MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
January 19, 1999
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 6:09 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, and Fine were present. Staff present included City Administrator Mike Freeman, Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, City Attorney Paul Nolte, Administrative Services Director Dick Wanderscheid, Director of Community Development John McLaughlin, Director of Electrical Utilities Pete Lovrovich, Public Works Director Paula Brown, Director of Finance Jill Turner, Fire Chief Keith Woodley, Police Captain Mel Clements, and Telecommunications & Marketing Manager Ann Seltzer.
City Administrator Mike Freeman briefly explained what he hoped to accomplish with this meeting. First, he explained that there would be a discussion of elements (the overarching topical areas within the Cityís Comprehensive Plan), with the intent that the basis of the strategic planning process could be formulated by looking at these existing elements and by identifying those areas that are not addressed in the existing eleven elements of the Comprehensive Plan. Second, during the regular meeting he noted that there would be a public hearing to take community input to be used in the strategic planning process.
Freeman also stated that the study session scheduled for Friday, January 22nd, would deal with the surveys of board and commission members, and with formulating the agenda for the upcoming strategic planning workshop. He noted that Director of Finance Jill Turner would also be giving a brief presentation on the budget process. This would then build into the Council and staff workshop on January 29-30, where the focus would be on identifying values, crafting a vision statement, and fleshing out the elements, and from there working to determine short, middle and long term goals for the City. Explained that there were two handouts before the Council tonight, one titled "Strategic Plan Elements" and "Strategic Planning Ď99 Ashland Comp. Plan."
To frame the discussion, Freeman stated that an element is a general goal statement describing a goal area and it then becomes more specific by laying out goals and policies to achieve the goal. His hope is to define goals further, so that each can be defined in terms of a fiscal year perspective, feasibility, and prioritization. Went on to note that there is a hierarchy in the handout information, with a community values statement and a vision statement leading to a strategic plan with various elements.
At Councilor Fineís request, Freeman discussed the limit of the planning horizon. Freeman explained that the planning period shown has an upper limit of "10+ years." He suggested that while it is sometimes difficult to plan much beyond ten years, the "10+" was intended to look at 10 years and beyond, and was in no way meant to restrict planning.
Director of Community Development John McLaughlin explained that the handout he had prepared was to provide the Council with a quick refresher of what elements are currently included in the Comprehensive Plan. Stated that the Comprehensive Plan addresses eleven areas to address statewide planning goal requirements, and the handout includes goal statement from each element. Policies are listed for each goal, and the Cityís Land Use Ordinance implements the policies in reaching the goals. Suggested that this is a beginning for setting a vision of the community.
Briefly listed the elements and the goals of each one, and emphasized that this was merely a quick overview.
Councilor Laws stated that he saw a need to look at specific policies for these goals. Councilor Reid pointed out that many items are already in ordinance and resolution form, and the Council should not spend time trying to reinvent them. Freeman explained the strategic planning process recognized the work that has already been done, and is so doing saves a great deal of time. The Councilís time will be spent on those items that have not already been covered.
Councilor Fine expressed concern that some of the elements are older and should not be relied on as they may be out of date. The elements dealing with housing, environmental resources and economic development were identified as older. Councilor Laws agreed that there may be a need to update some elements, but felt that it did not need to be done in the strategic planning process. Council discussion of the Comprehensive Plan, noting that the Council cannot contradict what is in the plan. Fine noted that goals might be set to update specific elements of the plan. Freeman stated that a large portion of the upcoming workshop on Saturday, January 30, will involve looking at all elements and seeing that they are relevant, integrated with other documents and plans, and reflective of the Councilís expectations.
Mayor Shaw noted that the environmental resources section is dated, and problems repeatedly arise because of this. Stated that there could be clearer guidelines, and that this should be updated very soon.
Councilor Hauck stated that there should be elements added to encompass telecommunications, human/social services, and fiscal issues. Shaw suggested that telecommunication could possibly be included under economic development; Hauck indicated that he felt it should be a separate element.
