Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, February 26, 2008




FEBRUARY 26, 2008


1.            CALL TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order by Chair John Stromberg at 7:05 p.m. at the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main Street, Ashland, OR.


Commissioners Present:


Council Liaison:

John Stromberg, Chair


Cate Hartzell, present

Michael Dawkins



Pam Marsh


Staff Present:

Mike Morris


Maria Harris, Planning Manager

Melanie Mindlin


Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner

Dave Dotterrer


Richard Appicello, City Attorney

Absent Members:


Sue Yates, Executive Secretary

John Fields



Tom Dimitre




2.            APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Stromberg asked to add to the agenda a discussion item concerning the upcoming retreat in May.  Dotterrer/Dawkins m/s to approve the amended agenda.  Voice Vote:  Approved.


3.            ANNOUNCEMENTS

Stromberg noted that Olena Black’s resignation was received, effective immediately.


Marsh said she is representing the Planning Commission on the SDC (Systems Development Charge) Committee that has now begun meeting.  Her agenda will be to look for ways in which the SDC structure could be used to further land use goals. 


Marsh talked about the activities that are underway in response to the recent tragic death that occurred on Siskiyou Boulevard.  There is going to be a joint meeting of the Bike and Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Commissions.  She believes that anything engineered for pedestrian safety is critical to land use decisions.  If our idea is to build a city in which pedestrians and bicyclists bear a good brunt of the traffic, we have to make sure it is a safe experience.  She hopes the Planning Commission can stay informed.  Hartzell said the joint meeting Marsh referred to will be held Thursday night at the Council Chambers.  She offered to forward the memo prepared by Public Works staff to the Planning Commission outlining some of their suggestions.  Marsh offered to attend the meeting and report back to the Commission.


4.            PUBLIC FORUM – No one came forth to speak.



Ann Seltzer, Staff Liaison, introduced Commissioners Melissa Markell and David Wilkerson. 


Melissa Markell, Chair, Public Arts Commission, reviewed the steps they have gone through to put together the Public Arts Master Plan.  Through a series of meetings and surveys, they established ten goals.


David Wilkerson, Public Arts Commission member said the Master Plan is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a response to what they heard through the public process.  Each goal targets the particular issues of funding, location and types of public art.  The goals that will require the most collaboration with the Planning Commission are:

  • Require a component of public art in all developments over 10,000 square feet or 100 feet in length in the Detailed Site Review Zone.  They would like to make this mandatory.
  • Collaborate and encourage the City departments, especially Public Works and the Parks Department to incorporate functional pieces such as benches, sidewalks, other public works streetscape type items.
  • Seek changes to the sign code ordinance to allow for murals.  They want to allow for more public art that could go onto private property.


Wilkerson indicated there are policies, procedures and parameters they will use in reviewing projects.  A community panel will be established based on each individual project to select the art.


Appicello interjected that the Planning Commission works with the sign code as a land development regulation.  Under State law the Planning Commission can exempt city projects from land development regulations.  What will probably come forward to the Planning Commission is something that says, “If public art is formally accepted into the Ashland public art inventory through a given process, it will be exempt from the sign code ordinance.”


Seltzer reminded the Commission that there is a section in the 1988 Downtown Plan on public art, identifying locations for public art.


Marsh expressed her hope that they can continue to partner with the Public Arts Commission because without a doubt, public art makes a difference.  She hoped the Arts Commission would consider using the full public as the jury for potential art pieces, when appropriate.  Wilkerson invited any Planning Commissioner to attend their meetings


Seltzer credited Carissa Moddison, an SOU student who worked with the Public Arts Commission for an entire year as her capstone project.  She was invaluable resource.   



Brandon Goldman, Planning Manager, explained that this item is before the Commission tonight because the Council, after reviewing the Lithia Lot housing development, questioned what incentives there are to promote the development of multi-family housing in Ashland.  The Council suggested there be a joint meeting with Planning Commissioners, Housing Commissioners and City Councilors.  In order for that meeting to have maximum benefit, it seemed to make sense to have each individual Commission/Council member look at the list of incentives and barriers in order to become educated prior to the joint meeting.


Goldman provided a PowerPoint presentation.  He said regulatory barriers are regulatory requirements that may have the impact of significantly increasing the cost of development and as a result, impeding the development of affordable housing or a needed housing type without providing a commensurate health or safety benefit.  Some barriers include:

1.            Insufficient land availability.

2.            Density limitations.

3.            Discretionary approval process subject to “NIMBY” arguments.

4.            Insufficient land availability.

5             Limitations on mixed use, high density, residential development in commercial or industrial property.

6.            Excessive off-street parking requirements.

7.            Landscaping standards and open space.

8.            Prescriptive lot sizes.

9.            Land use ordinance complexity and regional inconsistencies.


Goldman said housing incentives are any variety of incentives used to encourage new development and needed housing types.  

