MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
December 20, 2011
1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger, and Chapman were present. Councilor Slattery was absent.
Mayor Stromberg announced openings on the Planning, Historic, Housing, Public Arts, Tree, and Transportation Commissions and the Audit Committee.
He described the annual Abundance Swap and recognized Jeff Golden who created the event and Alan DeBoer who donated the Historic Ashland Armory for the event.
He went on to add a second agenda item under OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS for a report from Councilor Voisin on the Homelessness Steering Committee.
SHOULD THE COUNCIL APPROVE THE MINUTES OF THESE MEETINGS?
The minutes of the Study Session of December 5, 2011, Executive Session of December 6, 2011 and Regular Meeting of December 6, 2011 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
1. Will Council Approve the Minutes of the Boards, Commissions and Committees?
2. Does Council wish to approve a Liquor License Application from Emil McMillan, Jr. dba McMillan’s Hong Kong Bar at 23 North Main Street?
3. Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor’s appointment of Tobin Fisher to the Historic Commission with a term to expire April 30, 2014?
4. Does Council wish to confirm the Mayor’s appointment of Richard Kaplan with a term to expire April 30, 2015 to the Planning Commission?
5. Will Council, acting as the Local Contract Review Board, approve a Sole Source Procurement for the acquisition of Itron electric meters directly from General Pacific for a term of three (3) years beginning January 1, 2012 and expiring December 31, 2014?
Councilor Voisin pulled Consent Agenda item #5 for discussion.
Councilor Morris/Chapman m/s to approve Consent Agenda items #1 - #4. Voice Vote: all AYES.
Rod Newton/1196 Timberline Terrace/Spoke regarding Consent Agenda item #5, the acquisition of Itron electric meters. The meters would send out a radiated signal every 30 seconds to allow a meter reader to capture information while driving past using a handheld device. The first generation of this type of meter produced one radiated signal a month and worked fine. He was concerned about the health effects of continual radiation emitted from the new meters and thought the City should postpone the purchase order to research meters that would emit less radiation.
James Fong/759 Leonard Street/Also spoke on Consent Agenda item #5, the acquisition of Itron electric meters. He explained the issue was wireless radiation, Electric Magnetic Frequency (EMT) and Radio Frequency (RF). There was concern the technology had potential health impacts and asked the City to readdress the acquisition. He noted that six other municipalities had put moratoriums on using the meters until they researched health risks and other areas rejected them all together.
Interim City Administrator Lee Tuneberg explained there was not a formal policy for opting out and the City had received less than 12 requests not to use the meters in their area. Alternately, more people were opting in because it eliminated leaving gates open, having City staff enter personal property and alleviated concerns regarding their pets. Currently 43% of electric meters used radio frequency emitters.
Councilor Silbiger/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda item #5. DISCUSSION: CouncilorSilbiger noted this was a long-standing conversion. There was no plausible or measurable health problem related to the transmitters and they used the same frequency as non-cellular telephones. Councilor Voisin thought the City should research the possible health effects related to the transmitters and would not support the motion. Mayor Stromberg suggested the City provide a policy for customers to opt out and charge accordingly. CouncilorChapman added the meters were low powered and outside. Staff could look into purchasing first generation meters or reprogramming the new meters to a standby mode. Councilor Morris did not think the new meters were potentially harmful but wanted a policy to opt out. CouncilorLemhouse supported delaying the order to address concerns and possible options. CouncilorVoisin reiterated the need to delay until they received more information. CouncilorChapman explained the company could decide on reprogramming or using first generation meters while the order was processed. Mr. Tuneberg recommended digital meters without the Electronic Radio Transmitter (ERT). They were more accurate and incapable of transmission. Voice Vote: Councilor Morris, Chapman and Silbiger, YES; Councilor Voisin and Lemhouse, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Council directed staff to explore a policy for opting out and associated costs.
PUBLIC HEARINGS- None
Pam Vavra/457 C Street/Spoke on the behalf of the Local Chapter of the Civil Liberties Defense Center regarding homelessness and the Center’s founder, Ralph Temple who had passed. She noted the escalation nationwide of Police coming down on homeless people and that homelessness had increased dramatically since 2008. The Center worked to protect the public by educating them on their rights and reaffirmed the Center’s intention to continue Mr. Temple’s work.
1. Will Council approve a resolution for an interim rate increase for solid waste collection?
City Administrator Larry Patterson provided background on the 7.5% increase across the board for all users with a 20% increase on commercial bins Council approved during the December 6, 2011 meeting. Recology adjusted the rates that equated to an overall increase of 11.2%. General Manager Steve DiFabion explained the rate increase with the current calculations would help Recology break even.
