Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, January 23, 2017


Monday, January 23, 2017
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Council Chair Seffinger called the meeting to order at 5:54 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Morris, Rosenthal, Slattery, and Lemhouse were present.  Mayor Stromberg was absent.
Council Chair Seffinger moved agenda item #4. Preview of Climate & Energy Action Plan to agenda item #2 and the Look Ahead review to agenda item #4.

1.  Public Input
Mark Decker/998 Clear Creek Drive/Noted an alternative to the Railroad Quiet Zone was installing Wayside horns.  He submitted documents into the record describing how they worked.
Katie Crocker/134 Nutley Street/Explained greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise.  If people did not act now, it would be too late.  She referenced Young People’s Burden:  Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions by James Hanson to explain the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 8% yearly to get CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million.  Waiting just one year increased the 8%.
Ken Crocker/134 Nutley Street/Ashland will continue to see increased temperatures, drought, large storm events, and fires.  If James Hanson’s study was correct and ocean levels rose up to 5 meters within 50 to 100 years, it would affect the entire global population through mass migration.  It would also affect the world economy, infrastructure, and all aspects of life.  Humanity needed to take action. 
Carly Norton/190 S Mountain Avenue/Supported Council adopting an ordinance to go with the Climate Energy Action Plan.  It was important to take science based climate action to a local level.  The ordinance would give a backbone to the Climate Energy Action Plan to stabilize the climate, protect the earth and future generations. 
Maya Davis/9667 Wagner Creek Road/Talent, OR/Explained she got involved with the Ashland Youth Climate Action in response to the current election results.  On inauguration day, the White House removed the web page dedicated to climate change and replaced with a page titled, “An America First Energy Plan,” that made no mention of climate change.  A segment from that page stated, “That President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary polices such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.  Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $40 billion over the next 7 years.”   As a future American worker, she was very afraid that at the federal level, climate change policy would only get worse.
Carson Barry/134 Church Street/Was proud to have grown up in a community where an estimated 10,000 people showed up for the Women’s March as well as attend a High School taking drastic action for people who feel vulnerable.  The City of Eugene passed the first climate ordinance in the U.S. in 2014.  The Polytechnic University showed that after 10% of the population was on board with something, the rest would follow. She concluded with a quote from the City of Bend OR regarding climate change action.
Isaac Bevers/1251 Old Siskiyou Hwy/Thanked Councilor Rosenthal, Management Analyst Adam Hanks, fellow Climate Energy and Action Plan ad hoc Committee members for the work that went into the plan.  Ashland Youth Climate Action members were grateful.  He supported an ordinance adopting the plan.  He encouraged the City to hire staff to manage its implementation and create a climate commission.
Claire Pryor/1221 Orchid Street/She was also a member of Ashland Youth Climate Action and the Climate Energy and Action Plan ad hoc Committee.  She advocated passing an ordinance concurrent with the Climate Energy Action Plan.  Five out of twenty Ashland citizens wanted 80% reduced emissions by 2030.  Seven out of twenty wanted 100% reduced emissions by 2050 and 6 out of twenty wanted standards that were even more aggressive.  Council had a definitive mandate to fight back against climate change as aggressively as possible.
Allie Rosenbluth/40 North Mountain Avenue/Submitted her speech into the record and thanked everyone who had prioritized taking serious action on climate change.  She supported an ordinance adopting the plan.  The City of Eugene ensured their ordinance did not create any private right of action.  Eugene’s ordinance included five-year progress reports and accountability steps.
Councilor Rosenthal asked Council if they were interested in creating a Future Leaders Award in honor of Senator Alan Bates who passed away in 2016.  Council could announce they were establishing the award during the State of the City Celebration January 31, 2017 at the Community Center.  Council approved the award.  Councilor Slattery would announce it at the end of the celebration.
2.  Preview of Climate & Energy Action Plan   
Management Analyst Adam Hanks explained the plan was a set of overarching goals and targets with strategies to meet those goals.  Each strategy had actions that fell within the following six focus areas:
  • Buildings and Energy
  • Urban Form, Land Use, and Transportation
  • Consumption and Materials Management
  • Natural Systems
  • Public Health, Safety, and Well-being
  • Cross-Cutting Strategies
The strategies and actions were in order of priority. The organization was consistent with other plans the project team and Climate Energy and Action Plan ad hoc Committee (CEAP) researched. 
Overarching goals were the “lynch pin” of the whole plan and connected with the proposed ordinance.  In July of 2016, CEAP recommended being carbon neutral by 2047.  Since then, CEAP decided to use science-based methodology that resulted in an 8% average annual reduction.  CEAP added a City goal to attain carbon neutrality in City operations and fossil fuel reductions staggered over two milestone steps.  Page 29 through 34 of the plan showed strategy themes.  Page 42 and 43 provided an at-a-glance of the strategies and actions in the plan.
The committee was in the process of finishing the Implementation Plan that would be ready for Council in March.  The Implementation Plan laid out some of the key items that needed to occur for the pan to be successful.  That included the recommendation for a full time staff position to oversee the daily implementation of the plan.  The new position would also work with the recommendation for a new or repurposed commission that would update the plan over time.  Another recommendation would form an internal City staff Climate Action Team to address City operational goals.
