Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, March 03, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Council Chair Dennis Slattery called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Voisin, Rosenthal, Morris, and Marsh were present.  Mayor Stromberg and Councilor Lemhouse were absent.
1.     Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.  Council discussed using time allocated for the Study Session March 17, 2014 for a site visit to the Normal Avenue neighborhood instead.
2.     Discussion of seismic structural improvements to existing buildings
Building Official Michael Grubbs proposed seismic upgrade requirements for new commercial buildings and reconstruction on existing buildings.  The Cities of Medford, Portland, and Seattle all had seismic ordinances in place. 
He shared an earthquake history timeline that indicated the last 9.0 regional earthquake occurred in the early 1700s and described the impact from the Oregon coast inland.  The Cascadia subduction zone was a fault line that ran from Vancouver, BC to northern California and separated the Juan de Fuca and North America plates.  When the next large earthquake happened, it would affect all of Oregon and Washington.
In Portland, 20% of rebuilds had seismic upgrades and Medford had twelve buildings upgrade over the past three years.  The minimal upgrade requirement for buildings was the ability to exit the building safely to a full upgrade where the building would incur some damage and restore to occupancy in a shorter period.  The proposed ordinance should meet the minimal upgrade requirement for buildings. Full seismic upgrades should be the building ownersí decision.  The City of Portland mandated different thresholds for different requirements.  Staff suggested an incremental approach to upgrades and eventually include residential.
Portland was looking into grants and loans to bring costs down and provide incentives for seismic upgrades.  Currently Portland had a phased plan over 7-10 years and reduced or waived permit fees depending on the upgrade.  Both Medford and Portland had historic clauses in their ordinances.  Staff would check with FEMA and California seismic laws for incentives in terms of zoning, non-confirming elements of building, and density bonuses.  Staff would also research a reduction in transfer tax when an owner sold their home, a retrofit prioritization list, insurance information, and the possibility of revolving loans to fund upgrades.  Council and staff discussed fire damage from earthquakes and possibly requiring a change from gas to electric for full retrofit upgrades.
Staff suggested using the City website, City Source, and email messaging for public outreach.  Staff would also develop an inventory of vulnerable commercial buildings in town.
3.     Discussion of electric vehicle pilot program, home charging stations
Building Official Michael Grubbs explained the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) created an Electric Vehicle Pilot Program that required new single residential and duplexes with garages or a major remodel to a carport or garage add infrastructure for electric vehicle charging.  The program would be in place for three years and was part of Governor Kitzhaberís 10-year energy plan the prompted the formation of the Energize Oregon Coalition.  Transportation accounted for more than a third of green house emissions. The state had a target of reducing gases 30% by 2020 and doubling electric vehicle use.  One way to achieve that goal was a Pilot Residential Code Program called PEV (Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness) for new construction.  Jackson County was fourth in the state per capita for electric vehicles and Ashland would be the third jurisdiction to adopt the program. 
Council was not comfortable mandating the requirement and discussed using incentives instead.  Staff presented a non-mandated program initially to BCD and they encouraged the City to make it mandatory for at least three years.  Council was interested in the Conservation Commissionís input regarding the increase in electricity usage.  Community Development Director Bill Molnar talked to Mark Holden the director of Electric/IT who confirmed an increase in electric vehicles would get to Tier 2 power rates quicker but the rates were blended. 
Council directed staff to look into an incentive-based program and wanted the Conservation Commissionís input as well.
4.     Review and discussion of agenda for March 8th Council goal-setting
City Administrator Dave Kanner and Council discussed meeting space, the agenda, and allowing public input.  Council supported allocating 15 minutes at the end of the session for public comment.
Meeting adjourned at 6:34 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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