MINUTES FOR THE STUDY SESSION
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
August 6, 2012
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:39 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room.
Councilor Slattery, Morris, Chapman, Silbiger, Lemhouse, and Voisin were present.
1. Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
2. Discussion of issues surrounding short-term vacation rentals
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the Ashland Land Use ordinance prohibited short-term vacation rentals in a single-family district. Staff annually sent enforcement letters and this year notified 40 properties operating illegally. Of the letters sent, 50% advertised the primary home on sight instead of smaller units on the property. There were two issues, one was commercial, and multi-family zoned areas that provided accommodations for less than 30-day leases and entailed land use process and the other that a single-family zone allowed only month-to-month or longer leases. Typically, the homes were owned by people locally and most likely more lucrative than month-to-month leases.
Council had concerns with safety, achieving a fair balance between vacation home rentals and the Bed and Breakfast industry, losing rental stock, neighborhood impacts, increased stress on the infrastructure, and collecting taxes on short-term vacation rentals. Other comments disagreed with a first one in the neighborhood gets one precedence, the 500-foot rule, the four person limitation, and thought the cost of obtaining a conditional use permit could be a deterrent. Council suggested waiting for the Housing Needs Report from the Housing Commission August 21, 2012 before proceeding.
Council thought the Planning Commission should evaluate the ordinance first, have the Housing Commission participate, and forward their recommendations to Council. Council majority agreed the City should continue to enforce the ordinance during this time. Opposing comments thought enforcement was inconsistent and unfair and suggested a moratorium until possible changes to the ordinance occurred.
3. Discussion of Plaza Use policy
Management Analyst Anne Seltzer provided history on issuing permits for Plaza use and noted five issues requiring Council input:
Council agreed with the staff recommendation not to charge a fee and retain the current policy of issuing permits and managing a calendar of events at the Plaza.
Staff recommended limiting performance type events to 2 hours to alleviate possessive use with vigils and ceremonies exempted. Council was concerned that set up time might impede actual performance time and directed staff to draft options. Staff would also address other concerns that the 64 square foot space restriction was too small.
Staff recommendation would limit repeat performance activity to four times a month, not on the same day each week, and applicants could only book space one month in advance. These changes would eliminate monopolizing use of the Plaza.
Council suggested a cutoff for reserving time so performers that tended to reserve the same night weekly had the opportunity to reserve that time if there were no other performances scheduled even if they had exceeded four performances a month. Another option would let an applicant reserve Plaza space two months in advance but automatically cancel events during the second month if another performer applied for the same time. Staff would research options.
The Plaza was zoned C-1 commercial and did not allow amplification. Council directed staff to review adding an exemption for the Plaza in the C-1 zone to allow amplification.
Staff recommended prohibiting selling merchandise on the Plaza, including non-profits and fundraisers.
Council directed staff to research the possibility of allowing non-profits to sell merchandise for fundraising purposes at the Plaza but prohibit commercial activity for personal profit. Councilor Lemhouse was interested in exploring an option that would allow the Lithia Artisan Market to sell in the Plaza or parking spaces around the Plaza once a month.
Councilor Voisin left the meeting at 7:02 p.m.
Councilor Slattery made a request to Council to allocate staff time to explore cost, legal, and liability issues associated with the City’s direct participation in the initiation of a day use center for homeless and at risk homeless people. This was not an approval of an idea or funding, just a request to utilize staff on a fact-finding mission.
Council wanted a definition of the center, what it would provide and involve, and expressed concern funding a center initially. Opposing comments did not think it was appropriate for the City to get involved. The majority of Council supported moving forward.
Meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.
Assistant to the City Recorder