Councilor Rosenthal explained fourteen people had served on CEAP.  There were 26 meetings since 2015, three public open houses, and a consultant hired.  The charge was to bring Council a draft plan end of January 2017.  There was one more meeting scheduled before the March 7, 2017 Council Meeting where the plan went before Council for review and acceptance.
Council comment was concerned the ordinance might have unattainable goals.  It was not feasible to be at a 0% fossil fuel level by 2050.  Other concerns were having items in the ordinance that were not consistent with other actions like firewise landscaping, pollinator gardens, personal gardens, and water usage.  It was important to take time writing the ordinance to ensure it did not create issues in the future. 
City Attorney Dave Lohman commented it depended on how tightly the ordinance would try to pin things down.  An ordinance did not bind future councils because a council could change an ordinance.  Another issue was the unfunded mandate question.  The City had to adhere to budget law.  It came down to what would go into the measure, whether it was a resolution or an ordinance.
Mr. Hanks clarified the Climate and Energy Action Plan referenced water conservation and activities in the Water Master Plan.  The plan did not supersede or mandate on top of the master plans.  It aligned with the master plans, ensured no inconsistencies, and pointed to the more detailed master plans.   
Councilor Rosenthal noted the fourth bullet point under Key Policy Issues in the Council Communication recommended including funding in the BN2017-19 budget for a full-time City staff position dedicated to implementation and updating the CEAP.  The Committee recommended unanimously that Council approve a full time City staff position for implementation. 
Council consensus was interested in seeing a proposal for an ordinance knowing it would take time to develop.  Council would also consider a new staff position.  They wanted a job description, background on the need, and if the position could work by shifting current staff duties instead of hiring.  It would need to be part of an ad package.  Council would decide on a City Advisory Commission later. 
Mr. Lohman explained the challenges writing an ordinance in time for the CEAP review and adoption in March.  The City may need to adopt the plan prior to creating an ordinance.  Typically, a city adopted a plan first and then developed an ordinance.  It would take two months to write the draft.  Mr. Hanks suggested bringing the draft ordinance from CEAP as a starting piece but not scheduling it for first reading.  Council agreed on bringing the CEAP draft ordinance to the March meeting as a starting point.
Conservation Commission Chair Roxane Beigel-Coryell clarified that the public testimony and CEAP discussions indicated the intention of the ordinance was not to solidify the plan.  It was for the community to acknowledge climate change and the need to address it in a significant way as a responsible community and to make a difference if possible on what will happen to future generations.
3.  Railroad Quiet Zone Diagnostics Report 
Management Analyst Ann Seltzer explained a Quiet Zone was a railroad crossing where a train engineer cannot sound the warning horn.  A Quiet Zone required specific structures and a quarter mile of track on either side of the crossing.  There were ten railroad crossings in Ashland and each crossing would be its own quiet zone. 
Last year for six weeks, the United States Forest Service (USFS) requested trains run at night to mitigate the risk of wild fire during the day.  This affected neighbors near the railroad negatively and prompted a request that Council consider establishing a Quiet Zone.  Council directed staff to initiate the diagnostic study required by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).  Study results indicated it would cost $2,900,000 to designate all ten crossings as Quiet Zones.  The estimate did not include the $1,300,000 cost to convert the private crossing at Normal Avenue to a public crossing or City engineering costs. 
Staff provided two options for the Quiet Zone.  Option 1 would have the Quiet Zone start a quarter mile north of Glen Street and continue to a quarter mile south of Normal Avenue or Tolman Creek Road and would cost $4,700,000.  Option 2 began the quiet zone a quarter mile north of Glen Street and continued to a quarter mile south of Oak Street for a cost of $1,500,000.
All of the railroad crossings in Ashland with the exception of two were a quarter mile or less between the next crossing.  There were only two possible quiet zone options.  The FRA did not provide grants for this program and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rail would not make funds available since it recently funded other rail improvements.  This left two possible funding options to fund the Quiet Zone.  Option 1 would have everyone pay through the General Fund, or by increasing property taxes, or possibly through a utility bill surcharge.  The second option would have the people directly affected pay for it through a Local Improvement District (LID).
Ms. Seltzer addressed Wayside horns and explained how the wheels of a train triggered the horn that pointed straight down a street at intersections.  It would not alleviate the sound issues neighbors were experiencing.  They worked well spread out over distances in areas like Fort Worth TX that went through business intersections.  Wayside horns cost $40,000 to $60,000 per horn per crossing.  Staff did not research it further. 
Council had empathy for the situation but given the costs, could not support establishing Quiet Zones. 
4.  Look Ahead review   Interim City Administrator Chief John Karns reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
Meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                                                                                          
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder 

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