Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

August 9, 2022
I. CALL TO ORDER: 7:00 PM, via Zoom
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:                                                                 Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins                                                                                 Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Haywood Norton                                                                                  Brandon Goldman, Planning Manager                           

Lynn Thompson                                                                                   Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Lisa Verner                                                                                           Michael Sullivan, Administrative Assistant
Doug Knauer
Eric Herron

Absent Members:                                                                  Council Liaison:                                                               

Kerry KenCairn                                                                                    Paula Hyatt


Community Development Director Bill Molnar made the following announcement:

  • The City Council was unable to discuss the restructuring of the City’s Commissions at its August 2, 2022 meeting due to time constraints, and will be taken up at its next meeting. This delay will provide Mr. Molnar and Associate Planner Aaron Anderson time to collect input from members of the Tree Commission and forward it to the Council before the Council reconvenes to discuss this item.
  • Also on the Council’s agenda was a first reading of an ordinance modification of Chapter 13 of the Ashland Municipal Code (AMC) which deals with public facilities. This is due to wireless cellular communication facilities often needing to utilize the public Right-of-Way, while larger cellular buildings which would fall under AMC Chapter 18. This item was likewise not discussed due to time-constraints and will be addressed at the Council’s next meeting.
  • The Council had requested that staff update them regarding the Croman Mill Site development. The property owner has submitted an application for the voluntary cleanup of the site to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which will review the proposal and provide feedback. Townmakers LLC is still committed to developing the site.
  • A discussion of the potential annexation of 1511 Highway 99 N. is scheduled to come before the Commission at its September 13th meeting. 
Chair Norton informed the Commission that he had submitted an email to City Manager Joe Lessard requesting that the Tree Commission be retained as a full commission. The Tree Commission is still slated to be relegated to ad hoc status. 
1. Approval of Minutes
 1. June 14, 2022 Regular Meeting
 2. June 28, 2022 Study Session
 3. July 26, 2022 Study Session
Commissioners Dawkins/Knauer m/s to approve the Consent Agenda. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed. 6-0.
A. Climate Friendly & Equitable Communities (CFEC) Rulemaking Implementation Timeline
Senior Planner Derek Severson provided an update to the Commission regarding the state rulemaking timeline for Climate Friendly & Equitable Communities (CFEC). He detailed how the Oregon Legislature had adopted the goal of reducing Oregon’s greenhouse emissions by 75% by 2050, and that the state is currently set to miss this goal by a significant margin. In seeking to avoid more severe weather events and wildfires suffered by Oregon in recent years, Governor Kate Brown has directed state agencies to create Climate Friendly Areas (CFAs) to reduce greenhouse emissions by encouraging residents to rely more heavily on public transit, cycling, and vehicles that utilize renewable energy. 
Mr. Severson detailed how these CFAs would be required to accommodate 30% of the City’s housing needs. The City would be permitted to accomplish this using one of two strategies: the Prescriptive Option would require future CFAs to hold 15 dwelling units per acre and buildings up of to 50ft; and the Outcomes Option where the City would need to develop a plan that would create 20 homes and jobs per acre. Cities will be required to conduct a study to identify potential CFAs, which will then be sent to the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) for review by December 31, 2023. Mr. Severson noted that not every site identified in the study would necessarily become a CFA. Once the CFAs are identified, cities will need to update their Comprehensive Plans and make any necessary changes to Land Use Codes by December 31, 2024.
Mr. Severson informed the Commission that, per the CFEC guidelines, 40% of all new multifamily and multi-use developments parking must include an electrical conduit for electric vehicles. This change will be implemented through the building code, so it will not come before the Commission. Mr. Severson noted that the City has seen more charging stations for electric vehicles in recent years, but that the state was encouraging further development. Additional parking changes will be implemented by December 31, 2022, and again by June 30, 2023 (see attachment #1). 
Questions of Staff
Commission Thompson requested clarification regarding the requirement of CFAs to accommodate an additional 30% of the City’s current population for future housing needs. Mr. Severson responded that the CFEC guidelines appear to reference the total housing need of the community, and that the City’s housing capacity is currently at 90%. Therefore the implementation of these new guidelines will require further discussion between the DLCD and staff. He added that a 30% expansion would be feasible when considering the housing needs analysis.
