MINUTES FOR THE REGULAR MEETING
ASHLAND CITY COUNCIL
CALL TO ORDER
April 4, 2017
1175 E. Main Street
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilor Slattery, Morris, Seffinger, and Darrow were present. Councilor Rosenthal arrived at 7:07 p.m. Councilor Lemhouse was absent.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of the Study Session of March 20, 2017 and Executive Session of March 20, 2017 were approved as presented. The minutes of the Business meeting of March 21, 2017 will be reviewed for a correction on page 5, paragraph 2 to determine if “did not” needs to be removed from the discussion. The minutes will be brought back at the next meeting for approval.
SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS & AWARDS
1. Results of the Downtown Business Survey
Dr. Eva Skuratowicz the director of the Southern Oregon University Source Research Center, Research Analyst Rikki Pritzlaff, and Research Assistant Travis Moody shared survey results of the Downtown Businesses on the ordinances adopted to address behavior issues in the downtown core.
- There was a 78% response rate to the survey.
- Nine geographical areas were created for analysis.
- Five questions were developed regarding the parameter of each business that would provide data for future surveys.
Two of the five questions regarded smoking and vaping. The survey indicated that more than half the responders noticed a decrease of smoking on sidewalks, but that there was a substantial increase of smoking in side alleys and parking lots.
The question regarding solicitation of sidewalk diners, 71% reported that there had not been any changes in diners being solicited. The question regarding the presence of uniformed officers, 37% reported that there had been no change in presence, 32% reported they had seen an increase in the presence of uniformed officers. The question regarding obstructing sidewalks, 45% reported no change and 25% reported a decrease in obstruction.
Of the seven banks queried about ATM solicitation, four indicated a change. Two saw no changes and one stated it was the worst year yet for ATM solicitations.
The final question “Specifically describe what you see as the difference, if any, in public behavior in the entire downtown corridor when comparing the summer of 2016 to the summer of 2015. If applicable, give examples.” A total of 114 out of 146 provided responses.
- 20 businesses saw an overall improvement in downtown behavior.
- 13 businesses felt that, overall, there had been no change.
- 29 businesses commented that the lack of change in the downtown is because problematic behavior shifted from one part of the area to another.
- 19 businesses commented that the Pioneer/Lithia - Way/Will Dodge Way areas are disproportionately impacted.
- 21 businesses commented that there are a variety of behaviors in the downtown area that have become worse.
- 15 businesses commented on the prevalence of drug and alcohol use in public.
- 6 businesses commented that the ordinances were bad for business.
- 3 businesses commented on the concern they had for the plight of the people on the street.
The open-ended comments revealed a geographic shift where problematic downtown behavior occurs. The trends identified by these comments can be used in conjunction with the geographic data to specify additional solutions.
Mayor Stromberg agreed problems had shifted and that trying to control behavior often moved it somewhere else. There are parts of the town that attracted more transients than local homeless. It was not necessarily bad to displace. Displacing them farther out might not attract the people who cause the problems.
Derek Pyle/1067 Emigrant Camp Ground/
Stated that there had been a fifteen-year gap since he used to hang out in the park and at that time there was no panhandling in the street. The past removal of a specific Police Chief resulted in people being treated as criminals. The perception of transients had changed over the years and he thought the City should track transient population annually. He did not support the Bike and Bait program. He felt that transients will continue to come through this community and that there should be solutions to where people can sleep and shower. He noted that Jackson County has the second highest rate of unemployment and that there is a high level of poverty. He would like to see more solutions for those that have a different lifestyle.
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/
Spoke on a sustainable future and the damage that is happening. Sustainability was political. He encouraged innovation by municipalities through ordinances and regulations and supported continued education for those in construction for zero net energy.
Pam Hammond/642 Van Sant Street/
Explained the plastic bag ban ordinance negatively affected her shops. Using props, she showed how customers had to decide on whether to purchase a bag or not for their purchases. She stressed that they want to accommodate their customers and the bag ordinance makes it difficult. She asked Council to review how the bag ordinance affected specialty retailers.
