MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
June 21, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, Hanson, and Fine were present. Staff present included City Administrator Mike Freeman, Assistant City Administrator Greg Scoles, Senior Planner Bill Molnar, Public Works Director Paula Brown and Police Captain Lisa Brooks.
DISCUSSION REGARDING PROGRAMS & AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR EMERGENCY RESPONDERS USING TRUST LANDS
Councilor Fine stated that he made this proposal to address the cityís need to respond to emergencies in a timely manner when staffing is a concern by calling back off-duty staff. Fine further explained that there are occasional emergency situations that require additional staffing and necessitate callbacks. He noted that the City already has a structure in place to begin to create affordable housing in Ashland, in the form of the Ashland Community Land Trust.
Fine continued that in some communities, Land Trust housing is used to allow emergency responders and other people deemed critical to community operations to live in the community they serve. He stated that this would create a better connection between the employees and the community they are serving and allow the citizens to have adequate emergency response staff available. He questioned whether council would like to discuss giving preference on some Land Trust housing to emergency responders.
Shaw clarified that the proposal was to offer affordable housing to city staff who could be called back in to work to deal with emergencies, such as police, firefighters and 911 dispatchers.
Scoles clarified that the management resolution, which applies to some supervisors and department heads, prescribes a certain response time for employees who are called back to work. He also stated that some of the union contracts also specify a response time, but he noted that the current firefighter contract does not address response time.
Fine suggested that he would like the option of housing within the city to be made available to emergency response personnel voluntarily. Shaw suggested that a survey be done to determine if staff members are interested in living within the city limits.
Police Captain Lisa Brooks briefly noted the distribution of housing chosen by police personnel. She also noted that a large proportion of the senior officers who were here in the 1980ís live in Ashland because they were able to purchase housing before recent price increases. Brooks stated that affordable housing is a real issue for new and junior people coming onboard with the department.
Hauck noted that other cities have used investment funds to make lower rate home loans available to staff. Scoles suggested that the Council specifically identify what problem is to be addressed and proceed from there. He suggested that people beyond emergency response personnel are needed in emergencies, including supervisors and public works crews, and noted that he believes there is roughly a 50/50 split between those living inside and outside the city limits. He also suggested that the solutions may differ if the problem is finding housing for a few emergency responders versus finding housing for all who might be needed in an emergency.
Scoles noted the Bay Area example, where many communities have helped employees to find housing, but he emphasized that this is due to the significant commute distances. He also noted that in Ashland there are department heads that live in the city limits but on the other side of the freeway, and he stated that they would have problems getting to work if there were an earthquake as well. Scoles offered to obtain other citiesí programs to look at as examples. He noted that he was familiar with some cities using pooled investments for home loans to employees, so that the city gets the same return they would in the pool while the employees get the benefit of more affordable loans.
Brooks stated that affordable housing does not seem to create a problem in finding qualified employees, but she recognized that an emergency responder land trust program could be used as a recruitment and retention tool.
Reid stated that she would like to look further at this issue, but questioned whether this would displace others in the community who do not have the jobs and benefits that the city provides.
Shaw commented that it is important to look at this issue globally, rather than merely for response time, and see what kind of role the city can play, with the Land Trust and by other means, in offering affordable housing.
Hauck emphasized the need for more land to be placed in the Land Trust to be available for affordable housing. He also suggested that the city purchase land for the Land Trust if a percentage of Land Trust lands are to be kept available for emergency response personnel.
Laws recognized the importance of this issue, and asked that it be referred to the Housing Commission for their consideration.
DISCUSSION REGARDING THE NEXT STEPS TOWARD FINAL DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF IMPROVEMENTS TO SISKIYOU BOULEVARD, 4TH STREET TO WALKER AVENUE
Public Works Director Paula Brown provided background, and explained that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is providing $1.785 million in funding for this $2.2 million project. She noted that ODOTís Quick Response Team could be used to speed up the design process, and explained that the city has funding, as well as design and construction target dates. She asked that a citizen advisory committee be formed to assist in the final design process, and suggested that community members should be appointed by the July 18th council meeting.
Brown noted that the ODOT team would go into the community and conduct interviews, with the previous design to be used as a baseline. They would then present a number of possible designs for round table discussion to select a final, community-preferred design. Brown also emphasized that ODOT would fund this process.
Reid stated that she did not want to take any action or set any priority that would set back the priority of Tolman Creek Road improvements. Brown stated that this matter would not effect the priority given to Tolman Creek Road, and noted that the Siskiyou project was also a priority set by council. Shaw suggested that this matter be noticed in the newspaper and that appointments to a citizen advisory committee be made at the next council meeting on July 18th.
Laws suggested making some ex-officio appointments from the Historic Commission, Traffic Safety Commission and the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commission.
Fine questioned what charge will be given to this commission, and suggested that this be discussed by the council. Fine also noted receiving an e-mail questioning the difference between the stateís contribution to this project and the total project cost, and which suggested that this difference be made up from within the existing budget with no new taxes or levies to be required. Fine explained that the correspondence he received had recognized the projectís importance but that the writer did not view it as urgent. Fine noted that the e-mail also suggested stretching the project over a period of years to make it more workable within the budget. Fine suggested that there may be a need for the council to set a limit on the amount it will cover for this project.
Freeman stated that the budget that was adopted has a total budget package that anticipates this entire project, but recognized that there has to be tight control over the budget as funds are limited to the $2.2 million estimate. He emphasized that the project will need to be limited to the $2.2 million projected cost. Brown clarified that the budget does spell out how the project costs will be paid besides the amount to be paid by ODOT.