Additional housing incentives include:

1.                   If higher residential density permitted for needed housing types.

2.                   Increase in land supply availability for needed housing types.

3.                   Tax exemptions for affordable housing.

4.                   Tax exemptions for multi-family housing

5.                   Fee waivers.

6.                   Provide city owned land or airspace for needed housing types.

7.                   Direct financial assistance.

a.       Grants (local, state federal)

b.       Loans (low interest)


Goldman said this is a list to begin the conversation as to what incentives could be flushed out further in the joint Council/Planning/Housing meeting.  The meeting has not yet been scheduled.


Dotterrer wondered if Goldman had considered bringing together a group of developers, including out-of-town developers who do business in the valley, and asking them about their thoughts and concerns.  For example, what would it take for them to come to Ashland to build a multi-family house?  Morris agreed developers should be part of the discussion.


Mindlin commented that our tendency is to confuse the public and private when talking about affordable housing.  We assume private land can be developed just as the way we like regardless of the desires of the owners.  In terms of the list of incentives, she would like to get it down to our local level.  Some items don’t pertain to us.  The biggest thing for Mindlin as we deal with affordable housing is where is the real financial analysis that will tell us whether a particular policy that we pursue is going to pay off in terms of what developers or non-profits can or cannot do.    


Stromberg asked if Dotterrer would bring to the next meeting a proposal for a committee of the Planning Commission to invite developers together in preparation for the upcoming joint meeting.  Dotterrer agreed and thought getting private and non-profit financial analyses would be helpful.  This item will go on our agenda when Dotterrer is ready.


Marsh thought we should be clear about our definition of multi-family.  Are we looking only at those limited pockets of rental and affordable or is the concern much broader in terms of multi-family development with smaller units and smaller yards?  She is interested in the broader look too.  Goldman said initially it was looking at an affordable housing development but asking the broader question, “Why aren’t we having apartments built as rentals?”  Perhaps there could be some clarity as to the needed housing types at the joint meeting.


Harris said the direction Staff received from the City Council was to prepare this general list, and the next step  is to take it to the session.  It seems a little early to start doing a lot of research and analysis on all of the items on the list until the joint session occurs.  At that point, we should receive direction from Council on what areas to focus on. 


Hartzell thought it would be helpful if Staff would give some suggestions for the type of criteria that we’ll listen and talk about at the joint meeting.  It is challenging to figure out how we talk about it without more information.  If we could add the additional information to the presentation when it comes before the joint meeting, that would help inform the discussion.



Richard Appicello, City Attorney, explained the transfer of development rights.  It is just a tool to preserve something you want to preserve and transferring that development density and intensity to areas where it is more appropriate to develop.  This has come up because Measure 49 expressly provides in Section 11 that there may be an agreement between a county and city to transfer development rights from rural areas to other areas.  He referred to ORS 271.715, Sections 5-11.  Everything under Sections 5-11 is permitted to be transferred. 


Example:  A farmer living in the county has one house and under a Measure 49 claim that allows up to ten units.  The farmer wants to sell nine pieces, but he’d be looking at nine houses.  Or, the farmer could sell the nine pieces and they would be located someplace in the city or UGB wherever the city would deem them appropriate, and the farmer can still live on his farm and look at the farm instead of nine units.  There is a restriction put on the farmer’s property in order to preserve what is there.  In the county there has to be an area that’s designated where the density can be transferred from and in the city there has to be a receptor zone


Marsh applauded Appicello for doing this.  This is a real opportunity for the City to take on some of the responsibility of keeping some our rural lands uncluttered.


Harris said this item went to City Council last week.  ODOT is proposing a new visitor’s center located off the northbound lanes of I-5 (near radio towers and Crowson Road).  ODOT has already acquired the property and now they are trying to get it approved.  The public hearing before the County Commissioners will be held at 9:00 a.m. Thursday, February the Jackson County Courthouse.  The proposal is to build a whole new visitor’s center/rest stop.  It will be a little more involved than the standard rest stop because it has a visitor’s center that will serve as the gateway to Oregon.  There will be a State Police substation incorporated in one of the buildings.  The stop will not be for truck traffic.  Trucks will have to go to the Port of Entry between the two Ashland exits.  They hope to have the project built by the summer of 2009.


9.            RETREAT IN MAY

Stromberg asked the Commissioners to look at their calendars to find an available Saturday in May for the Planning Commission retreat. What would be a good way of using their time together?  Assuming the Council approves their Powers and Duties, that document would create a framework for discussion.  They can look at the categories and within those they could look at what they can do in the coming year.  E-mail Sue with your available Saturdays.



This item will be on the March 11th agenda.  Several Commissioners will be gone for this meeting.  There will be two Croman Mill Redevelopment workshops the prior week.


11.          ADJOURNMENT – The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted by,

Sue Yates

Executive Secretary


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