Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, September 21, 2010



September 21, 2010

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 announced vacancies on the Planning Commission, Public Arts Commission, Housing Commission, Conservation Commission and Tree Commission. 


He noted the dedication of the Peace Wall earlier and expressed appreciation of Management Analyst Ann Seltzer and the volunteers for their efforts.  He went on to introduce long time visitors from Seattle Washington.



The minutes of the Regular Meeting of September 7, 2010 were approved as presented.



Fire Chief John Karns introduced staff and Division Chief - Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman explained Ashland’s theme for Fire Prevention Week was “Smoke Alarms a Sound You Can Live With” that included an essay contest for 4th Graders based on the theme.  


The Mayor's Proclamation of October 3–10, 2010 as National Fire Prevention Week was read aloud.



1.   Should Council postpone the public hearing on adoption of amendments to Chapter 18.62, Chapter 15.10 of the Ashland Municipal Code and revisions to the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps?

2.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, authorize a Competitive Sealed Bid (Invitation to Bid) for an ambulance?

3.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, authorize a Competitive Sealed Proposal (RFP) for operation of Ashland Fiber Network television services?

4.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve a special procurement contract with GE Water and Process Technologies for the purchase of new wastewater membrane filters in the amount of $429,684?

5.   Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve a Contract-Specific Special Procurement for the direct award (purchase) of evidence rolling rack storage system at the cost of $11,769 from Spacesaver Specialists, Inc.?

6.   Does Council wish to approve a Liquor License Application from Geoff Shaffer dba Boulevard Coffee at 555 Siskiyou Boulevard?


Councilor Voisin requested that Consent Agenda item #4 be pulled for discussion.


Councilor Navickas/Lemhouse m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1 through #3, #5 and #6. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.


Engineering Services Manager Jim Olson explained the membrane filtration system is in operation during May through November because there is less water flowing in the creeks.  During the months of December through April, the water level and flow are at an adequate level that membrane filters are not necessary.  Membranes tend to have a life expectancy of 10 years but deterioration in some membranes prompted replacement at year 8.  Budget constraints prevent staff from purchasing back-up membranes at this time.


City Administrator Martha Bennett added the purchase was less than projected and the extra $105,000 will go to the Wastewater Fund.


Councilor Voisin/Navickas m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.





Linda Richards/200 NW 53rd Street #69, Corvallis, OR/Explained she was the Ashland/Corvallis representative for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Vigil.  She shared her background and results from a survey of Corvallis middle and high school students that revealed less than 20% understood the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.  She attended the official commemorations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and met Hiroshima City Mayor Akiba who encouraged Oregon residents to use the US Conference Resolution to create more Mayors for Peace.  Currently there were 4,144 members with three fourths of world land mass designated as nuclear weapons free zones.  She noted the website for those who wanted to learn how to support the Year 2020 Campaign.  Mayor Akiba asked US citizens to press for the US Senate confirmation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  She shared experiences with survivors of the bombings who invited Americans to move forward with them to create a world free of nuclear weapons. 





1.   Will Council provide direction to staff on the request received from the Elk's Club to close East Main Street for two hours on October 10, 2010?

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained the Elks would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Elks Lodge building and had submitted a special permit application to close East Main between First and Second Street for two hours Sunday October 10, 2010. 


Pete Belcastro, an Ashland Elks Club member added local businesses were notified of the closure via letter and were supportive.  Councilor Silbiger disclosed he was a member of the Ashland Elks Lodge.


Councilor Lemhouse/Navickas m/s to approve request of the Elks Club.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse noted the Elks Club long time presence in Ashland and supported closing the street for their celebration.  Councilor Navickas complimented the building’s edifice and added the Elks deserved this opportunity.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Navickas, Lemhouse, Jackson, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.


2.   Does Council have questions about tax increment financing as an option that will be studied to implement the Council's goals of addressing infrastructure financing and economic development?

Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the Council Goal under the Economy section included implementing a strategy to fund infrastructure.  Urban renewal is a tool that Oregon has used for several decades to facilitate economic development.  He introduced Dan Thorndyke, former Medford Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) Board member and Don Burt, the Planning Manager of Central Point and former director of MURA.


Mr. Burt and Mr. Thorndyke provided an Urban Renewal Introduction presentation that included:

·         Urban Renewal is a Tool that can be used to attain state goals

·         Urban renewal Statutory Provisions and General Overview

·         Authorization ORS 457 – Urban Renewal

·         Blight

1.       Unfit/Unsafe Structures

2.       Faulty Planning Resulting in Economic Deterioration

3.       Poor Platting

4.       Inadequate Infrastructure

5.       Property Value Depreciation

6.       Underutilized Property

7.       Flooding

·         Urban renewal District Limitations (for cities under 50,000 population)

1.       District(s) limited to 25% of the City’s Assessed Value at Time of Creation

2.       District(s) limited to 25% of the City’s Land Area at Time of Creation


It was explained that urban renewal districts do not have to be continuous.  Each district is its own profit center, and revenue cannot be transferred from one district to another.  Urban Renewal Districts require a feasibility study to determine whether the intention can be executed without taking from another district. 


Enterprise Zones do not require a business to pay taxes for 5 years where urban renewal would receive a tax benefit but forgo taxes for five years.  Urban renewal works when there is a large capital investment upfront that affects multiple properties.  Enterprise Zones buy down the cost of developing a business but the property will not leverage sufficient resources to put in a large investment in infrastructure that affects an entire area.


·         Urban Renewal Components - Urban Renewal Plan

o        Projects

o        Urban Renewal Area

o        Local Goals 7 Objectives

o        Proposed land Uses

o        Relocation Policy

o        Property Acquisition

o        Maximum Indebtedness


When the District is defined, the assessed value is frozen at that time.  Council could act as the Urban Renewal Board. 


·         Urban Renewal Components – Urban Renewal Report

o        Existing Conditions

o        Justification for Urban Renewal Area

o        Project Justification, Costs, Timing

o        Maximum Indebtedness and Financial Timing

o        Financial Feasibility Analysis and Impact Report

o        Relocation Report

·         Initial Feasibility Study (Urban Renewal Report)

1.       Determination of Blight

2.       Financial Feasibility

3.       Tax Impacts on Overlapping Districts


Staff explained there has to be a gap between real market value and assessed value. With commercial and industrial commerce, using urban renewal may not be accurate because they are assessed differently from residential properties.  For urban renewal, public infrastructure must encourage private development.  Urban renewal directs development to create conditions in a specific area as opposed to where the free market would occur and does not subsidize private enterprise. 


Mr. Thorndyke added the trade off when creating an Urban Renewal District within the City was the revenues generated could only be spent within that area.


·         Typical Project

1.       Property Acquisition

2.       Design & Construction of Public Infrastructure

3.       Sell or Lease Property/Redevelopment

4.       Administrative Costs

·         Basic Tax Increment Mechanics – Urban Renewal District - Key Terms

o        Tax Increment Revenue (TIR)

o        Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

o        Maximum Indebtedness (MI)

·         Tax Increment Revenue (TIR)

o        Base Assessed Value

o        Incremental Assessed Value


Mr. Burt clarified tax increment financing was based on the same principals that apply to individuals, money cannot be borrowed without a designated income stream. 


·         Tax Increment Revenue Calculation:  (incremental Value/1000)*Consolidated Rate – Tax Increment Revenue (TIR)

·         Projected Growth in Assessed Value Chart

·         Projected Growth in Tax Increment Revenue

·         Uses of Tax Increment Revenue:  Payment of principal and interest on indebtedness incurred in carrying out an urban renewal plan (ORS 457.440)

·         Tax Increment Revenue Flow:  Tax Increment Revenue – Indebtedness/TIR Bonds (principal & interest) – Projects & Activities

·         Maximum Indebtedness Calculation ORS 457.190(4)(b):  Function of Assessed Value of Urban Renewal District i.e. ($50,000,000 + 50% of AV over $50,000,000)

·         Financial Feasibility

·         Maximum Indebtedness Balance

·         Urban Renewal Plan Duration 10, 20, 25 Years?

·         Fiscal Impact – Urban Renewal District


Money used in urban renewal cannot be used to pay off debt in another area not related to that specific urban renewal district.  State law allows cities to set up urban renewal districts, school districts and counties cannot.  Both are consulted on the district but do not have to agree. If the City amends the plan, they will need their agreement.   


Staff clarified the feasibility study would look at the Croman Mill Site, Rail Road District and downtown area, types of projects and research all funding sources in addition to tax increment financing.


Council was supportive noting the need to create circumstances to encourage private development in the community and review public infrastructure to fill commercial vacancies.  Urban renewal was a tool that could improve public environment and add amenities.  Combining enterprise zones with urban renewal zones was suggested.  Concerns included the increased amount of commercial vacancies, researching other alternatives for financing infrastructure and the costs associated with the feasibility study that would most likely produce very little new information.


Staff clarified this was an opportunity to determine if urban renewal was an appropriate tool for Ashland and not an endorsement.  The Feasibility Study would focus on the Croman Mill Site, the Rail Road district and the downtown area and cost $30,000-$35,000 of funds already budgeted.

Councilor Lemhouse/Navickas m/s to direct staff to continue with feasibility study in regards to Urban Renewal and other taxing districts. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Navickas, Silbiger, Jackson and Lemhouse, YES; Councilor Voisin and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-2.


3.   Does Council agree with the timing and plan to conduct the National Citizen Survey (NCS) in Ashland as part of using performance measures and improving communications with citizens?

Management Analyst Ann Seltzer provided background and explained why staff recommended using the National Citizen Survey (NCS).  Survey results would benchmark service ratings, identify opportunities to increase civic involvement, track and evaluate performance measures and monitor trends in resident opinions.  NCS questions centered on eight areas that align with Council Values and will enable staff to compare results with more than 500 jurisdictions from around the country.  It was a standardized survey and more cost effective than contracting with a different provider. The cost was approximately $15,600 and included the base survey, comparisons to previous Ashland survey results, customer benchmark comparisons, demographic cross tabs within the community, one open-ended question and a web survey that was not a scientific sample open to the entire community.  The results were usually a 35%-45% return rate and staff anticipated survey results early April 2011. 


Ms. Seltzer confirmed prior surveys were from different companies and that NCS reviewed that data and was confident there was enough information to compare and continue the trend from earlier surveys.  The survey will be mailed to randomly selected households.  Some questions could be removed if they did not apply to Ashland and there were a few free questions.  Staff contacted other cities regarding NCS and noted Corvallis uses the NCS survey results every two years to base their entire budget process on performance measure budgeting and spoke highly of NCS. 


Councilor Jackson/Lemhouse m/s to authorize staff to proceed with the National Citizens Survey. DISCUSSION:  Councilor Jackson thought the survey was important for performance based budgeting.  Councilor Lemhouse noted the last survey was done 7 years ago and it was worth doing to understand how the City was performing  and what citizen’s values were in terms of funding.  Staff confirmed the funds for the survey were already in the budget.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Voisin, Lemhouse, Jackson, Navickas and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 5-1.



1.   Will Council approve First Reading of an ordinance titled, "An Ordinance Relating to Noise and Heat Pumps or Mechanical Devices and Amending AMC 9.08.170, 9.08.175, and 15.04.185" and move the ordinance on to Second Reading?

Acting City Attorney Megan Thornton explained the ordinance would clearly define heat pump standards, move provisions from Chapter 15 in the Building Code to Chapter 9 Noise, eliminate portions in Chapter 15 and consolidate them in Chapter 9.


Staff confirmed that Street Sweepers were not allowed to run before certain hours without a waiver from the Council.  Ms. Thornton clarified the standards had not changed and was still based on the Reasonable Person Standard.   


Council and staff discussed that permits could be revoked if an individual did not abide by the permit rules and that motorized skateboards would fall under the general catch all provision in Section B and possibly under the Vehicle Code section.  Concern was expressed the ordinance seemed subjective towards musical instruments.


Councilor Voisin/Chapman m/s to approve first reading of ordinance and place on agenda for second reading.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin, Chapman, Lemhouse, Jackson and Navickas, YES. Motion passed.




1.   Housing Commission

Councilor Lemhouse spoke regarding the dedication of the Peace Wall to the City.  The Utility Box Beautification Project was progressing well and there was discussion on establishing murals and other projects. 


2.   Transportation Commission

Councilor Chapman noted concern from the Transportation Commission and bike community regarding unsafe passing.  Grants Pass adopted an ordinance in 2006 prohibiting cars from passing closer than three feet to a bicyclist or pedestrian, and bicyclists passing pedestrians within 3 feet and described State laws 811.065 Unsafe passing of person operating bicycle and 811.410 Unsafe passing on left.  He was not ready to pursue an ordinance addressing safe distances but if one was adopted it could not conflict with State law, and should educate the public on what a safe distance is with informational warnings issued instead of tickets.


3.   Housing Commission

Councilor Navickas explained the Housing Commission was interested in focusing on the homeless situation and wanted direction from Council.  He suggested a Study Session to direct the Housing Commission to move forward on something within their parameter. 


City Administrator Martha Bennett commented there was a Joint Study Session with Community Development Department on prioritizing issues that might work for a discussion on the Housing Commission and homelessness.   


4.   Tree Commission

Councilor Jackson announced October was Tree of Year month and encouraged people to vote.  Five trees were nominated and the ballot was on the City website under the Tree Commission.    


5.   Parks and Recreation Commission

Councilor Jackson noted a recent Study Session regarding dogs in parks that produced a tremendous amount of interest.  Dog owners want to take their dogs into parks on leashes and there was considerable backlash from the opposition.


6.   Ashland Emergency Food Bank

Councilor Jackson explained the Food Bank was a volunteer organization that has provided food to the needy in Ashland and Talent since 1976.  The demand for food has increased 5%-10% annually since 2007 and the Food Bank was undergoing strategic planning to formalize the organization.  She concluded the Ashland Food Project has been successful for a year and generates a 1/3 of food needed for the food bank.   



Meeting was adjourned at 9:46 p.m.


Barbara Christensen, City Recorder
John Stromberg, Mayor



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