Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

April 7, 2009
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.

Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman were present.

Mayor Stromberg noted that a Proclamation had been added to the agenda.

Mayor announced current positions available for appointment to the Planning Commission, Public Arts Commission and Tree Commission.

The minutes of the Study Session of March 16, 2009, Executive Session minutes of March 17, 2009 and Regular Council minutes of March 17, 2009 were approved as presented.

Proclamations of April as "Donate Life Month," April 19-25 as "Independent Media Week" and April 5-11 as "Arbor Week" were read aloud.

Jason Houk/277 Harrison Street/Spoke as a member of the Independent Media Committee and voiced his appreciation of the City for acknowledging and investing in Independent Media.

Amy Anderson, Assistant Planner and staff liaison to the Tree Commission introduced Tree Commissioner Bobby Townsend and Derrik Burns from the Oregon Department of Forestry. Mr. Burns presented the award for Tree City USA, for the 24th consecutive year to the City of Ashland. Events planned during the month of April to celebrate Arbor Week and Ashland's designation as a Tree City USA was announced.

Mr. Townsend shared achievements the Tree Commission accomplished over the past year. These included providing a review and recommendations on Planning Actions, informing applicants of other tree care and advice not part of recommendations backed by the land use ordinance, completing Goal Setting and continuing education. The Commission is planning pruning clinics for homeowners to assist with street and sidewalk clearance and leading "tree lectures" in conjunction with North Mountain Nature Center. The Commission continues to have the opportunity to publish Back Page Articles in the Daily Tidings and host community tree walks. The Commission is also in the process of completing the Recommended Street Tree Guide update.

1. Does the Council accept the Minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees?
2. Does the Council wish to approve a Liquor License Application from Helena Darling dba Palace Café at 542 A Street?
3. Does the Council wish to adopt a resolution titled, "A Resolution Adopting the National Incident Management System for Use in Emergency Situations?"
4. Will Council authorize the City Administrator to sign a revised Oregon Water Resources Department Water Conservation, Reuse and Storage Grant agreement in the amount of $111,256?
5. Will Council approve two intergovernmental agreements with the Oregon Department of Transportation to fund American Recovery and Reinvestment Act public works projects?
6. Will Council authorize the Mayor to sign an application for an ARRA/2009 Oregon Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan application to reconstruct the Granite Street, "B" Street, and Terrace Street water lines and the Ashland Loop Road Pump Station and Storage Reservoir Improvement Project?

Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to approve Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.

1. Should Council award up to $165,367 in Community Development Block Grant funds to one or more of the respondents to the Request for Proposals in compliance with eligibility criteria of the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

Senior Planner Brandon Goldman briefly explained the award process for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Housing Program Specialist Linda Reid presented the staff report and recommendation the Council award funding to the Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC).

Ms. Reid clarified that the City had been awarded $55,000 in stimulus money but were not aware of how these funds would be offered or when the City would receive them.

Public Hearing Open: 7:30 p.m.

Denise James/Habitat for Humanity/PO Box 688, Medford/Introduced herself as the Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity and explained the process used for building low-income homes. Over the past 22 years in the Rogue Valley, Habitat for Humanity has completed 34 homes with zero foreclosures. The proposal was asking for $164,000 to purchase property that would accommodate six homes. The project would start the end of 2009 with building beginning spring 2010. Habitat for Humanity would contribute a partial amount for the property and seek sponsorships and donations to build each house.

Mr. Goldman explained the condition of approval for the proposed land was restricted and could only be used for affordable housing. The City would ensure units put on the property complied with the original conditions of annexation that stipulated they had to be affordable for a 20-year period for people at 80% median income. Habitat for Humanity's proposal would provide units to a lower income level for a longer period.