Brown presented a timeline for the construction, and noted the importance of keeping the project moving ahead to meet ODOTís timeframe for funding the project.
Brown clarified that she sees the citizen advisory committee as being most effective through the final design phases, which would mean that the committee members would serve through August 2001. Brown also suggested that the charette phase not be limited to just the committee.
Brown stated that she would get additional information to the Mayorís office to provide sufficient information to ensure applicants would be well informed. Brown also suggested that information be sent to the Transit, Transportation and Parking Committee in addition to those committees recommended by Laws.
The study session was adjourned to continue last nightís meeting at 12:40 p.m. Study session resumed at 12:45 p.m.
DISCUSSION REGARDING STATUS OF THE SPEED HUMPS AND OAK/HERSEY INTERSECTION
Public Works Director Paula Brown noted that she wanted to discuss removal of the rubber speed humps and their replacement with asphalt, given the recommendation of the Traffic Safety Commission and the amount of public concern on this issue. Brown noted that there seems to be a strong feeling that the speed humps are doing their job and that the project was successful in total, and that the rubber humps should be replaced with asphalt humps.
Brown noted that the diversion of traffic to neighboring streets may be short term, and suggested that traffic may migrate back to Oak Street over the long term. Brown also noted that she has received two quotes for asphalt speed humps, and stated that the humps will be built to Portland standards. She stated that this could be done immediately.
Brown noted that the manufacturer of the rubber speed humps (Recycled Technologies) is not inclined to take them back. She stated that the city could pursue further action, or could keep the humps for use as a temporary measure elsewhere in the community.
Shaw suggested that it is nice to have the temporary humps to see what sort of effect permanent humps would have on traffic in a neighborhood.
Reid agreed with the idea of using the speed humps in other areas, and suggested that the city has further use for them and they should be kept. Reid asked that the council also talk about the intersection of Hersey and Oak Streets.
Fine stated his belief that the Traffic Commission should be charged with the decision of placement of the rubber speed humps. Council expressed their agreement with this suggestion.
Laws explained that Oak Street was done as an experimental project to provide an informational basis for proceeding with future projects. He suggested that this is still a learning process, and a global perspective needs to be kept in mind when traffic calming and traffic diversion are considered. Laws suggested that placement of temporary speed humps needs to be such that traffic problems are not merely diverted to other streets, and recommended putting in one asphalt hump first to see if it works before replacing all of the humps. He stated that the design process could continue one step at a time until an effective design could be selected.
Shaw commented on a traffic pattern study, which determined that the shortest distance to the freeway was not down Oak Street. The study indicated that people used the Mountain-Hersey-Oak route because it allowed them to drive faster than the speed limits. She also discussed the effects that Ashland Greenhouse being open and school being in session might have on any traffic studies that had been conducted. Shaw also noted that the layout of Helman Street tends to naturally slow traffic. Shaw concluded that the traffic calming information collected through this project is valuable, and the city should press on with new projects.
Brown explained that the overall project was the installation of sidewalks, which tends to be forgotten. She suggested that the sidewalks and the four-way stop were successful and traffic has slowed. Brown noted that the Oak and Hersey intersection has raised concern with ODOT, and they have met with consultants and with ODOT. The determination has been that the design is not dysfunctional, and Brown recommended leaving the intersection as is and keeping the striping clear. Brown noted that Assistant City Engineer Jim Olson will spend time monitoring this intersection over the summer and if safety concerns become apparent the matter will be brought back to council.
Reid disagreed with Brownís recommendation, and suggested that the city would be much better off with a standard intersection design. She stated that she had spoken with many people who agree, and noted that drivers learn to deal with four-way stops when they first learn to drive. Reid concurred with Brown that the sidewalks have been successful.
Brown explained for Reid that the islands in the intersection serve primarily as a pedestrian refuge, but that they also are a structure and will slow cars down in the intersection. Brown noted that the original intent of planting in the islands would not work.
Fine questioned how close the city is to putting in a four-way red light at this intersection. Brown stated that she is not aware of the current warrant levels, but stated that she look into it further.
Shaw noted that because of the way large trucks turn, the islands must be placed between lanes going the same direction. Reid suggested that this is presumptive, in that it assumes that the islands are a necessary part of the intersection. Shaw noted that the islands are helpful, from a pedestrianís perspective.
Brown explained that the placement of the islands was community driven, but that the intersection would function as a wide four-way stop, with turn lanes, if the islands were removed.
William Sholem/100 North Pacific Highway, Talent/He noted that he is a newcomer to Ashland, and that he had previously lived in London, England for 18 years. Stated that he has 18 years of experience with speed humps in a residential neighborhood in London. Stated that he has experience and access to extensive research material that he could make available for staff review on speed hump design and experimental studies on speed hump effectiveness. He noted that traffic does tend to migrate back to speed humped streets once drivers are used to the humps.
Lyn Hostemeier/920 Cambridge Street/She stated that she would like to see a four-way stop at Oak Street and Nevada Street. She feels that this would be a traffic-calming tool. She also requested that the speed humps be removed, raised crosswalks be installed, and that the speed limit on Siskiyou Boulevard should be 25mph with raised crosswalks as well. She suggested that there should be a uniform, 25mph speed limit on all city streets, and concluded by urging the council to place a radar reader board on Oak Street and relying on the issuance of citations to discourage speeding.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:20 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder