Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, October 18, 2010


Monday, October 18, 2010

Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way


Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:31 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.


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


1.     Look Ahead Review

Item was not reviewed.


2.         Does the Council concur with the following staff recommendations?

Fire Chief Karns, Division Chief Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman, Forest Resource Specialist Chris Chambers and Firewise Communities Coordinator Ali True provided the staff report on each of the following bulleted items:


         Adopt an ordinance requiring the phase out of flammable roofs throughout the community.

Chief Karns noted recent fire safety steps taken regarding weed abatement, the certified training program, Firewise and the hydrant marker program.   Roofing material is restricted in the wildfire zone but not throughout the city.  The ordinance would allow only Class A non-wood roofing materials for new construction and 25% or greater remodels involving a roof and institute a 10-year period to replace all wood roofs with Class A non-wood materials.  Wood roofs typically have a 20-year life expectancy.  Citizens were interested in having the City provide either low-interest or no-interest loans for roof replacement. 


Chief Karns clarified the 25% remodel requirement did not pertain to the first 25%, was based on the square footage of roof areas and applied to reworking roofs only.


Council expressed concern regarding the price of replacing roofs and enforcement. 


         Establish an outreach and education program to encourage fire resistant landscaping and vegetation management

Firewise Communities Coordinator Ali True explained Ashland was one of the highest wildfire risks in the State because of the topography, extended fire season, density and flammable vegetation.  The proposed Vegetation Management model was based on a list of specific vegetation with qualities that make them more hazardous in a wildfire environment.  The model would also address ornamental landscaping, erosion and slope stabilization.  Modifying vegetation was critical in stopping wildfire spread.  Additionally, the model provided standards for the 30-foot zone around the house versus the 200-foot zone.


Implementation would consist of education efforts, grant programs, a pilot chipping program and the Firewise Board.  Ms. True could provide assessments of properties and help develop a plan that included maintenance for the homeowner free of charge.


         Establish by ordinance a Firewise Board?

Ms. True explained the five steps to the Firewise certification process entailed a community assessment, creating a Firewise board of citizens, dedicating a Firewise Communities day annually, investing $2.00 per capita annually in local Firewise projects and submitting an annual report documenting program compliance. Participation would require 85% of homes in the urban interface be Firewise Certified or assessed as having survival defensible space. The Firewise Board would be primarily community driven through a Firewise Commission, could provide resources on a national level but no financial benefit.  Firewise certification would not reduce insurance rates at this time.  The commission would disseminate education efforts to several communities within the city.

Staff explained Firewise required a citizen-based commission with the Fire Department participating as an invited guest.  The 85% certification applied to homes in the wildfire area only.  Currently that area was at 30%-40% for fire prevention and control.  Firewise would concentrate on the interface and staff would promote the safety model throughout the city.


Council expressed some concern on establishing another commission.  The Mayor suggested establishing the board as a task force with a 2-year deadline that possibly would evolve into a commission later.  Council directed staff to look at the pros and cons of having a commission or ad hoc committee.


         Work with the State Fire Marshall and State Building Codes division to either require or allow local jurisdictions to require fire sprinklers in new residential construction and in residential remodels

Fire Marshal Margueritte Hickman showed examples of how fire sprinkler systems mitigate the effects of fire.  Residential fire sprinkler systems in new construction for a standard 2-3 bedroom home would cost $1-$1.25 per square foot.  Custom homes with architectural features would cost $2-$3 per square foot.  Apartments were estimated at 80 cents per square foot.  Fire Marshal Hickman confirmed that sprinkler systems were not required in multi-family units.  Homes with fire sprinkler systems can reduce the fire component of home insurance from 5%-15%. 


Councilor Chapman shared his experience of trying to install a sprinkler system into his home.  Residential supply had to be one inch and that comprised of changing the supply line to his home and installing a new meter.  Even though the sprinkler system would most likely never be used, it doubled the monthly water payment.  Subsequently, he chose not to install a sprinkler system.  Staff explained the Oregon Fire Service was working on the cost of water purveyors for the meters.  


The ordinance would apply to new construction only.  Staff was interested in possibly extending the ordinance to retrofit multi-family dwellings later.  Oregon utilizes the International Code Council as the model code that the State adopts with amendments.  In 2009, the International Residential Code implemented fire sprinkler systems for all residential buildings and the Oregon Residential Code Review under the Building Codes Division chose not to adopt that requirement.  In 2011, an appendix will be adopted regarding implementation of Oregon Residential Specialty Code that will allow local jurisdictions to adopt fire sprinkler ordinances. 


Council had concern regarding the expense and wanted options on how to deal with costs prior to making a decision.


         Work on cooperative agreements with ODOT, Union Pacific Railroad, Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad (CORP) and Jackson County on weed abatement on properties under their jurisdiction?

Chief Karns explained the need to work with the County on weed abatement.  Mayor Stromberg will contact Jackson County Commissioners after the election regarding collaborative efforts.  Jackson County would most likely not adopt the Firewise program. Senate Bill 360 followed many Firewise recommendations regarding vegetation management and new construction that applied to rural property owners in Jackson County.  Working with the County would be a joint effort.


Additional comments from Council supported the ordinance for wood roofs and suggested a 15-year replacement deadline instead of 10, agreed on working with the County but noted concerns regarding the ordinance for residential sprinkler systems.


Meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,                                   

Dana Smith

Assistant to the City Recorder



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