Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session-condo conv

Tuesday, October 24, 2006




OCTOBER 24, 2006


CALL TO ORDER – Chair John Fields called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR. 


Commissioners Present:           


Council Liaison:

John Fields, Chair

Michael Dawkins

Olena Black

Tom Dimitre


Kate Jackson, present

John Stromberg

Pam Marsh



Dave Dotterrer

Melanie Mindlin

Mike Morris


Staff Present:

Bill Molnar, Interim Planning Director

Brandon Goldman, Housing Specialist

Absent Members:


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

No absent members





PA2006-01091, 203 North Mountain Avenue

Report of Ex Parte Contact by Commissioners – There were no ex parte contacts. 

Marsh/Morris m/s to approve the Findings.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


TYPE III PLANNING ACTION (continued from October 10, 2006 Regular Planning Commission Meeting)


Proposed Land Use Ordinance amendments to the multi-family zoning designations (R-2 and R-3 zones sections 18.24.030J and 18.28.030J). The proposed amendments modify the criteria of approval for the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit for conversion of existing rental units into for-purchase units (Condominium Conversions).  The proposed changes would establish a requirement that half of the units in an existing apartment complex are to be retained as rentals upon conversion. In the event the applicant chooses to convert all of the apartments into for purchase housing, the proposed ordinance would maintain the current requirement that 25% of the total number of units be designated as affordable housing.   A separate proposed resolution will also be presented for review that would establish Tenant Rights for residents facing displacement due to condominium conversions.

APPLICANT:  City of Ashland



Goldman reiterated points outlined in the October 10, 2006 Staff Report.  Through condominium conversions there are opportunities for ownership at the lowest end of the housing market.  However, there is a cost to the City in terms of loss of rental units.  The aim of the proposed ordinance is to protect what remaining rental stock we have.  There is no change in the percentage of affordable units required under this ordinance versus the existing ordinance.  The proposed ordinance provides a process by simply doing a permitted use to convert the existing units into one-half ownership units and one-half rental units.  This would be less onerous than the current requirement to apply for a Conditional Use Permit.  It would still fulfill the need of maintaining rental housing while still providing an opportunity for property owners to convert their units and create some ownership opportunities. Or, an owner still has the option to convert the remaining rentals into condominiums as well, besides meeting the 25 percent affordability standard along with going through a Conditional Use Permit process as a Type II planning action.  There is a new provision that if the resulting affordable units are to be sold, they are sold to people who earn 80 percent median income. 


Goldman said there is a Tenants Rights Resolution included in conjunction with the proposed ordinance change.  The intent is to provide ample notice to those tenants of pending conversions to allow them to relocate. 


Goldman said this is a legislative action and read part of Goal 10 of the Statewide Planning Goals.  Molnar read the section in the Land Use Ordinance Chapter concerning legislative amendments.  With regard to the Comprehensive Plan, the Housing Commission has seen a change in circumstances in that the number of rental units that are being built have been few. 


Goldman said the Land Use subcommittee looked at a number of ordinances from other cities and how they were implemented.  They were looking at language, not analyzing the impacts of the ordinances. 


There will be other components that the Housing Commission will look at to increase the amount of affordable housing such as looking at creation of more land zoned for higher density housing, increasing density in multi-family zones, etc.


Dotterrer asked if there was a study that tells us how many rental units we require.  Goldman said the Housing Needs Analysis showed there is a segment of our population that would never enter the ownership market at the incomes they have.  In order to house those people, we have to have rental units.  They determined that 35 percent of all units anticipated from 2001 to 2020 would have to be multi-family (apartments, not owner occupied rentals) or in other words, 485 additional units would be needed by 2020.  Goldman said the Council authorized Staff to do a rental needs analysis.  The City will be hiring a consultant to evaluate our rental needs and gather more data.  He noted there has not been a dramatic increase in rental costs over the past several years.  In the last five years, 55 units have been created (39 converted to condominiums) for a net increase of 16 units. 



BILL STREET, 180 Mead Street, is a Housing Commission member but he is speaking for himself and not the Commission.  He addressed a recent editorial printed in the Daily Tidings, simplifying the condo conversion issue.  The headline stated “Condo Ordinance a Knee-Jerk Mistake.”  It also said “The Ashland Planning Commission is hot-footing an ordinance through the proper channels.”  The notion of “hot-footing” is completely wrong.  The ordinance is based on the City’s Affordable Housing Action Plan (2002), the Housing Needs Analysis (2002), and statewide land use goals established in 1970 laying out the need for a wide range of housing.  Since April, there have been eight public meetings (three televised) concerning this ordinance.  He considers what has been done for the last eight months is far from “knee-jerk.”  Condo conversions are happening throughout the country.  Many other cities’ response has been far more radical than what has been proposed tonight.  It is false that according to the Tidings “The ordinance will block apartment building owners from converting from condominiums that can be sold rather than rented.”  The definition of “affordable housing” is public knowledge.


Mindlin had questions about how Measure 37 would impact this ordinance.


Goldman said that the Housing Commission, in evaluating the Park Street application, saw that through the conversion process and requiring 25 percent be affordable under the existing ordinance, that those households would be seeing a potential $100 increase in rent.   


When asked why rents are so low, Goldman said it’s because landlords are getting what people can afford to pay.


Molnar noted where no new one and two bedroom complexes have been built so the existing units are older.  The question becomes:  How do we create incentives to build more apartments?


Dawkins said the whole discussion misses the point of what is happening.   The City is gentrifying.  He wants to protect some of the funky apartments – a room that doesn’t cost much – as part of the realistic workforce that comes and goes.  We are losing the soul of this town.  In Aspen, when 400 units of an apartment complex sold and became condominiums that was the death of Aspen. Those were the funky units that people moved into.  That type of thing is never replaced.



Dimitre agreed we need to do something and this is a small start.  Dimitre/Marsh m/s that the Commission recommends moving this ordinance to the Council for their review and approval. 


Marsh said the bottom line is that rentals in this market are a finite resource.  There are dual economies in Ashland.  There is the California economy that is fueling the ownership market and the value of land.  The actual southern Oregon economy is what fuels the rental market.  Our challenge is to preserve the rentals.  The ordinance will have a minimal affect but it will protect us from the wholesale sellout of rental units to condominiums.


Voice Vote:  The motion carried with Dotterrer casting the only “no” vote.


PUBLIC FORUM (continued from October 10, 2006 Regular Planning Commission Meeting)

BRYAN HOLLEY – Holley spoke as a Tree Commissioner to various planning action approvals by the Planning Commission that are currently active.  He is concerned about how the Conditions of approval are carried out and enforced, specifically tree protection/removal.   He believes there is a breakdown of communication in City departments.  He would like to see the Planning Commission more pro-active in asking for relief from the State for 120 day rule.  The 120 day rule puts an artificial level of urgency on the process.  The needed level of detail can’t happen when the clock is ticking. 


Molnar said he believes the bigger issue is the role of the Tree Commission and how they communicate their concerns to the Planning Commission.  We are still in a learning curve with some of the items in our Tree Protection Ordinance.  When it comes to tree protection fencing, there can appear to be a violation, but there really isn’t.  On the ground, some of the sites are tight and they are trying to balance what is allowed under the ordinances to uses that are permitted and allowed.  There is always room for improvement.  It is important for Staff to read aloud at the Planning Commission meetings the recommendations of the Tree Commission.


Mindlin encouraged Holley and Tree Commissioners to come up with more detailed and restrictive conditions to propose the Planning Commission to help them out.



The City of Ashland was awarded a grant from the Dept. of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) and has hired Bob Parker, ECONorthwest to do an Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA).  They are currently conducting interviews with business owners and others who hold key positions in town. This falls under our Goal 9, State Economic Development Goal.  In 2005, a Governor’s Task Force re-evaluated how cities should comply with the Economic Goal.  Cities are required to have a certain plan for economic opportunities over 20 years and a land base.  The amended requirement will go into affect in January of 2007.  The Planning Commission will have some involvement with this over the next five months. 


Ashland is looking at a 20 to 50 year supply based on the physical form of the city to look at our vision for economic development.  We are looking for some conclusions based on division for economic development in the community.  There are the “foot loose” businesses that can locate anywhere.  Additionally, what are the likely target industries we would like to attract, do we have an adequate land supply, is the land located appropriately and do our ordinances encourage those target industries?  This could end up being an amendment to the Comp Plan – Economic Element.


Stromberg asked where these values are coming from.  Molnar said we are looking to the community to take a look at the Economic Element and the goals and policies to see if they reflect where we want to go or do we want to add some additional policies into that.  It is not intended to be a complete re-write or our Economic Element because of the timeline.    



Dimitre asked if we could have some time at the next Study Session to talk about a Housing Authority.  What is it, the possibility of having one, how might it solve some affordable housing problems, etc.?


ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Susan Yates, Executive Secretary














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