Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wednesday, June 16, 2004 at 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.


City Council: Kate Jackson, Alex Amarotico, Don Laws, Cate Hartzell and Chris Hearn. Councilor Morrison was absent.
Staff: Gino Grimaldi, John McLaughlin and Mike Franell.

Discussion of the Downtown Plan
Community Development Director John McLaughlin explained that addressing the Downtown Plan is a goal that was adopted by the City Council and the purpose of this Study Session is to determine the steps necessary to complete this goal.

Vicki Dugger, Executive Director of the Oregon Downtown Development Association (ODDA) was introduced. Ms. Dugger provided a brief background of this issue. She noted the original Downtown Plan was adopted by the City of Ashland in 1988, and in 2001 this issue was further addressed in the Ashland Downtown Plan Phase II. The original plan focused more on providing a vision, while the Phase II document was largely focused on circulation issues. It has been determined that these two plans should be integrated, while readdressing the overall downtown vision.

Ms. Dugger explained the Oregon Downtown Development Association has been contacted by the City to assist in creating the framework of components that address this issue. The following are the steps recommended by ODDA:

1. Revisit and Update Downtown Vision

2. Review and Update of Transportation/Circulation Projects
Ms. Dugger noted that many of these projects have been addressed through the implementation of the Phase II Plan.

3. Fine Tune Parking Management Plan and Develop Process for Public Review
Ms. Dugger noted that due to the complexity of the Parking Plan, the Council may wish to addresses this item separately.

4. Review Streetscape Appearance and Amenities
Ms. Dugger stated that she conducted a site visit and was surprised by the condition of the streetscape. She noted there appeared to be a lot of "band-aid" treatments and recommends the City look at this area in a larger context, as opposed to addressing it piece by piece. She also commented that Ashland is seen by other communities as an example of a vibrant downtown and therefore needs to held to a higher standard.

5. Lithia Way Design Workshop
It was noted that Lithia Way is regarded as the "weak leg" of the couplet and the idea is remove the highway feel and bring it more into the downtown atmosphere.

6. Review of Existing Land Use Policies and Codes
Ms. Dugger stated that when a community undertakes a project such as this, code updates are typically needed.

7. Explore Innovative Partnerships to Help Move Efforts Forward

8. Explore Funding Options and Opportunities for Downtown Projects
Urban Renewal was noted as a possible option for funding.

Ms. Dugger stated the following products will serve as final outcomes for this project: 1) Updated Downtown Vision and Plan, 2) Downtown Parking Plan, 3) Lithia Way Redevelopment Strategy, 4) Recommended Updates to Codes and Policies Report, 5) Partnership Opportunities Report, and 6) Funding Opportunities Report.

Ms. Dugger's recommendation is to work on the individual pieces systematically and simultaneously, so that they can build off of each other.

Mr. McLaughlin noted the City would not be starting at ground zero, as certain projects have already been completed. He also clarified that Staff has not assigned a timeline or dates to these tasks and they are willing to extend the process for public input if needed. It was also noted that a timeline could not be produced until the Council determines which components they want included in the process.

Ms. Dugger clarified her role in this project is to create the framework; it is then handed over to Staff for implementation.

Council discussed whether the Parking Plan should be handled separately. Mr. McLaughlin clarified this is a key component that will be addressed in the overall plan, however the more technical issues (loading zones, parking zones, additional parking spaces, etc.) will need to be discussed in greater detail.

Mr. McLaughlin noted there are different ideas throughout the community on what the Downtown Plan should be. It will be necessary to hold a series of public meetings for the City and the public to come to an agreement. Once this is complete, Staff can move forward with implementation.

Council questioned whether they wanted to revisit some of these controversial issues. Suggestion was made for Staff to review Council's decisions on recent planning appeals, and to reflect their judgement in the updated vision.

Mayor DeBoer stated the citizens of Ashland deserve a break from the heavy construction. He noted there are small improvement projects that can be accomplished, but he would advise the Council and Staff to not undertake any major construction projects for several years. Mayor DeBoer also expressed concern regarding the funding, explaining Urban Renewal takes money away from the schools and the other option would result in increased taxes. Mayor DeBoer stated he would like to see the area in front of Washington Mutual Bank addressed, noting there was a fatal accident at this location. He also suggests that the City Council allow Staff to undertake smaller improvement projects as they see fit.

Council noted the recent string of planning appeals and questioned if the Planning Department had adequate resources to undertake this major project. Mr. McLaughlin stated this project has been a council goal for several years, which is why it is before the Council at this time. If Council feels that Staff should prioritize this project differently, they are open to those suggestions.

Mr. McLaughlin explained that there has been a shift in community views over the past few years, which is why so much time will be focused on meeting with the public. It could take substantial time before all parties come to an agreement. Comment was made that it is difficult to maintain public involvement over a long period of time, and summer might not be the best time to address this issue.

Council agreed to allow audience members to participate in the discussion.

Colin Swales/Stated the 1988 Downtown Plan is very outdated, and noted there have been changes within the community since it was adopted. He believes the overall "vision" needs to be readdressed, and believes there are members of the community who are willing to invest the time needed to work on this project. Mr. Swales noted the substantial amount of tourists who visit Ashland and suggests the Council establish an Ad Hoc Committee for the Downtown Plan.

Eric Navickas/Stated too much emphasis has been placed on the parking issue and does not believe that this should be a priority. Mr. Navickas suggests that the Council address the Affordable Housing issue.

City Administrator Gino Grimaldi noted that if the Council does not act on this project at this time, they will end up reacting to situations instead of moving forward. He believes that this project is a good investment of Council and Staff's time.

Council consensus to not form a committee and agreed to have Staff continue to work on this project.

Presentation by Mike Cavallaro of Rogue Valley Council of Governments
Mike Cavallaro presented information on: 1) Changes in Fund Equity, 2) Assets to Liability, 3) Accounts Receivable, 4) Cash in Bank to Current Liabilities, and 5) RVCOG Budgets. (Mr. Cavallaro submitted this information into the record)

Mr. Cavallaro explained that they are competitively priced, however many people are not aware of the professional services that they offer. He provided the Council a comprehensive list of professional services and asked that the City keep them in mind when contracting work out.

Meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,
April Lucas

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