MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
May 15, 2012
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 Voisin, Morris, Slattery, Silbiger, and Chapman were present. Councilor Lemhouse was absent.
Mayor Stromberg announced vacancies on the Tree Commission, Public Arts Commission, the Band Board, and the Audit Committee.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Executive Session of April 30, 2012, Study Session of April 30, 2012, Executive Session of May 1, 2012 and Business Meeting of May 1, 2012 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
The presentation regarding the FireWise Poster Contest Winner was postponed.
Councilor Chapman recognized Ashland High School orchestra students for their outstanding efforts.
1. Approval of minutes of Boards, Commissions, and Committees
2. Approval of a Liquor License Application for Brad Boucher dba Sauce
3. Appointment of Nicole Doran to the Airport Commission
4. Approval of a special procurement for computer programmers for the Water Treatment Plant and the Wastewater Treatment Plant
5. Approval of an MOU between Ashland Community Hospital and Ashland Police Department to coordinate a facilitate cooperation between the parties for mental health hold transports
6. Contract for legal services for Douglas M. McGeary
7. Resolution transferring appropriations from General Fund Contingency to the David Grubbs Reward Fund
8. Declaration and Authorization to Dispose of Surplus Property in a Sealed Bid Auction
9. Approval to award a public contract resulting from an invitation to bid for Scott Air-Paks 75 self-contained breathing apparatus, cylinders, and accessories
10. Approval of special procurement for laboratory testing of water quality parameters
Councilor Slattery/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS - None
Harriet Snyder/1330 Ashland Mine Road/Read from a document submitted into the record refuting statements that the Plaza Watch group did not witness problems in the Plaza, as well as implications from the Chamber of Commerce that Ashland experienced extremely high levels of crime and bad behavior associated with homeless people and transients.
Michael Dawkins/646 East Main Street/Spoke regarding Plaza design shared aspects of a site visit to the Plaza during a Planning Commission retreat and suggested improvements. He thought Council should set up a committee using local expertise to work on a new design.
1. Resolution increasing water and sewer rates for FY 2012-2013
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained the impact of a 10% water rate increase over the originally proposed 12.7% would reduce the average residential water bill by .94 cents, the annual Water Fund revenue by $85,172 and require a reduction in expenditures in the current adopted budget. If Council adopted a 10% rate increase, staff would cut the half time Conservation position and defer specific distribution projects. Staff recommended the 12.7% increase with a 10% base and a 10% wastewater rate increase. Mr. Faught clarified the rate increase would result in minimal savings until the third year. Staff could delay the well testing project for long-term supply 3-4 years. Ashland Water Advisory ad-hoc Committee (AWAC) member John Williams added not saving at this time would create even higher rate increases in the future.
Terrance Stenson/172 Alida Street/Read from a document submitted into the record of his impressions regarding the AWAC recommendations and potential City action as a result.
Pat Acklin/270 Scenic Drive/Shared she was a former City Councilor and noted the importance of the AWAC project, continuing conservation efforts, acknowledged the $6,000,000 maintenance backlog and the difficulty Council had deciding to raise rates.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to approve Resolution #2012-12. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin explained the increases would happen steadily over a 10-year period. If not, spike increases of 30%-40% could occur. She listed the benefits the rate increase would provide and encouraged Council to support the plan. Councilor Slattery did not think it was a matter of approving the plan so much as providing the public a second review and opportunity to give input on the increases.
Councilor Silbiger expressed concern regarding project priorities, implementation, and staff eliminating the Conservation position and other projects if the rate increase did not pass. The increase was more than 12%, it included a 10% base rate and another raise that would start a bill at $32 without water and double in seven years. It also appeared to penalize conservation. He thought 10% or 12% across the board was fairer.
Councilor Chapman would not support the motion until the City addressed the inequity of the base rates between ¾ and 1-inch meters. He currently paid a $30 base rate monthly and thought people should pay for water used. Councilor Morris added more houses would have fire sprinklers in the future requiring a larger meter and be penalized for water not used. He could support the motion with an annual review of rates and possible adjustments. The plan did not cover water curtailment and the assumption was 50% more water curtailment would occur in the future. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Silbiger, Voisin, and Morris, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
Council directed staff to provide information regarding the ¾-inch base rate for water meters.
