Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


April 5, 2016
Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Council Chambers.
Councilor Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Marsh were present.
The minutes of the Study Session of March 14, 2016, Executive Session of March 14, 2016, Business Meeting of March 15, 2016 and Joint Meeting of March 29, 2016 were approved as presented.
The Mayor’s proclamation of April 17-23, 2016 as Independent Media Week was read aloud.
Tawasi/572 Clover Lane/Explained Senate Bill 629 Right to Rest was the equivalent of a Homeless Bill of Rights.  Other comments included the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Joseph Kauth/1 Corral Lane #3/Thought the lack of media presence contributed to the removal of founders’ trees and construction of condominiums and other events.  He explained how the techniques used for the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) project did not use science and shared his suspicions regarding California developers overdeveloping the Rogue Valley.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Continued his explanation on why City staff needed replacing and that Council should write code that provided full time salaries for future councilors.
Jim Wells/321 Clay Street/Explained the techniques used by the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) project increased the possibility of manageable and safer wildfires in the community.  The methodology of creating safer spaces for wildfires would work with the current issues regarding the homeless and transients and shift belief systems.
1.   Minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Approval of an Intergovernmental Agreement for traffic signal maintenance
3.   Special procurement request for approval for AFR Project wildfire fuels reduction
4.   Appointment of Isaac Bevers and Sarah Lassoff to the Climate and Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee
Councilor Marsh pulled Consent Agenda items #2 and #4 for discussion.  Engineering Services Manager Scott Fleury addressed the agreement for traffic signal maintenance and explained the average annual payment over the last four years for maintenance was approximately $4,000 and $11,000 for power to all the intersections.  Based on that data they would not need the full $40,000-$60,000 in the agreement. 
Councilor Marsh spoke on Consent Agenda item #4 and noted the City was fortunate to have young people on the Commission passionate about these issues.
Councilor Rosenthal/Seffinger m/s to approve Consent Agenda items. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Report to Council on the 2016 winter shelter program
City Administrator Dave Kanner provided background on the 2016 winter shelter program offered Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Representatives from Temple Emek Shalom, the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (RVUUF), and Ashland Parks and Recreation Department staff were present for questions.  He addressed and clarified a rumor that Council was going to discontinue the winter shelter.  He had spoken with representatives from RVUUF and Temple Emek Shalom about concerns regarding shelter guests and the ice skating rink, and activities occurring outside Pioneer Hall.  The concerns were serious and if not resolved, a discussion on whether Pioneer Hall was an appropriate location for a shelter would ensue.  He emphasized he did not say the shelter was going to close.  The representatives took these concerns seriously and met with the Parks and Recreation Department to resolve them. 
Shelter volunteers John Wieczorek and Sharon Harris spoke on the service the shelter provided.  Shelter volunteers came from the RVUUF, Temple Emek Shalom, the Lyons Club, the Elks Lodge, district attorneys, and people from mental health agencies.  Additionally, Jackson County Mental Health provided training for the volunteers.
To date, the shelters provided 1,300 safe nights of sleep for people.  There was an older population this year, many veterans, and economic refugees.  The average number of people served increased every year.  Homelessness was a growing problem nationwide.  This winter three homeless people died.  Ms. Harris read a statement from Rabbi Joshua Boettiger supporting a continuation of the three-way partnership between Temple Emek Shalom, RVUUF, and the City.
Mr. Wieczorek thought the best way to more forward was forming a committee with members from the Temple Emek Shalom, RVUUF, and Council to work on an agreement.  The committee could address the issues Mr. Kanner had noted.  Council supported the idea of a committee. 
Ms. Harris suggested increasing the guest limit at Pioneer Hall or finding another location possibly The Grove.  It would eliminate having to refuse guests.  Mr. Wieczorek added a private home was going in by Pioneer Hall adding to the incompatibility.  The Affordable Housing Trust Fund could provide housing as well.  They had turned away 28 people due to occupancy load.  Alternately, they had kicked out more people this winter than ever before due to behavior, intoxication, and occasionally mental health issues.  This year, members from all the shelters in the community met monthly to coordinate rules and get updates on guests banned from a shelter or exhibiting bad behavior.  This allowed a consistent unified front for the shelters.  
Director of Parks & Recreation Michael Black and Recreation Superintendent Rachel Dials explained the Parks and Recreation Department managed the facility the City owned.  Shelter concerns were resolved and they supported the shelter.   The issues encountered consisted of shelter guests and a volunteer informing ice rink employees they could skate free at the facility.  The shelter was not responsible for that incident.    Other issues were small cooking fires in the planting bed but nothing major. Staff evaluated using The Grove but realized there was too much activity now that the Parks and Recreation Department had moved offices to the building.  In addition, there were early morning and late evening classes during the week.  Ms. Dials added Pioneer Hall was the least utilized and recommended continuing with that facility.  Shelter volunteers left Pioneer Hall in good condition following shelter nights with only minor issues that were resolved.