Betty McRoberts/1011 Rustler Peak Street/Housing Authority of Jackson County (HAJC)/Provided handouts on the Snowberry Brook project on Clay Street and explained how the funding would be used for infrastructure improvements specifically two new streets, the front of the Cooper property and a right hand turn lane at Clay Street and Ashland Street. The two new streets will increase the property value and required coming to the Council for CDGB money to fund them. Original estimates were hurried and presented to the Council incomplete. Now that actual contractor bids had come in, the cost for the project was $300,000 more than originally projected She added it was expensive to use CDGB funds for the public procurement process but having the two interior streets did increase the value of the property.

Ms. McRoberts clarified the Planning Commission required the right-turn lane at Clay Street and Ashland Street from the previous planning approval regarding the annexation of the 10-acre property.

Becky Simpson/Pathway Enterprises/929 Buck Point, Central Point/Explained she was the CEO of Pathway Enterprises and how the two group homes in Ashland provide support services for ten individuals with disabilities. She shared Pathway Enterprises mission and described how the grant would help these individuals live on their own by providing funds for three staff with Pathway Enterprises matching $30,000.

Ms. Simpson furthered explained other funding sources came from Jackson County and the Pathway Enterprises Contracts division. The process would take longer to achieve without the CDGB award because there are no other funds available. However, Pathway Enterprises will seek stimulus funds if applicable.

Mr. Goldman clarified that guidelines for stimulus funds were not established at this time.

Ms. Reid noted staff's recommendation to the Council to award HAJC the CDBG funding because it met the highest priority need. Staff also recommended if the Council and Housing Commission awarded the full amount to HAJC, that HAJC provide full street improvements instead of partial.

Mr. Goldman explained the right hand turn was an original requirement for the subdivision and that since HAJC proposed a modification to the current subdivision instead of a new one, the previous condition of approval stands. Staff was recommending full street improvements because the affordable housing units meeting that level of affordability do not pay Systems Development Charges (SDC) and the property is reserved for affordable housing. Staff saw this as an opportunity to leverage CDBG funds to benefit future affordable housing even HAJC outlined it was cost prohibitive and the additional costs were considerable.

The original contractor was obligated to build the affordable housing units even though they had not fulfilled the contract.

Public Hearing closed: 7:52 p.m.

The Housing Commission's strong support for the HAJC project was shared. The Commission felt the owner of the subdivision was negligent in their responsibility to the City. The presentation by HAJC convinced the Housing Commission to award them the full grant amount.

The Council was reluctant to change direction from the Clay Street project at this point. Funding the smaller projects was equally important and awarding $20,000 to Pathway Enterprises was suggested.

Councilor Voisin/Navickas m/s to award $165,367 to the Housing Authority of Jackson County for public facilities improvements to Clay street and interior streets. DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas commented it was unfortunate the developer was unable to move forward on building affordable housing on the property and hoped the Council would not be prejudiced against future proposals because of the history associated with the property. Councilor Jackson expressed support for Habitat for Humanity and agreed that $20,000 should go to Pathway Enterprises. Councilor Lemhouse supported all the funding going to HAJC noting the Housing Commission's efforts on the project.

Councilor Jackson/Chapman m/s to amend motion and reduce the Housing Authority of Jackson County award by $20,000 and give that $20,000 to Pathway Enterprises. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger and Jackson, YES: Councilor Voisin, Navickas and Lemhouse, NO. Mayor Stromberg, NO. Motion failed 3-4.

Roll Call Vote on original motion: Councilor Voisin, Jackson, Silbiger, Navickas and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

2. Should the Council approve first reading of ordinance amendments to the Sign Code Chapter of the Ashland Municipal Code (18.96)? Should the Council approve first reading of ordinance amendments to the Site Design Review Chapter of the Ashland Municipal Code (18.72.030) relating to the installation of Public Art on buildings listed as contributing historic resources within a Historic District?
Community Development Director Bill Molnar presented the staff report, noted the work by the Downtown Task Force and the proposed changes to the Sign Code.

Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided a presentation that included:

  • Key Sign Code Changes
    1. Area Definition
    2. Public Art Exemption
    3. City Informational and Directory Signs
    4. Except Incidental Signs
    5. Portable Signs
    6. 3-D signs
    7. Multi-Sided Buildings
    8. Projection Distance
    9. Vehicular Sign Limitations
  • Downtown Task Force Recommendations
  • Public Art
  • Three Dimensional Sign Provisions
  • Three Dimensional Sign Volumes for Downtown Commercial, Historic and Commercial Districts
  • Portable Sign Provisions
  • Multi-Sided Buildings
  • Images of Sign Code Success
  • Sign Ordinance 1968
  • Images of Rooftop Signs, Neon and Graphics Signs, Billboards, Content Neutrality Signage from the Past
  • Recommendations

Mr. Golden noted a correction to the proposed ordinance regarding the definition of a construction sign that would strike language referring to content. He explained there was not a 3-D sign limitation in terms of location if a ground sign already exists. Three Dimensional and portable signs could be required to be 10 feet from a business. Businesses with frontage can apply for a 20 cubic foot sign or 30-foot wall sign, content is not regulated but the sign could be required to be 10 feet from the business.

The Council discussed Sign Ordinance review, 3-D signs in perpetuity, and the definition of private art versus public art. Staff provided examples of signs being phased out and suggested the Council could amend the ordinance making 3-D signs temporary. The Council could also amend the ordinance making 3-D signs permanent or use amortization for future changes. Staff explained private art was defined as not visible from the street and was not regulated under the sign code. An object was considered a sign unless it was exempt under Public Art standards with a review process approved by the Council. Staff clarified signs on the third and fourth sides of a building need to be near a door assessable to the public during business hours.

Public Hearing open: 8:36 p.m.

Nort Croft/599 Ashland Creek Drive/Spoke on behalf of the Railroad District Business Association and noted a letter sent to the Council on March 23, 2009 from the Association. The proposed ordinance would resolve the issues the Railroad District has had with directional signs. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) rules dictate signage on the freeway for historic sites and the City provides directional signs that steer drivers to the site. The historic Railroad District does not qualify for the ODOT historic sign because allocations for historic signs are full and the City is reluctant to provide directional signs under the current regulations. The proposed revisions to the Sign Code would resolve this issue and allow the Association to apply for directional sign permits for the Railroad District. He urged the Council's approval of the revised ordinance.

George Kramer/386 North Laurel/Explained he was a member of the Downtown Task Force and was there to encourage the Council's adoption of the ordinance. He felt the intent of the sign code was to correct some anomalies and sign creep that had occurred over time and did not comply with current code. The City has one of the most complex sign codes in the State. None of the proposed changes can be construed as simplifying the code and it should be more simplified for business owners. The Task Force supported a review in two years to determine whether the proposed changes were appropriate as well as provide the opportunity to address other issues. Mr. Kramer noted the second ordinance stating Historic preservation and Public Art has been a long-term goal for the City. He commented on the difference between public art and signage as the most complicated section of the Planning Code and that it may not make sense. He concluded Public Art and signs are separate things that should never be mixed.

Dana Bussell/Explained she was a Public Arts Commissioner and was a member of the Downtown Task Force. The Public Arts Commission supported the public art section of the sign code but thought the scale for 3-D signs outside the downtown area was too much. She briefly described the Public Art process and offered another alternative where the 20 cubic feet of one sign could be the equivalent of 20 square feet of current signage. She cautioned on the difficulty of removing approved 3-D signs once established regardless of a two year review.

Regarding the Site Design Review of Public Art, she noted the Public Arts Commission supported the common interests of the Historic Commission in public art but had concerns about criteria and the means to evaluate new proposals.

Brent Thompson/582 Allison Street/Thanked the previous and current Mayor and Council for appointing a task force to deal with the sign code. He reiterated Mr. Kramer's testimony on the complexity of the sign code, supported the ordinance and urged the Council to ratify the Planning Commissions recommendation. The only reservation he had was that the third side of buildings would only be allowed 50%; this was not a huge issue and could be readdressed when the sign code was revised.

