Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Regular Meeting

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


February 21, 2017
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 Slattery, Morris, Lemhouse, Seffinger, and Rosenthal were present.   
Mayor Stromberg announced the City was accepting applications for annual appointments to the various Commissions, Committees, and Boards.  The deadline for applications was March 17, 2017.
The minutes of the Study Session of February 6, 2017, Executive Session of February 6, 2017, and the Business Meeting of February 7, 2017 were approved as presented.
Transportation Commission Chair Joe Graff provided the annual presentation of the Transportation Commission.   A recent meeting reviewed the post Road Diet project and looked at improving pedestrian crossings on North Main Street.  The results showed the Road Diet continued to work.  However, comparison data suggested more studies during the morning hours.  North Main could support two crosswalks but not another traffic light.
The Commission approved a recommendation from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to install a four way stop at Tolman Creek Road.  Two Commission members participated on the Downtown Parking and Multi Modal Circulation Study.  The Transportation Commission endorsed the parking plan and concept of an improved super sharrow through downtown for bicyclists.  Faith Street citizens requested permission to do a street mural.  The City did not have a process in place and was currently developing permits for street murals. The Transportation Commission supported creating a Sidewalk Clearance Safety Program with an education component.  Future projects included updating the Transportation System Plan (TSP) that would incorporate the Climate and Energy Action Plan and a feasibility study for transit in Ashland.  The next Commission meeting was devoted to discussing the Nevada Street Bridge.  The Commission would help City staff prioritize which unpaved roads would get chip seal.
Councilor Seffinger wanted staff to clarify emergency event concerns regarding the Nevada Bridge only having one entrance. 
Diane Werich/563 Walnut Street/Submitted a petition into the record supporting a resolution to fund the Affordable Housing Trust.  The Rogue Valley Interfaith Social Justice Coalition’s top priorities were homelessness and affordable housing.  Members provided meals, clothing, food to the food bank, safe parking, volunteers for winter shelter nights, and laundry services for the homeless.  The Affordable Housing Trust was one of the necessary tools in building affordable housing, sheltering homeless people, and preventing homelessness.       
Josh Gross/721 North Main/Shared his experience with an illegal 30-day no fault eviction.  The law required the property owner to provide a 60-day notice.  He ran a theater and had to recast his January show three times due to actors being forced out of their apartments and having to leave the area.  He ended up paying actors to drive to town on the weekends for the show.  This was due to no one wanting to address the rental crisis. 
Evan Lasley/326 Talent Avenue/Talent, OR/Submitted into the record a document and two ordinances addressing a 90-day tenant notice.  He spoke on behalf of the Southern Oregon Housing for All Coalition.  In Jackson County, one in every three renters paid more than 50% of their income towards rent.  The Coalition had four local actionable priorities.  One was provide a “24/7” temporary shelter.  The second would build transitional tiny homes.  The third was sustainably funding the City’s Housing Trust Fund and the fourth expanded tenant protections locally.  The Coalition supported implementing a 90-day notice. 
John Nosco/840 B Street/Spoke as a member of the Southern Oregon Housing for All Coalition and addressed the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.  He requested Ashland’s housing crisis be added to an upcoming Council meeting for discussion.  Once a community demonstrated an ongoing financial commitment to affordable housing, outside financial supporters were more likely to contribute funds.  Currently, there was $166,361 in the fund.  The Coalition had several projects that were an appropriate use of the funds.  Council needed to authorize expenditures.  The Coalition also wanted a sustainable source to fund the Affordable Housing Trust in the future.
Sharon Harris/155 Fifth Street/Spoke in support of a “24/7” shelter for unhoused residents in the community.  The shelter was an interim solution to homelessness the City could accomplish with the help of volunteers.  A shelter was a paramount need primarily for sleep.  Sleeplessness killed people faster than starvation.  Chronic sleep deprivation caused memory impairment, deteriorated health, and lead to mental illness.  Having a safe place to sleep alleviated those issues.  A daily shelter would let homeless individuals focus on improving their lives.
Jacob Dean/Transient/Explained his family of five moved to Ashland April 2016, became, and remained homeless since June 10, 2016.  They camped illegally until September and were now living in an RV.  He worked full time at the Ashland Coop.  They could not afford rents and were unable to find a suitable place in Ashland.  The Ashland Police Department had been very kind but he was close to getting a no camping citation at this point.  His wife had worked full time until recently. 
