Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


April 21, 2015
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Marsh, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Voisin were present.
The minutes of the Study Session of April 6, 2015, Executive Session of April 6, 2015 and Business Meeting of April 7, 2015 were approved as amended on page 7 of the Regular Meeting minutes, second paragraph, third sentence should read “The weakness was Travel Oregon” removing the word “not.”
1.   Annual winter shelter program update
Mark Wieczorek explained he was the Social Justice and Action Committee Director from the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (RVUUF) who worked in partnership with Temple Emek Shalom and the City Winter Shelter Program at Pioneer Hall.  Heidi Parker was the volunteer coordinator for the shelter.  Karen Amarotico and Russ Otte were shelter representatives for the First Presbyterian Church and the Trinity Episcopal Church shelters.
Mr. Wieczorek explained the shelter at Pioneer Hall provided 1,105 nights of sleep on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Guests consisted of 849 men, 256 women with an average of 25 people and 2 dogs per night.  Three unsheltered males died this winter in Ashland, one a regular guest at the shelter. 
Ms. Parker added from mid November to mid April Ashland volunteers provided overnight shelter to the homeless four nights a week from Monday through Thursday.  The First Presbyterian Church on Monday nights, Pioneer Hall Tuesday and Thursday nights, and Wednesday nights at the Trinity Episcopal Church.  There were no emergency shelters activated.  The four shelters combined provided 88 nights of shelter.  Some volunteers spent the night at the shelters, some brought food and warm beverages, and others cleaned up.  The total number of volunteers was 73.  The Presbyterian shelter utilized 17 volunteers.  The Episcopal shelter had 25 volunteers.  Pioneer Hall had 13 volunteers on Tuesday nights and 18 for Thursday nights.  She thanked everyone who participated in this endeavor.
Karen Amarotico was the shelter coordinator for the shelter at First Presbyterian Church that provided shelter for 408 guests for an average of 19 per night.  The lowest number was 14 and the highest 33. First Presbyterian Church tried to provide warm meals since this was the first shelter night after three nights of no shelter.  She shared comments and gratitude from guests and volunteers.
Russ Otte, the shelter coordinator for Trinity Episcopal Church Wednesday night shelter for the third season, hosted 521 guests over 22 nights, 411 men, and 109 women, 1 child and various pets.  This was a 15% increase over the previous year and caused capacity issues.  Another issue was volunteers.  Many of the Trinity Episcopal Church volunteers were aging. 
They did not know why the increase occurred over the mild winter and noted there were regular guests and others who appeared to be traveling through town.  Other guests were homeless employed people.
2.   2015 Potential Drought Plan
Public Works Director Mike Faught addressed the water supply and explained snow pack was worse than the previous year. The snow depth for Caliban in 2014 was 38 inches and this year was 9 inches.  Ski Bowl Road had 11 inches of snow in 2014 and this year zero.  The weather was not predicting a substantial amount of snow over the next two weeks and staff was starting to prepare for the 2015 drought.  The Talent Irrigation District (TID) supply was the same as 2014.  TID will turn the water on May 4, 2015 and shut down the second or third week of September.
The Talent Ashland Phoenix (TAP) Intertie permanent pump station was an 18-month project and would not be completed by summer.  Staff would bring in the temporary pump this year for two months at a cost of $47,000.  The City planned to ask customers to voluntarily cut back and conserve water usage.  Staff planned to keep Reeder Reservoir as full as possible for water use at the end of the summer.  The City would supplement water with TID before using TAP.
Conservation Specialist Julie Smitherman explained there were small and large changes people could do to help minimize the impact of drought and use water more efficiently without diminishing the quality of life.  There were watering techniques and tools people could implement.  One was not overwatering in the spring.  Another watering technique was the cycle and soak method that would create deeper roots and drought tolerant plants and tree.  Staff was currently working on a Surviving Drought 101 guide with the help of a Southern Oregon University (SOU) student from the Environmental Studies Department that should be ready in June.
She addressed prioritizing landscape as the drought began and thought the most important thing in the landscape was the trees.  Another SOU intern was helping the City develop a tree care guide that would outline criteria for different trees.  A tree needed approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter.   Trees less than two years old would need water once or twice a week during the summer.  Established trees would need watering once every other week or once a month depending on soil factor, tree type, and proximity to other water ways.  The city would continue to run the lawn replacement program that resulted in a water savings of 10,000-15,000 gallons per resident, per summer.  The City would continue free irrigation evaluations.  The City also had a Water Wise Landscaping website and other information for water conservation as well as free aerators and showerheads.