Staff explained the Council could allow the record to remain open in order to receive input from the Public Arts Commission regarding the Site Design Review ordinance.

Councilor Jackson/Voisin m/s to close the Public Hearing and leave the record open and continue the Site Design Review ordinance until the May 5, 2009 Council meeting. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, Voisin, Lemhouse, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.

Public Hearing closed for both proposed ordinances but record to remain open for Site Design Review ordinance: 8:54 p.m.

Councilor Navickas/Voisin m/s to approve the first reading of the ordinance amending the Ashland Land Use Ordinance Sign Code Chapter 18.96 concerning recommendations for additional signage by the 2008 Downtown Task Force and move to second reading and removing the provisions for 20 cubic foot signs outside of the Historic District.
City Attorney Richard Appicello read the title in full.

DISCUSSION: Councilor Navickas thought large three-dimensional signs could result in garish signage outside of the downtown area and encouraged the Council to support the motion. Councilor Silbiger commented that "less is more" looks better and thought the 1968 City Council did a great job in creating the original sign code. The proposed changes were good recommendations but the Council might be pushing their luck with 3-D signs. Councilor Jackson supported the whole package but thought the issue of the 3-D signs would work if the location were approximate to the businesses. Councilor Lemhouse did not support the proposed motion because it appeared to creep into content. The review period would provide the opportunity to amortize and he was not anticipating large garish signs. He cautioned the Council did not want to regulate content and supported the ordinance. Councilor Jackson suggested staff bring back information that relates the size of the 3-D signs to the maximum square footage that a property was eligible to have in signage.

Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, Chapman, Voisin, Silbiger, YES; Councilor Jackson and Lemhouse, NO. Motion passed 4-2.

Betzabe "Mina" Turner/149 Almeda Drive/Spoke as a representative of Ashland's Amigo Club regarding the City of Ashland's association with the Sister City of Guanajuato. The Amigo Club was hosting visitors from Guanajuato the week of 4/13/09. She explained how the Amigo Club supports the City, the SOU Student Exchange Program, noted the donations and training Ashland has provided Guanajuato as well as Mayoral visits.

Catie Faryl/Spoke regarding relocalizing and the sustainability efforts being made by residents of Ashland. She explained that 95%-97% of food and 100% fuel are imported to the valley. The renewed efforts in farming, energy and creating sustainable products and practices in the valley will provide jobs and help the community survive the economic turmoil and sustainable situations that may come in the future. She listed sustainable businesses and asked the Council to consider awarding Economic and Development Grants and Stimulus funds to support sustainable activities in Ashland.

Wes Brain/298 Garfield/Spoke regarding the Cultural and Economic Grants and made a case for KASQ Radio to receive grant funding. He explained the radio station is a great asset to the community and asked the Council to consider supporting the radio station through the grant process. He noted various speakers who have participated on the radio show and invited the Council to listen to and support KASQ at 94.9 fm.

Brent Thompson/582 Allison/Asked that the Southern Oregon University (SOU) Liaison monitors what occurs at the college and ensures the land is used prudently. He commented on the need to upgrade and rebuild Fire Station #2 but did not think it should go into parkland. He suggested the Council work with Public Works to complete landscaping the area from Clay Street to Highway 66.

Councilor Navickas responded SOU had presented their Master Plan to the Planning Commission and it included higher density housing within the current boundary. They were also possibly looking at new parking regulations.


1. Does the Council want to place some or all of the City's Tier 2 electric load on the Northwest Intergovermental Energy Supply (NIES), which is a corporation formed by Northwest Requirement Utilities to provide power to local governments?
Director of Electric Utilities Dick Wanderschied presented the staff report that outlined the only options for providing power to the City were Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Northwest Intergovernmental Energy Supply (NIES). Staff recommended the City continue to utilize BPA to serve the Tier 2 load and not contract with NIES because the added complexity and potential financial benefits was not justified at this time.