Karen Logan/261 Otis Street/Represented a new nonprofit called the Ashland Tiny House Group.  Their mission was encourage, educate, facilitate, design, and build tiny houses and tiny house villages.  Tiny houses were an innovative housing solution and could serve as infill for the city.  The City had an opportunity to pass an ordinance approving tiny houses as backyard cottages.  They recommended the City designate an area for 50 tiny houses for transitional housing and accommodations.  It would serve people without permanent housing and those who did not have access to low income housing.
Gregg Trunnell/400 Clay Street/Asked Council to add an item to a future Council meeting regarding the Plaza Tree Enhancement Project.  It would exchange and repurpose four trees currently at the Plaza with four larger, mature trees.  He provided binders documenting the project and described the contents.
Councilor Slattery/Seffinger m/s to add the Ashland Plaza Tree Enhancement Project to a future agenda.  DISCUSSION:  Councilor Slattery thought the project warranted consideration.  Mr. Trunnell had done a lot of work and this was a good example of a community forward solution that Council should consider.   Councilor Seffinger had participated on the Downtown Beautification Improvement ad hoc Committee and thought the people on the committee would welcome this addition.  Environmentally, it would add more shade.  Councilor Lemhouse supported the idea and confirmed it would go on a Study Session.  There were some potential legalities on donating items to the City and the effect on future projects.  There were also some initial limitations on why the City could not plant larger trees.  That information may have changed since then. 
Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   Approval of minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2.   Liquor license application for Duke Tufty dba Safeway #3212
3.   Confirmation of Mayoral appointment of Interim Fire Chief
4.   Special procurement request for approval for Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Focused Implementation partnership program
5.   Award of a professional services contract in excess of $75,000 for preliminary design associated with a new 2.5 MGD water treatment plant and 2.6 MG potable water reservoir
Interim City Administrator John Karns removed Consent Agenda item #5 because of new information from the Public Works Department. 
Councilor Rosenthal pulled Consent Agenda item #3 for discussion.  Mr. Karns explained the Fire Department created a succession plan due to several impending retirements.  When asked to fill in as Interim City Administrator, Deputy Chief David Shepherd was able to step into Mr. Karns position as Fire Chief.  A battalion chief in turn stepped into the Deputy Chief position.  Once they identified a process for the fire chief’s position, they would fill the vacancy.
Councilor Rosenthal/Lemhouse m/s to approve the Consent Agenda Items 1-4. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
1.   “10by20” Ordinance – Project Update
Assistant to the City Administrator Adam Hanks, Director of IT/Electric Utility Mark Holden, and Electric Distribution System Manager Tom McBartlett provided the staff report.  Mr. Hanks explained staff worked with two consultants, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) and OS Engineering.  Both consultants were able to give a general cost for the project as well as a process for moving forward.  Staff wanted to conduct an initial environmental review of the site this spring.  They were working with the Department of Agriculture to determine the level of review needed, the minimum required, and best practices.   At that time, they would reintegrate the “take or pay” issue with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) contract.
Mr. Holden addressed the “take or pay” provision in the BPA contract and explained that if the City used their own resource, like a solar panel system, and it displaced load normally served through BPA, the City was contractually obligated to pay for the BPA power as well as the new resource.  The contract would expire in 2028.  BPA had not dealt with something as large as what the City was proposing and due to other customer inquiries, had formed a Solar Energy Task Force to determine what they might be able to do.  However, at this time, BPA was adhering to the “take or pay” provision in the contract.  
BEF indicated a dollar amount in their report for the solar panels, and set up that did not include any of the environmental issues, building the road, or construction.  It was a construction estimate of what a 10-12 megawatt system should cost at $90 per megawatt or $0.09 per kilowatt. 
Staff had not addressed Public Works using some of the property for wastewater or its compatibility with a solar energy system.  Parks and Recreation wanted to bring a proposal with the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy to Council in the future to preserve most or all of the property for trails and view shed.
Mr. Hanks clarified the solar project would use approximately 60 to 80 acres along with road access and land for the transformers.  The Imperatrice property was over 800 acres.
Council had an issue spending $10,000 to $20,000 for the environmental review when the City would not use the property for eleven years.  The “take or pay” seemed to make a solar power system untenable at this time.  Council wanted more information regarding the BPA contract and other clean energy sources.