Carolyn Moeglein/715 Clay Street/Was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and explained the Church hosted a shelter night once a week for ten years and often the cold night emergency shelter.  Despite concerns, the congregation supported the shelter and the City’s two shelter nights at Pioneer Hall.  She submitted a list of people in support of the City having a facility that offered shelter seven nights a week for the homeless and community.  Supplying staff for seven nights would be a challenge. 
Dave Hyde/616 Normal Avenue/Explained he volunteered at the shelter several times and was impressed with how everyone cooperated and adhered to the rules.  Many would stand outside in the cold until 7:00 p.m. when shelter doors opened and had created issues between shelter guests waiting and street people not using the facility.   He was a member of the Unitarian Church and participated in an interfaith group interested in helping the homeless community.  Housing would alleviate some of stress at Pioneer Hall.  He supported a committee.
Reverend Kathy Keener/1516 Clark/First Presbyterian Church/This was the tenth year of hosting a shelter.  She met with people weekly in the process of losing their housing or they had just become homeless.  It was important to remember that a number of the homeless in the community were recently homed.  The shelter was also receiving more men and women discharged from the hospital without their medication at times too late to fill their prescriptions that evening.  This year, they averaged 45 guests a night where prior years the average was 19.    
Ms. Dials clarified Pioneer Hall was rented a few nights a week and most weekends.  Reverend Keener explained the process at the First Presbyterian Church and turnover to the pre-school.  The Church had more volunteers than before.  They hosted Monday when guests had not had a shelter night for three days, and were often exhausted and hungry.  A night crew spent the night and a feeding crew brought in warm food for the evening and morning.  
Councilor Marsh noted the need for good communication regarding the shelter and responsible management.  Councilor Voisin thought management at Pioneer Hall was superb.  However, there were communications sent out to the Council that spoke otherwise and she agreed to send them to Mayor Stromberg.  She asked the Mayor to form the committee and address occupant load at Pioneer Hall as well as the temperature for emergency shelters.  Mayor Stromberg explained in lieu of forming a committee he would ask councilors to participate. 
Councilor Lemhouse also wanted copies of the emails Councilor Voisin had mentioned and commented how misinformation harmed the community.  Councilor Voisin raised a point of order, questioned the direction of Councilor Lemhouse’s comments.  Mayor Stromberg resolved the point of order and would have Councilor Voisin forward the emails to him and he would then report to the Council.  Councilor Lemhouse continued and explained Council supported the shelter for four years.  Council questioning the process and voicing concerns was part of negotiating and determining the best path forward.
2.   Adoption of water rate cost of services study recommendations
Public Works Director Michael Faught along with Katherine Hansford presented the staff report on the adoption of the Water Rate Cost of Services Study recommendation.  These recommendations came from the Hansford Economic Consulting (HEC) Water Rate Cost of Service Study.  In summary, the proposed water rate modifications include the following:
  • Adjustments to potable and non-potable water rates - Commercial, institutional and non-potable metered irrigation customers are currently paying more than their proportionate share of water system costs.  Potable irrigation and non-potable unmetered irrigation customers are paying less than their proportionate share.
The overall increase to rates was 8% and each user would see a different rate increase.  Increases would come forward one year at a time.
Commercial, institutional, and non-potable metered irrigation customers currently paid more than their proportionate share of water system costs.  Potable irrigation and non-potable unmetered irrigation customers paid less than their proportionate share. The recommended rate structure modifications implemented two separate base fees reflected on the bill as one charge.  The first base fee was a customer charge that covered the cost to maintain the system regardless of the amount of water sold.  Customer charges included customer service and would remain the same every month.  The second base fee was a service charge that covered meter and service costs and capacity costs. 
  • Split base charges to account for administration costs and capacity costs - The recommended rate structure modifications implement two separate base fees that will be reflected on the bill as one charge.  The first base fee is a customer charge that covers the cost to maintain the system regardless of the amount of water sold.  Customer charges include customer service and would remain the same every month.  The second base fee is a service charge that covers meter and service costs and capacity costs.
  • New commercial categories – New commercial customers are separated into commercial, institutional, and potable water irrigation customers.  Institutional include current government/municipal customers.  All commercial and residential customers will be billed the flat base fee year round.
