Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Special Mtg

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24, 2018
Chair Roger Pearce called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Troy Brown, Jr.
Michael Dawkins
Melanie Mindlin
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
 Debbie Miller
  Dennis Slattery, absent  
Community Development Director Bill Molnar noted agenda items coming before the City Council.  Tuesday, May 1, 2018, the Council would review the annexation for 601 Washington Street.  At the Council Study Session May 14, 2018, the Council would have a presentation on the wildfire ordinance changes.  Ashland Fire and Rescue had tentatively scheduled an open house for the general public May 31, 2018.  After that staff will prepare for the Measure 56 notice.  They were currently working with Fregonese and Associates to come down in June. 
Commissioner Dawkins attended the first of three ad hoc meetings for the Transportation Expansion Feasibility Study.  He listed the participants and described how the group was focusing on what were the most important things public transportation provided.  They will meet two more times before it goes before the Transportation Commission with completion targeted November 2018.
  1.   Accessory Residential Unit Ordinance Amendments
Chair Pearce clarified this was not a quasi-judicial public hearing.  The Commission would make a recommendation to the City Council.
Staff Report
Planning Manager Maria Harris provided a presentation that included the following:
Legislative History
  • 1991: ARUs allowed in Single-Family Zones (R-1)
  • 2002: ARUs allowed Rural Residential Zones (RR)
  • 2008: ARUs allowed in the Multi-Family Zones (R-2 & R-3)
  • 2015: ARUs changed from conditional to permitted use
  • 191 ARUs approved since 1991
  • Last ten years (2007-2017)
    • 79 units approved
    • 41 of 79 or 52% units less than 500 sq. ft.
  • 9,382 lots in the city, 9,621 households, 10,534 housing units
    • ARUs represent 2% of lots
    • ARUS represent 1.9% of households
    • ARUs represent 1.8% of housing units
Small Households - 2016 American Community Survey
  • 39.4% of households are single person
  • 35.3% of households are age 65 and older
  • 2.30 person per household (2010 Census)
Ashland Goals, Policies and Objectives
  • 2015 City Council Strategic Plan
5.2.a.      Pursue affordable housing opportunities, especially workforce housing.  Identify specific incentives for developers to build more affordable housing.
  • Comprehensive Plan Goal
6.10 Ensure a variety of dwelling types and provide housing opportunities for the total cross-section of Ashland’s population, consistent with preserving the character and appearance of the city.
  • 2012 Housing Analysis recommends more rental studio and one-bedroom units.
State Goals and Laws
  • Statewide Planning Goal 10
To provide for the housing needs of citizens of the state. Buildable lands for residential use shall be inventoried and plans shall encourage the availability of adequate numbers of needed housing units at price ranges and rent levels which are commensurate with the financial capabilities of Oregon households and allow for flexibility of housing location, type and density.
  • Senate Bill 1051
A city with a population greater than 2,500 or a county with a population greater than 15,000 shall allow areas zoned for detached single-family dwellings the development of at least one accessory dwelling unit for each detached single-family dwelling, subject to reasonable local regulations relating to siting and design.
City zone map
  • R-2 and R-3 will continue to require site design review
Draft Amendments
  • ARUs less than 500 sq. ft. and attached or within a single-family residence exempt from planning approval process
    • Existing or new construction
    • “Exempt” ARUs allowed in R-1, R-1-3.5, RR, NN and NM zones
    • Does not require off-street parking if on-street within 200 feet
  • ARU parking requirement changed
    • Existing = 1 off-street parking space for units up to 500 sq. ft.
      • Units 500 and over require 2 off-street parking spaces
    • Proposed = 1 off-street parking space for units up to 800 sq. ft.