Councilor Voisin/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2011-34. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin thought the rate increase was reasonable and a good beginning. Councilor Lemhouse did not see the evidence that justified the rate increase and would not support the motion. Councilor Chapman noted some of the commercial rates were higher because it was an average and would hurt more customers than he had anticipated. Mayor Stromberg was not comfortable with the concept of cost-plus as the basis for rates because it gave Recology the incentive that more costs equaled more profit and put the City at a disadvantage. Councilor Silbiger agreed with the Mayor and added approving the rate change was not an acceptance of Recology’s request to build a 10% profit margin into the replacement Franchise Agreement. Councilor Voisin wanted a Study Session to address the 23.3% increase, review an audit of Recology’s financials, and then start negotiations. Mayor Stromberg clarified the next steps included getting expert help, analyzing the figures, and interacting with Recology. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin, Chapman and Morris, YES; Councilor Lemhouse, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
2. Does Council have questions regarding the applicability of recent ordinance amendments designed to implement ideas, proposals and recommendations evaluated as part of the Pedestrian Places Project?
Interim City Administrator Larry Patterson explained Council passed the Pedestrian Places ordinance without fully realizing that some of the provisions in the Overlay Zone applied citywide. At Council’s request, staff prepared an outline of amendments to the ordinance that clarified the changes. Council was concerned with the transit stops and the blanket assessment of arterial setbacks and wanted the Planning Commission to review all the amendments.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar addressed Section 18.92.050 Transit Facilities Credit, and explained the changes to the off street-parking chapter sought to identify additional parking management strategies to utilize parking more efficiently. This change applied to projects with parking requirements of at least 20 spaces. Applicants providing a transit plaza were eligible for a 10% reduction in the parking requirement. The City would also have the ability to require additional study by a professional.
He went to explain the staff recommendation to remove the 20-foot arterial setback in the city and apply it to commercial or employment areas only. This change primarily affected Ashland Street, Siskiyou Boulevard, and parts of North Main. An applicant could reduce the 20-foot setback no less than the City’s new sidewalk standards. In a commercial zone, that was anywhere from 13-15 feet back from the curb. In addition, a 5-foot setback could be greater. Even with the front yard setback removed along commercial arterials, the building setback would be 15-20 feet. The residential 20-foot front yard setback remained unchanged. Mr. Molnar added the Planning Commission was aware of the amendments and understood it would apply to the greater extent of Ashland Street beyond the small Pedestrian Overlay.
Mayor Stromberg thought the amendments were major impacts to areas of Ashland and did not think the Planning Commission had discussed them in depth. They also passed through Council unnoticed and needed review by both groups.
Councilor Silbiger shared his personal experience discovering the amendments and addressed the outline of changes. The first four pages affected the entire city. There was one page for the Pedestrian Overlay and Detailed Review Zone and only half a page for Pedestrian Places. The changes did not appear to be an oversight and he found it disturbing. The majority of changes were good but the Planning Commission and Council should have discussed them in detail prior to approval. If the intent and purpose beyond the Pedestrian Places was to increase density along certain corridors, those standards were now in areas they should not be.
Councilor Morris supported most of the changes but expressed concern they were presented as Pedestrian Places. He had mentioned the special setback requirement had changed during the hearing and that it was not a Pedestrian Places location. In addition, there were items in the ordinance not covered in the public meetings.
Councilor Voisin thought the changes were good and that Council frequently gave mixed messages to staff. Mayor Stromberg added that when writing new ordinance language that had a specific purpose there was a tendency to address other issues relating to the ordinance. However, some of the issues in the Pedestrian Places ordinance did not go through the proper land use process and had a different context. The people affected by the changes were most likely unaware they existed.
Colin Swales/143 8th Street/Noted he had spoken to these issues at the Planning Commission and Council meetings. The outline of changes was more extensive than he originally thought and he had read the ordinance carefully. When working with arterial setbacks there was a need to preserve both the public space and the property rights of those who abutted the arterials.
Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s to direct the Planning Commission to review the ordinance changes made citywide and to the Detailed Site Review and make recommendations to Council for changes as appropriate. DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger explained in addition to reading the minutes, he had confirmed with a Planning Commissioner they had not discussed changes outside of the Pedestrian Places Overlay, nor had Council. It was appropriate for the Planning Commission to go through the review process. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Voisin, Lemhouse, Morris and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
3. Will Council authorize the City Administrator to finalize and sign the Charging Site Host Agreement with ECOtality North America to participate in a pilot project for the installation and use of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging units in two City owned parking facilities in the downtown area?
