Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

JUNE 27, 2017
Chair Roger Pearce 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
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
  Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Brandon Goldman, Senior Planner
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
Absent Members:    
Lynn Thompson    
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Highway 99/Commented on the statewide planning goals and the city’s comprehensive plan, which states “all cost-effective conservation measures should be captured at the time of initial construction”. Mr. Gutcheon recommended this language be changed from “should” to “shall” since conservation methods are much cheaper now.
  1. State and Regional Planning Issues, Josh LeBombard, Regional Representative, Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD).
Planning Manager Maria Harris introduced Josh LeBombard and noted staff works with Mr. LeBombard quite a bit. He is the city’s regional DLCD representative and he covers Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas counties.
Mr. LeBombard updated the commission on Regional Problem Solving (RPS) and the Housing Strategy, which was a conditional of approval requested by the City of Ashland. RPS is the areas regional plan to accommodate population growth over the next 50 yrs. Ashland is a participant of the plan along with Medford, Central Point, Eagle Point, Phoenix, Talent, and Jackson County. Mr. LeBombard provided an overview of the Housing Strategy, which is being conducted by EcoNorthwest. The work plan has several components, including: 
  1. Technical Analysis: The purpose of this task is to develop current information about the housing market in each of the RPS cities. The focus of the analysis will be on the density and affordability of new residential development and will cover types of housing constructed, residential development density by housing type, and basic housing characteristics (size, number of bedrooms).This analysis will summarize the key issues identified in the housing needs analysis for each city and will focus on issues such as housing affordability and land supply.
  2. Identification of Housing Development Barriers: EcoNorthwest will identify barriers to the development of housing for each city in the RPS through a combination of interviews and discussions with key stakeholders. The discussions will focus on issues related to regional and local barriers to housing development and potential policy solutions to those barriers. The product of this task will be a technical memorandum summarizing the housing barriers for the region, as well as barriers by city.
  3. Code Audits: An audit of the city zoning codes will be conducted and will identify current development standards and potential changes to lower housing development barriers. This audit will include an examination of standards, such as types of housing permitted, lot sizes, and whether accessory dwelling units are allowed.
  4. Develop RPS Housing Strategy: The final step will be the development of an RPS Housing Strategy that will recommend policies and best practices for the region as a whole and include specific recommendations for each participating jurisdiction. 
Commissioner Questions and Comments:
  • Mr. LeBombard was asked about the timeline and whether the Planning Commission will have any interface with EcoNorthwest. It was explained that the study needs to be completed by March 2018 and there is not much dialogue built in. Ms. Harris stated once the final product is received each community will run it through their public comment process as they work to determine which strategies they wish to pursue.
  • Suggestion was made for Ashland’s 60-year affordable housing requirement to be looked at and whether this is more of a barrier than an opportunity.
  • Mr. LeBombard clarified inclusionary housing for the commission and explained cities can adopt a requirement that sets a percentage of new development to be affordable.
  • Comment was made that Ashland’s topography is a potential barrier and is driving housing costs up.
  • Comment was made that Ashland’s housing issues are not a new problem and any place that is highly desirable will be unaffordable.
  • Staff was asked if there is any information on the demographic of who is using accessory residential units (ARUs). Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained a study was conducted and it was determined that in Ashland there are very few ARU occupants with children and nearly half paid cash for the construction.
  • Comment was made that developers are not building apartment complexes anymore and this is contributing to the housing shortage. Mr. LeBombard stated there is a small group of developers that are building apartments in Medford and since rent costs are so high these developments are able to pencil out for them. He noted part of the problem is the massing and scale, and stated larger complexes don’t fit well in some areas. 
Mr. LeBombard was thanked for taking time to meet with the Planning Commission and for his work on this project.
  1. Coordination of Planning and Service Issues, Gary Blake, Recology.
Recology Manager Gary Blake stated he has been in this business for over 15 years and one of the common things he has observed in the different communities is that the size of trash enclosures and where receptacles are placed are not given a lot of thought up front. He provided examples from other jurisdictions and requested Recology be involved earlier in the development process and have the opportunity to provide comments and feedback.
Commissioner Questions and Comments:
  • Mr. Blake was asked if they have someone on staff who could look over plans and provide comment. He responded that he and the operations supervisor could handle this task.
  • Ms. Harris noted the problem of getting applicants to identify bike parking and trash areas and stated this is a constant issue for staff to get this shown on the plans. She commented that the pre-application stage might be a bit early to involve Recology but they could be involved a little later in the process once a more solid set of plans has been developed. She suggested they be included on larger projects (multifamily/commercial) but not smaller residential or ARUs and Mr. Blake agreed.  
  • Suggestion was made to consider developing code language to address waste management issues.
  • Mr. Blake clarified that Ashland has always been serviced by rear-load trucks, however they will be evaluating their approach. When asked if trucks have to be able to turn around and exit in a forward manner, Mr. Blake clarified it is unsafe to back out onto a street and stated this is a risky situation they try to avoid.
  • Suggestion was made for the city to consider a policy change that would allow trash enclosures at the front of developments. 
Commissioner Pearce thanked Mr. Blake for his time and commented that consulting with Recology on development plans would be a positive thing.
Meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Submitted by,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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