Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


March 1, 2016
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 Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, and Marsh were present. Councilor Rosenthal arrived at 7:15 p.m.
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for annual appointments to the various Boards, Commissions, and Committees.  The deadline for applications was March 18, 2016. 
He noted the new lectern for public speaking and asked those that had used the podium to email their feedback to him.
The Mayor went on to announce he was hosting a listening session on the downtown smoking ban Wednesday, March 16, 2016 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Council Chambers.  The draft ordinance was available on the City website.  The City planned to broadcast the meeting live on local television with a video available on the City website the next day.
He explained agenda item 2.  Possible new ordinances on hindering pedestrian passage and on soliciting contributions in specific circumstances under XI.  New and Miscellaneous Business item was part of several ordinances that Council would discuss at the March 15, 2016 Council meeting.  During this meeting, Council would ask questions of the City Attorney and take public input.  People speaking on the topic at this meeting would be able to speak again on the subject at the March 15, 2016 meeting.
Councilor Voisin/Morris m/s to add a discussion regarding hanging baskets onto the agenda under Other Business.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh requested information regarding the item, as she had not received anything on the matter.  Councilor Voisin called for a point of order regarding her opportunity to speak to the motion.  She had sent an email to City Administrator Dave Kanner and the Mayor requesting they keep a public record on funding for the hanging baskets and wanted it as part of the public record.
Voice Vote: Councilor Voisin and Marsh, YES; Councilor Morris, Lemhouse, and Seffinger, NO.  Motion died. 
Mayor Stromberg requested the City Administrator send the funding information to Council, the press, and make it available on the City website.
The minutes of the Executive Session of February 11, 2016 and Business Meeting of February 16, 2016 were approved as presented.
The Mayor’s proclamation of March 8, 2016 as International Women’s Day was read aloud.
Councilor Rosenthal arrived at 7:15 p.m.
Robert Hielbroner/2664 Anderson Creek, Talent, and OR/Explained he was embarrassed on what seemed to him a mean spirited attack against the weakest folks in the community.  In the 21 years he had lived in Ashland he never experienced a negative encounter with any of those folks.  Mayor Stromberg explained Public Forum was for items not on the agenda.  Mr. Hielbroner went on to express that his family was sick at the thought that the apparent first family of Ashland was building a manor house in the heart of Ashland commons.  Lithia Park was the heart and whole of Ashland’s communal space.  He knew the family had already gone through a zoning process.  This was a social issue and affected everyone’s experience of Ashland.  The proposed home was huge and violated the spirit of the common place.    
Allen Drescher/21 South 2nd Street/When he first became a municipal judge in Ashland there was a city jail.  The Jackson County jail was subject to federal court injunction limiting the amount of inmates.  A matrix required the release of inmates when it exceeded the cap and prohibited the admission of inmates based on severity of offense.  As a result, the Jackson County Jail did not hold or receive offenders convicted of municipal ordinances.  The police and defendants knew this.  Ashland was widely known as a safe place for violators because they knew they would not go to jail for violating City ordinances.  This resulted in violators acting with impunity and no risk of incarceration or deterrent to their conduct.  Incarceration deterred those otherwise inclined to commit an offense from committing that offense.  Other cities in the area had agreements with Jackson County Jail to house municipal court offenders.  He suggested Council consider having Ashland do the same.  It would restore the deterrent effect and create a significant decrease in violations.
Carola Lacy/667 Park Street/Thought the DeBoer family was out of touch with the reverence Ashland community held for Lithia Park.  The almost 3,000 square foot home was inappropriate to its proximity to Lithia Park and other city and community buildings nearby.  She did not understand how the Tree Commission approved the removal of eighteen trees for the house or the Planning Commission’s lack of awareness to the community’s sensitivity to Lithia Park.  The whole area was low key, simple, and unpretentious.  She asked the Planning Commission to review zoning for the area.  The earth was at a crossroads.  It was unknown whether people would survive as a species.  Yet this house flaunted consumerism in the face of the community.  She wanted to believe the majority of Ashland did not want this house built at 85 Winburn Way.  Out of respect for the community, she asked the DeBoer’s to build elsewhere.