1. Approval of minutes of boards, commissions, and committees
2. Liquor license application for Billy Harto dba Ostras! Tapas & Bottleshop
3. Approval of special procurement for Fire Department Personnel Uniforms
4. Approval of Mayor’s appointments to ad hoc City Hall Committee
Councilor Rosenthal/Seffinger m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
PUBLIC HEARINGS -
1. Approval of contract for Plaza tree enhancement project
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained Council discussed the matter at the March 6, 2017 Study Session and directed him to bring back a contract with Solid Ground Landscaping to remove three existing trees and replace them with larger trees.
The Ashland Parks & Recreation Department and the Public Works Department negotiated the contract. Issues were staking the trees, not having a large enough root ball for it to stand its own, having a warranty longer than 18 months, watering, and the possibility of subsurface soil damage. Solid Ground Landscaping would not be responsible for any subsurface soil damage during tree removal.
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained subsurface soil damage was difficult to estimate. It would depend on what happened when they removed the tree. Mr. Faught did not believe it would be overly expensive. Mr. Lohman added Solid Ground Landscaping would repair any damaged pavers and the City would be responsible for any subsurface soil damage. The contract clarified this as a City project and the normal requirements associated with contracting to an outside entity did not apply.
Councilor Slattery/Seffinger m/s to authorize Interim City Administrator Karns to execute the proposed contract with Solid Ground Landscaping, Inc. along with any additional changes the Interim City Administrator deems necessary to reach consensus with the contractor and sufficiently protect the City’s interests. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Slattery stated that this is a good project and a nice moment where citizens stepped forward. Councilor Seffinger commented it would resolve some of the public concerns and be a healing experience. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Rosenthal, Morris, Slattery, Seffinger, and Darrow, YES. Motion passed.
NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
1. Independent Way right-of-way acquisition from Shree Jalaram
Public Works Director Mike Faught explained Council had approved the purchase of the right of way from IPCO Development to construct a new road between Tolman Creek Road and Washington Street. This was the last acquisition to complete the road. It would provide relief to Washington Street and Ashland Street/Hwy 66 intersection deficiencies. The project was in the budget and construction would start in August.
Councilor Darrow/Morris m/s move approval of the acquisition of road right of way from Shree Jalaram Hospitality, LLC in the amount of $5.49 per square foot for the Independent Way road project and authorize the City Administrator to sign all documents necessary to complete the transaction. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Morris commented that this was long overdue. Councilor Seffinger noted the safety issues with Washington Street. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Seffinger, Morris, Rosenthal, Darrow, and Slattery, YES. Motion passed.
2. Police staffing presentation
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara explained the increased staffing would get staff back to where they needed to be 20 years ago. He provided examples of incidences that resulted in assistance from Talent, Phoenix, and Jackson County. The City could not assume these agencies would always be available to help.
The Department would add one full-time employee (FTE) to each of the four patrol teams and restore the School Resource Officer (SRO). This would greatly enhance the ability to respond to incidents. There were times when only one officer was available to patrol the entire city.
This was the beginning of a long-term Strategic Plan for the Police Department. Chief O’Meara confirmed that adding five additional officers would increase safety significantly in the community. He thought thirty-eight FTE officers was ideal and would provide more engagement with community members. Staff would review the number of FTE officers as the population increased. Analyzing statistics would help in determining the number of officers needed in the future.
Council directed staff to provide funding options at a future Council meeting understanding no action would occur until after July 1, 2017.
ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS AND CONTRACTS
1. Approval of first reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending AMC 9.30.020 to extend the current smoking ban to include 175 Lithia Way and any space within 20 feet of pathways for smoke to enter places of employment or enclosed spaces open to the public” and move on to second reading
City Attorney Dave Lohman corrected the address from 175 Lithia Way to 130 North Pioneer Street. The ordinance would expand the smoking ban in the Enhanced Law Enforcement Area (ELEA) to include the parking lot on Pioneer and Lithia Way. He clarified State Law as it pertained to smoking buffers. He noted a change in the proposed ordinance that should read “outdoor dining area” in Section 9.30.020 B
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara received many complaints from businesses on Will Doge Way that the 10-foot rule was inadequate. Changing the distance to 20-feet would help alleviate the problem. Staff included the parking lot due to people occupying parking spaces preventing others from parking. He did not recommend expanding the smoking ban throughout Will Dodge Way. It would create issues for bar owners and patrons. Mr. Lohman reminded Council they are had purposely allowed smoking in alleys and parking lots to accommodate business employees, visitors, and citizens.
Roy Laird/419 Willow Street/
Co-owner of Ashland Book Exchange. The proposal was a good start and agreed it should not include Will Dodge Way. He thought the bar scene had improved and smokers should not be treated as criminals. The past two years was difficult due to the negative behavior of a small group. The Stop and Shop Market had cleaned up the area in front of their store. However, he did not think the smoking ban would work on the corner of Pioneer Street and Lithia Way and that people would continue to smoke.
Councilor Seffinger noted the incident in early March when groups of schoolchildren were harassed as they got off their bus. This was an aggression issue and many women were afraid to go into this area. The ordinance would help but not solve the situation. It would only move the problem to another area. She encouraged citizens to become more active and work with the police by calling people on their behavior and holding them accountable. This was a behavior issue, not a homeless issue. There had to be non-policing solutions for those that needed and wanted help.
Derek Pyle/1067 Emigrant Camp Ground/
Shared his feelings on banning smoking and noted there were many different kinds of community. Increasing laws in one area would just move the issues to another location.
Councilor Seffinger/Morris m/s to approve First Reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An Ordinance Amending AMC 9.30.020 to extend the current smoking ban to include 130 North Pioneer Street and any space within 20 feet of pathways for smoke to enter places of employment or enclosed spaces open to the public” and move the ordinance on to Second Reading.
Councilor Seffinger stated the parking lot had become a gathering place where bad behaviors and aggressive panhandling occurred. People did not want to park there for fear their car might be marked if they refused to give money. Councilor Morris shared a similar experience with property in the south end of town. The issues were the norms of behavior and respect. This was a different understanding of those norms. He would support the ordinance but was not sure it would work.
Councilor Rosenthal/Seffinger m/s to suspend the rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Staff confirmed there was signage regarding smoking but nothing that narrated the rules. The Police Department would launch a two-person team that would provide enhanced enforcement in problem areas. Education would occur first. Mr. Lohman would add language that clarified distance for second reading. Chief O’Meara confirmed outside dinning did not allow smoking. Bar patrons on Will Dodge Way could smoke in the alley in adherence to the distance rules.
Mayor Stromberg reinstated Council rules.
Councilor Slattery explained Council was obligated to make the downtown area safe and inviting to everyone. This was not about people who looked different or respectively panhandled. It was about people who did not take care of their surroundings. He noted the concessions Council had made for smokers, their obligation to the community and the potential to expand the ban further. Councilor Seffinger added that smoking was also an environmental issue. The ban helped protect the environment. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Darrow, Seffinger, Morris, and Rosenthal, YES. Motion passed.
2. Approval of first reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 11.26 to limit the use of public parking lots for purposes other than parking vehicles” and move onto second reading
City Attorney Dave Lohman explained the proposed ordinance would keep public property designated for a particular use from being appropriated by individuals for their own use to the exclusion of others. It would apply to all City owned public parking lots. Police Chief Tighe O’Meara added the Police Department received many complaints regarding behavior at the 130 North Pioneer Street parking lot. Currently, police could use the state statute called Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree regarding impeding vehicular traffic in a public right of way. It involved a complainant asking someone occupying space in a parking place to move and that person refusing. Typically, the complainant ended up parking elsewhere. The ordinance would help the Police enforce it in an even-handed manner. People could obtain special event permits to use the parking lot space for events.
Councilor Rosenthal/Slattery m/s to approve First Reading of ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 11.26 to limit the use of public parking lots for purposes other than parking vehicles” and move onto Second Reading. DISCUSSION:
Councilor Rosenthal thought this was a practical matter. The Downtown Parking and Circulation Committee spent three years quantifying parking needs in Ashland. The ordinance addressed the issues, was reasonable, and practical. Roll Call Vote: Councilor Slattery, Rosenthal, Morris, Darrow, and Seffinger, YES. Motion passed.
3. Approval of first reading by title only of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 10.120.010 to include City of Ashland’s 175 Lithia Way parking lot within the Enhanced Law Enforcement Area” and move on to second reading
City Attorney Dave Lohman corrected the address from 175 Lithia Way to 130 North Pioneer Street. The Enhanced Law Enforcement Area (ELEA) covered the following violations:
- Scattering rubbish.
- Excessive noise.
- Uncontrolled dogs.
- Alcohol consumption and open containers.
- Smoking marijuana.
These violations were misdemeanors punishable by expulsion from specified areas in the city. It applied to people convicted of violating these ordinances, committing felonies, or misdemeanors in that area three or more times in a six-month period. There were repeated violations of these types of behavior in the parking lot. Citations did not deter the misbehavior. The ordinance would expand the enhanced law enforcement area to include the parking lot. Will Dodge Way was already included in the ELEA. Mr. Lohman noted a mapping error in the map that would come back for second reading corrected.
Councilor Slattery/Seffinger m/s to approve First Reading of an ordinance titled, “An ordinance amending Chapter 10.120.010 to include City of Ashland’s 130 North Pioneer Street parking lot within the Enhanced Law Enforcement Area” and move on to Second Reading.
Councilor Slattery supported increasing the ELEA. Councilor Seffinger added it would make a difference to those not deterred by receiving a citation.
Councilor Slattery/Morris m/s to suspend the rules. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Police Chief Tighe O’Meara estimated that 20 to 30 individuals were expelled under the ELEA ordinance over the past three years. People expelled were trespassed from the downtown area unless they were going work, church, or seeking employment.
Mayor Stromberg reinstated Council rules.
Roll Call Vote: Councilor Darrow, Slattery, Seffinger, Rosenthal, and Morris, YES. Motion passed.
OTHER BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL MEMBERS/REPORTS FROM COUNCIL LIAISONS
Councilor Slattery wanted a discussion regarding the plastic bag ban added to a future Study Session. He announced it was Equal Pay Day, explained this was the day women had to work in order to make the same amount men made in one year. He hoped that would change.
Councilor Morris noted Mr. Laird’s testimony and wanted to add a discussion to a future Study Session on outreach for the people congregating in the 130 North Pioneer Street parking lot.
Councilor Seffinger met with the Ashland Resource Center and Ashland Culture of Peace Commission who were looking into ways to incorporate a sense of peace in the community.
Councilor Rosenthal explained members of the Climate Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee wanted to meet informally but needed the Mayor to make a statement and end the committee officially. Mayor Stromberg announced the official work of the Climate Energy Action Plan ad hoc Committee was completed and former members were free to meet without public meeting law consequences.
Councilor Darrow also met with the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission regarding their communication circles and efforts to bring unhoused people back into the community. She appreciated Mr. Pyle’s comments that treating people like criminals made them act like criminals. She wanted other ways to deal with these people in addition to the ordinances.
Mayor Stromberg recommended that people view a recent Town Hall interview with Peter Buckley and his work with trauma informed research that built resiliency, and self-efficiency.
Councilor Rosenthal shared his experiences traveling with eleven Little League players to Guanajuato Mexico. The Guanajuato players would come to Ashland July 2018.
ADJOURNMENT OF BUSINESS MEETING
Meeting adjourned at 9:11 p.m.
Dana Smith, Assistant to the City Recorder John Stromberg, Mayor