Mr. Faught added the City would reactivate the Multi-modal Departmental Curtailment Committee, purchase new water wise signs, place ads in the local paper, the Oregon Shakespeare theatres, table top cards for restaurants and towel and bedding cards for the hotels. 
Staff would meet with the TID users who would lose their water rights again this year.  Last year and this year, users would use TID water until the City needed to supplement city water.  Once that happened, the property owners would either use drinking water or create an alternative. 
Mr. Faught addressed TAP and explained the reasons for running TAP water for a month each year was typical to ensure it ran flawlessly in the event of an emergency.  He would provide the cost at a future meeting.  Ms. Smitherman clarified watering new trees at the base of the trunk and to the canopy edge for mature trees.
3.   AFR/AFAR update
Mayor Stromberg provided background on funding the Ashland Fire Resiliency (AFR) project.  The AFR/AFAR team consisted of Chris Chambers, division chief for Ashland Fire and Rescue, Erin Kurtz, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Darren Borgias, the South Western Oregon program director for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Executive Director Marko Bey of Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and Don Boucher, AFR project lead from the US Forest Service (USFS).  The group went on to respond to the following questions:
  1. What is AFR and when did it start?
Mr. Boucher explained AFR was conceived in 2003 to protect water quality and quantity, late-successional habitat, human life and property in the interface, and ecological sustainability.  In 2004, the community created an alternative to the AFR proposal with two major goals.  One goal would remove hazardous fuels, and encourage more resilience in the stands.
  1. Why is AFR important to Ashland – what do we stand to gain and lose?
Mr. Borgias and Division Chief Chambers explained the goals of the AFR project was preserving quality of life, access to recreation, and the spiritual renewal the surrounding forests provided.  A midpoint estimate of what would happen in the event of a severe wildfire in the watershed that created erosion and filled the reservoir was $20,000,000.  This did not take into account firefighting costs, home loss and property damage or the loss of use of recreational purposes and tourism.
The Nature Conservancy got involved to help integrate the needs of the community and the needs of natural systems with the project.  The work helped protect a late-successional reserve established under the Northwest Forest Plan.  It helped protect critical habitat for endangered species that depended on old growth forest and rebalanced closed and open forest canopies.  The AFR project set the stage to manage fire going forward.  Ashland was a model for proactive community engagement in federal land management.  Eventually a fire will escape immediate suppression and the work AFR was doing would help ensure the area received the benefits of the fire and not just the catastrophic outcomes.
  1. What are the AFR partners’ roles and how has that translated into financial agreements and work accomplishments?  And what does the future hold for AFR?
Mr. Boucher explained the partners’ signed the master stewardship agreement in 2010 and were half way through the agreement.  Each partner brought a unique role to the collaboration.  The USFS funneled money into the project and the partnership did the planning and implementation within the guidelines of the record of decision.  The City provided the community engagement piece.  The Nature Conservancy monitored the project.  Lomakatsi Restoration Project brought the workforce and workforce-training piece.  The USFS provided oversight and kept the project moving forward.
They were five years into the project and shifting to maintenance on previously treated areas while completing the remaining untreated half that would be completed 2020.
  1. Where do we stand now with funding ad how did we get here?
The project initially received over $6,000,000 with approximately $695,000 remaining after five years that was identified for work.  This year AFR received $1,700,000 from the Joint Chief’s landscape Restoration Partnerships program as well as $1,000,000 from the US Forest Service for hazardous fuels reduction funding. April 20, 2015 AFR received $150,000 of Forest Healthy Protection funding to treat legacy trees.
  1. What role did community involvement play in our current funding and what is the City’s role going forward?
Division Chief Chambers explained AFR would not exist without community involvement.  The community was responsible for generating the community alternative now incorporated into the AFR project.  The Watershed Art Group formed.  The Ashland Chamber of Commerce published a map of the watershed.
The money the City contributed in the current biennium made an impression in Washington DC that a municipality would invest in federal land.  It helped leverage money recently received for the project, and directly $175,000 in matching funds from the National Forest Foundation.
  1. What does “ecosystem services collaboration” mean?, and “cohesive wildfire strategy” and how does Ashland fit into these concepts)’
Ecosystem services, also considered “nature’s benefits” consisted of a combination of intrinsic and instrumental values.  The Cohesive Strategy brought together all levels of communities, government, non-government organizations into one policy and plan to manage wildfire on a landscape scale.  It brought in Fire Adapted Communities, Resilient Landscapes, and Fire Suppression/Response.  The Fire Adapted Communities was strong in Ashland with a position in the Fire Department.  Ashland would experience longer fire seasons and an increased risk for fire with climate change.
