Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Special Meeting

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Alan Harper
Kerry KenCairn
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
Lisa Verner
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Paula Hyatt
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced the Walker Elementary School project would come before the Commission in July.  Staff received an application for a 10-acre annexation off North Mountain behind the City yard that was tentatively scheduled for the August meeting.  With the City starting to open soon, there was a possibility of having a Planning Commission retreat in September or October.  The City Council will be the first to start in person meetings but have not established a date yet.  Once they have a date, the Planning Commission will resume in person meetings shortly after.  Other commissions may have the option of retaining electronic meetings.
III.       PUBLIC FORUM - None
A.  Approval of Minutes
 1.  May 11, 2021 Regular Meeting
 2.  May 25, 2021 Special Meeting
Commissioner Dawkins/Pearce m/s to approve the Consent Agenda.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed.
V.        DISCUSSION ITEMS         
A.  Housing in C-1 and E-1 Zones
Mr. Molnar provided background and explained Mark Knox and Laz Ayala brought this to the Planning Commission during the Commission’s Study Session in December of 2020.  The City Council expressed interest and took formal action this past March.  Staff engaged Fregonese and Associates and Scott Fregonese would provide initial findings on allowing housing in the C-1 and E-1 zones.
Mr. Fregonese provided background on Fregonese and Associates, noting past projects with the City.  He thought allowing  housing in commercial and employment zones fit with the Transit Triangle.  He gave a presentation on commercial space analysis (see attached):
•  Ashland Commercial Space Analysis
•  Evaluation of Ground Floor Commercial Space in the C1 & E1 Zones
•  Commercial Real Estate Trends – Before COVID
•  Current Commercial Real Estate Trends
•  Office Usage Still Lagging
Commissioner Verner asked about the need for smaller residential units as workforce housing.  Mr. Fregonese explained some of the units in the code modification would be for families.  Larger rentals made it less affordable.  The rental market in Ashland had many single-family homes for rent.  The Transit Triangle Overlay included 1-3-bedroom units.  There was a need for multiple bedroom units.  The key issue was making them affordable.  Senior Planner Brandon Goldman further explained the project pertained to C-1 and E-1 zones that was mixed use development.   Single-family homes were not permissible, but three-bedroom apartments could be included.
•  Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI)
•  Map - Acres, people and jobs
•  Map - Number of acres available in the C1 and E1 zones
•  Map - Number of acres available in the C1, E1, C1-D, CM and M1 zones
•  Chart - Buildable Land Acres by Zoning
•  Map - Size of buildable acres available in the in the C1 and E1 zones
Commissioner Harper confirmed it was vacant land. Commissioner Pearce clarified it also pertained to underdeveloped land.  Mr. Goldman explained the Buildable Land Inventory had two classifications, totally vacant land and partially vacant land.  
Commissioner Thompson confirmed the modification would apply to new development and not existing structures.  She wanted to know the number of existing commercial buildings.  Mr. Fregonese explained they had focused on future development and had not looked at current development.  With the modifications to the code, an existing vacant building built to commercial standards in the C-1 or E-1 zone could be rented as residential space.  It would be difficult to determine the which buildings were vacant.  Commissioner Harper thought it was important to know the amount of existing vacant commercial space.  If converting it to residential generated a return of investment, spaces  the City wanted to remain commercial might be converted.  Mr. Fregonese suggested language could be added to the ordinance regarding protections for existing versus new development.  It was worth investigating further.
•  Table - Showing Acreage, Parcel Size, and Number of Parcels
•  BLI Chart of the number of parcels in terms of size
•  Historic permit trends for Ashland over the past 11 years
•  Chart - Commercial Permits
Mr. Fregonese confirmed many of the permits were for Southern Oregon University.
•  Map - Showing the 50 commercial permits pulled over the last 10 years for expansion or new construction
Mr. Fregonese clarified the permits were pulled for commercial or mixed use.
•  Maps - Showing the location of the 50 commercial permits pulled over the last 10 years in the C-1 and E-1 zones for expansion or new construction
•  Map - Showing permits pulled sin 2019 BLI
•  Clear Creek Drive
•  Clear Creek Drive lot development over the years
•  Lithia Way
•  First Street
•  Table - Showing BLI Acreage, Cost, Commercial and Residential Sq. Ft. of Clear Creek Drive, Lithia Way and First Street
Mr. Fregonese clarified the commercial square footage shown in the table was ground floor only.