Commission Verner questioned the state’s intention of implementing charges for large cities that mandate parking requirements for future developments. Mr. Severson voiced the opinion that this was an attempt by the state to encourage the removal of parking mandates. He added that cities like Eugene have implemented some of these programs, but that it is a complicated process. Commissioner Knauer remarked that the state was making it difficult for cities to keep existing parking codes, and that such a policy was based more in punishment than in reward. Mr. Severson agreed, pointing out that the state was strongly encouraging residents to use bikes, public transportation, or to switch to electric vehicles. 
Chair Norton stated that it would be beneficial for the Commission to be supplied with examples of the state-mandated high-density housing, as this would better illustrate what the City would need to achieve. He pointed out that Commissioners Dawkins and Thompson had been involved in a parking study in the past, and that the findings would be useful in determining future parking code changes. Chair Norton concluded that residential parking programs are expensive to operate correctly. 
B. Climate Friendly & Equitable Communities (CFEC) Rulemaking Upcoming Parking Rule Changes
Staff Presentation
Mr. Severson provided a presentation on the state’s reformation of parking mandates in cities. Beginning on December 31, 2022, cities will no longer be able to enforce minimum parking mandates within ˝ mile of frequent transit lanes. This will affect a wide area of Ashland, as the City has a long and narrow configuration along transit routes. Cities could also no longer create parking mandates for shelters, small units, affordable or public housing, childcare, or facilities for people with disabilities. This would lead to fewer parking lots being developed and increase the available land for housing. Mr. Severson added that Corvallis found that nearly 20% of its developable land was taken up by parking lots, driveways, and on-street parking, which made areas less walkable and increased the need for car ownership. By June 30, 2023 cities will be required to choose one of three potential approaches to improve parking management:
1. Repeal parking mandates
2. Adopt at least three fair parking policies (e.g. unbundling/flexible commute benefit)
3. Remove mandates for more development types and near CFAs
The state also recommended that cities adopt further parking provisions, which included shared parking, incentives for car shares, and electric vehicle charging. Mr. Severson noted that future developments could still include parking, but that the City would no longer involved in that process. In June of 2023 the City will be required to remove all off-street parking requirements in and around identified CFAs, but that the Commission and City Council will ultimately need to determine whether to completely remove parking mandates in the rest of the City. Staff recommended that the City continue to hold any parking included in future developments to current installation and design standards, as well as existing parking maximums specified in the AMC (see attachment #2).
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Verner voiced concern that the private market would not provide the level of parking necessary for the City to remain an accessible tourist area. Mr. Severson stated that the downtown area is the greatest tourist destination in the City, which currently does not have any parking mandates, and is instead an area with a high degree of foot-traffic. 
Commissioner Herron requested clarification over the parking requirements for residences and lodging in the downtown area. Mr. Severson responded that it is only required for lodging, such as hotels, and is only recommended for residences. Commissioner Herron asked if there would be any incentives for developments to provide parking, to which Mr. Severson replied that it would be up to the market. He added that most developers will likely provide parking in order to attract renters and businesses. 
Commissioner Knauer inquired if the CFEC guidelines would affect the City’s ability to designate public parking, such as the lot on Lithia Way, as this could adversely impact tourism. Mr. Severson responded that the CFEC guidelines do not include any provisions precluding the development of parking in the public realm. Commissioner Herron remarked that the City had seen a significant drop in the number of tourists using cars in the downtown area, and that many appear to be utilizing ride-share companies from Medford, which could make parking less necessary in the main tourism areas. Commissioner Knauer expressed apprehension at the prospect of private developers having sole discretion when determining whether to provide parking for future developments. 
Commissioner Thompson commented that the City could now become more responsible for the associated costs of on-street parking if off-street parking mandates are removed from development approval criteria. It is unclear what the private market will produce when the CFEC guidelines go into effect. She also expressed concern for how the removal of parking mandates might affect elderly and disabled residents, and that the City would need to become more involved in managing residential parking close to downtown. 
Chair Norton suggested that the Commission consider Option 3, which would allow the City to set lower parking maximums in order to encourage developers to provide some parking areas. He remarked that, even before the CFEC guidelines take effect, limited parking is an issue in the City. There was general discussion regarding parking and evacuation routes in the City. 
Mr. Molnar pointed out that the Plaza did require parking in the past, and also pointed to the structure as a good example of a high-density mixed-use building under 50ft. He remarked that the CFEC guidelines could place a greater demand on on-street parking, but that he had not received any indication from developers that they intended on providing less than one-space per unit on future projects.
Meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.
Submitted by,
Michael Sullivan, Administrative Assistant

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