Cindy Bernard/1300 Tolman Creek/Spoke on renting jail space at the Jackson County Jail.  She shared an incident that occurred earlier that day at the Ashland Community Resource Center that involved calling the police.  The manager tried to extricate an individual several times to no avail.  If there is no consequence, the behavior continues.  She urged Council to consider securing jail beds.  It would send a message that people could not receive a citation and throw it on the ground.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Explained that a year ago he introduced the Ashland Renewable Energy Acquisition Department.  He had also stated global warming was bad and that Ashland should stop building homes wrong.  Stopping bad growth would not ruin the economy.  Ashlanders paid two times more to suffer new construction.  He wanted Council to fire City employees and hire 6-20 new ones that would do home energy upgrades and structure lobby learning centers to teach everyone how to build autonomous homes and put up solar panels everywhere.  The employees were wonderful people but needed to find jobs in another town.  The City needed new employees.
1.   Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Appointment of Robert Block-Brown to the Public Arts Commission
3.   Appointment of Marni Koopman to the Climate and Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee
4.   Approval of a public contract exceeding $100,000 for four Chevrolet Colorado pickup trucks for use by Ashland Parks & Recreation
Councilor Rosenthal and Councilor Voisin pulled Consent Agenda item #4 for discussion.  Public Works Superintendent Mike Morris explained the vehicles were more fuel-efficient.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the vehicles at 20 miles per gallon where the older ones were 17 miles per gallon.  They also met current emission standards.  Staff had considered electric vehicles and could not find ones that met the needs of the Parks and Recreation Department.  Staff looked into alternative fuel or electric whenever they went to purchase new vehicles.  There were not many available for commercial applications.  Staff would include this information in future Council Communications.
Mr. Morrison went on to explain there were five mechanics on staff who determined when a vehicle needed replacing.  They based that decision on the condition of the vehicle not age or miles.  The vehicles before Council cost approximately $27,000 each, would last ten years, and cost $2,700 annually for maintenance.
Vehicles get to the point where maintenance outweighed the cost of replacement.  He further explained hybrid trucks were not on the market at this time.   Chevrolet made one but found them not to be as efficient as they expected so they stopped production.  The trucks would haul trailers and equipment with heavy use in a commercial capacity daily.  Presently, electric vehicles mostly transported people.  The ones out there for heavier use were not of good quality but improving.
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution of the City Council establishing a fee for appeals of administrative decisions.”
City Administrator Dave Kanner explained he had restructured the appeal structure so that it hinged on whether or not a citizen requested a written or mechanical record of the hearing.  If a citizen waived their right to a written or mechanical record of the hearing, it reduced the appeal fee.  Requesting a third party to hear the appeal along with a written or mechanical record increased the fee. Ashland Municipal Code (AMC) at AMC Chapter 2.30.020 contained a provision that if an appellant lost an appeal, the appellant was financially responsible for the cost to the City or the appeal including but not limited to the cost of hiring an independent hearing officer.  The resolution could not override that code provision.  Essentially the resolution was a filing fee. 
The simplest way to appeal an administrative decision was to appeal it directly to the City Administrator who served as the hearings officer and waive the right to a written or mechanical record of the hearing.  In that case, the appeal fee was zero.  Administrative appeals were rare and took little time.  The fee for creating a written or mechanical record of the hearing would be $50.  An appeal heard by an outside party where the appellant waived their right to a written or mechanical record was $50 and essentially the down payment on the cost of the hearings officer’s time.   If the appellant prevailed, that is all they would pay.  If they lost, per code, the appellant would incur actual costs.  The highest fee was when an appellant required a third party hearings officer and a written or mechanical record of the hearing.  In that situation, the filing fee was $150.