  • A decrease in metered non-potable (Talent Irrigation District (TID)) rates – TID non-potable customer rates are reduced from $.0055 to $0022 per cubic foot on the metered accounts. Use of the term “reallocation” is referenced to those that are current users of TID.
  • Increase in charges for unmetered non-potable water - Fixed TID user costs increase to $250 over the next six years.
  • Reduction in residential rate increases proposed in the 2012 adopted water master plan – Reallocation of rates resulted in a reduction
  • 1-inch meter services reset to equal ¾ inch metered rates for households adding fire sprinkler systems.
Mr. Faught explained although there were three sources of water it was important to continue to test the Talent/Ashland/Phoenix (TAP) water source annually to ensure the valve operated as expected. The study looked at the total picture of all users, including the Ashland School District and Southern Oregon University, when determining the rate structure.
Councilor Lemhouse/Morris m/s to adopt the recommendations of the Hansford Economic Consulting Water Rate Cost of Service Study and direct staff to implement proposed rate re-allocations as recommended in the plan in May 2016.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Lemhouse noted the study was thorough and supported moving forward.  Councilor Morris liked that the bases were established and broken out in the study and that it made a uniform set of rates.  The big change was the commercial side.  Councilor Marsh would support the motion and the process for TID.  Councilor Voisin explained people left Ashland because of their utility expenses and this was another example.  She had issues paying for TID and TAP.  She would reluctantly support the motion. Councilor Marsh responded the projected increases to residential were less than originally thought.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Lemhouse, Seffinger, Marsh, Voisin, Rosenthal and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
3.   Union Pacific Railroad Rail Yard Remediation – Next Steps
City Attorney Dave Lohman presented staff report.  He explained Council had previously approved staff seeking modification of a 1999 deed restriction on the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) rail yard property in Ashland.  After completion of a full-site remediation to the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Residential Standards, the proposed revised deed restriction would allow subdivision and development of individual parcels upon further radiation ion conformance with the DEQ risk standards applicable to the proposed actual use of the parcels and the parcel-specific risks posed by the actual contaminants on them. 
In addition, staff negotiated with DEQ and UPRR for an agreement to clean up the full site as soon as possible and to use rail cars for transporting contaminated soils from the site.
Mr. Lohman provided a list of concerns expressed by Council to review, remove, or add items to the list.
He explained that staff and DEQ had discussions with UPRR who committed to incorporating the actions of items listed 1 through 9 in the Remedial Action Work Plan and seek DEQ approval.  If DEQ approved, their authority to enforce provided the City assurance they would address their concerns.  If UPRR did not follow through as agreed, the City could take appropriate action to terminate revising the deed restriction.
UPRR declined to enter into a separate written agreement with the City on items 1 through 9 and thought they would be the subject of primary commitments to DEQ and responding to potentially conflicting interpretations by the City.  Staff agreed that the City’s advantage was supported and there was sufficient assurance that the City’s concerns would be addressed.
Mr. Lohman provided the next steps as the following that included:
  • Administration prepares and submits to the Planning Commission an application for Major Amendment to modify the deed restriction, that is, the existing condition of approval of the 1999 land use approval concerning the rail yard.
  • Meanwhile, UPRR finalizes and submits to DEQ its Remedial Action Work Plan for full-site remediation using rail for removal of contaminated soil. It was clarified that “full-site” is the considered the parcel as one unit and using an averaging for the work plan.
It was noted that this would be heard by the Planning Commission and could be “called up” by Council or appealed by a citizen.
Mr. Lohman commented that it was very difficult to make any changes to railroad crossings.  Continued discussion and clarification by Mr. Lohman on the different types of remedial actions that could take place by DEQ depending on the use of the property.  It was clarified that soil would be removed by rail car and the City would be issuing permits for excavation.  That DEQ would have full control over the action, including any issues regarding water contamination.