Councilor Voisin/Slattery m/s to approve Resolution #2012-13. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Silbiger, Voisin, and Morris, YES; Councilor Chapman, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
Councilor Voisin requested Mayor Stromberg and City Administrator Dave Kanner add developing utility fees that reward conservation and protect working poor and fixed income people to a future agenda.
Councilor Chapman left the room at 8:00 p.m.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1.Approval of Conservation Commission recommendations for Council Goal additions
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg provided background and explained staff was working on an Idling Program and the LEED Silver Program.
Cat Gould/114 Van Ness/Expressed support for the Conservation Commission recommendations to develop a sustainability plan for the City and community.
Project Manager Adam Hanks clarified staff would bring Council a LEED Silver standards program and Council would decide whether to have an ordinance or resolution.
Councilor Chapman returned to the room at 8:06 p.m.
Councilor Slattery/Voisin m/s to amend the 2011 Council Goal relating to the development of a sustainability plan to state: “Develop a concise sustainability plan for the community and for City operations, beginning with development of a plan framework, suggested plan format, timeline and resource requirements for city operations that can be used as a model for a community plan to follow.” DISCUSSION: Councilor Silbiger stated there were already goals in place and the amendment was a project under the goals and did not need to be an agenda item. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Morris, and Voisin, YES; Councilor Chapman and Silbiger, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Resolution establishing an opt-out policy for the automated meter reading program
Interim Assistant City Administrator Lee Tuneberg explained the City began replacing electric meters over 10 years ago and was currently 45% converted. The City used radio frequency meter reading to save on time, effort, and cost. The Opt Out Policy would eventually result in hiring additional manual meter readers as well as time spent managing customers who opted out. Staff proposed a $120 for a resident to opt out of the radio frequency meter with a $20 monthly charge for additional handling. The City did not charge customers when their area converted to radio frequency meters because it was an efficiency gain. Radio frequency meters allowed staff to walk by, gather information, and not enter the property. The meters were also more accurate than analog meters. Radio frequency meters were pervasive throughout the country. Agencies were now looking at Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) that read meters from a tower. The City used Automated Meter Reading (AMR).
Pamala Joy/472 Walker Avenue/Was appalled to learn something as potentially harmful as AMR meters were in the community. There was no evidence that smart meters were safe but radio frequency radiation caused great concern. She noted possible litigation and costs associated with the removal of these meters and asked Council to choose health over money. She did not understand why she should have to pay to not to have something installed.
James Haim/152 Orange Avenue/Explained he was an Environmental Biologist and shared his expertise and experience. Respect Ashland commissioned him to measure smart meters in town. He found there were two types of “smart meters,” older ones producing 50-100 microwatts per meter square and the new ones that measured 10,000-16,000 microwatts per meter square from six feet away. For comparison, the roof of the Ashland Springs Hotel had seven antennae, measuring 16,000 microwatts per meter square. Standards put out by the Building Biology Institute state that over 1,000 microwatts per meter square was extreme. He shared options to avoid radio frequencies and noted communities that had outlawed or phased out smart meters. He hoped Council would not only choose a free opt out program but adopt a method of reading meters that did not produce electromagnetic radiation.
Brooks Newton/1196 Timberline Terrace/Shared her personal experience with microwave radiation and expressed concern for her health and the health of others. She asked for a moratorium on installing more meters and free meter replacement to those who requested it. She was incredulous the City would charge people to change their meters when they were not informed initially.
Rod Newton/1196 Timberline Terrace/Represented Respect Ashland Coalition. He sent the data Mr. Haim collected to Electrical Engineer Tom Wilson who specialized in electromagnetic remediation and confirmed the Itron C1 SR meter transmitted signals at a very high level of radiation, commented on the health risks involved, and provided several wireless options. He encouraged Council to explore other options, impose a moratorium on new meters, and establish an Opt Out policy that was not punitive.