  1. What is AFAR?  What is its relationship to AFR and how does its path forward relate to AFR’s?
Ms. Kurtz explained that AFAR stood for Ashland Forest All-Lands Restoration project.  AFR, through the stewardship agreement and work through core partners focused mostly within the Ashland watershed proper and implemented on federal public lands.   The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was a department under the US Department of Agriculture.  Ms. Kurtz worked with private landowners to implement conservation treatments on all agricultural lands and non-industrial private forestlands. There was a total of 52,000 acres from Wagner Butte to Immigrant Lake and they would target 4,200 acres of private land through AFAR using a cross boundary approach.  NRCS committed $1,000,000 for treatments on private lands.
  1. What are the socio-economic benefits of AFR/AFAR for Ashland and the Rogue Valley?
Mr. Bey explained they were able to sustain 17 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs and employed 200 people throughout the year constituting a five-month season of a regular eleven-month forestry season for crews.
AFR partnership developed and maintained the implementation capacity over the past five years.  Lomakatsi was implementing the work with the City of Ashland, AFR partners, and had hired ten additional contractors.  They lodged and shopped in Ashland bringing local economic benefit.  AFR sent 3.5 million board feet of timber to local mills.  They supplied Jackson County Fuel Committee with firewood for those in need.  Approximately 150 forest workers had participated in workforce training.  The Lomakatsi Youth Program had engaged 2,000 young people through local schools in Ashland and the Rogue Valley with hands on Restoration Forest Stewardship education.  Ashland Watershed Youth Training and Employment program was in its third year. 
Mayor Stromberg concluded with a quote from Elizabeth Reinhardt, the Assistant Director of Fire and Aviation Management at the USFS supporting AFR and AFAR.
Linda Cook/1389 Foss Road, Talent OR/ Explained that five days earlier, she lost her job because people in Ashland contacted her employer and said they would not go into the establishment if she remained an employee there.  She thought this happened because she was a whistle blower who did not ignore corruption, nepotism, kleptocracy, social illness, human trafficking, and human rights violations, trading, hazing and bribes and stated the City of Ashland had participated in all of these.  All of the incidences were reported and a case filed with the US Attorney General, the FBI, and President Obama’s office as well as the ACLU.  She would continue to be heard on all levels of government to prevent this type of targeting until she was treated the same as all other citizens in this community.
1.   Approval of minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Liquor license application for Sean Simpson dba The Playwright Public House
3.   Liquor license application for Jamie North dba Flip
4.   Liquor license application for Haggen Opco North, LLC dba Haggen
5.   Approval of an intergovernmental agreement for Hersey St. sidewalk construction project right-of-way services
6.   Ambulance operator’s license renewal
Councilor Rosenthal/Voisin m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Public Hearing on the 2015 Community Development Block Grant Award and CDBG action plan development
Housing Specialist Linda Reid explained the City received five applications for $201,718 in available Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.  Two applicants submitted applications for the Public Service section that made up 15% of the total annual allocation for approximately $24,832.  The entire amount was available for capital improvement projects and the City received three applications.  Senior Planner Brandon Goldman noted a disparity in recommendations made by staff and the Housing & Human Services (HHSC) Commission.  Staff recommended distributing fund awards to four of the applicants with Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA) receiving zero funding with a request to apply in subsequent years when they were ready to proceed.   The HHSC requested Council award all five applicants, provide $100,000 to OHRA, and reduce the awards to Rogue Valley Habitat for Humanity and Ashland Supportive Housing accordingly.   
All five applicants were eligible for CDBG funds.  Staff reviewed readiness to proceed and whether a project was likely to expend the awarded CDBG funds within the year.   The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had a timeliness standard where the City had to expend funds the same year awarded but in no case accumulate more than 1.5 times the annual allocation carried over to the following year. In the event the City exceeded that, the City had to demonstrate to HUD the fund would be spent within a twelve-month period.  If an applicant was unable to complete their project, in this case, the $100,000 requested for OHRA, or they were unable to complete the acquisition within that timeline the City was at risk of having the funds recaptured by HUD.
Ms. Reid further explained HUD would run the timeliness test in May.  There was $50,000 carried over from this year into next year.  If the organization was unable to show they had raised a substantial amount of money and was unable to go further, the City could most likely expend $50,000 in a shorter amount of time than $100,000.  Staff based the decision on getting the money out of the account before HUD ran the test. 
Public Hearing Opened: 8:44 p.m.