Mr. Kanner would change the language in bullet three under Section 1 of the resolution to read, “$150 or the actual cost per AMC 2.30.020.(H) whichever was greater...”  Staff would revise the resolution and bring it to a future Council meeting.
1.   Report from the ad hoc Committee on AFN Governance Structure
Councilor Marsh provided the background on the working group that consisted of herself, Councilor Rosenthal and various members of the community.  Since May 2015, they held ten meetings, looked at the mission of the organization, performed a SWOT Analysis to determine strengths and weaknesses, and researched organizational models.  The group would most likely come to Council and recommend establishing an Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) Commission to provide continued oversight on the organization.  AFN made great strides over the past year and currently was embarking on a marketing campaign.  The ad hoc Committee wanted to follow the marketing campaign and report to Council in six months.
Councilor Rosenthal addressed the second recommendation to implement performance standards and incentives for AFN’s internet service providers.  There was an opportunity over the next few months to build partner relationships with the help of the marketing piece.  The ad hoc Committee was interested in seeing the recommendations that would come from this independent group and if the tactics were effective.
Councilor Marsh clarified they were asking Council permission to allow the ad hoc Committee to shift focus with the marketing campaign and provide some oversight. 
Councilor Voisin wanted alternatives to the AFN Commission.  She suggested changing some of the ad hoc Committee members and adding people with marketing expertise.  Her concern was ad hoc committee creep.  Councilor Rosenthal raised a point of clarification on Councilor Voisin’s reference to ad hoc committee creep.  Councilor Voisin explained there were other ad hoc committees that in the past had suggested new missions they had developed.  It was important to be clear on this new direction.
Electric/IT Director Mark Holden thought the working group added benefit and had the long-term best interest of AFN.
Councilor Voisin motioned to consider new nominations for the ad hoc committee.  Motion died for lack of second.
Councilor Lemhouse/Marsh m/s to approve the request of the ad hoc AFN Governance Structure Committee to add to its scope of work advising the City Administrator and the Director of IT/Electric Utility on the development and implementation of a marketing and communications plan.
DISCUSSION: Councilor Lemhouse appreciated the efforts from Councilor Marsh and Rosenthal.  It was an appropriate request.  He was confident in the current members and did not think they needed to change.
Councilor Marsh responded to Councilor Voisin’s concern regarding mission creep.  It certainly happened sometimes and the reason they came to Council to explain why they wanted to head in this direction.  She suggested having a study session sooner to explain the material and conclusions rather than waiting another six months.  Councilor Voisin wanted the study session to occur April 4, 2016.  It was important that Council was aware of what the group had done.  The reason she wanted to change the membership was new eyes were important on a subject.  She did not like the direction the committee was going but would support the motion.  Councilor Seffinger supported having a study session and was interested in hearing about the communication strategy that increased the customer base and how it related to the future.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Voisin, Morris, Seffinger, Marsh, and Lemhouse, YES. Motion approved.
2.   Possible new ordinances on hindering pedestrian passage and on soliciting contributions in specific circumstances
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the draft ordinances were in response to dealing with downtown behavior.  If Council went forward with the ordinances, he suggested approving the resolution titled Affirming the Right of all Persons to Use Public Streets and Sidewalks and be Treated Equally Regardless of their Economic or Living Conditions.
The first proposed ordinance would address intrusive solicitation.  Solicitation was a protected First Amendment activity.  Free speech activities could be restricted to time, manner, and place only if it met what the Supreme Court called Strict Scrutiny.  The First Amendment did not protect solicitation that included unlawful conduct.  The proposed ordinance would address solicitation that was coercive in that a person was not able to walk away from the encounter.  The ordinance clearly defined the situation where it would apply.  An official would issue a citation after the person received a warning and then continued to solicit.  Mr. Lohman initially identified the penalty as a Class I violation and thought it was more appropriate as a Class IV violation instead.  If Council went forward with the ordinance, he would revise the findings.   
