Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 07, 2010



September 7, 2010

Council Chambers

1175 E. Main Street



Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.



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



Mayor Stromberg announced vacancies on the Planning Commission, Housing Commission, Conservation Commission, Tree Commission, Transportation Commission and the Historic Commission. 


Councilor Lemhouse announced the Oak Knoll Fire Benefit, September 8, 2010 at the Oak Knoll Golf Course and described the event.  US Bank was taking donations payable to the Ashland Fire Victim Fund.  Donations can also be sent to Fire House 5 Foundation, P.O. Box 1404, Talent, OR 97540.  For additional information on support for victims of the Oak Knoll Fire, individuals can call Ashland Parks and Recreation at 541-488-5340. 


Mayor Stromberg went on to announce a benefit hosted by Blackstone Audio Books on September 11, 2010 to raise funds for the Jackson County Fire District 5 and Ashland Fire and Rescue for additional equipment and training and described event activities.



The Executive Session minutes of August 17, 2010 and the Regular Meeting minutes of August 17, 2010 were approved as presented.





1.   Will Council approve the minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees?

2.   Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor's appointment of Barb Barasa to the Housing Commission with a term to expire April 30, 2012?

3.   Does Council have any questions about the current schedule to refinance the DEQ loan as authorized by Resolution 2010-11?

4.   Should Council approve a resolution adjusting the FY 2010-2011 Budget to create appropriations and authorize expenditures for unanticipated expenses during this year?

5.   Should Council, acting as the Local Contracts Review Board, approve a Special Procurement and enter into a contract with Small Woodland Service, Inc.?

6.   Will Council approve a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) construction grant for the Airport Improvement Project -Runway (AIP) Rehabilitation and Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) light installation in the amount of $1,581,949.00?

7.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, award an engineering services contract to Reid Middleton to provide construction administration services and a construction contract with Knife River Materials to provide construction services for the Airport Improvement Project-Runway Rehabilitation and PAPI installation?

8.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve the award of a contract to Taylor Site Development Inc. to construct the Jefferson Avenue Improvement Project No. 2005-10?


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





Steve Ryan/657 Oak Street/Announced International Car-Free Day  September 22, 2010 at 4:00pm on Oak Street downtown Ashland and described the activities and events that will include a mass ride down Oak Street at 5:30pm.  This event will also kick off the 2010 Ashland Commuter Challenge September 22 through October 6, 2010 with a celebration October 8, 2010 at The Standing Stone Brewing Company.  Contact phone number for the event is 541-951-1409 and can be found on the City website under Transportation Commission.  He also noted Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTD) “Try Transit” week starting September 17, 2010.





1.  Whom will Council designate as the voting delegate and alternate voting delegate for the annual LOC membership meeting, occurring on September 25, 2010?

Councilor Jackson volunteered as the Voting Delegate with Councilor Chapman as Alternate Delegate.


Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to appoint Councilor Jackson as the voting member and Councilor Chapman as the alternate delegate.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


2.   Does the City Council want to set a Public Hearing for September 21, 2010, to consider adjusting utility rates effective November 1, 2010?

Administrative Services/Finance Director Lee Tuneberg provided the history on rate increases that identified a budgeted 3% increase in Transportation, a 5% increase for Storm Drain Utility fee and a 3% increase in the Electric Fund.  Due to “carry-forwards” and the timing of studies, staff presented an alternate proposal to schedule a Public Hearing to adjust rates on November 1, 2010.  Because the City was receiving more revenue in the Street Fund for Transportation, staff proposed not having the 3% increase.  Additionally the study on the Storm Water Fee would most likely require a sizable increase and staff proposed waiting for study recommendations on operating costs and Capital Improvements.


The 2% rate increase for Electric was based on wholesale power and transmission costs in the Electric Fund that had stayed consistent with revenues that produced a larger “carry-forward” than anticipated.  The 2% increase was in anticipation of new rates for wholesale power with Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Smaller rate steps would offset the forthcoming sizable increase and was more manageable that having 5%-10% increases every other year.  Currently, the Electric Ending Fund Balance was above $300,000.


Councilor Voisin/Chapman m/s to leave rates at the current level and schedule no hearing.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Voisin noted the cushion and appreciated step increases but given the economic situation and upcoming increases did not think the City should raise rates unnecessarily.  Councilor Jackson supported regular step increases and expressed concern regarding funding for the deferred maintenance in Transportation.  The 2% increase was fiscally prudent; there was a need to maintain the budget and Ending Fund Balance and reserves.  Councilor Navickas explained an increase in rates needed to occur with a decrease in franchise fees to the General Fund.  The City was outside of the market rate at 10% to the General Fund where a private utility would pay only 6%. Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Silbiger and Chapman, YES; Councilor Jackson, NO. Motion passed 5-1.



1.   Will Council approve Second Reading of ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Relating to Adoption of the Oregon Fire Code and Amending AMC Chapter 15.28"?

Division Chief-Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman noted two minor modifications to the ordinance for clarification. 


Acting City Attorney Megan Thornton read the proposed change to Section 2, (G) Appendix D105-Aerial Fire Apparatus Access Roads adding the following sentence:   “However, ORS 368.039 states that road standards adopted by local government supercede standards in fire codes and requires consultation with local fire agency.” The second proposed change to Section 2, (H) Appendix A1010.11 read, “If the complainant or appellant is aggrieved by the final order of the Ashland Board of Appeals, the complainant may file an appeal to the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office within 10 days of the Board’s final order.”