Councilor Marsh/Rosenthal m/s to direct staff to prepare, file, and seek approval of an application for a Major Amendment to the replace the condition of approval in PA99-048 with the modified condition of approval presented in the April 5, 2016, Council Communication and to continue working with Union Pacific Railroad and DEQ to achieve remediation of the rail yard site to applicable DEQ standards using rail cars for removal of contaminated soil.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh thought this was a major breakthrough and a move towards getting the site cleaned using railroad cars.  She acknowledged the effort and work done on the matter by the Mayor, City Attorney and City Administrator, and Management Analyst Ann Seltzer.  Councilor Rosenthal concurred with Councilor Marsh.  He thought Mr. Lohman was the correct person to handle this matter and had done well.  This was an opportunity for a cleanup on one of the largest undeveloped pieces of property within city limits.  Councilor Morris agreed.  This had gone on for decades.  DEQ cleanups were thorough and this was a good deal for the City.  Councilor Lemhouse thought it was important to acknowledge the team and specifically noted Mr. Lohman’s negotiating experience and appreciated the Mayor’s efforts.  Councilor Seffinger was excited for the neighbors to have the removal done with rail cars. Councilor Voisin was skeptical regarding the negotiations and thought citizens would be concerned about the trucks bringing in replacement soil as well as trucks used for any additional cleanup and subsequent damage to the streets.  Councilor Lemhouse raised a point of clarification for Mr. Lohman regarding repair and restoration of the pavement and confirmed they would pay the City to repair any damage their trucks might cause as well as the methodology used.  Mr. Lohman further clarified additional cleanup and resulting street damage was the responsibility of the owner.  Mayor Stromberg added it would be a condition of the excavation permit.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Rosenthal, Morris, Marsh, Lemhouse, Seffinger, and Voisin, YES. Motion passed.
1.   Approval of a resolution titled, “A resolution changing parking fees and fines”
Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg explained the resolution would increase parking fines and parking rates at the Hargadine Parking structure.  Parking fines had not changed for decades and would increase from $11 to $22 while other fines would remain the same. 
Councilor Rosenthal/Morris m/s to approve Resolution #2016-03.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Rosenthal explained the $22 ticket met inflationary standards from 1983 but did not keep up with current inflationary pressures.  The $11 fine was not a deterrent.  Councilor Marsh added increasing the fine would help fund the parking management plan and required investment. Councilor Lemhouse thought this was one part of dealing with the parking downtown.  Councilor Voisin was concerned that 55%-60% of parking tickets issued went to employees.  Mr. Tuneberg clarified the Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Committee would address employee parking.  He explained fines for multiple tickets and would research the number of employees receiving parking tickets.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
2.   First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance adding Chapter 10.130 Intrusive Solicitation to Title 10 Peace, Morals, and Safety of the Ashland Municipal Code” and move to second reading.
City Attorney Dave Lohman addressed the intrusive solicitation ordinance and the obstructing sidewalks and passageways ordinance.  Both ordinances were not a remedy and did not really address underlying issues but could make a limited contribution by helping keep discrete behavior problems from getting in the way of deeper solutions and make day-to-day encounters a little more civil for residents, tourists, and other visitors including homeless people, and travelers.  The ordinances concerned people blocking passageways for other people and certain types of solicitation.  He made four distinctions.  The first distinction clarified this was not about storing objects on the sidewalks or camping.  The Boise Idaho case was not relevant to either ordinance.  The second distinction was there were alternatives for soliciting and using the sidewalks.  The ordinances prohibited soliciting in certain places and blocking specific portions of the sidewalk.  The third distinction was that it was easy to feel tangled up in assertions on whether these ordinances unfairly targeted a particular demographic or societal group.  An ordinance that applied to anyone in the same circumstance was not discriminatory.  The fourth distinction made the unwanted behavior they addressed violations and not crimes.  As long as the person receiving the citation paid the presumptive fine or went to court and abided whatever consequences the municipal judge determined to be appropriate, the incident remained a violation and did not become part of anyone’s criminal record.
The ordinance concerning intrusive solicitation banned soliciting contributions from people at outdoor or indoor dining areas, people within 20-feet of a bank or an ATM, and donations from occupants of vehicles on roadways except for parking areas.  It also banned donations from cars on roadways.  Council could remove this provision.  He removed a provision prohibiting soliciting someone in a parked car and received several comments from people that this was when they felt most vulnerable.  Enforcement was complaint driven or observation by a police officer and required notice prior to issuing a citation.
Mr. Lohman noted an error in the second ordinance for obstructing sidewalks that 10.64.020 (D) should have been (E).  This ordinance made the current prohibition of blocking a pedestrian passageway with objects and dogs apply to people and other animals.  It established safe harbor for blockage up to five minutes, made the definition of pedestrian passageway slightly broader, and included the 5-feet inside the curb.  It also applied to entries to public or private property from public sidewalks and required the blockage to be intentional.  It retained exceptions permitted by the City and added exceptions for deliveries, medical emergencies, physical or mental incapacitation, public safety, maintenance and construction activities, and waiting in line.  Enforcement was complaint driven or observation by a police officer and required notice prior to issuing a citation as well.
Paul Grimsrud/1 Corral Lane/Expressed concern fining panhandlers since most did not have any money to pay.  
Mayor Stromberg explained the municipal court judge considered financial situations when ruling on violations. 