Freeman suggested that this was a good time for all members to begin looking at the gaps they see in the existing elements.
Councilor Fine stated that he would like an element to address developing and strengthening a sense of community. This could encompass community, fellowship, communications, and citizen participation. Shaw stated that her hope is that this would be the overall guiding theme of the entire document. Reid stated that the existing sense of community, which she feels is the strongest of any in Oregon, can tend to separate Ashland from other communities in the region.
Fine also noted that he would like to see efforts made at sub-regional planning, to involve working with various other entities including school districts, ambulance service for medium to long-term planning. Shaw stated that while she sees this as a noble goal, her experience with other entities in the valley raises questions about its effectiveness. Fine suggested that at the very least, efforts could be made to coordinate with the City of Talent.
Councilor Laws noted that the Rogue Valley Civic League has prepared its "Blueprint for the Future," which deals with regional vision planning issues. Laws stated that he sees this document as consistent with the current Comprehensive Plan, and suggested that the Council consider cross- referencing that document in any plan that is prepared. Emphasized that he feels there is a greater opportunity for regional planning efforts than there has been in past, given the recognition within the region of growth concerns and quality of life issues. Hauck noted that he had been thinking of regional coordination as well. Laws urged that quality of life remain the emphasis in Ashland, despite other goals elsewhere in the region. Shaw noted the difficulty created by the vastly differing approaches on many issues, such as traffic. Fine suggested at least working with near neighbors such as Talent, or the south county area, to begin building alliances. Stated that he would let Talentís mayor know that this had been discussed in their upcoming meeting later in the week.
Freeman stated that he sees a gap in addressing public safety issues, and noted that cities he has seen typically have a clear statement in this regard. Emphasized that Ashland has excellent police and fire services, but suggested that there should be some discussion of long-term goals. Reid questioned spending time on areas that are working well, when work could be done where there is more need. Laws stated that the Council needs to identify areas where goals are lacking, and after seeing these gaps decide where work is needed. Fine stated that he feels public safety is covered under the public services element. Fine continued that the changing nature of fire and police protection services needs to be considered. Shaw concurred that this could be addressed under public services.
Freeman then questioned whether the Council wants to have goals for itself as an organization, and stated that this issue could be considered during the workshop. Explained that he was referring to the organization in terms of the city government and its employees, and that the Council might decide to identify goals in terms of training, diversity, or technology, and identify the importance of these items in terms of internal functions. Shaw suggested that it might be more appropriate for Freeman to develop something addressing these issues and bring it to the Council.
Fine raised the issue that over half of the Cityís employees live outside of the City. Council discussed whether they considered this to be an issue, and how it might be addressed.
Freeman also suggested that there might be an element addressing the need for maintaining infrastructure. Freeman then asked that the department heads present provide any input they might have on gaps in the existing elements of the Comprehensive Plan.
Public Works Director Paula Brown stated that she would like further elaboration under the environmental resources element, and also suggested that funding be addressed for services and maintenance.
Councilor Reid noted that some streets are used by the City a lot, and questioned if these are given any priority for sweeping. Questioned whether the City takes responsibility for cleaning up dust it creates. Brown noted that there are priorities based on the level of use, citing for example the need to keep roads providing access the hospital clean. Mayor Shaw suggested that those areas without sidewalks where pedestrians are expected to walk in the street are made more dangerous if not swept. Used Mountain Avenue at Bear Creek, where pedestrians must walk in the traffic lane, to illustrate this point. Emphasized that it is important to sweep these streets. Reid said that there should be budgeting for this and that streets should be kept clear. Suggested that this be a priority in budgeting.
Discussion of possibility of sweeping sidewalks, noting that this cannot be accomplished with current equipment. Suggested that perhaps volunteer groups who assist with the Parks Department, such as the Boy Scouts, might be interested in providing assistance in this area.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:58 p.m.
Submitted by Derek Severson, Assistant to the City Recorder