MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
March 5, 2013
1175 E. Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor called the order at 7:00 p.m. Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Slattery, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for annual appointments to the various Commissions and Committees. The deadline for applications was March 15, 2013.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Business Meeting of February 19, 2013 were approved as presented.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
The Mayor’s proclamation of March 8 as International Women’s Day was read aloud.
1. Approval of minutes from Boards, Commissions, and Committees
2. Report on Full Faith & Credit Bond sales - $6,345,000 tax-exempt bonds for Public Works and Parks Projects; $11,675,000 taxable bonds refunding Ashland Fiber Network debt
3. Award of a contract to the apparent low bidder for the Ashland Creek sanitary trunkline sewer, phase two
4. Jackson County scenic bikeway application letter of support
5. Approval of 2013 Council liaisons to boards, commissions, and committees.
Councilor Slattery pulled Consent Agenda item #5 for discussion. City Recorder Barbara Christensen explained staff would notify the various boards, commissions, and committees of the Council Liaison appointments and provide contact information.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1. First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC Chapter 15.28 regarding Ashland Fire and Rescue cost recovery fees”
Fire Chief John Karns provided background on the Fire & Rescue cost recovery fees and the increase in remote area rescues. Rescues outside the Fire Department’s jurisdiction required 2-4 trained personnel, and necessitated overtime costs for employees called back to duty to cover operations during the rescue.
Staff would add language to Section 15.28.170 Cost Recovery Fees (A) for recovery costs on firefighting that occurred outside the district. The ordinance allowed flexibility for payment extensions, with two appeals processes through the Fire Code or Administrative Appeals. Chief Karns clarified everyone including Ashland residents incurred ambulance costs.
Councilor Voisin/Lemhouse m/s to approve First Reading of the Ordinance and place on the agenda for Second Reading. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Lemhouse, Morris, Slattery, Rosenthal, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
Peter Schultz/375 East Nevada Street/Explained he received a letter from the Planning Department the year before informing him the land he had two green houses on were in the flood plain. He hired an engineering firm who established the 100 Year flood plain line did not affect his buildings and submitted a map amendment to FEMA who agreed with the results. The Planning Department explained it was a Type 3 Map Amendment and required Council approval.
Mayor Stromberg suggested Mr. Schultz meet with the City Administrator regarding next steps.
Ron Roth/6950 Old 99 South/Submitted documents to the Council regarding his legal case with the City.
Grayson Hockett/1401 Oregon Street/Explained he was an honor student at Southern Oregon University and spoke on the progression of solar power within Ashland. Global warming had grown exponentially over the past two decades threatening the planet. Forming a solar powered community would help reduce energy costs, diminish carbon dioxide emissions, and Ashland could become a self-sustaining city. He noted the Drake Landing Solar Community near Alberta Canada obtained over 90% of their annual energy through solar power using a seasonal thermal energy storage system and encouraged Ashland to do the same.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS - None
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Council consideration to initiate amendments to Ashland’s Municipal Code related to the establishment and operation of short-term vacation rentals
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided background on local vacation home rentals. Council directed the Planning and Housing Commissions to review potential code amendments to short-term vacation rentals. Vacation homes were typically single-family dwellings rented to travelers on a nightly basis for a period of less than 30 days. They fell into a gray area in terms of state law, city code, and county environmental health ordinances.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the Ashland zoning ordinance had provisions for these types of accommodations since the early 1980s. The Housing Commission recommended no changes to the current land use ordinance that allowed short-term accommodations through a conditional use process in the commercial and multifamily zoning districts. They were concerned providing opportunities to convert existing rental homes to short-term accommodations would have a negative impact on housing availability and costs. Existing parameters for Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) required conditional use permits in all zones, owner occupancy, or a manager on premise in multifamily zones.
The Planning Commission was not convinced the current supply of VRBOs was not meeting the demand. Additionally, there was sufficient land currently zoned for property owners to go through a conditional use permit process to add to the supply. However, the Commission determined current regulations did not meet the full demand for travelers’ coming to town to lease an individual home on a lot for a short period that did not have an owner or manager on the premise. They recommended modifying the land use code to allow a limited number of short-term home rentals within multifamily zones and walking distance to the downtown without an owner or manager on the premise. They also recommended maintaining the restriction in the zoning code prohibiting short-term accommodations in the single-family zones.
Mr. Kanner noted other municipal codes involved with tourist facilities. The first was Chapter 4 Revenue and Finance, 4.24 Transient Occupancy Tax, 4.24.010 Definitions. Staff believed the definition of hotel in the code could apply to vacation homes. In Chapter 18 Land Use, staff thought it was clear a vacation rental dwelling was subject to Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) but there was value in cleaning up code language to make it clear. Staff recommended modifying language in Chapter 6 Business Licenses and Regulations, 6.04 Business Licenses to require business licenses for vacation home rentals. The next two were subject to debate. Chapter 15 Fire Code did not require vacation rental homes to have smoke detectors or a fire inspection because they were single-family homes. Council could adopt a local code ordinance requiring fire inspections for Bed and Breakfasts, boutique inns that slept less than 10 guests, or vacation homes. The last code affected was Chapter 9 Health and Sanitation. State law did not consider vacation homes as tourist facilities subject to a tourist facility license. Because of that Jackson County did not require vacation homes to obtain a tourist facility license nor would they inspect a vacation home or enforce a city ordinance that designated a vacation home as a tourist facility. Staff did not recommend tourist facility license requirements for vacation homes.
He went on to address enforcement and explained the Code Enforcement Officer position was cut several years before so code enforcement was now an ad hoc function spread amongst many people and entirely complaint driven. The goal of code enforcement was compliance through fees. If the City reinstated a Code Enforcement Officer, that position would handle all the code issues currently spread throughout the departments and serve as a single point of contact, coordinate with departments and have the resources necessary for follow up and tracking compliance.
Mr. Molnar explained the primary purpose for having a certain number of VRBOs was limiting the potential impacts to the residential areas. Staff researched other cities regulations on vacation home rentals that placed limits on numbers and distance from each other. Mr. Kanner added the Planning Commission would recommend a specific number as well code suggestions.
Mr. Molnar noted the Planning Commission recognized the need for single unit non-owner occupied vacation rentals because of a national preference for VRBOs. The City allowed VRBOs in the commercial and employment zones but did not allow a lot of land or zoning designation to accommodate the demand. Staff focused on multifamily zones because the City did not permit VRBOs in residential zones.
Stacy Waymire/1070 Greenmeadows Way/Explained he was part of a Limited Liability Company that owned property in Ashland that was currently a 30-day rental and supported vacation home rentals in the R1 Zone area.
Margery Winter/634 Iowa Street/Agreed with Mr. Waymire on the need of vacation home rentals in the R1 Zone, preferably historic houses. VRBOs provided rentals for people with short-term jobs or engagements.
Abi Maghamfar/451 North Main Street/Explained he was a member of the Ashland Lodging Association and the founder of the Ashland Bed and Breakfast Network who submitted 46 petitions supporting active enforcement of unlicensed vacation rentals. People were doing illegal activities and it needed to stop. He listed legal lodging costs that unlicensed VRBOs did not pay emphasizing unfair competition and illegal business practices.
Pete Hawes/431 Courtney/Submitted a letter into the record that he hoped Council would consider during deliberation. He went on to speak in favor of vacation home rentals and the how they benefited the community.
Kim Blackwolf/354 Liberty Street/Referenced and read from a letter she submitted into the record supporting vacation home rentals.
Jean Fyfe/215 Sherman Street/Lived closed to a vacation rental home and noted the guests were quiet, personable, and interested in experiencing a private setting. She shared her experiences renting vacation homes.