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg explained the pilot program would have two charging stations in the downtown area. Project Manager Adam Hanks added the City Administrator would designate the spaces for EV charging only. Currently there was 7% use of these spaces. The pilot project would help determine how pervasive use was and how quickly it would ramp up.
Mr. Hanks explained enforcement was the same as changing a 15-minute parking zone to two hours and fell below the threshold of an ordinance. Additionally, the ordinance authorized the City Administrator to make changes at that level. Initial energy use would be insignificant, eventually fall to time of use, and load management. When the pilot program ended, they would cap the charging pedestal without the City incurring removal costs.
Managing time limits for the parking spaces would be no different from managing the two and 4-hour parking spaces. An electronic vehicle using the space but not charging would result in a ticket.
City Attorney Dave Lohman noted that ECOtality was proposing a license instead of the agreement in the Council packet that was more protective and contained a terminable at will clause.
Mr. Hanks explained a customer could subscribe to the program and have access to charging stations all along the coast or make one-time purchases at the individual charging stations.
Councilor Voisin/Chapman m/s to authorize the Interim City Administrator or his designee to finalize and sign the Charging Site Host Agreement with ECOtality North America including the installation of 2 charging units in Ashland as presented or any more protective agreement for the City. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Will Council conduct annual review and accept the current City of Ashland Investment Policy?
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the investment policy was last revised 2009 and read the following from the policy statement: “It is the policy of the City of Ashland to invest public funds in a manner which will provide the highest investment return with the maximum security while meeting the daily cash flow demands of the entity and conforming to all state and local statutes governing the investment of public funds.”
The policy was set up to safeguard the monies of the citizenry and had a criteria guideline that addressed where the City could keep excess funds. Given the market, 99% of the City’s money was currently in the Local Government Investment Pool, and there was one Federal Agency security with Wells Fargo. There were no securities out there that met the 90-day Treasury bill benchmark the City used or the Local Government Investment Pool.
She noted recent conversations with individual citizens and clarified the agenda item pertained to the City’s investment policy and there were no investments or securities with Bank of America since 2009.
Ms. Christensen had reviewed House Bill 3700 and explained it was the second time in the past 10 years the use of credit unions had come forward. The current policy allowed the City to use credit unions but treated them the same as banks. Mainstream banks used FDIC at the $250,000 level, anything over that required collateralization. The 2009 revisions to the City’s Investment Policy encompassed changes the bank had made. At that time, banks created a collaborative group in order to establish a collateralization pool because the cost of collateralizing funds became too expensive. Insurance companies had raised the premiums paid and it became increasingly more difficult for banks to pay municipalities to invest in securities more than $250,000. Now, credit unions were trying to create a collaborative group, and put together a collateralization pool approved by the State Treasurer’s office. The Investment Policy prohibited the City from purchasing securities from any bank that did not participate in a collateralization program. If the credit unions were successful, municipal governments could safely invest in credit unions higher than what their current insurance fund and collateralizations allowed.
The Request for Proposal (RFP) for banking services was a 3-4 month process that occurred every five years. Banking services contracts lasted three years with two one-year extensions. Ms. Christensen thought it was possible and a good idea to go out for another RFP that coincided with the three-year contract. Technology was changing and smaller and local banks were catching up to larger banks. Part of the RFP criteria was having a local branch. The primary criteria were ensuring the bank could meet the City’s complex banking needs. City Attorney Dave Lohman further explained the Council could add RFP evaluation, or tier two criteria to the RFP process. Ms. Christensen added they could include more information in the scoring system as well.
Rich Rohde/124 Ohio Street/Explained he was the regional organizer for Oregon Action and shared the goals of the local banking movement. Oregon Action had two suggestions for Council. One was add more selection criteria to the next RFP process. The second was incorporating the changes in House Bill 3700 into the City’s investment policy and transferring investments to a local credit union.
Julie O’Dwyer/995 Camelot Drive/Supported Oregon Action’s suggestions to Council described in Mr. Rohde’s testimony. It would support both residents and business owners.
Emery Way/430 Ashland Street/Spoke in support of the City making changes to the banking policy to invest local and keep the money in the community. Many people had already moved their money from larger banks into local credit unions. He asked Council to take an innovative step and be the first city to move their banking services to a local credit union as well.
Tammi Spencer/453 Willow Street/Explained she was a member of Oregon Action and Occupy Medford/Ashland. She presented Council with a petition containing approximately 300 signatures supporting a Responsible Banking Resolution in Ashland.