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara clarified people soliciting money by the exit ramps to I-5 may not be subject to the ordinance since both exits were outside city limits and involved private property.  Mr. Lohman further clarified the ordinance could distinguish written and oral requests for money and he could add terms on approaching vehicles.
The second draft ordinance concerned obstructing sidewalks and passageways.  The code already prohibited obstructing sidewalks and passageways with objects and dogs.  There were problems with groups of people at entryways to public spaces and the businesses downtown.  The ordinance had a five-minute limit for people obstructing a pedestrian passageway with the intent to interfere with free passage.  This was a revision of the current AMC Chapter 10.64.  It also included the five feet from the closest curb inward to the sidewalk provision to accommodate cars and parking.  The ordinance would apply to corners as well using the five feet inward so people were able to cross at intersections. 
The five-minute rule was arbitrary and Council could change the time limit if they moved forward with the ordinance. It would impose some enforcement challenges.  The current rule did not have a time limit for objects or dogs obstructing the passageway.  This ordinance was more lenient in that respect.  There had to be an indication there was intent to block the passageway.  It was possible to change a specified time limit to a reasonable amount of time but it would be less easy to defend.  Chief O’Meara clarified a set quantifiable measurement was better than using a reasonable amount of time.  Mr. Lohman added the individual would receive a warning first.  Chief O’Meara further clarified an officer would give a warning after  five minutes passed, educate and then use reasonable discretion on whether a citation should be issued. 
Chief O’Meara addressed the definition of a law enforcement official and explained it included police officers, firefighters, cadets, community services officers (CSOs), and SOU Campus Public Safety officers.  He was unsure if it applied to neighboring jurisdictions assisting Ashland law enforcement.
Mr. Lohman would change the violation classification for this ordinance and revise the findings as well.  If Council moved forward with the ordinance, they could decide to make it applicable to downtown only or include other areas if necessary. 
Chief O’Meara thought both ordinances were helpful.  The Police Department received specific complaints regarding obstructing passageways and intrusive solicitation.  However, the problems experienced   downtown were not solved only with law enforcement.  There needed to be a moralistic approach.  The ordinances addressed specific problems the police department received many complaints about yearly.
Tawasi/572 Clover Lane/Explained he was homeless living in Ashland.  He quoted Matthew 25:40, Article 14 Section 2 of the City Charter and reminded Council their oath of office was binding and they each had a duty to the constitution.  He read from other documents that outlined rights generally recognized as universal and thought Council was willingly violating these rights.  Ashland needed moral City Councilors.  He asked the viewers to displace these amoral councilors.  He went on to read from the First Amendment, and the equal protection clause in the constitution.  ACLU indicated in a letter Council purposefully and willingly violated constitutional rights.  He read from Article 14 Section 2 of the City Charter and Article 19.
Peter Lavoie/62 Westwood Street/Had concerns with the proposed ordinances.  Addressing behavorial issues would disenfranchise and unfairly ostracize the homeless.  He understood prohibiting solicitation at an ATM or sidewalk café but disagreed with prohibiting solicitation at a vehicle.  It did not address behavorial issues downtown.  He had issues with Section C(2) in the ordinance on obstructing passageways.
It made more sense to let people have their things closer to the street and out of the way of the primary flow of traffic.  He measured downtown sidewalks himself and found areas where the entire sidewalk was not even 5 or 6 feet wide.  He suggested designating a passageway of 4-5 feet closer to the storefront.  Once enacted the ordinance would apply to tourists, girl scouts selling cookies, and the homeless that have no other place to put their possessions when they rest on the sidewalk.  The ordinances will cause the loss of the spirit of Ashland. 