Stewart McCollum/819 Elkader Street/Explained how and why he started renting his home as a vacation rental, shared personal experiences and ideas for VRBOs.
Carolyn Shaffer/234 7th Street/Noted her personal circumstances as a widow and how home rentals helped supplement her income.
Ellen Campbell/120 Gresham Street/Explained she was a member of the Ashland Bed and Breakfast Network and the Ashland Lodging Association. Ashland had 76 lodging establishments with 29 legal vacation homes not up to full occupancy and questioned the need for more.
Yvonne Fried/1320 Prospect Street/Used her home as an adult foster care home that was handicapped accessible. She spoke in favor of vacation home rentals and benefits of housing entire families.
Melody Jones/79 Pine Street/Owned a home with a mother in-law unit that she rented on a monthly basis. She supported VRBOs, disclosed utility costs had not changed, and there were no parking issues.
Lisa Beam/1015 Mary Jane Avenue/Spoke on behalf of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and explained how illegal vacation home rentals caused unfair competition.
Council majority supported compliance through land use codes, approval conditions for Conditional Use Permits, distance to arterials, freeing up the requirement for on-site owners for R-2 and R-3 Zones, but did not support VRBOs in the R-1 Zone. Staff would research how many vacation home rentals were prior long-term rentals.
Councilor Voisin/ Rosenthal m/s to approve the initiation of amendments to the Ashland Municipal Code related to short-term rentals that incorporate the recommendations forwarded to the Council by the Planning Commission, and further direct staff to prepare amendments to Chapters 4, 6 and 15 of the AMC, as necessary, to ensure that taxation and licensing issues are appropriately addressed. DISCUSSION: Councilor Marsh did not support the Planning Commission recommendation for a new district downtown for VRBOs, or having caps on the number of facilities but supported retaining the 200 feet within an arterial.
Councilor Marsh/Lemhouse m/s to amend the motion to eliminate the Planning Commission recommendations to include a Downtown District element, retain the current standard for distance from an arterial requirement, and have the ordinance not include a cap on specific kinds of facilities. DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin would not support the motion and wanted information on how many VRBOs were close to the downtown area. Councilor Lemhouse thought the free market would dictate rental areas so the City did not need to regulate them. Councilor Slattery would not support the motion and wanted to see the ordinance in its entirety prior to voting. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Morris, Marsh, and Lemhouse, YES; Slattery, Voisin, and Rosenthal, NO. Mayor Stromberg broke the tie with a YES vote. Motion passed 4-3.
Roll Call Vote on amended Main Motion: Councilor Morris, Slattery, Marsh, Lemhouse, Voisin and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Second reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan to adopt the Transportation System Plan as a supporting document and to amend the street dedication map”
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the Planning Commission’s recommendation to approve the Transportation System Plan (TSP) included clarifications to the document, and added maps that staff and the consultants agreed with.
Public Works Director Mike Faught addressed the connection from Ashland Mine Road to Wimer and explained the contours were so complex staff would have to engineer a connection when they annexed the area. For projects in general, staff would apply for grants and funds and did not plan to spend more money than what they had spent historically.
Mr. Molnar clarified the TSP was part of the Comprehensive Plan, the studies and projects were not mandated and contingent on funding sources.
Mr. Faught went on to address the connection street between Clay Street and Tolman Creek Road. Neighbors in the area strongly opposed the connection and worked with staff on a compromise that delayed the project until a redevelopment of the manufactured home occurred. In the interim, they agreed to a multi use path. Mr. Molnar explained that most of the development in that area was subject to annexation. Staff would do a traffic impact analysis on Normal Street and if findings showed the connection needed to occur earlier it would be a basis for not allowing annexation or future development until the connection occurred. The remaining property along Clay Street was in the Urban Growth Boundary but outside city limits and annexation required adequate transportation access. Mr. Faught added the TSP was sufficient to ensure the connection between Clay Street and Tolman Creek Road happened.