      • Units 800 and over require 2 off-street parking spaces
  • ARU standards for RR zone
    • Delete requirement that ARU on less than 25 percent slope
      • Requires Physical Constraints Review Permit for 25 percent and over
    • Delete requirement ARU accessed by city street paved to 20 feet with curbs, gutters and sidewalks
RR Zone
  • 350 lots
  • 40 streets – more than half do not meet existing street width requirement
On Street Parking
Ms. Harris monitored parking on eight streets at 2:00 p.m. Friday April 20, 2018 and between 6:00-6:30 p.m. Monday April 23.  All streets were in the R-1.5 zones. 
Wightman Street – Mill Pond to East Main – 1986 Subdivision 
  • Curb to curb width 27-feet.
  • Parking on both sides of the street.
  • 20 houses with 29 on-street spaces.
  • Both days and times there was 1 car parked out of 29 spaces.
Romeo Drive – Fordyce to cul-de-sac – 1991 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 25-feet.
  • Parking on one side of the street.
  • 7 houses with 10 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there was 1 car, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there were 2.
Mill Pond – Fordyce to corner - 1993 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 27-feet.
  • Parking on 1.5 sides of the street.
  • 10 houses with 8 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there were no cars, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there was 1.
Orchid Street – Fordyce to dead end – 1994 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 25-feet.
  • Parking on both sides of the street.
  • 14 houses with 23 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there were 2 cars, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there were 2.
Village Square Drive – 1996 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 25-feet.
  • Parking on one side of the street.
  • 13 houses with 9 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there was 1 car, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there was 1.
Old Willow Lane– Fordyce to dead end – 1997 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 22-feet.
  • Parking on one side of the street.
  • 12 houses with 12 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there were 2 cars, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there were 2.
Clinton Street – Ann to Lynn – 2002 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 26-feet.
  • Parking on one side of the street.
  • 18 houses with 22 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there were 2 cars, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there were 2.
Drager Street – midblock – 2012 Subdivision
  • Curb to curb width 22-feet.
  • Parking on one side of the street.
  • 7 houses with 13 on-street spaces.
  • Friday 2:00 p.m. there were 2 cars, Monday 6:00-6:30 p.m. there were 4. 
There were minor corrections to the draft not included in the report.  The City Attorney issued a memo addressing the City’s responsibility to enforce Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs).  It also spoke to whether a subdivision had to be changed in the quasi-judicial process if an ARU was added later and changed the density.  The answers were no on both questions.  Staff received two comments earlier in the day that were distributed to the Commission at the meeting.
Questions of Staff
Miss Harris addressed the comments received that day from Mark Knox and Amy Gunter.  Mr. Knox suggested eliminating the planning application fee for all ARUs whether it was exempt or not.  He questioned why detached units less than 500 square feet were not exempt.  He did not think the City should require landscape and irrigation plans for all ARUs, not just the exempt ones.  Ms. Harris clarified neither plans were required at this time and would not be in the future.  Lastly, he did not think bike parking should not be required for ARUs.  Ms. Gunter’s comments were similar to Mr. Knox’s comments.  She did not think ARUs should go through multifamily development standards.  Currently, ARUs went through site design review because they were a special use.  Owner occupancy was not required for ARUs.
Standard on-street parking credits may be approved up to 50% of the total required parking.  Staff treated it as a discretionary decision and always looked at availability before approval.   In most cases, on-street credits were approved.  Community Development Director Bill Molnar further clarified the parking standard was an objective standard and always required.  There was also the parking management strategy that looked at reductions.
The rationale for having a different standard for a detached ARU versus attached was that neighbors were more concerned about detached ARUs.  Staff took the approach of gradually introducing changes and monitoring them after a year.  Site design focused on placement and orientation.  When someone detached a building, it became more relevant than adding on or converting spaces.  In the last year, 25% or more of all residential units approved were ARUs.  It brought up the question on whether the site review process for detached units represented a barrier or did it allow for more thoughtful, coordinated development between neighbors.