Nick Patterson/526 Windsor Avenue, Medford/Represented Occupy Medford and was present to support Ashland’s divestment from Bank of America (BofA) and Wells Fargo. Banking local was good money management and was good for the community.
Andrew Seles/475 W Nevada Street/Stated he was a member of Oregon Action and Occupy Ashland and described some of Bank of America’s actions since the taxpayer bailouts.
Evan Lasley/110 Seventh Street/Noted that people had moved $650,000 out of Bank of America since September 29, 2011 when the bank announced their $5 debit card fee. This was the next step in the movement to reclaim some economic power for local regions and establish autonomy from the Wall Street banks. He stressed the importance of looking at the long-term consequences of large banking systems.
Pam Vavra/457 C Street/Shared details of what happened when Jackson County decided to outsource library management services in Ashland and expressed her support of Oregon Action.
Treasa Cordero Reinzi/1114 Oak Knoll Drive/Provided statistics on Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and City Bank. She was a member of the Steering Committee for the National New Bottom Line and a board member of Oregon Action. She noted the City of Seattle recently passed a Responsible Banking Ordinance. The Los Angeles Clergy divested over $2,000,000 and ended 200 years of business with Bank of America. People Acting in Community Together (PACT) in San Jose divested one billion dollars while other coalition affiliates in San Jose divested $22,000,000 collectively. She urged Council to consider divestment options for City funds to local banks and credit unions.
John Fisher-Smith/945 Oak Street/Noted the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that separated brokerage and trading functions from banking functions was repealed in 1999. That action created the current large conglomerate banks. England recently had to establish their own Glass-Steagall Act to separate their “High Street” banks from the Investment banks. He suggested Ashland no longer conduct business with big investment banks.
Liza Maltsberger/276 B Street/Explained Bank of America was one of the top three funders of mountaintop removal and described the harmful results of this form of mining. She did not want her money to support this practice and did not want City money to support it either.
Chapman/Silbiger m/s to approve the City of Ashland Investment Policy and direct staff to place on the calendar a review of the criteria before the RFP goes out for banking services. DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse supported having local preference scores in the RFP. He disagreed on making a choice between ethics and profit. Good business combined both ethics and profit. Additionally, the idea that credit unions would loan to small businesses was not accurate. They were not loaning either due to regulations put in place a 1.5 years prior. Until the regulations changed, no lender was lending money. Councilor Voisin supported the motion. The Economic Development Strategy stated the need to assist local existing and emerging businesses to help them grow. There was also the need to increase investment capital for local businesses and credit unions would be able to make loans in the future. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
Ms. Christensen explained the City’s’ daily banking services and that the Bank of America account only contained enough money to meet the expenses of the City, any excess was transferred. She clarified the City had not used the “float” option for several years. She would further evaluate House Bill 3700 and collateralization.
2. Shall Council approve the annual appointments for the vacant positions on the Citizen Budget Committee with term ending December 31, 2016?
City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained the City received two new applications after the deadline and a request for reappointment from Roberta Stebbins. The City advertised the vacancies in the local newspaper over a two-week period and posted them on the website. The deadline for this committee was a processing deadline only and the City could receive late applications. In the future, she would note late applications were acceptable when posting vacancies.
Councilor Silbiger/Chapman m/s the approval of the appointments of Roberta Stebbins and Bill Heimann to the Budget Committee. Voice Vote: All AYES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Will Council approve Second Reading of ordinance titled, “An Ordinance Amending Chapter 2.12 and Chapter 2.19 of the Ashland Municipal Code, Reducing the Number of Established Members on the Planning Commission and Housing Commission”?
Councilor Lemhouse/Chapman m/s to approve Ordinance #3056. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin, Silbiger, and Chapman, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Mayor Stromberg addressed the issues the community had with the deer population. He noted the deer count that occurred in the fall and recognized the Wildlife Committee and their efforts to educate community on wildlife. One of the suggestions was establishing a Do Not Feed the Deer Ordinance. Feeding deer increased their population, was not healthy for them and created tension between neighbors. Another suggestion was having Council match $3,000 of the $6,000 needed for an over flight deer count to correct any discrepancies from the earlier deer count.
Councilor Voisin explained the Homelessness Steering Committee would come before Council in January with a motion to allow homeless males to use the showers in The Grove on Friday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on a trial basis. Parks and Recreation Director Don Robertson supported using The Grove for this service. The only other place that provided shower services for the homeless was at the Congregational Church on Monday mornings 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. where they often had to turn away people.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:23 pm.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder Mayor John Stromberg