Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

Electronic Planning Commission Regular Meeting

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020
I.          CALL TO ORDER:
Chair Haywood Norton called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:   Staff Present:
Michael Dawkins
Alan Harper
Kerry KenCairn
Haywood Norton
Roger Pearce
Lynn Thompson
  Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Derek Severson, Senior Planner
Aaron Anderson, Assistant Planner
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant
Absent Members:   Council Liaison:
    Stef Seffinger, absent
Community Development Director Bill Molnar announced there would be a public hearing on the affordable housing standards at the next Commission meeting on October 27, 2020.  It would go before the City Council at their meeting on November 17, 2020.  House Bill 2003 would require studies for housing and updating the housing needs analysis regularly every eight years.  The City received a grant through the state to do the update.  The state was administering the grant and had hired ECONorthwest.  Mr. Molnar listed what the project would consider and noted one strategy would look at community involvement.  The City was required to have it completed by June 30, 2021.  The Planning Commission’s annual report to the City Council would occur at their meeting on December 1, 2020.  The Climate Energy Action Plan (CEAP) Commission members were planning to engage other city commissions and departments to discuss their work and how it would coalesce with the Climate Energy Action Plan.
Commissioner Pearce asked how ECONorthwest determined who lived in Ashland and housing the different population groups.  Senior Planner Brandon Goldman explained a lot of it had to do with demographic information and income levels afforded by the job base within the community.  Also considered was housing supply, buildable lands inventory, and housing capacity analysis.  Part of the scope of work with ECONorthwest was an advisory committee.  There would be four meetings with members from the Planning Commission, Housing and Human Services Commission and the City Council participating.  Two Planning Commissioners would be appointed to attend.  The meetings would be held on Monday nights.
A.  Approval of Minutes
1.   September 22, 2020 Special Meeting
Commissioner Thompson noted a correction on page 4 under Deliberation and Decision.  In the sixth sentence the word “crime” should be “requirement”.
Commissioner Pearce/Thompson m/s to approve the minutes of the meeting of September 22, 2020 as corrected.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
IV.       PUBLIC FORUM - None
A.  Approval of Findings for PA-T3-2019-00001, 1511 Hwy 99 N 
Senior Planner Derek Severson explained the memo in the packet.  Staff removed the frontage improvements and conditions in the findings per the Commission’s request.  However, they thought it was important to have a baseline standard that the applicant would meet the improvements described in the original application for annexation.  Mr. Molnar added they had looked at the statement under approval criteria and standards for annexation.  Since so much of the approval criteria was based on transportation, they wanted a summary.
Commissioner KenCairn recused herself from the approval of the Findings.  She was involved in the project.
Commissioner Thompson made a correction to page 13 under Frontage Improvements.  In the third sentence, “proposed” should be “proposes”
Commissioner Pearce made a correction under 2.2 on page 8.  In the last sentence, “Absent a concurrent development proposal, the Council could exercise its legislative discretion to accept the improvements as proposed,” was replaced with “Any request for an exception can be considered at site design review”.  On page 12, last sentence, “…however the Council could exercise its legislative discretion to accept the improvements as proposed,” was replaced with “…“any request for exception can be considered at site design review.”
Commissioner Pearce/Dawkins m/s to approve the Findings for PA-T3-2019-00001, 1511 Hwy 99 N as corrected and amended.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
Commissioner KenCairn returned to the meeting.
B.  Approval of Findings for PA-APPEAL-2020-00011, 345 Clinton Street
The Commission declared no ex parte contact on the matter.
Commissioner Thompson made a correction to page 2 under 12 changing “Alameda” to “Almeda”.
Commissioner Thompson/Pearce m/s to approve the Findings for PA-APPEAL-2020-00011, 345 Clinton Street as corrected.  Voice Vote: all AYES.  Motion passed. 
A.  Update on New State Rules for Middle Housing
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained this was an informational item on House Bill 2001 that passed in 2019.  The administrative rules were passed in August 2020.  She provided a presentation (see attached):
•  State Middle Housing Requirements
•  Legislative Timeline
•  Basic Threshold
•  What is Middle Housing
•  State Definition for Middle Housing
•  Medium and Large Cities
•  Cities and Counties Affected by HB 2001
•  Siting and Design Standards
•  Timeline
Commissioner Thompson asked how duplexes, defined as two separate dwelling units, would work with an accessory residential unit (ARU).  Ms. Harris explained the rules specifically stated jurisdictions only had to allow two.  There was flexibility in what they were called or how they were divided.
Commissioner KenCairn asked if a duplex was defined as attached units or could they be separate.  Ms. Harris explained the code currently had a definition for duplexes, but the state legislation allowed local jurisdictions to define them.
Commissioner Harper asked if this would allow cottage housing to be duplexed or converted.  Ms. Harris would look into it.  She thought it would not be allowed because the definition of cottage was not defined the same as a single-family residence.  Commissioner Harper asked if they could have architectural standards?  Ms. Harris responded only if they were the same architectural standards that applied to single family homes.  The new state rules prohibited having architectural standards specific to duplexes.  The basic threshold was they could only do to duplexes what could be done to detached single homes.
Chair Norton asked how it would affect rear and side yard setbacks.  Ms. Harris explained those setbacks could be reduced if the ARU or any kind of extended living space was less than 15-feet high and the lot adjoined an alley.  If the lot was not on an alley, it would have to be at least 50-feet from the street.
Mr. Molnar addressed the architectural design standard comment.  Currently, the legislation stated whatever standards applied to single-family homes could be applied to duplexes.  The Land Use code had a few specific objective standards for single-family dwellings that required utilizing two design features from a list of nine items.
A duplex would be subject to the same standards.  There was some flexibility in the number of design features utilized.  It just had to be clear and objective.
Chair Norton commented that a homeowner association could impose architectural standards, but the City would not enforce those standards. 
B.  Discussion of Potential Changes to Standards for Accessory Residential Units (ARUs)
Planning Manager Maria Harris explained they received several calls after the Almeda fire on adding kitchen units to spaces like guest houses, but the process was daunting.  Staff wanted expedited changes to the ARU standards established in 2018 that allowed ARUs less than 500 square feet to be permitted outright with a building permit.  She provided a presentation (see attached):
•  2019-2021 City Council Biennial Goals
•  Ashland Comprehensive Plan Goals
•  Legislative History
•  Current Approval Process
•  ARU Building Permits       
•  The Bigger Picture
•  Why Focus on Small Units?
•  Current Conditions in Ashland
•  One Potential Approach
•  State Middle Housing Requirements
Commissioner KenCairn thought there was many units that were not permitted.  She wanted to know if the City knew what was permitted and what was not.  Ms. Harris replied the City did not know how many were not permitted. Commissioner KenCairn wondered if the change to the standards would prompt people to get the units permitted.  Mr. Molnar commented the land use permit was $1,040.  Commissioner KenCairn noted they would no longer have to pay for parking.  She asked if changes to the standards would require onsite parking.  Ms. Harris responded the state did not allow jurisdictions to have onsite and off-street parking requirements. 
Commissioner Harper commented on the lack of review in historic districts.  He went on to ask how many conversions of existing space or additions to buildings there were.  Ms. Harris explained the number provided included attached, detached  and conversions.  In 2019-2020, it was equally divided between the three.
Commissioner Thompson asked how the change applied to the R-2 and R-3 zones.  Ms. Harris explained R-2 and R-3 lots not large enough for two units could put in an ARU less than 500 sq. ft.  If there was not a single-family home in R-3 to be an accessory to and the lot was big enough, they could not build an ARU.  Commissioner Thompson asked if it was clear in the code.  Ms. Harris responded staff had tried to make it clear at one point, but the Commission did not think it was necessary.  An ARU could only be an accessory to a single-family-residence.  Commissioner Thompson was concerned about the impact on the density in the R-2 and R-3 zones.
Commissioner Thompson asked for clarification on determining a primary residence in R-2 and R-3 zones.  Ms. Harris explained the definition of primary residence was in the code but would look it up.
Commissioner Thompson was also concerned about the lack of review in historic districts and wanted to know if there was a list identifying contributing properties to historic districts.  Ms. Harris responded all historic districts were listed on the National Register where there were detailed studies done for each district.  The National Register included federal standards that qualified buildings as contributing or non-contributing.  If there was a historic contributing home, it would apply to the whole property.
Commissioner KenCairn confirmed the requirement to meet lot coverage remained the same.
Commissioner Harper asked if Airbnb’s were allowed in the R-3 zone.  Ms. Harris confirmed traveler’s accommodations were allowed and listed the requirements.  Commissioner Harper commented R-3 could have an ADU but to make it an Airbnb, they would have to meet the requirements for a traveler’s accommodation.  Mr. Molnar added it also required a conditional use permit.
Chair Norton thought the number of unpermitted units were due to the owner not wanting to talk to the accessor because it would affect their assessments.  He did not think the property owner had to live on the site for accessory residential units.  The public needed to understand that someone could purchase multiple properties, add ARUs and rent them.  Ms. Harris confirmed owner occupancy was not required for ARUs and recently prohibited by HB 2001.  Chair Norton asked if a two-bedroom apartment in the R-3 zone could be split and one used as an ARU less than 500 sq. ft.  Ms. Harris responded accessory residential units had to be accessory to a single-family dwelling defined in the code as one unit on one lot.
Chair Norton noted the big picture graphics in the presentation Ms. Harris provided.  He asked if they could be broken down further by interior, added to the house, and which ones were separate units.  Ms. Harris explained the information about ARUs approved at the building permit level every year showed cumulatively over the decades that ARUs were done regularly and rarely appealed.  It was not something that would normally come before the Commission.  Mr. Molnar added that was reflected in the building permit data.  ARUs used to represent 10% of all housing done annually.  Presently, it was trending at approximately 20%.
Chair Norton noted  there was enough support for staff to move forward.
Meeting adjourned 8:13 p.m.
Submitted by,
Dana Smith, Executive Assistant

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