Commission comment was concerned with the fairness of on-street parking space availability as more residents began adding ARUs.  Ms. Harris included corner lots for the on-street parking study she did on the eight streets.  Commissioner Brown thought if a lot could accommodate a parking space it should be required whether there was an on-street credit or not.  On site review should be a part of the process.
Commissioner Thompson had the following drafting suggestions:
  • change “…except for the off-street parking requirements,” to “the unit meets all the requirements of the applicable zone except as otherwise defined in this subsection A.”
  • Zone, remove “…unless exempted…”   
Commissioner Brown addressed and wanted clarity on why the City would not count ARUs for density in subdivisions.  It allowed an additional ARU on a lot without counting against the density limits in the underlying zoning.  Commissioner Norton clarified he did not have an issue with the density of units, it was the density of lots per acre.  They could look at the units separate from the lots.  He had looked at a couple CC&Rs and neither addressed density.  They discussed residential units only and did not indicate a number.  There was some flexibility.  It also stated the City did not enforce CC&Rs.
Commissioner Thompson questioned if “…subject to Site Design Review under chapter 18.5.2…” in Accessory Residential Unit was enough to prompt someone to look further in the code for all applicable standards.  Ms. Harris would add a reference to see Special Use Standards for Accessory Residential Units and cite the section.
Commissioner Thompson wanted to ensure the overlay requirements would apply to a non-exempt unit.  Thy did not seem to apply to an exempt unit.  Ms. Harris explained an exempt ARU in a historic district required a building permit only and was not subject to historic district site review.  It did not exempt hillside plains or flood plains.  It would still have to go through the physical and environmental constraints review permit process.  Commission comment noted it just exempted one from the design standard.  It would have to conform to the all the overlays that applied and all the standards in the zone.  Ms. Harris clarified the first pages depicted what was regulated in the base zones and overlay zones.  It did not go use-by-use and list the standards that applied.  
Commissioner Thompson addressed Rural Residential (RR).  She was struggling with the notion that the land disturbance had to be on a less than 25% slope.  Other than it being a potential impediment in some cases, was it wise to give up this further constraint.  Ms. Harris replied that was a deliberation for the Commission to decide.  Anything 25% or greater would go through the physical constraints review permit and involved a geo-technical expert assessing the slope.  An ARU could not be developed on slopes 25% or greater.  The policy question would be, if you have a hillside development permit process that looks at stability and slope and ensures it is built correctly, how come an ARU cannot be built on a slope. 
Commissioner Norton referred to the East Village development.  It had a higher density and several parking bays.  It was difficult to discern if they were part of the on-street parking or part of a common area removing it from the street parking category.  The Oak Knoll neighborhood had areas with no on-street parking.  There were parking bays designed differently from the street.  They appeared to be under the control of a Home Owners Association (HOA).  If they were under the HOA, then there was no parking in the area within the 200 feet.
Ms. Harris responded most were in the public right of way.  Commissioner Norton further explained subdivisions built in the last ten years did not have sufficient land for detached ARUs.  It would have to be inside.
Commissioner Thompson addressed ARUs not going through site design review.  If they were subject to the overlay requirements, what triggered that review?  Ms. Harris explained the Planning and Building Divisions both reviewed applications for ARUs.  Planning first looked at location and whether there was an overlay.  It was part of the building permit process.  Mr. Molnar added what triggered a Type I under a physical and environmental constraints review was if it met the definition for development.  Development applied to a structure, an addition, or driveway.  Planning staff always checked the property, the catch overlay and Type I requirements.
Russ Chapman/Ashland/Spoke to the consideration of increased density in R-1 zone.  In his R-1 neighborhood for over a decade, a neighbor had run an illegal boarding house.  He provided history on the property and code compliance efforts that were to date unsuccessful.  Before the Commission increased density in the R-1 zones, he wanted the Planning Division and Legal Department to have an ordinance that was enforceable. 
Chair Pearce explained the Planning Commission did not have any jurisdiction over code enforcement.  He suggested Mr. Chapman consult with a private attorney or work with the City Attorney and Code Compliance Specialist.