Mr. Holden clarified under the current terms of the BPA contract and without knowing outcomes of their task force, the City was in a “take or pay” situation that meant the $0.035 per kilowatt the City now paid would continue even if it did not take the power.  The cost estimate on the power from the solar energy system was .09 cents per kilowatt that would result in a total of $0.125 per kilowatt.
Council directed staff to bring back other options beyond the recommendation for the environmental study on the Imperatrice property to a future Study Session.
Louise Shawkat/870 Cambridge Street/Appreciated the information regarding the 10x20 ordinance and its progress.  She recently read Oregon would not meet its 2020 emission reduction goal and required more action throughout the state.  Ashland had the opportunity to be at the forefront of positive interventions.
Dave Helmich/468 Williamson Way/As an active participant in the movement for 10x20, he was encouraged by the progress and slightly disappointed by Council’s response.  The study would reveal wastewater disposal on the site would turn into an environmental disaster and effect grasshopper sparrows and rare or endangered plants.  Using realistic interest rates and amortization schedules, wholesale rates came out to about $0.09 for the 10%, and before taking a tax credit and taking accelerated appreciation.  It could knock it back to possibly 40% resulting in a blended rate of $0.07.  It was promising.  It was clear there were issues with the BPA contract.  The City needed to get together with the environmental people and recreational people to work this out.  To have it fail for $20,000 would be an unbelievably bad experience and the population in the city would remember it. 
Brian Commes/444 Park Ridge Place/Reiterated Mr. Helmich’s testimony and reinforced comments by the Mayor.  The 10x20 was a citizen’s initiative passed by the Council to avoid an election hassle.  He noted the City did not have a rare sparrow code.  Turning Imperatrice into a leech field for city wastewater would be disastrous from a rare species perspective.  Ashland had wind and sun and did not have tidal.  He encouraged Council to move forward on the project.  
Councilor Slattery commented that Council needed to study the project carefully and used AFN as an example.  Mayor Stromberg clarified this was a legitimate request by Council and the Study Session would be helpful.
2.   Appointment of Council Position #6
Regina Ayars/199 Hillcrest/Was extremely encouraged that 14 people applied for the Council position and that ten were women.  Gender equity was important to her and she wanted gender equity for Council.  However, she was discouraged with the process Council used.  She attended both Study Sessions where Council discussed the selection process.  Both were slightly different with modifications happening during the second meeting.  Several applicants were also disappointed with the process.  It was not as transparent as she thought it could have been.  She asked the next time Council had to replace a council seat that it was more transparent with a published procedure so applicants knew the process.
Councilor Rosenthal appreciated Ms. Ayars comments.  He thought the process was very transparent and asked her for specifics on why it lacked transparency to her.  Ms. Ayars did not think all of the applicants knew what the process was going to be noting that only one attended the Study Session.  There were listening issues with live streaming the meeting.  She wanted a written process distributed to the applicants.  Mayor Stromberg explained having fourteen people apply diminished Council’s ability to interview each one individually so they made a shortlist of 5 to 6 candidates. 
Councilor Slattery raised a point of order that Ms. Ayars’ points were taken.  The applicants could have attended the meetings.  The process was transparent from a City perspective but there may have been an issue on the applicant’s side.  Transparency was a two-sided responsibility.     
Councilor Seffinger explained her criteria for the selection process included someone with a balanced view of the City’s priorities; city experience on a council or commission; previous government or leadership positions; demonstrated leadership skills and consensus building; community involvement; knowledge of community values and priorities; consideration of gender equity and the balance it might bring to the Council.   Based on her criteria, the top candidate was Traci Darrow for her experience on the Budget Committee, field representative work for Senator Wyden, and her demonstrated understanding between city and state politics.  Additionally, her understanding of the Ashland Forest Resiliency (AFR) project, nursing background and interest in community health issues, and her work with underserved populations.  She was also a parent and long-term Ashland resident.  She understood the issues surrounding affordable housing, healthcare, economic opportunity, transportation, minimum wage, the need to assess mental health services for improvement, and environmental stewardship.  An amazing group of candidates had applied and Councilor Seffinger appreciated their talents and expertise. 
