Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
Siskiyou Room, Community Development Building
51 Winburn Way

Council Chair Chapman called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way.
Councilors Hardesty, Navickas, Hartzell, Jackson, Chapman and Silbiger were present. Mayor Morrison was absent.
1. Look Ahead Review
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the items on the Council Look Ahead and stated the second Council Meeting in August would likely be cancelled.

Ms. Bennett also provided a brief update on the creation of the Transportation Commission. She stated this Commission would be a merger of the Traffic Safety and the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commissions and noted the Council would need to adopt an ordinance to move this forward. She clarified members would be selected after the ordinance was approved. Ms. Bennett recommended Council forward any questions or concerns they have to staff.

2. Review of Regular Meeting Agenda of April 15, 2008.

PERF Report
Police Chief Terry Holderness commented briefly on the purpose of the Career Development Plan.

Transient Occupancy Tax
Ms. Bennett submitted revised information for tomorrow night's discussion.

Council indicated several questions they would like answered by the Chamber of Commerce, including:

• Clarification of winter activities and marketing.
• Examples/ideas for new festivals and events. Would the Chamber organize these or assist others?
• What is causing the Chamber's printing costs to double?
• Clarification about Chamber's staff and salaries.
• What is the Chamber's existing marketing budget (non-City funding) and how do they use it?
• What is the Chamber's strategy for bringing businesses to Ashland?
• How has the Chamber helped to market the programs of small grantees?

Ms. Bennett clarified the Chamber of Commerce has been invited to tomorrow nights discussion and would be available to answer Council's questions at that time.

Solicitation Ordinance
Councilor Hartzell indicated she would have some questions forthcoming on this issue. City Attorney Richard Appicello noted the current language in AMC 6.24 contains restrictions about posting signs and encouraged the Council to compare the current restrictions to what is being proposed.

3. How does the Council envision implementing the council goal, "Increase the effectiveness of the City's conservation program and identify targets in energy and resource consumption?
Electric Director Dick Wanderscheid introduced Conservation staff Larry Giardina, Robbin Pearce and Cathy Cartmill. He provided a brief presentation on Energy Efficiency, Renewables and Sustainability, which covered: 1) Ashland's consumption history and milestones, 2) Money spent by Ashland and Bonneville Power Administration on conservation, 3) Staffing, 4) the City's average electric conservation costs, 5) Initiatives and Renewable Resource Programs, including Solar Pioneer, Green Tags, and Power Shift, 6) the City's conservation offerings, 7) Accomplishments, and 8) Emerging Issues.

Mr. Wanderscheid noted the Council's goal to increase effectiveness for the City's Conservation Programs and requested Council provide clarification. He noted the three key questions posed by staff are:

1) Does the Council want to increase conservation achieved by spending more money in staffing and programs?
2) Does the Council want to increase conservation achieved with the same amount of staff and program costs?
3) Does the Council want to increase or hold constant the amount of conservation achieved but do it with less costs programs?

Council offered their suggestions and comments.

Councilor Jackson asked what percentage of homes participate in the conservation programs and questioned if the City could require new construction to comply with Earth Advantage. She commented on increasing local generation and suggested they look into carbon balance.

Councilor Navickas commented that conservation should be a high priority, but noted the Budget Committee may not approve the proposed "add package". He suggested they focus on less expensive alternatives such as education and outreach, and possibly work with the City's Public Arts Commission on propaganda posters.

Councilor Silbiger noted he recently purchased a new refrigerator and shared his experience with the City's reimbursement program. He stated that refrigerators are high energy use items and voiced support for the City to continue to go after these types of customers. Regarding water use, he stated that outdoor water use is the problem and they need to find ways to deal with this. He also suggested they consider changing the Conservation Commission to a Sustainability Commission.

Councilor Hartzell voiced support for ensuring sustained funding viability of the conservation programs. She commented on getting out in front of the next wave and selling the next new kind of energy. She voiced interest in developing strategies for the use of the Imperitrus Property, such as using it to create carbon credits. She also voiced interest in the catchment of graywater and using it for irrigation purposes.

Councilor Jackson left the meeting at 7:15 p.m.