Commissioner Thompson had drafting issues with the ordinance.  She supported the ordinance substantively except in exempting historic design standards for additions.  Ms. Harris explained the Historic Review Board reviewed all building permits.  But if it was just a building permit and not part of a planning action, it was an advisory review only.  
Commissioner Brown confirmed what was allowed in the historic district had to conform to the overlay, with reviews by the Planning and Building Divisions, would apply to ARU additions.  Ms. Harris added it was because it was part of the building orientation and design standards.  Commissioner Brown was not in favor of removing the site review.  The code should be as cognizant about the owner as it was about the neighbors.  He was fine with internal ARUs.  Commissioner Mindlin disagreed.  Anyone could build an addition to their house for any reason and add doors and decks that neighbors would consider obnoxious.  Commissioner Brown added it could end up being rental that was not part of the neighborhood.  Chair Pearce countered and explained a rental could house a family up to five who were unrelated individuals.  An applicant could build an addition and rent it as long as it conformed to the setbacks and standards for a single family house. 
Commissioner Norton had an issue with the parking space not being contiguous within the 200-feet.  It could create conflict with neighbors.  He wanted a site design review or some other form of review.  Newer subdivisions had more houses and less curb space.
Chair Pearce agreed with the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD).  They did not think required parking for an ARU was a reasonable standard.  Instead they recommended other ways to address parking through residential parking zones and passes.  Commissioner Brown thought parking should be taken care of up front to avoid issues in the future.  Commissioner Thompson noted the standard required one additional parking space under the parking ratios for units less than 500 sq. ft.  The proposed ordinance did not require any additional parking if there was on-street parking within 200 feet.  Alternatively, one off-street parking may be provided.  It they flipped it so the preference was on-site parking went if possible.  If an applicant could not provide that, the on-street parking within 200 feet would apply.  She questioned enforcement if there was not site design review.  Ms. Harris did not think it could be exempt because it would be exercising discretion.   Chair Pearce added it would not be a clear and objective standard.  Commissioner Brown though it could be clear through square footage.  Ms. Harris noted what prevented most single family lots from putting in an addition was having a house accessed by a driveway did not allow room.  Most of the lot was behind the house or to the side.  People cross the threshold in terms of the front yard that could be parking.
Commissioner Mindlin commented the goal was increasing the possibility of more rental units.  The state had identified this as an important and essential need.  Commissioner Brown thought parking had to be provided.  Commissioner Mindlin noted Ashland did not have a shortage of parking.  Commissioner Brown reasoned that two people moving into a 500 square foot ARU would most likely have two cars.  Commissioner Dawkins observed this was a policy issue.  The objective was bringing in smaller affordable units and it conflicted with parking.  He was concerned with the lack of smaller units, not parking.  He supported staff’s recommendation.  Commissioner Norton questioned if it was reasonable to give up a small part of a front yard to add an ARU and parking.  Commissioner Dawkins disagreed.  Ashland put an emphasis on the front appeal of homes.  Garages were in the back.  He did not want to give up the aesthetic of a neighborhood to accommodate parking.
Commissioner Thompson explained there were two issues, parking and external changes in historic districts.  Commissioner Brown had a broader concern about any addition in any zone that was externally visible and whether site design should be required.  Commissioner Thompson wondered if it made sense to consider an adjustment to the framework where short form exemptions would apply to changes within an existing structure and still require site design for exterior additions or modifications using the reduced design requirements in the proposed ordinance.  Chair Pearce thought it might be prudent to retain site design review for external additions in historic districts. 
Ms. Harris clarified under the existing site design review process outside of the historic district, there were not any design standards that affect the outside of a building.  The only thing it stated for a multifamily residential was the building had to be oriented to the street.  The second clarification regarded requiring off-street parking on small ARUs.  It actually made it more restrictive that is was presently.   If someone had a space in front of their lot, they would get an on-street parking credit unless there was an obvious problem with on-street parking.  They did not have to put in their lot first.  The difference in the proposed code was the 200-foot margin.