Paula Baker Laportte/1131 Paradise Lane/Authored “Prescriptions for a Healthy House” and shared history on toxic chemicals in construction. There was no scientific proof the meters were harmful but there was a growing level of people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. She urged Council to formalize a moratorium until there was proof the meters were safe and not penalize people who wanted to opt out.
Gloria Rossi/1280 Oak Street/Thought the City should research smart meters and their affect on privacy and associated medical issues.
Alan Sasha Lithman/669 Park Street/Believed decisions at the City level should honor the precautionary principal and factor in public health. Replacing employees with electromagnetic instruments was regressive.
Rich Schmitt/523 N Laurel/Shared that health issues prompted him to opt out of things that were detrimental to his health. He supported a moratorium on the meters and volunteered to read analogue meters in the interim.
Mary Yount/130 Orange Avenue/Read a letter from a professor of neuroscience in Sweden addressed to the California Public Utility Commission regarding the unhealthy affects of smart meters. She went on to share her experience with the Public Works Department when she requested the City remove her smart meter and wanted to opt out.
James Fong/759 Leonard Street/Summarized the public testimonies as prudent and precautionary. There was a need to determine the risks to avoid health issues and potential litigations as well as explore options, be fair, kind, and right.
Hal Bahr/1345 Tolman Creek Road/Noted inaccuracies regarding wireless smart meter readings, and stated charging citizens’ outrageous fees to opt out would create voter dissatisfaction with Council. He urged more research and a moratorium on smart meter technology.
Jem Mara/697 Terrace Street/Explained humans were magnetic and susceptible to electromagnetic issues. She supported the old option, and did not think efficiency over health made sense.
Cate Hartzell/892 Garden Way/Took issue that the decision to use smart meters occurred without public discussion, or a cost benefit and health analysis. She thought charging an Opt Out fee was oppressive, misguided, and that smart meters should be removed from the community.
Doug Kipping/2021 Wine Street/Explained radiation in high doses was carcinogenic and commented on the large amount of radiation a smart meter on every house would have on the public. He encouraged Council to look for safer technology.
Naomi Caspe/2021 Wine Street/Noted people did not want exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (EMF). There was increased short-term memory loss, and Autism and some studies were starting to recognize EMF might be a factor. She encouraged the City to make the safest, most gentle, and wisest decisions and solutions.
Oriana Spratt/212 Patterson Street/The City had not informed citizens they were installing smart meters. Additionally, she received misinformation twice when she called the City regarding the meters. Council had two conflicting interests, the financial well-being of the Electric Department and well-being of the citizens. She hoped the Council would act to protect community health.
Councilor Slattery/Chapman m/s to approve Resolution #2012-14. DISCUSSION: Councilor Slattery clarified the policy should not include fees or penalties. Councilor Chapman understood there should be a fee but did not agree with the initial $120 to replace meters. He also wanted justification on the monthly $20 fee. Councilor Morris wanted to know the Electric and Water utilities goals regarding the future of meter reading as well as the grid and process. Originally, that was a selling point for Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) that never occurred. He did support an Opt Out policy.
Councilor Voisin motioned that a moratorium on future change outs of smart meters begin immediately. Motion died for lack of a second.
Mr. Tuneberg explained staff had ceased converting entire routes since the request for an Opt Out policy and were only changing smart meters when necessary. Councilor Voisin suggested adding an agenda item to a future Study Session to discuss the use of smart meters in depth.
Councilor Silbiger motioned that once the Opt Out Policy and fees, if any, are in place that staff resumes the previous program for meter installations. Motion died for lack of a second.
Mayor Stromberg commented on studies he had read and concerns that electromagnetic radiation might be additive. He was interested in learning more about non-microwave meters or using Ethernet cable through AFN. Councilor Chapman expressed concern the provider did not work with staff to program the meters and suggested going to another vendor if they were not willing to help. Councilor Voisin wanted staff to provide alternative options on smart meters.
