Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

APRIL 26, 2016
Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
Debbie Miller   Greg Lemhouse, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar stated the City Council passed first reading of the airport code amendments and announced there will be two public hearings at the May meeting. He highlighted the 25th anniversary of the cityís housing program and stated the City Council held a study session to discuss permanent strategies for the housing trust fund. Mr. Molnar also announced the wildfire ordinance discussion has been postponed in order for more outreach to occur with the other commission chairs and to evaluate if there are opportunities aside from a regulatory approach.
  1. Tiny Home Presentation by Andrew Morrison.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar introduced Andrew Morrison and provided some background information on the tiny house movement.  
The commissioners and staff left the council chambers to take a short tour of a tiny house model parked outside.
Mr. Andrew Morrison gave a presentation on tiny houses. He explained a tiny house is a self-contained dwelling unit that has electrical, plumbing, and hvac systems and can be hooked up to standard sanitation systems. Tiny houses are being used by college students, first time home buyers, couples, families, retirees, caretakers, disabled home owners, and for transitional housing. Mr. Morrison stated the existing problems in the housing sector has created a disparity between what people can afford and what is out there. He stated tiny houses can have fine details and fine craftsmanship and can be a beautiful addition to neighborhoods. He stated health and safety standards can be met, at least in intent, and there is a movement to change the building codes at the national level. He stated tiny homes minimize the need to expand urban growth boundaries and are a good way to deal with lots that are odd shaped or difficult to build on. Tiny houses also protect view corridors, limit solar shading, reduce permanent lot impacts, and are perfect for infill development.
Commissioner Questions
  • How do you envision tiny houses being utilized in Ashland? Mr. Morrison stated they could be used as accessory dwelling units on existing home sites, utilized to increase density, or used by faith based organizations to provide transitional housing.
  • Why would someone build/purchase a tiny home instead of building a standard ADU on their lot? Mr. Morrison stated the big difference is that tiny houses give people the flexibility to move or relocate the tiny home in the future.
  • Other than design, how are tiny houses different from a mobile home or RV? Mr. Morrison explained that RVs are not designed for full-time living and tiny houses are built and insulated the same as a stick frame house. They are different from manufactured housing in size and are too small to be considered by HUD, and you are required to purchase manufactured homes from a facility, you cannot build one yourself.
  • What about the building code minimum space requirements? Mr. Morrison stated the space requirements can be satisfied and noted the code has been revised to establish a minimum room size of 70 sq.ft. which can include everything but the bathroom.
  • How important is it that they have wheels, is this critical to the whole concept? Mr. Morrison stated it depends on who you ask. Some people want that flexibility and others just want a home they can afford.
  • What types of modifications would be needed to our existing code? Mr. Morrison stated there are some construction/building code issues that pose challenges and then there is the bigger issue of zoning. How do you deal with the fact that it is not technically permanent? How do you tax it? Do you charge SDCs and how does that impact the concept of affordable housing? Mr. Molnar explained tiny houses are not currently permissible and are considered recreational vehicles. They can be parked in a mobile home park but they need to be on a foundation and hooked up to sewer and water. He added these issues can be addressed, but there are a number of conflicts that would need to be worked through.
Public Input
David Ludwig/480 Gate 5 Rd, #122, Sebastopol, CA/Stated he is an architect and has lived in a tiny house for the last 10 years. Mr. Ludwig stated affordable housing often quickly becomes unaffordable and the advantage of tiny houses is that in most cases they are owner occupied and the only real cost is the creation of the pad. He stated the city has an opportunity to be visionary and support this movement and stated the types of individuals he has encountered are very inspirational and are the type of people you want in your neighborhood. Mr. Ludwig stated the city could create tiny house villages or use them as infill and allow secondary dwelling units on properties. He added that he encourages his clients to have wheels but also be able to attach the tiny house to foundations until they know where they will settle, that way they can convert from wheels to foundation and stay compliant with the rules of wherever they locate.
  1. Cottage Housing Standards.
Planning Manager Maria Harris stated the revised land use ordinance has been in effect for 13 months but before the City Council adopted it they pulled out the part about cottage housing and referred it back to the Planning Commission for additional discussion. Councilís concerns included the size of the units, the design standards and height, and the separation requirements. Ms. Harris explained cottage housing developments can already be done in R-2 and R-3 zones under the performance standards options, and outlined possible standards the city could adopt for the R-1 single family zone.
Commissioner Mindlin stated it is hard to picture where there is enough land to make one of these developments feasible in Ashland. Mr. Molnar commented on cottage housing possibilities on a 10,000 sq.ft. lot and the commission discussed the need to develop a strategy that results in cottage housing actually being built. Mr. Molnar stated if this is something the city wants to encourage and provide opportunities for they might have to reexamine the density table and create a unique table for cottage housing. He added this type of development wonít be for everyone, but the city can do its part by providing as many options in the toolbox as they can.
Sue Crader/2957 Barbara/Stated she is the former director of Ashland Supportive Housing & Community Outreach and is interested in cottage housing to provide housing to adults with developmental disabilities. Ms. Crader stated the individuals she works with want to live in their own home, but this is very difficult for anyone who is low income and especially difficult for people who need assistance. She shared her vision for a cottage housing development with several small homes and a communal space that houses a staff person during the day, laundry facilities, etc. She encouraged the city to allow this type of development and noted a 1.5 or 2-story height requirement may pose difficulties for anyone with mobility issues.
Gil Livni/2532 Old Mill Hwy/Stated he owns several acres of property in Ashland and is interested in this concept. He suggested an 800 sq.ft. cottage house would be a very nice 2-bedroom one story unit, and they could go smaller for one-bedroom units. Mr. Livni stated something small could be very high quality and energy efficient, although he cautioned that if the houses are too small people start living outside (couches and furniture outside, etc). He stated he is looking forward to the city creating clear regulations on this type of development and stated he is one of the people in town who has the space to do this.
Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor


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