Staff clarified the Oregon Fire Code specified its own Ashland Board of Appeals.


Councilor Lemhouse/Voisin m/s to approve Ordinance #3037 with changes as read.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Jackson, Voisin, Silbiger, Navickas, Lemhouse and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.



1.  Preliminary report on the Oak Knoll Fire of August 24, 2010?  

Fire Chief John Karns explained an individual started the fire on the west side of Interstate 5 where it consumed an abandoned trailer and a barn on Washington Street, spread to Clover Street and the Oak Knoll neighborhood, destroyed 11 homes and damaged others.  The following resources responded to the fire:

·         Ashland Fire & Rescue staffing level of 7

·         16 Agencies

·         38 Fire Engines, 21 Fire Command Vehicles

·         3 Helicopters and Air Tac Airplane

·         135 Firefighters and Command Staff

·         Ashland Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Volunteers

·         Other agencies including Ashland Police, Sheriff’s Department, Search 7 Rescue, Ashland Public Works, Red Cross


To combat the fire, a defensible home with a non-combustible roof was defended to stop the forward lateral movement that threatened an additional 30 homes. The Rogue Valley Fire Mutual Aide System was stretched and the State would have been called had the fire escalated but it would have taken time for the State to respond.   


Police Chief Holderness explained an arson investigation determined whether a fire was a deliberate act, an accident caused with a level of negligence that would raise Criminal Negligence or an accident lacking enough negligence to be a crime under Oregon law.  Arson investigations were jointly conducted by the Police and Fire Departments.  The Fire Department determines origin and cause and the Police Department interviews all witnesses, victims and suspects.  In this case, it was determined the fire was most likely caused by John Thiry with a level of negligence that made it a criminal act.  He was taken into custody and ultimately charged with 24 Misdemeanor counts of Reckless Endangerment and Reckless Burning.  The charges were still pending but it was unlikely they would change.   


Forest Resource Specialist Chris Chambers met with Oak Knoll residents regarding response to the fire, moving forward and what residents can do in the future.  He provided them with a presentation outlining strategies on modifying landscaping, construction of homes using fire resistant building materials, and property maintenance. He shared the following 10 Fire Wise Steps:

1.       Change out wood shake roofing…or at least start saving now to replace shakes soon.

2.       Remove flammable plants and trees within 30 feet of your home.  Chip away at it starting close to the home and working out if it seems too big a job.

3.       Clean up anything flammable including leaves and needles, firewood and lumber working out from the home to 30 feet.  This includes gutters and rooftops.

4.       Clean debris from under decks and stairs.

5.       Keep mulch and anything flammable away from wood siding.

6.       Use only Fire Resistant Plants for your landscape.

7.       Replace old, flammable wood siding with fire resistant materials.

8.       Check and/or change batteries in your smoke detector.

9.       Make a plan for evacuation and family communication and practice it.

10.   Make sure your address is readily visible from the street.


He described Firewise Communities and even though it was targeted at specific wildfire areas in Ashland, it could apply anywhere in town.  He stressed the importance of looking at fire prevention short and long term.


Mr. Chambers explained the fire started on County land and was outside the City’s jurisdiction for enforcing Weed Abatement in that area.  City Administrator Martha Bennett added the City could not enforce Weed Abatement but could work with the County on who can remove hazardous growth on the land. 


Chief Karns explained the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was mobilized soon after the fire started and established a Rehab Center that provided rest, water and food if needed for firefighters and served as a staging area for rotating shifts.  CERT also coordinated with the Red Cross on a respite center at The Grove. 


When Chief Karns and Mr. Chambers first arrived at the fire, the neighborhood was evacuating on their own with two police officers and an Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) employee assisting.  They had an estimated two minutes to ensure homes were clear and experienced minor issues with people refusing to leave without their pets. All eleven houses were on fire within 45 minutes and quickly became untenable.


Community Director Bill Molnar explained the Community Development Department will assist fire victims with questions and next steps for rebuilding and identified Administrative Supervisor April Lucas as their primary contact. 


Council and staff discussed the feasibility of waiving fees for the homeowners.  Mr. Molnar noted the average home destroyed was approximately 1400-1500 square feet.  The general estimate for a building permit was $12,000 with 70% or $8,000 automatically credited to these sites through System Development Charges (SDCs) leaving a remaining balance of approximately $4,500 in fees for each home.  It was uncertain whether insurance would cover that balance.  The City could waive fees on a case-by-case basis but waiving fees should extend beyond Oak Knoll to other homes lost to fire. 


City Administrator Martha Bennett reported the City would improve citizen communication by broadcasting radio station AM 1700 on the City website, improve the fire hotline and research Reverse 911.  Other improvements included working with the community on fire prevention and preparedness, possibly establishing roof and vegetation ordinances, weed abatement in cooperation with Jackson County, better fire hydrant identification and staffing in public safety departments.


Chief Karns added the Fire Service after Action Review was complete and would be compiled into a formal report.  He described the Mutual Aid Responder training the Rogue Valley Fire Chiefs Association conducts on a regular basis.



Meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.




Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder                    

John Stromberg, Mayor




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