•  Existing Employment - Number of Jobs by Zoning
•  Map - Indicating 20% of jobs are in residential zones
•  Map - Showing where the highest concentration of employment is located
•  Map - Showing where the highest concentration of employment is located minus SOU and OSF
•  Chart - Total Commercial Permits 2011-2021
•  Total Commercial Permits, Excluding Additions/Accessory Buildings 2011-2021
•  Map - Showing Commercial and Residential Square Footage
•  Chart - Commercial Permits by Type 2011-2021
•  Chart - Commercial Permits by EOA Type 2011-2021
•  Chart - Total Permitted Commercial Square Footage (EOA Types) 2011-2021
Commissioner Harper commented once the ground floor converted to residential it would never revert to commercial.  Mr. Fregonese thought it would depend on how the ordinance was written.  It could have a time limitation or track the square footage until it reached a specific number.  It would be difficult for residential space to convert back to commercial.  Mr. Molnar explained that most of the downtown projects whether in C-1D or C-1 and all the mixed use on A Street that were E-1 did a minimum amount of residential.  He did not know if any of the residential went back to commercial.  The North Mountain neighborhood was a residential master plan with an allowance for neighborhood commercial.  It allowed residential on the ground floor if there was no demand for neighborhood commercial.  Staff provided an example of a building that converted from residential to commercial several times.  Mr. Fregonese explained the ideal was having spaces that would react to the market demand.  He agreed it would be difficult to convert back to commercial if there was no market demand.
•  Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) 2007
•  Potential Zoning Recommendations
•  City of Bend 2.7.3245 Commercial-Ready Space
•  Potential Zoning Recommendations
•  Next Steps
Commissioner KenCairn liked the idea of limiting the change to one area initially instead of opening it to all properties.  Starting with the Transit Triangle made sense.  Commissioner Harper agreed.  He wondered if allowing it in the Croman Mill area would be an incentive for developers.  It worked as a commercial ready area.  Mr. Fregonese added the owners were interested in extending the Transit Triangle to the Croman Mill property.  Mr. Molnar spoke to the cleanup involved on the land and explained it would not happen soon.
Chair Norton thought the Commission should determine specific areas to apply the modification to prior to introducing amendments.  Commissioner Thompson agreed.  There was a lot of ground floor commercial in those zones they had not discussed.  Starting in the Transit Triangle or Croman Mill area might be easier to manage.  Mr. Fregonese suggested having a couple more work sessions where they discussed proposed code language and looked at impacts more geographically specific, so they knew the affects.  Additionally, he would bring back information on how much existing commercial space was available.
Chair Norton noted property owned by Irving Roberts and asked if commercial space on the ground floor in the downtown would be eligible to convert to residential space.  Mr. Goldman explained the amendments would not apply to buildings in the C-1-D zone.  However, the former parking lot could develop 65% commercial and 35% residential in Irving parking lot.
Commissioner Pearce thought the applicability was neighborhood specific in areas where commercial was not feasible in some economic cycle.  He asked Mr. Fregonese if they had considered defining a new commercial use for live-work scenarios.  Mr. Fregonese explained live-work units were typically two stories.  Live-work code would still have the 35% requirement.  Commissioner Pearce added that some live-work units were classified as commercial with the owner or proprietor living there.
Commissioner KenCairn preferred Mr. Fregonese come back with examples of the effect the modification would have on certain areas.  Commissioner Verner agreed. 
Mark Knox/Ashland/Explained the origins of the potential amendments allowing residential on first floor commercial space.  He spoke how the rise of ecommerce affected brick and mortar commercial buildings. He did not think it should be permitted downtown but areas within walking distance of the downtown should be considered.
Laz Ayala/Ashland/This was about recognizing the financing limitations that exist currently mostly due to the impact Amazon was having as well as the pandemic.  Both justified revisiting the code to adapt to present circumstances.  The Almeda fire decreased housing.  There was a two-year supply of larger detached housing but only a few weeks supply of smaller unit type housing.  Banks were not financing mixed use, recognizing the trend was here to stay.  There was a need for small unit housing.
Staff would come back with potential impacts on what might work or not.  They would address concerns promoting conversion of existing commercial space and areas that had little demand. 
Mr. Fregonese would forward the presentation and narrative to staff for distribution to the Planning Commission.
Meeting adjourned at 8:26 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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