Councilor Slattery thanked the applicants.  The fact it was a heavily discussed gender decision did not mean it had to be a woman.  It needed to be the person most qualified for the position.  He did not want the person selected to think it was a gender-based decision.  At the same time, Council needed to be mindful of gender and diversity issues.  The qualified candidate should have a broad range of skills throughout governmental agencies, in the community, and well thought highly valued contributions.  That set of skills was most important in his selection.  Alternately, he thought it was a highly transparent process.   
Councilor Lemhouse appreciated Councilor Seffinger and Councilor Slattery’s comments.  He thanked all the applicants.  He addressed gender equity noting Council was open minded and committed to equality.  He hoped his daughter would feel she earned everything she got in life and had the opportunity to do so.  He also hoped that someday the country would embrace that as a universal truth.  The selection process was very transparent.  He would be completely satisfied with any of the candidates on the final list.  It was an outstanding group.  For him, it was important for someone to be currently serving on a committee or commission.     
Council voted via ballot that resulted in the following outcome:
  • Traci Darrow received 3 votes from Councilor Slattery, Morris, and Seffinger
  • Shaun Moran received 2 votes from Councilor Lemhouse and Rosenthal
Councilor Slattery/Seffinger m/s that Traci Darrow by acclamation be appointed for Seat #6 with a term ending December 31, 2018 by unanimous vote.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Traci Darrow came forward and thanked Council.  She felt honored to work with them and was grateful to represent the citizens of Ashland and work on their behalf.
1.   Second reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Ashland Municipal Code Section 3.08.020 Code of Ethics”
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the City maintained a stricter code of ethics than the state.  The ordinance would retain that level of strictness and adopt the state process regarding a potential conflict of interest.  It also made it clear that City boards and commissions were subject to both the state and city code of ethics. 
Councilor Lemhouse/Morris m/s to approve Ordinance #3138.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Slattery, Seffinger, Morris, Lemhouse, and Rosenthal, YES.  Motion passed.
2.   Second reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending the Flood Plain Corridor Lands map referenced in Chapter 18.3.10 of the Ashland Municipal Code, and adopting the Federal Insurance Administration’s April 5, 2017 Flood Insurance Study and accompanying Flood Insurance Rate maps for Jackson County Oregon and incorporated areas”
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained the major distinction between the 2011 flood plain map amendment and the one currently before Council was the 2011 amendment included every creek in Ashland that had a flood plain and effected 500 to 600 properties.  In this case, there were seven or eight properties within city limits.  The only property with an increase in flood plain was the City Municipal Airport.  Part of the change from the 100-year flood plain showed an increased area on the south end of the airport runway by the hangars.  It would not affect future development.  If a hangar incurred damage and required rebuilding, it would be subject to City requirements for building within the flood plain and replacing a non-conforming building.   
Councilor Morris/Slattery m/s to approve Ordinance #3139.  Roll Call Vote:  Councilor Rosenthal, Seffinger, Lemhouse, Morris, and Slattery, YES.  Motion passed.
Councilor Rosenthal congratulated the Southern Oregon University (SOU) Women’s Basketball team for winning the Regular-season Conference Championship and the SOU Men’s Wrestling Team for winning the West Group Championship.  The Women’s Basketball team would play Friday, February 24, 2017.  He went on to announce the Climate and Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee had their 32nd meeting the week before and unanimously voted on a recommendation that Council approve the Climate Energy Action Plan. 
Councilor Seffinger abhorred the recent incidents both locally and nationally of anti-sematic attacks and the pain it brought to the Jewish community.  These acts must stop.
Councilor Lemhouse agreed with Councilor Seffinger on the anti-sematic behavior.  On a lighter note, he commented on how entertaining it was to watch South Oregon University (SOU) basketball games.  It was fun and suitable for families. He acknowledged Ashland School Board efforts on finding a new superintendent.  
Councilor Morris attended the Legislative Hotline last Wednesday.  Affordable housing was an issue discussed and Senator Alan DeBoer asked what Ashland was doing.  Councilor Morris wanted Council to discuss the Housing Trust Fund and the whole spectrum of affordable housing at a future meeting.  Councilor Lemhouse suggested having Senator DeBoer and Representative Pam Marsh attend a Study Session on the topic. 
Meeting adjourned at 9:03 p.m.
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder                             John Stromberg, Mayor

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