Caitlin Diefindorf/450 Wightman/Explained the difference between the local homeless, and transients. Transients were the ones obstructing the sidewalks and passageways and often were part of the marijuana harvest season and known as “trimagrents.”  If the ordinance passed, transients would need a safe place to store their belongings.
Bob Hackett/Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF)/15 S Pioneer Street/Shared a letter that came to OSF from a long time customer who had stopped coming to Ashland due to aggressive panhandling, and obstructing the sidewalk.  This individual worked at a food pantry and clothes closet.  She would return to Ashland when visitors could enjoy their full vacation, not just the time spent in the theatres.  He appreciated the steps Council was taking.
Michael Marshak/2283 McCall Drive/Appreciated the effort and noted the little resources homeless people had available.  He questioned at what point the City would find a permanent facility for the homeless to sleep, hang out, and store their gear.
Derek Johnson/Platform 9 ¾ /Explained it had been 8 years since the ACLU condemned the City of Ashland’s treatment of the homeless and read a statement.   He accused the City of Ashland of criminalizing homelessness and colluding with the Chamber of Commerce pushing the agenda that served the 1% making life for the remaining 99% difficult.   
Debra Neisewander/1159 Tolman Creek Road/Thought enforcement driven by citizen complaints went away when the City hired a code compliance officer.  This put the police in the middle and thought the Police Department was trying to change their public perception.
Conroy Whitney/2001 Table Rock Rd, Medford/Explained he was a member of the Jackson County Homeless Task Force, a participant volunteer in the homeless shelters, and a member of the Medford Hope Village Tiny House Project.  Many cities nationwide were trying to find solutions.  He urged everyone to remember the world was watching and history would judge present actions. 
Councilor Marsh/Voisin m/s to approve first reading of an ordinance titled “An ordinance adding Chapter 10.130 Intrusive Solicitation to Title 10 Peace, Morals and Safety of the Ashland Municipal Code”  deleting Findings #2 and #3, 10.130.020(B) and (D)(2)  and place on agenda for second reading.
DISCUSSION:  Councilor Marsh explained this was a broad continuum and inevitably, law enforcement, ordinances, and the cadet program was part of addressing the issues.  The ordinances established the standard for civil behavior downtown.  The overriding objective was not to write tickets but communicate the standards and try to entice individuals into supporting them.  She removed Section B because it did not meet her interpretation of intrusive solicitation.  Councilor Voisin would not support the motion.  She purposely accepted the religious moral imperative that she must make the lives of the most vulnerable in the community better.  Transients and homeless people would change their behavior when others showed them respect.  Councilor Lemhouse agreed with Councilor Marsh regarding passive solicitation along the highway.  It was unfortunate listening to comments that the ordinances attacked individuals.  This was a piece to the puzzle and part of the continuum.  Nothing would be perfect.  The Streets Team was another component. 
Councilor Seffinger explained there were several programs to help people in need.  Part of the money came from the Food and Beverage Tax and the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).  If Ashland had less tourists, there would be less money to help people in need.  Ashland was a tourist town that needed everyone to feel safe.  Mayor Stromberg had two conflicting problems with the discussion.  One was being careful not to create ordinances that targeted homeless people.  Even though the ordinances stemmed from safety or a form of harassment, there was a belief in the community that any regulation the City created disadvantaged the homeless people and persecuted them.  The other issue was enforcement.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Marsh, Morris, Lemhouse, and Rosenthal, YES; Councilor Voisin, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
3.   First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC Chapter 10.64 Obstructing Sidewalks and Passageways” and move to second reading.
Item delayed to the next meeting due to time constraints.  Mayor Stromberg explained there would be no further public testimony taken on the topic.
4.   First reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance repealing AMC Chapter 2.27 in its entirety and amending Chapter 2.12 to designate the Planning Commission as the committee for citizen involvement” and move to second reading.
Councilor Voisin/Seffinger m/s to approve first reading by title only “An ordinance repealing AMC Chapter 2.27 in its entirety and amending Chapter 2.12 to designate the Planning Commission as the committee for citizen involvement” and move to second reading.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Voisin noted Council was not interested in carrying out the ordinance and she would bow to the majority.  Councilor Seffinger understood it would require one full time employee and thought the Planning Commission provided sufficient citizen involvement in a positive way.  Councilor Lemhouse supported the motion and recognized the ordinance no longer had a function and the Planning Commission was actually taking of these duties.  He supported that level of transparency.  Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Marsh, Voisin, Morris, Lemhouse, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
_________________________________                  ________________________________
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                             John Stromberg, Mayor

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