CouncilorVoisin/Slattery m/s to approve the findings of fact to accompany the ordinance for the TSP adoption and Street Dedication map amendment. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Voisin, Marsh, Lemhouse, Slattery, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
Councilor Voisin/Marsh m/s the Second Reading of an Ordinance amending the City of Ashland Comprehensive Plan to adopt the TSP as a supporting document and to amend the Street Dedication Map.
Staff explained they did not have the explicit language of the changes made to the ordinance and needed to continue second reading to the next Council meeting.
Councilor Marsh /Slattery m/s to continue Second Reading of the Ordinance to March 19, 2013. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2. Resolution titled, “A resolution setting forth policies and conditions under which Ashland will provide extreme weather related emergency shelter housing and repealing Resolution No. 2007-11”
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided the background and listed the seven conditions added to the language from Resolution 2007-11 that formulated the draft resolution allowing dogs in the emergency shelter:
1) Shelter volunteers must designate a specific area in the shelter for dogs. The floor of such area must be covered with thick plastic.
2) Dogs must remain in crates while in the shelter. Crates will not be provided, stored, repaired or cleaned by the City of Ashland and must be removed from the shelter when it is vacated.
3) If taken outside for biological needs, dogs must be leashed.
4) Shelter volunteers are to devise and follow procedures to keep dogs away from each other and other guests as they are being housed for the night and as they exit in the morning.
5) Shelter volunteers must be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing any areas soiled by a dog or dogs. Such cleaning is to be done to the satisfaction of City facilities maintenance staff.
6) Dogs that become threatening to others or are otherwise unmanageable will be required to leave the shelter.
7) Shelter volunteers must notify Jackson County Animal Control in the event a dog bite breaks the skin of an emergency shelter guest or volunteer.
Councilor Slattery/Marsh m/s to approve Resolution #2013-04.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse would support the motion but wanted better justification to allow dogs in the winter shelter. Mr. Kanner explained insurance coverage for the emergency shelter fell under providing emergency services and was different from the ongoing shelter in a City building. He went on to confirm that staff stopped by the Thursday night shelter and would continue if Council allowed dogs. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Lemhouse, Morris, Rosenthal, Voisin, Marsh, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
3. Resolution titled, “A resolution of the City Council of the City of Ashland allocating anticipated revenues from the transient occupancy tax for the biennium 2013-2015 budget and repealing resolution 2012-04”
Councilor Slatttery declared a conflict of interest due to his wife being the Executive Director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce.
Councilor Lemhouse/Marsh m/s to accept Councilor Slattery’s conflict of interest and allow him to leave the meeting. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Slattery left the room at 9:56 p.m.
Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg explained Council had designated $110,000 to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) a few years prior and that amount had not changed. The allocation fell under the state requirement regarding tourism. Council questioned if returns on the allocation had declined over the years since OSF was receiving less funds by not incurring an increase.
Councilor Voisin motioned in the non-tourism monies under the economic development program, the 10% is divided between the General Fund at 85% and small grants at 15%. Motion died for lack of a second.
Councilor Rosenthal/Lemhouse m/s to approve Resolution #2013-05.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse agreed OSF was receiving declining funds over the years but the City had not heard from them regarding an increase. Councilor Voisin added OSF provided Council a report on how they spent the allocation annually. Mr. Tuneberg explained allocation amounts for the Vacation Convention Bureau (VCB) was another identified use of tourism dollars from the state definition. Councilor Voisin wanted to increase the allocation percentage for the grantees.
Councilor Voisin m/s to amend grantees under the tourism section and increase the percentage to 20% from 10%. Motion died for lack of a second.
Continued Discussion on Main Motion: Councilor Rosenthal noted the Chamber allocation and how it related to the City’s recently adopted Economic Development Plan and did not think the current allocation was adequate to achieve the goals stated in the plan.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Marsh, Morris, Lemhouse, Voisin and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Meeting adjourned at 10:09 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor