Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Mtg

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


January 14, 2014
Chair Melanie Mindlin called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.

Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy J. Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Richard Kaplan
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Tracy Peddicord
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Associate Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
None   Mike Morris, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar brought attention to the Commission attendance report which was distributed at the beginning of the meeting, and clarified the Commission chair elections will take place in May due to upcoming changes to the Uniform Policies and Procedures ordinance. He also announced the January Study Session will be a joint meeting with the City Council to discuss and prioritize future planning projects.
A.   Approval of Minutes.
       1. November 26, 2013 Study Session.
       2. December 10, 2013 Regular Meeting.
Commissioners Kaplan/Miller m/s to approve the Consent Agenda.  Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
 [Commissioner Brown abstained from 11/26/13 minute approval; Commissioner Peddicord abstained from 12/10/13 minute approval]
No one came forward to speak.

  1. PLANNING ACTION: #2013-01506
SUBJECT PROPERTY: North Mountain & Fair Oaks Avenues
OWNERS: Ayala Properties, L.L.C./Scott Lissberger Revocable Trust (Scott Lissberger, Trustee)
APPLICANT: Ayala Properties, L.L.C.
DESCRIPTION: A rCOMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION:  North Mountain, Neighborhood Central Overlay; ZONING:  NM-C; ASSESSOR’S MAP: 39 1E 04AD TAX LOTS: 700, 800, 1400, 1500 and 5900.
Commissioner Mindlin read aloud the public hearing procedures for land use hearings.
Ex Parte Contact
Commissioners Dawkins and Mindlin declared site visits; Mindlin noted she observed the parking situation and stated during her visit all of the parking in front of one of the Julian Square buildings was occupied. No ex parte contact was reported.
Staff Report
Associate Planner Derek Severson explained this is a continued hearing from the December 10, 2013 Planning Commission meeting and stated the parking allocation and how Plum Ridge Court is used will likely be the key issue for discussion tonight. He spoke to the 120-day requirement for final decision and stated because of this requirement the Commission will need to adopt the Findings tonight. He also mentioned one of the items raised at the last hearing was the claim that proper notice was not provided. He stated even though it is not a requirement, staff has rectified this concern by mailing a written notice of tonight’s hearing to all parties that provided testimony for Planning Action #
Public Testimony
Vida Taylor/913 Plum Ridge/Shared her concerns regarding lack of parking for the proposed units, increased density, vehicle lane obstruction from parked cars, increased traffic, incompatible building design, and the need for handicap spaces and emergency vehicle access.
Rick Harris/190 Oak Street #1/Commented on the practice of shared parking and noted his building has five parking spaces shared between two residential and two commercial units. He stated this type of shared use is common in Ashland and ensures parking spaces are well utilized both day and night. Mr. Harris commented on density and clarified the proposed building will have 14 units (not 40), and pointed out that the concept for this area since the early 2000’s has been for a dense city center. He added that in order for the commercial uses to be viable there must be adequate density to support it, and voiced his support for the project as proposed.
Joanne Johns/979 Camelot/Stated she is opposed to the density and believes 14 units is too many, and shared her concerns with parking and the potential for more cars parked on Camelot and Overlook. Ms. Johns expressed concern with the first floor commercial spaces being temporarily used as residential and stated this proposal will not benefit the people who reside in the area.
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Alan Harper/130 A Street, Suite 6/Noted the concerns raised regarding parking and the coordination of Plum Ridge Court. He stated they are supportive of their application as submitted, however if this is a major concern for the Planning Commission they have prepared an alternate layout that adjusts the lot lines and consolidates the parking spaces on Plum Ridge Court onto the other tax lots. He stated this removes the question of where residents will park and stated Plum Ridge Court would be dedicated as a City right-of-way. Mr. Harper noted if the Commission selects option ‘B’, Conditions 7 and 9 would need to be altered.
Mark Knox/45 West Nevada/Stated they believe their original proposal works well, but have offered this alternate in order to address some of the comments made about parking. Mr. Knox clarified the land use code does not require parking to be on-site, but rather just off-street, and stated the master plan has always envisioned this as a high density, mixed-use area.  
Mr. Allen clarified under their alternate proposal Plum Ridge Court goes away as a separate lot; the parking spaces are shifted onto the adjacent lots, and Plum Ridge Court becomes a travel way. Additionally, the parking spaces would be designated for their buildings.
Staff noted their concern with plan ‘B’ and clarified it was not the intent of the master plan to have a pool of parking on private lots.
Deliberations & Decision
Commissioners Dawkins/Brown m/s to approve Planning Action #2013-01506 (Plan A) with the conditions of approval recommended by staff. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Dawkins voiced his support for the project. He stated this was always envisioned as a dense area with a commercial core, and stated there needs to be a certain amount of density to bring commercial use to this neighborhood. He added he is not concerned with the parking and does not believe plan ‘B’ is necessary. Commissioner Brown stated the proposal conforms to the master plan for this neighborhood and stated it was never intended to have parking on-site for each unit. Commissioner Miller noted her concerns with density and lack of parking. Commissioner Kaplan voiced his support for plan ‘B’ which would provide dedicated spaces for the residential units. Commissioner Peddicord voiced her support for the motion and stated the original option offers more flexibility. Commissioner Brown stated the code is clear and requires one off-site parking space per unit. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Dawkins, Peddicord, Brown, and Mindlin, YES. Commissioners Miller and Kaplan, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
Approval of Findings
Suggestion was made to strike the sentence at the top of Page 9 that reads: “The Commission finds that the proposed parking allocations and the stipulated limitations on Plum Ridge Court parking will provide similar assurances to those applicable under the Parking Management Strategies found in AMC 18.92.050 which provide that off-street parking requirements may be reduced up to 50% through the application of credits available for on-street parking, alternative vehicles, mixed or joint uses, shared parking, transportation demand management plans or transit facilities.” And to modify the following sentences to read: “As proposed, the 11 allocated parking spaces on Plum Ridge Court would serve upper floor (permanent) residential units on the private parking lots although these spaces would be unsigned and available like any on-street parking. The remaining Plum Ridge Court spaces would be available to visitors or commercial customers…”
Commissioners Mindlin/Brown m/s to modify the Findings as described. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Peddicord, Miller, Dawkins, Kaplan and Mindlin, Yes. Motion passed 6-0.
Commissioners Dawkins/Peddicord m/s to approved the modified Findings. Roll Call Vote: Commissioners Brown, Dawkins, Kaplan, Miller, Peddicord, and Mindlin, YES. Motion passed 6-0.