Mr. Wanderschied did not predict a significant additional load until 2015 and at the end of the rate period, less than 15% of the City's load will be in Tier 2. He clarified that the City would be limited in using alternative power in the Tier 1 portion of the contract because it was based on take or pay but the City could use any source of power to displace Tier 2 power since it was not take or pay. However, purchasing landfill gas power or wind power outside the City of Ashland could be problematic regarding transmission delivery and rates and was more expensive than bringing in BPA power. He added BPA uses three-year rate periods to set fees.

Councilor Navickas/Jackson m/s the City to utilize BPA to serve the Tier 2 load and not contract with NIES. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Chapman, Silbiger, Lemhouse, Jackson, Navickas, Voisin, YES. Motion passed.

2. Does the Council wish to continue the current contract with RVTD to reduce transit fares in Ashland by 75% or does the Council wish to change the contract to simultaneously restore Route 5 service and reduce the subsidy within Ashland to 50%?
Public Works Director Mike Faught introduced Julie Brown, the General Manager and Page Townsend, the District Planner for the Rogue Valley Transportation District (RVTD). Ms. Townsend briefly described RVTD's basic services. Mr. Faught provided a presentation that included:

  • Background
  • 2006 RVTD Experiences Financial Difficulties, Route 5 Costs Exceed City's Contribution
  • Current Transit Subsidy Program
  • Ashland Ridership 1997-2008
  • City Hires a Transit Consultant (Nelson Nygarrd - Scott Chapman)
  • Multi-Modal
  • Transit Consultant's Short Term Recommendation
  • Map of Ashland Routes
  • RVTD Recommendation - Reinstate Route 5
  • RVTD Route 5 Proposal #2
  • RVTD Route 5 Proposal #3
  • RVTD Cost Estimates Based on 25% of FY 04-05 Users
  • State of Oregon Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC)
  • Ashland Transit Matrix

Ms. Townsend explained the frequency and ridership potential. RVTD conclusions are based on ridership not increasing in the City and several studies could be provided to demonstrate ridership potential dealing with frequency and fare. The Council shared concern SOU students have regarding no bus service after 6:30 p.m. and the need for transportation in the Mountain Meadows, Mountain View and Quiet Village areas. Reinstating Route 8 was suggested. Mr. Faught explained the costs associated to reinstating a route were substantial. He recommended postponing addressing an additional route until the Transportation System Plan (TSP) could locate the bus turnaround site, tie it to multi-modal and look at costs to expand inter-city routes.

The Council and staff discussed possible subsidies for lower income riders and how there were riders that preferred Saturday service instead of 15-minute service during the week. Mr. Faught acknowledged the Transit Consultants findings showed a strong desire to move towards a Saturday route but currently costs for weekend service were exorbitant and there was not enough detail.

Ms. Townsend explained the 9-hour service would allow a 7:30 a.m. start time and was based on traffic patterns between the 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. commute. Currently the RVTD tracks ridership daily for all routes, but does not have the technology to track the actual time of day. Mr. Faught added that Option 2 or 3 would meet peak hour service.

Councilor Jackson supported a fee increase but asked for cost comparisons on running Route 5 and 10 for 13 hours each.

1. Should the Council conduct and approve the Second Reading of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Creating the Conservation Commission and Repealing Resolution 95-19"?
City Attorney read the title in full and noted changes.

Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s to approve Ordinance #2981. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, Lemhouse, Silbiger, Jackson and Voisin, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.

Continued discussion regarding RVTD service
The Council asked staff for further information on the following:

  • Matrix of BETC for running Route 5 13 hours daily with no fare subsidy
  • Provide RVTD studies on frequency, convenience and costs
  • Options for either a pass or alternative fare box program for lower income riders
  • The cost effectiveness on having free service for Route 10

Councilor Lemhouse/Voisin m/s to continue discussion to May 5, 2009 Council meeting. Voice Vote: Lemhouse, Voisin, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Navickas, NO. Motion passed 5-1.



Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Barbara Christensen,

City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor


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