Mr. Wanderscheid commented that Bonneville Power Administration would be coming before Council sometime this summer, and noted a new contract needs to be signed by December. He also noted the new tiered rates from BPA would be the next "big wave". He commented briefly on the Power Shift program and clarified new meters would be required for all users in this program. He also commented on the hydro-system used in the Northwest.

Mr. Wanderscheid noted the "add package" that will be presented with the budget. He stated the Conservation staff is extremely effective, but if the Council wants them to do more, it will require an additional staff person.

The Conservation Department staff addressed the Council and offered their opinions and suggestions.

Larry Giardina noted that BPA designs programs and stated the City's needs to communicate to them the types of programs that would be beneficial to Ashland. He added that if staff knows what types of programs Council is interested in, they can lobby BPA on their behalf.

Mr. Wanderscheid clarified the City has tried to work with the gas company, but Avista is not interested in participating in conservation programs. He commented on the concept of increasing block rates and noted staff is proposing a water rate study be completed in the upcoming years. He also provided a brief update of the marketing efforts for the Solar Pioneer project. Mr. Wanderscheid explained that he had met with the Southern Oregon University Sustainability Committee and stated SOU wants to become a sustainable school and use this to attract students. He noted that he and BPA would be working with the school on this endeavor.

Mr. Giardina shared his desire for the public to be better informed of the limitations and the costs involved. He stated that individuals typically have to invest quite a bit and the benefits are not always economic.

Robbin Pearce commented on the graywater catchment issue and her involvement with the Neighborhood Garden Project.

Cathy Cartmill agreed with the benefit of community education and noted her involvement in working with individuals to conserve energy inside their homes.

Ms. Bennett summarized the discussion. She stated that Council voiced several new projects, however the Conservation Department would not be able to add to their current workload without either adding new staff or deleting other projects. Mr. Wanderscheid indicated he would include in his presentation to the Budget Committee what programs they would work on if the add package is approved. He added staff would come back with a revised work plan if the add package is not approved. Mr. Wanderscheid clarified he would not have recommended additional staff if it weren't for this Council goal.

4. Does Council conceptually agree with the recommended process and proposed governance structure and does this capture the Council's expectations about how the Community Visioning/Community Based Strategic Plan process council work? Would the proposed process achieve the objectives of Council's "Community Visioning" goal? Would the proposed process also help achieve the Council's Economic Development Goal?
City Administrator Martha Bennett reviewed the staff recommendations outlined in the Council Communication, including the recommendation to call this a Strategic Based Community Plan, rather than "visioning".

Ms. Bennett explained the following steps outlined on the flowchart:

1) Perform a survey of community values and conduct a series of community meetings. Ms. Bennett stated this would be a massive outreach effort to find out what the citizens really care about and where they want to go as a community. She stated that staff believes the City's "vision" would come from this effort.
2) Identify 25-40 initial goals.
3) Conduct a public involvement process to talk about priorities; Identify 4-8 strategic goals.
4) Form committees and ask each agency to adopt their portion of the action plan.
5) Conduct regular monitoring, reporting and adjustment processes.

Ms. Bennett commented on the timeline and stated 16 months is the fastest they could have this completed, however staff feels 22-24 months is more realistic.

Council offered their feedback on the proposed process.

Councilor Navickas voiced support for the process and timeline proposed by staff. Councilor Silbiger expressed concern with combining the economic goal into this process and noted his desire to act on the economic issues sooner. He stated that the economic plan is about what is realistic and the strategic plan seems to be more focused on what they want. Ms. Bennett noted that the data gathering needs to be completed regardless, and staff does not want to do this work twice. Councilor Hartzell commented that if they rush this forward too quickly, they will not end up with a very good plan.

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer stated the economic development goal would likely be identified very early in the process and this element could be crafted earlier than some of the other goals. Councilor Hardesty expressed interest in making sure the individual who is hired to work on this understands that economic development is a primary concern. Councilor Hartzell voiced her support for creating a Community Based Strategic Plan, but voiced her desire for a more open process.

Ms. Bennett commented on the proposed Steering Committee. She stated the committee would need to be quite large (25-30 participants) so that various interests are represented and so no one organization dominates. Ms. Bennett added that they would be for looking participants that can advocate for this plan and carry it forward. She also clarified the Council would be responsible for selecting the members of this committee.

Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Assistant to City Recorder

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