Mary Ferrell/Maslow Project/Explained Maslow Project was a social service agency providing wrap around support to homeless children and families in Ashland.  The goal was ensure all homeless children had the opportunity to stay in school and earn a high school diploma.  Cheyenne Nichols, project case manager, had worked with 103 children who met the criteria.  They identified 28 individuals from five different families that were homeless and now housed.  Last year Maslow graduated 100% of their homeless seniors and was on track this year to graduate all seniors with 62% already enrolled in college.  She went on to describe the credentials of Maslow Project case managers.
Cheyenne Nichols/Maslow Project Case Manager/Spoke on the collaboration within the community that contributed to the Maslow Project success and the importance of having a branch in Ashland. 
Rich Hansen/St Vincent De Paul/Explained the $19,000 grant St Vincent De Paul received the year before enabled them to help 21 Ashland households for a total of 36 residents.  Of the 21 families, 15 were homeless.  St Vincent De Paul spent approximately $900 in HUD funds per family.  In addition to the CDBG award, they spent over $53,000 of their own funds on rent relief. 
Charlotte Dorsey/St Vincent De Paul/Spoke on being a volunteer with St Vincent De Paul and the challenges that occur from working with the homeless community.  The grant award allowed them to focus successfully on assisting the homeless.
Denise James/Habitat for Humanity/Explained she was the executive director for Habitat for Humanity.  The $80,000 grant award would help them continue the Low-Income Homeowner Repair Program in Ashland.  She noted other donations received that helped the project further.  The project was new with critical home repair and smaller repairs under the A Brush with Kindness project.  The program started the year slow due to hiring and training staff, establishing policies but was gaining momentum.
Councilor Voisin/Rosenthal m/s to extend Public Hearing until 10:30 p.m. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Tabitha Wolf/Ashland Supportive Housing and Community Outreach/Explained she was the development coordinator for Ashland Supportive Housing (ASH).  The special needs home remodel included demolishing the laundry room to extend the space of the current living area 10-feet then building a new laundry room next to the bathroom.  Adding the solar panels would produce a savings in the utility bills within five years.  The home would house five individuals on a rotation basis.  She went on to clarify the estimates.  The main priorities were the concrete project and the laundry room demolition.  They could separate the solar project from the others if needed.
Leigh Madsen/Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA)/Explained OHRA served 776 individuals since they opened. OHRA helped house over 30 families and 18 individuals attain employment.  He listed the agencies that came to OHRA to help people in need.  Acquiring a facility would allow more services and provide winter shelter for the homeless.
John Wieczorek/ Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland (OHRA)/Addressed the Council Communication that would award OHRA only $50,000 of the $260,000 requested due to the timeliness rule.  They would not reach their funding goal to acquire a new building if they received $50,000.  They understood the HUD rule.  OHRA developed their capital fund drive, attended non-profit board training, and established a fund raising sub-committee.  The current location was ideal and securing the building secured the Ashland Community Resource Center and the homeless shelter program for the long-term.
The Masonic Temple was interested in selling the building to OHRA but could not commit to yes at this time.  Currently OHRA could allocate $15,000 from their accounts.  The general funding campaign would correlate with the board’s training on fund raising.  They noted other funding mechanisms OHRA was researching.  The CDBG award would leverage funding efforts from other agencies. 
Public Hearing Closed: 9:29 p.m.
Councilor Seffinger left the meeting at 9:30 p.m.
City Administrator Dave Kanner supported the staff recommendation.  The CDBG program was set up to provide funds for programs agencies would use now.  The OHRA proposal would bank money to match future grant opportunities.  Councilor Voisin provided examples where the City allowed an agency to bank funds and thought this was a similar opportunity. 
Councilor Marsh/Rosenthal m/s to award $17,432 to St. Vincent De Paul-Home Visitation Program and $7,400 to the Maslow Project for Case Management Services.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh commented on the outstanding services each program provided.  Councilor Rosenthal concurred.
 Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Lemhouse, Morris, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed.
Councilor Voisin motioned to direct staff to draft the 2014 Annual Action Plan for the use of Community Development Block Grant funds reflecting the award of CDBG funding for the 2015-16 programs as follows: $16,156 to Ashland Supportive Housing; $60,000 to Habitat for Humanity Rogue Valley and $100,000 to OHRA building acquisition with the stipulation that they secure additional funding to assist with the acquisition by March 1, 2016. Motion denied for lack of a second.