Robert Heilbroner/2664 Anderson Creek, Talent/Noted how complicated the issue was and that caused a problem.  He thought there was a mean spirited movement against the most vulnerable people in the community.  This whole meeting was about a particular group of people that others have decided was a problem and required special laws.  He also thought this was an attempt to make these people uncomfortable enough to go away.  These laws were discriminatory.  Everyone had the right to feel safe downtown.  People did not have the right to be protected from feeling awkward, inconvenienced, or feeling bad when they see others in a certain condition.  He thought the City should give everyone who came to town a 15 minutes tutorial explaining the distinctions. 
Robert MacMaster/2908 Voorhies Road/Medford OR/Explained he purposely made himself homeless for three weeks to understand the situation.  There were warming centers in Ashland.  He thanked Council for being compassionate, deliberating over specific laws that first warn and educate prior to issuing citations.  There was nothing wrong with that.  He saw the City as trying to take back the city from hordes of travelers and homeless people that come through town.  There were meetings at the library discussing problems that had occurred.  He had seen aggressive panhandling.  It was a difficult problem.   
Sandra Slattery/110 East Main Street/Expressed appreciation that Council was not only addressing the ordinances and issues of behavior and public misconduct, but the entire issue facing the community.  It was not easy.  She thanked Council for representing the citizenry and working to maintain and improve the quality of life for the residents, children, visitors, and employees, everyone who accessed the community.  It was a huge responsibility. 
Mike Marshek/Ashland/Stated that he found it ironic that today he found an Ashland Rotary coin.  He appreciated the four-way test or the things we think, say, or do.  One, is it the truth.  Two, is it fair to all concerned.  Three, will it build goodwill and better friendships and four, will it be beneficial to all concerned.  He thanked Council for taking on this project.  Everyone wanted the situation resolved, for people to come together.  Through his work at the Ashland Community Resource Center, he had come to know the people accessing the center better.  They were wonderful people who wanted life to be better for themselves and for their community.  He had seen old men carrying 100 pounds of gear from the Resource Center down to Pioneer Hall.  It took some men four hours to get there.  He thought having lockers would help keep gear off the street.  He addressed the car panhandling ordinance and questioned who should receive the ticket, the vehicle owner making the donation or the person asking for money.  He thought the confrontations downtown often occurred due to overcrowding of the streets.   
Council requested further clarification regarding panhandling to vehicles, and possibly review the City of Medford’s ordinances regarding the issue.  Councilor Seffinger noted the City of Berkley had obstructing sidewalk ordinances and a place for travelers and the homeless to store their gear and suggested the Ashland Community Resource Center set up a similar system.  
1.   Second reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 10/68.400 and 11.08 and replacing Chapters 11.24, 11.28, 11.32, 11.34 and 11.36 with new Chapter 11.26 to update and unify parking regulations and to authorize City Council to establish presumptive parking violation fines by resolution”.
City Attorney Dave Lohman read aloud the following amendments to the ordinance:
  • WHEREAS number 5 – page 1 of 21 –  added “and the amount of enhanced penalties for multiple parking violations”
  • Section 11.08.010 – added (A) “Abandoned vehicle” means any vehicle that has been deserted or relinquished without claim of ownership. A vehicle shall be considered abandoned if it has remained in the same location for more than 72 hours and one or more of the following conditions exist: 1) the vehicle has an expired registration sticker or trip permit affixed to it; 2) the vehicle appears to be inoperative or disabled; or 3) the vehicle appears to be wrecked, partially dismantled or junked
  • Section 11.08.010 (E) – removed capital letter from “officially”
  • Section 11.080.010 (J) – added “means any person engaged in the business of renting or leasing motor vehicles to the public”
  • Section 11.26.010 – editing correction “ORS 221.285-287”
  • Section 11.26.020 (14) “This subsection shall not apply to” removed the provision creating an exemption for small trucks and buses
