Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, April 18, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Rosenthal, Morris, Voisin, Lemhouse, and Seffinger were present.  Councilor Marsh arrived at 6:02 p.m.  
1.   Public Input - None
2.   Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
3.   Affordable Housing Trust Fund potential funding source discussion
Housing Program Specialist Linda Reid and Commissioner Rich Rhode from the Human and Housing Services Commission (HHSC) provided the staff report on funding the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF).  Due to the need for affordable housing, Ashland should build 30 units every year.  
The state system of awarding money to build affordable housing used a formula where the major contributor was the local contribution that provided support for agencies seeking funds.  Non-interest loans would qualify as a contribution.  Council could select one or more funding options presented to address 50% of the need.  In general, the area median income for Jackson County, Medford, and Ashland was the same and depended on the measure used.  City staff used the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) definition.  Rural development used the Department of Agriculture’s definition.
Oregon Housing and Community Services received all of the federal tax money for the state of Oregon.  Cities in the state applied for funds through a competitive process called the Consolidated Funding Cycle.  Awarded cities received tax credits as funding and worked with a tax credit broker to sell to a corporation or business who needed tax liability. 
The City already subsidized permits and waivers.  Ms. Reid submitted a document into the record showing what the City waived or deferred for five affordable housing projects resulting in $130,000 in fee waivers annually.  Fee waivers were available for voluntarily provided units only and did not include units required through an annexation ordinance.  The Systems Development Charge (SDC) waiver program began in 1992 with several single-family homes involved.  Each single-family homeowner carried a promissory note on those units and if forgiven or sold out of the program, they paid back those fees with 6% interest.  In 2006, the City passed an ordinance and participants can no longer buy out of the program.  The Housing Trust Fund allowed flexibility in the types of projects and provided housing to people up to 120% of the area median income.  Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) was limited to 80% of the area median income.  The HHSC subcommittee who worked on funding options suggested forming a public-private partnership to fund accessory residential units.  It would eliminate associated land costs.
The HHSC subcommittee identified the following funding options for the AHTF:
  • Establish an up to 1% Construction Excise Tax by the State through Senate B (SB) 1533
  • Cap the growth of an existing revenue stream
  • Direct funds from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), the Food and Beverage Tax, and/or add a slight increase to the property tax rate or Community Development fees
  • Commit a portion of the marijuana tax revenue to ATF
  • Create a tax on E-Cigarettes.
The Acquisition Rehab was also a possibility and entailed purchasing homes and remodeling them as affordable housing.
Council discussed funding options.  Capping revenue sources would create cuts, was complicated and restricted flexibility.  Excess from the Food and Beverage tax was proposed for another use, adding the AHTF would be problematic, and increasing property tax was not prudent.  Council wanted more information on taxing marijuana and E-Cigarettes, a 1% construction tax on residential and a 2% tax for commercial, increasing community development fees and the minimum amount required to start making a difference in the AHTF.  Council would discuss using TOT and other funding options at their council goals meetings. 
4.   Mayor's discussion of public art selection process
Mayor Stromberg and Management Analyst Ann Seltzer met with Historic Commission members individually and the Public Arts Commission (PAC) in two groups of three regarding the public art selection process.  The Mayor explained that serious art, like serious drama and theatre changed the viewer’s experience of reality, and was typically met with resistance, alarm, and criticism.  Especially when people incorrectly assumed they paid for public art.  The Council could not guarantee in advance a proposed piece of art was high quality or properly located.  It would always be unpopular with some citizens.  He introduced PAC member Max Reinhardt who shared his credentials and agreed to give a presentation on current trends in public art.
Suggestions to improve public art selection included:
  1. Have the PAC appear before the Historic Commission for input when they were creating a request for qualification (RFQ).
  2. Ask the PAC to explore the possibility of requiring 3-D macquets for finalist presentations.
  3. If a finalist artist sought historical input, the PAC will enlist the Historic Commission to work with the artist.
  4. When concepts for public art were in or near a historic district, the PAC should request written input from the Historic Commission and link presentations of the concept online.  This should include but was not limited to specific observations regarding scale, placement, size, and materials.  A link to this information would be conveyed to the Historic Commission along with the PAC and Historic Commission’s staff liaisons.
  5. Historic Commissioners attend any public presentation of public art concepts by the artists rather than relying on renderings and online information.
  6. Require the Historic Commission if it has split vote on any recommendations to incorporate majority and minority opinions on any public art recommendation.
  7. The PAC will notify the Historic Commission when they intended to make a presentation to Council regarding public art in a historic district.
  8. Once the PAC has solicited input from the Historic Commission for an RFQ, by a reasonable deadline, the PAC will not delay a process to incorporate input from the Historic Commission.
  9. The Mayor recommended the Council invite the PAC to make a presentation concerning current trends in public art.
  10. When Susan Zoccola’s second option concept is ready to present to the Council, it should take place in well publicized meeting open to the public with at least 3 similar presentations at different times and locations.  The video of the presentation should be posted on the city website with an open city hall topic for public comment.
Ms. Seltzer did not agree with this recommendation.  Ms. Zoccola was asked to develop a second concept and making presentations on the concept was not included in the contract.  However, the PAC had already incorporated that idea into other public art projects.
  1. The PAC should verify the second option presented by Susan Zoccola conformed to the specifications of the original RFQ.
Staff and Council discussed removing provisions regarding public art in Ashland Municipal Code Chapter 18 Land Use and adding a section to chapter 2.29 Public Art, as well as drafting guidelines.  Staff would bring a draft ordinance to a future Study Session for Council discussion.  Members of both the PAC and Historic Commission described commission duties and spoke on the process and conflict that occurred between commissions regarding the Gateway art project. 
Ms. Seltzer and PAC Chair Margaret Garrington would contact Susan Zoccola and ask her if she would come to Ashland and present the concept of the second option for the Gateway project with the knowledge that Ms. Zoccola may decline.  City Attorney Dave Lohman clarified Ms. Zoccola was not hired to present but to do art and often artists did not present well. 
Meeting adjourned at 7:40 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                                                                                          
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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