Councilor Marsh/Voisin m/s to direct staff to draft the 2014 Annual Action Plan for the use of Community Development Block Grant funds reflecting the award of CDBG funding for the 2015-16 program as follows: Award $76,886 to Ashland Supportive Housing; Award $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity Rogue Valley, and Award $50,000 in funds to be placed in reserve for OHRA with the stipulation that the City will re-evaluate that award.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh commented on the benefits the Ashland Supportive Housing and Habitat for Humanity provided the community.  Allocating $50,000 to OHRA was an impressive amount and would not incur a timeliness issue the following year.  OHRA was doing terrific work and they used the building well.  Councilor Voisin thought the $50,000 would be helpful, wanted it to be more, and hoped it would help leverage as much as it could. The City gave OHRA $100,000 to develop services and they used the money well.  Councilor Lemhouse was concerned they received different recommendations from staff and the Housing and Human Services Commission regarding OHRA.  He thought the $50,000 would help boost their fund raising program.  Awarding a large amount put the City at risk and did not seem fair when Ashland Supportive Housing was ready to start their project and spend the funds.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Lemhouse, Morris, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed.
2.   Public Hearing and decision on the 2015-2019 consolidated plan for use of Community Development Block Grant funds
Housing Specialist Linda Reid Explained the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan was a five-year strategic plan to provide an outline of action for the community as it worked toward meeting the identified housing and community development needs for low and moderate income households.  The plan was required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a management tool to monitor performance and track federal funds provided through the formula grant program.  The 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan spending priorities were similar to those included in previous plans.  The primary goals of the CDBG program over the next five year period was create and maintain affordable housing units and units occupied by low and moderate income and presumed benefit populations, support services for homelessness, outreach, prevention, and transition, support housing and services for people with special needs, improve safety and access in neighborhoods and throughout the city.  Improve transportation options for low-income and special needs populations and support economic development activities that assist in reducing poverty in low-income and special needs populations.
Councilor Rosenthal thought the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan was insightful, strategic, and done well.
Public Hearing Opened: 9:58 p.m.
Public Hearing Closed: 9:58 p.m.
Councilor Voisin/Marsh m/s to approve the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan for use of Community Development Block Grant Funds.  DISCUSSION: Councilor Voisin thought the document was well written and provided a basic plan the City was proud to follow.   Councilor Marsh agreed.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Voisin, Lemhouse, Morris, Rosenthal, and Marsh, YES. Motion passed.
1.   First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 11.28 to authorize City Council to establish presumptive parking violation fines by resolution and to clarify determination of fines for single parking violations and their relationship with other penalties for parking violations”
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the first three parking citations was $11 and comprised of $7 fine and a $4 surcharge to pay for parking improvements, leases, and bonds to pay for parking improvements. The fine for 15 Minute parking was $15.  The fourth citation incurred a $25 penalty.  The ordinance added the $25 penalty after the third parking citation but Diamond Parking did not have the ability to apply the penalty after three fines.  The fifth citation was $50 and the sixth went back to $11.  Fines not paid within 10 days received a $10 penalty, 30 days resulted in a $30 penalty, and a $50 penalty for fines not paid within 50 days.  If an individual took the fourth citation to court and it was dismissed, it went back to three citations.
The issue came up due to the Downtown Parking and Circulation Committee reviewing how to maximize the limited capacity for parking and increase turnover to make better use of that capacity.  The City of Medford charged $25 for parking citations.  In 2014, Ashland had 11,474 parking citations downtown.  Of those, 419 were appealed to the municipal court, 104 were dismissed, and 235 were reduced to zero.  To date in 2015 there were 73 vehicles with four or more citations.  Diamond Parking estimated they spend 18 hours a month dealing with administrative issues related to appeals.
Mr. Lohman had several goals regarding parking fines.  One was reduce violations, increase turnover, and more fairly share the existing parking capacity downtown.  The second goal was clarify who set parking fines and define the process.  The third was correlate references in the two different chapters. A fourth goal would clarify penalties and fines.  A fifth goal would set a legal standard for deviating from presumptive fines.  The legal standard required legal grounds.  Municipal Court Judge Pam Turner had concerns regarding the legal standard and wanted to address Council or staff on the issue. 
Mayor Stromberg also spoke to Judge Turner and invited her to come to the next Council meeting when parking violations were on the agenda and present on the topic for fifteen minutes and in the interim submit something in writing.
Councilor Marsh/Lemhouse m/s to table the item until the May 5, 2015 meeting.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Councilor Lemhouse announced the Wildlife Mitigation Commission would have the fourth annual Firewise Clean-Up Day Saturday, April 25, 2015, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Valley View Transfer Station.  The Public Arts Commission was exploring vinyl wraps for utility boxes instead of painting.
Meeting adjourned at 10:29 p.m.
__________________________________                ___________________________
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                             John Stromberg, Mayor

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