  • Section 11.26.040 (1)  - updated language “any provisions of Chapter 11.26”
  • Section 11.26.040 (2)  - updated language “of any provision of Chapter 11.26”
  • Section 11.26.040 (3) – added “No person shall intentionally act in a manner that prevents, or attempts to prevent, a person from officially performing lawful duties to enforce provisions under Chapter 11.26” and removing “or refuse to obey a lawful order of such official person enforcing provisions under AMC 11.26”
  • Section 11.26.050 (1)  -  clarified “or private property” was a state statute previously in the ordinance
  • Section 11.26.050 (2) – add “in accordance with ORS 819.110(1)(a), 819.110(2)-(5) and ORS 819.120 through ORS 819.280”
  • Section 11.26.080 – correction of spelling of “Taxis” and removed reference to taxi stands
  • Section 11.26.080 - added “or from parking in compliance with sections 11.26.020 – 11.20.030 of this chapter”
  • Section 11.26.110 (2) (a) – removed strikethroughs “When a registered owner of a motor vehicle”
Mary Ruth Wooding/727 Park Street/Urged Council not to raise the parking fees.  It was a direct hit on the citizens, tourists, students, and downtown employees. Coordinating the ordinance was fine.  She had hoped a parking garage would have gone in by the post office or the place on Winburn Way now designated for a home.  Ashland needed more parking.   She thought Council should look into changing the zoning.
Dave Hyde/616 Normal Avenue/He had read a couple articles in the newspaper regarding parking that indicated the change would match other towns.  That was not a good reason to change parking in Ashland.  He questioned the reasons for revising parking regulations.  Ashland needed more parking.  He thought the money from parking fines could provide more services to homeless and mentally ill homeless.
Mayor Stromberg explained Jackson County would soon establish and staff a mental health clinic in Ashland with outreach workers. 
Councilor Voisin/Lemhouse m/s to approve Ordinances #3122 as amended and deleting Section 11.26.040(3).  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Voisin wanted to delete 11.26.040(3) due to an earlier conversation with Diamond Parking on the benefits of having the provision.  Diamond Parking did not think it was helpful.  They had an internal process that worked well.  Councilor Marsh and Seffinger thanked Mr. Lohman for his efforts.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Lemhouse, Rosenthal, Marsh, Seffinger, Morris, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
Councilor Voisin noted the success of the free vaccine clinic held February 28, 2016 in the Methodist Church parking lot.  A total of 15 dogs and 2 cats received vaccinations.  Street Dog Project, Friends of the Animal Shelter Program, and Help Oregon Pets provided services.  Councilor Voisin went on to report that Public Arts Commission Chair Margaret Garrington presented the Theatre Corridor Project to the Historic Commission recently.  The Tree Commission announced Arbor Day and Earth Day would occur April 23, 2016.  On March 12, 2016 at 8:00 p.m., a musical benefit for Options for Homeless Residents in Ashland would happen at the Ashland Congregational United Church for Christ on Siskiyou Boulevard. 
Councilor Rosenthal announced the Climate Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee would meet for their final meeting March 2, 2016 in the Siskiyou Room at 51 Winburn Way.  He congratulated the Southern Oregon University Women’s Basketball Team for their 29 wins out of 30 games.  Both women’s and men’s basketball teams were heading for the National Tournament.
Councilor Lemhouse explained the Public Arts Commission met after the last Council meeting approving the welcome signs.  They appreciated the comments they received and Council action.  The International Women’s Day event would occur Sunday March 6, 2016 at the United Church for Christ on Siskiyou Boulevard at 2:00 p.m.  Ashland High School Basketball Team would host the first round of playoff games the March 2, 2016.  He noted Ashland High School senior Stenley Graham’s one-handed shot during a basketball game ended up on SportsCenter as the fourth Play of the Day.  
City Administrator Dave Kanner noted the City hired the graphic designer who made the Use Water Wisely signs to develop do not feed the deer signs.  He presented a copy of the sign to Council and described where the City would post them.
Meeting adjourned at 9:36 p.m.
_____________________________              ________________________________
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                 John Stromberg, Mayor

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