  1. Short Term Rentals on Owner Occupied Properties in Single Family Zoning Districts – An Introduction of Potential Issues.
Commissioner Mindlin left the meeting due to a potential public perception of conflict of interest.
Community Development Director Bill Molnar explained the City Council has already made changes to the requirements for short-term rentals in the R-2 zone, and has asked staff and the Planning Commission to take public input on owner occupied short-term rentals in single family zones, and if necessary recommend amendments. Additionally, the Commission has been asked to evaluate the City requirement that limits traveler’s accommodations to only those properties located within 200-ft. of a boulevard, avenue, or neighborhood collector.
Public Testimony
Barbara Hetland/985 East Main/Stated she is a realtor in Ashland and believes changing the R-1 zone to allow for traveler’s accommodations is a huge change and would jeopardize the livability of Ashland and impact property values. Ms. Hetland stated there are very few people who are asking for this change, but doing so would impact everyone who lives and works here. She commented that most people living in R-1 zones are unaware this discussion is happening and because this is such a major change this should be placed before the entire town for a vote.
James Orr/407 Clinton/Read aloud his written statement. (See Exhibit 2014-01, attached)
Mr. Orr added his neighbor’s house is only 12 ft. from his, and stated from June to October 2011 they observed 43 different cars parked in the driveway.
Lois Van Aken/140 Central/Cited the City’s goal to support stable neighborhoods and stated this is accomplished through zoning. Ms. Van Aken stated the R-1 zones were created for residential use and to foster a suburban and family atmosphere where neighborhoods would flourish; not to house business such as short term tourist lodging. She stated allowing this change would break the promises made to all the residents who purchased homes in the R-1 zone. She stated there is a small group of individuals who have been operating illegally and want to continue to do so, and they want all of Ashland to change for their financial benefit.
Ellen Campbell/120 Gresham/Questioned the thinking behind converting the remaining residential zones that have been solely for Ashland residents in order to grow more tourism businesses. Ms. Campbell stated allowing more and unneeded lodging businesses in the R-1 zone will undermine sustainability and livability in Ashland. She added the existing ordinances have been in effect for many decades and have worked well, and recommended the Commission not allow short term rentals in single family zones.
Tom DuBois/690 S Mountain/Stated he is representing the 70 members of Ashland HOSTS (Host Occupied Short Term Stays). Mr. DuBois stated he has stopped operating his bedroom rental unit since being informed this was illegal, and stated they want to change the City’s requirements. He voiced support for the adoption of a reasonable, easy to understand ordinance that will allow HOSTS to operate short term rentals in residential zones. He stated the City’s Comprehensive Plan supports economic activity if it is not incompatible to do so, and also speaks to the benefits of mixed use neighborhoods as long as they do not disturb the main intent of the neighborhood. He stated HOSTS are in complete agreement with this and identified three issues for the Commission’s consideration: 1) maintaining neighborhood integrity, appearance, livability and quality of life; 2) possible impact on long term rental stock; and 3) ease of ordinance compliance. He stated if the City approves this change they would like the requirements to be as easy as possible for people to understand and would like the process for compliance to be easy and inexpensive, with hefty fines for non-compliance.
Abby Hogge/1700 Parker/Supports HOSTS and stated it is unjustified to assume there will be a large number of people who will rush to convert their long term rentals to short term accommodations. Ms. Hogge stated the approval process for an accessory residential unit (ARU) is already lengthy and expensive, and asked the Commission to consider the benefits of allowing ARUs in R-1 zones as short term rentals. She requested the Commission treat the consideration of ARUs the same as an attached bedroom, and suggested the City consider conducting a trial period.
Larry Chase/1271 Munson/Supports HOSTS and believes this falls into the same category as home occupations, which allows residents to run a home-based business and have up to eight visitors per day. Mr. Chase stated the existing laws regarding noise and signage provide sufficient protection from disruptive behavior, and noted short term rentals would have far fewer vehicles trips than other home based businesses. He stated the impact is very minimal and none of his neighbors were even aware he was operating a short term rental, and asked the Commission to permit this activity on all properties and not just those within 200 ft. of an arterial or collector street.
Victoria Weiss/590 Fernwood/Stated she is very concerned to hear there are 70 of these rentals operating in Ashland. Ms. Weiss stated they did a lot of research when selecting their home and are concerned with security, traffic, noise, and community impacts. Ms. Weiss asked the Commission to take into account what citizens expect when they purchase homes in the R-1 single family zone.
Philip Neujahr/590 Fernwood/Stated they moved to Ashland because it is a nice place to live and urged the Commission to not allow short term rentals in single family zones, which would give them alternating neighbors and lower property values.
Commission Discussion
Mr. Molnar clarified it would be helpful if the Commission could identify any questions or areas they would like staff to look into.
The commissioners shared their comments and questions on this issue. Commissioner Brown stated this comes down to trying to fix a problem that does not exist, and stated R-1 districts are largely about quality of life. He stated there is only a very small percentage of the population that wants this to change, and noted the expectations people have when they buy into a R-1 neighborhood. Commissioner Kaplan stated it is premature for him to have a position on this and stated there is a big difference between owner occupied units versus no owners. He also noted the impacts long-term rentals can create. Commissioner Peddicord stated she does not have strong feelings one way or the other, but agreed that any rental needs to be owner occupied. Commissioner Miller questioned the actual need for these types of accommodations. Mr. Molnar noted the packet materials contain information on occupancy rates, but noted there are other considerations including the ability to offer different lodging types. Mr. Molnar also clarified the City has a Code Compliance Specialist and he has compiled a lengthy list of illegal accommodations and there are well over 100.
Mr. Molnar thanked the Commission for their initial comments and announced this item will come back for further at an upcoming meeting.

  1. Select Planning Commission Representative to Beautification Committee.
Commissioner Dawkins volunteered to serve as the Planning Commission representative on the Beautification Committee.

  1. Select Planning Commission Member to Serve on Building Appeals Board.
Commissioner Brown volunteered to serve on the Building Appeals Board.
Meeting adjourned at 10:10 p.m.


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