Commissioner Brown noted in the current ARU ordinance it did not indicate how many people could occupy a unit.  Commissioner Mindlin explained the state restricted any lot from having more than five unrelated individuals.  Chair Pearce added there was not a limit for related family.
Commission majority wanted to retain site design review for expansions to existing dwellings in historic districts.  Ms. Harris would add that as not exempt within a historic district if it was external.
For the parking within 200-feet of the property.  Commissioner Brown thought it might be better to remove the 200-feet provision and leave it consistent with the current ordinance.  Ms. Harris explained the 200-feet was in the code in several places.  It was used for commercial projects.  Mr. Molnar added it was in the performance standards subdivision. Commissioner Dawkins clarified home owners did not own the street space in front of their homes.  Because of that, he was comfortable with the 200-feet.  Commissioner Mindlin explained residences with parking on one side of the street located on the no parking side would never get the on-street parking credit.  Ms. Harris confirmed in the existing code, the 200-feet did not apply to both sides of the street, only the side where the property was located.  Commissioner Norton suggested allowing people who could to provide parking on their property or in front of their house.  Before they got the 200-feet, they had to prove they could not provide parking on site.
Commissioner Thompson questioned why the language could not just say, “provide additional off-street parking in accordance with the table,” and have an exception under the parking management strategy section.  Chair Pearce responded there was not a parking management strategy that would work for single family house.  They would have to establish it was impractical or put in a parking a lot.  Commissioner Thompson suggested that even if an owner could provide parking on their lot, they could be eligible for a credit if they qualified.  Ms. Harris explained current parking code for ARUs was one space for a unit less than 500 sq. ft. and two spaces for units larger than 500 sq. ft.  Commissioner Thompson replied this was under the exemption and parking standards were not applicable.  She suggested deleting 6 and adding language that would apply that standard subject to a credit under that section of the code. 
Commissioner Mindlin wanted to use the language in draft ordinance.  Chair Pearce agreed.  It was a trade-off between parking and housing.  Commissioner Mindlin added between number of ARUs being built and the availability of parking in R-1 districts, she was not concerned with parking.  The parts of town really challenged were mostly in the R-2 zone.
The Commission was split regarding parking.  Commissioner Brown summarized that it came down to either housing or parking.  It appeared they could not have a clear, enforceable ordinance that allowed both parking and housing.  Plan B could have the Planning and Building Divisions making a “hard sell” to applicants to put parking on their lots.  He supported the proposed language as written.  He agreed with singling out the historic district.  It was difficult to require a site review for an ARU when it was not required for an addition.
Commissioner Thompson noted this was the first step for ARU privileges.  The Commission could evaluate parking going forward for larger units.  Chair Pearce thought it would be valuable for the Council to hear the Commission’s concerns regarding the parking.  Commission Brown thought Council should also hear the concerns regarding site design review.
Mr. Molnar confirmed with Commissioner Brown he only wanted the historic district design standards and a site review to apply when it was an attached addition.  Ms. Harris summarized the ordinance changes as follows:
  • Add Commissioner Thompson’s drafting changes and bring it back for approval
  • Add under the exempt section if it involved exterior changes in the historic district it was not exempt
Staff would make the changes and bring them back along with a recommendation to a future Commission meeting.
Commissioners Mindlin/Dawkins m/s to approve the ordinance changes as written in the packet with changes Commissioner Thompson suggested in the drafting, and the change that additions in historic district still require site review.  Voice Vote:  All AYES.  Motion passed 6-0.
  1. Annual Retreat, possible dates May 19 or June 9
The Commission could not meet in full May 19, 2018 or June 9, 2018.  They discussed having a retreat during the work week.  Staff would send out a poll with a several options.
Meeting adjourned at 9:07 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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