Councilor Slattery/Voisin m/s to amend main motion that no fees be associated with the Opt Out Policy. Voice Vote: Councilor Morris, Slattery, and Voisin, YES; Councilor Silbiger and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Roll Call Vote on amended main motion: Councilor Voisin, Morris, and Slattery, YES; Councilor Silbiger and Chapman, NO. Motion passed 3-2.
Councilor Morris questioned the ability to have a Study Session regarding meters using valid data since there were no standards.
2. First Reading of an ordinance titled, “An Ordinance Amending AMC Chapter 10.46 Prohibited Camping, Clarifying Section 10.46.010 Definitions”.
Police Chief Terry Holderness explained the clarification would clean up language by removing from 10.46.010 Definitions (B): “…for the purpose of maintaining a temporary place to live…” and replacing it with: “…so as to exclude the use of public property by the general public…” making the ordinance easier to enforce and prosecute violations.
Jesse Sharpe/411 Dollarhide Way/Thought the proposed language attacked members of the homeless community in an even more damaging way. The ordinance would give the Police a right to discrimination and weed out those law enforcement viewed as disruptive. He compared the ordinance to the vagrancy laws the Supreme Court deemed illegal.
Mike Majchrzak/2284 McCall/Addressed the humanity and the struggles of those homeless in Ashland. There was property near Clay Street that would be ideal for a homeless pilot project to provide a place for the homeless to sleep.
Keith Haxton/1106 Paradise Lane/Explained the amended language did not make sense and cited First Amendment rights. The ordinance was moving in the direction of punishing poverty. He urged Council not to pass the amendment.
Helga Motley/693 Clay Street/Read a statement submitted into the record from Lee Mattson that questioned whether the ordinance would have any affect reducing crime. The statement suggested establishing an engaged volunteer core that worked with homeless and business owners and fostered sound relationships in the community without ignoring the crime that did occur.
Chief Holderness explained the difference from setting up a campsite versus laying out a blanket for a brief period. City Attorney Dave Lohman read the definition of a Campsite from the ordinance: “Campsite means any place where bedding, sleeping bags, or other material used for bedding purposes, or any stove, fire, or cooking apparatus, other that in a designated picnic area, is placed, established, or maintained, so as to exclude the use of public property by the general public, whether or not such place incorporates the use of any tent, lean-to, shack, or any other structure, or any vehicle or part thereof.” He explained the language in Jones v. City of Los Angeles was opinion and had no precedential value because the decision was vacated. Another Court could not cite Jones v. City of Los Angeles as any kind of precedent. The proposed amendment was a response to the realization that the ordinance as written did not accomplish what it was attempting to accomplish.
Chief Holderness further explained a Police Officer had to make a reasonable determination someone was using an area as a camp and show the Judge it was a reasonable determination.
Councilor Chapman/Silbiger m/s to approve First Reading of the Ordinance and move to Second Reading. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin would not support the motion and expressed concern the City did not provide any alternatives for homeless people needing a place to sleep. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Silbiger, Chapman, Slattery, and Morris, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 4-1.
3. First Reading of an ordinance titled, “An Ordinance Adding AMC 9.08.280 Feeding of Deer, Raccoon, and Potentially Habituated Wildlife Prohibited Within the City Limits of Ashland.”
Councilor Morris/Voisin m/s to approve First Reading of an ordinance adding AMC 9.08.280 Feeding of Deer, Raccoon, Wild Turkeys and potentially habituated wildlife prohibited within the city limits of Ashland and place on agenda for Second Reading. DISCUSSION: Councilor Morris thought it was a good start and would help alleviate deer and turkey issues. City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the first violation would consist of written notification giving the person involved two days to cease, if they continued, they received a citation, and would appear before the Municipal Court and face a Class 1 Violation. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Chapman, Morris, Slattery, and Silbiger, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Voisin explained the Conservation Commission would come before Council and request that all future City construction projects meet at least a LEED Silver Certification. The Gray Water Subcommittee would also come before Council to adopt the State Gray Water Policy, and bring a recommendation on a sustainability framework to Council.
Councilor Chapman clarified that when Council voted on the Opt Out Policy, it excluded all fees and thought that warranted more discussion.
Meeting was adjourned at 10:05 pm.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor