approached and noted that this information was provided to the Council in their packet materials. He also clarified that the kick-off meeting would be held in January and they hope to have a product by March or April.

Planning Commissioner John Fields explained that they would like to bring forward a proposal to Council at the same time a new Planning Director is coming on board. He commented on how the Council will be gradually involved in the process and that Phase 1 will end with a presentation to the Council and them making a decision. Mr. Fields stated that during Phase 1: 1) The Selection Committee will help Crandall Arambula to understand which groups in the community it is important to reach out to and involve in the process, 2) Local resources will be used as much as possible in the planning process, 3) The issue of scope will be discussed, and 4) the Committee will talk to councilors informally or come to Council Meetings to provide regular updates.

It was clarified that the economic market analysis would not be part of Phase. It was also clarified that the Committee did talk with the consultant about them helping to identify funding for Phase 2.

Request was made for including a few more people in the workshop to make sure they are getting the needed breadth and depth. The Committee noted that they would be holding a public session before moving towards a final product.

Mr. Molnar explained why it is important to move ahead with this process and to not delay until a new director is in place. He noted that in the past few years Staff has been faced with some important projects in the downtown area that have brought up issues not dealt with before. He stated that the 1988 Downtown Plan was a good plan; however, they need to determine the appropriate land use for the remaining parcels in the downtown area. Mr. Molnar commented on the timing of this process and stated that the revised plan would be a helpful tool for Staff.

Suggestion was made for a member of the downtown business community to be added to the Selection Committee.

Councilor Jackson/Hardesty m/s to contract with Crandall Arambula PC for planning services involving the preparation of Ashland's Downtown Plan - Phase 1. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to extend meeting until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

2. Second reading of "An Ordinance Amending the Ashland Municipal Code Relating to Adoption of the 2004 Oregon Fire Code".
Fire Marshall Margueritte Hickman noted the amendments to the ordinance and Mr. Reeder read them aloud. It was noted these were housekeeping changes and were not policy related.

Councilor Amarotico/Jackson m/s to approve Ordinance #2921. Roll Call Vote: Councilors Amarotico, Hardesty, Chapman, Jackson, and Hartzell, YES. Motion passed.

5. Reading by title only of "A Resolution Amending Resolution 1993-39 to Include Homeowner Association or Maintenance Fees In Any Affordability Calculations".
Housing Program Specialist Brandon Goldman presented the Staff report. He explained that the Housing Commission was in the process of reviewing the SDC Deferral Program and making recommendations to the Council on restructuring the methodology used to determine affordable purchase and rental process and establishing a period of required affordability. During this process it was discovered that the current maximum rental and purchase prices under Resolution 1993-39 could allow a occupant household to be assessed an additional Homeowners Association Fee. The proposed amendment to the resolution would eliminate this possibility.

Mr. Goldman noted a correction to the proposed resolution, Section 2.21 should read "The purchaser of the unit designated for affordable housing shall not be assessed any home-owners association or maintenance fees in addition to the maximum purchase price".

Councilor Hartzell/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2005-46 as amended. Roll Call Vote: Councilors Chapman, Jackson, Hartzell, Amarotico and Hardesty, YES. Motion passed.

Councilor Jackson commented on the presentation made to LCDC by the Regional Problem Solving Policy Committee.

Councilor Hartzell noted that the Housing Commission held an employer assisted housing workshop and noted that Josephine and Jackson County would he hosting a workshop on February 21, 2006.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:11 p.m.

Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John W. Morrison, Mayor

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