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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Goal Setting

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 27, 2015
The meeting was called to order at 6:03 p.m. at the Rogue Valley Country Club, 2660 Hillcrest Road, Medford, with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Daniel Bunn, Chris Corcoran, Eli Matthews, Tim Jackle, Dick Gordon, Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski and Clay Bearnson.
City Manager Eric Swanson, Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke, and City Recorder Glenda Wilson. 
Mayor Wheeler called the meeting to order and introduced the City Manager, Eric Swanson. 
Eric Swanson thanked everyone for attending and provided an overview of the meeting’s agenda and outlined the history of the City’s Strategic Plan process.
Mr. Swanson outlined revisions as well as 2014’s accomplishments.  There were 108 actions addressed.
To prepare for this year’s revisions, the City gathered opinions and information from citizens through a survey link on the City’s website as wells as emails to staff and volunteers.  Information was collected from November through January 2015. 
Glenda Wilson spoke regarding how the evening’s editing procedure would occur and how the Council could make changes throughout the evening’s review.   
Ms. Wilson advised that since the initial strategic plan, the 16 Council Goals have not changed much since the original draft.  However, the individual action items change each year to reflect accomplishments and goals. 
Draft of 2015 Strategic Plan Citizen Survey was handed out and Ms. Wilson began the review process. Throughout the meeting, the Council evaluated the new accomplishments, additions or amendments, suggestions received from the Citizen Survey as well as receiving questions, concerns, clarification from the Mayor, Council and City staff.
Objective 1.1
Continue effectively enforcing residential housing standards.
Action 1.1
There has been an increase in Code Enforcement cases as well as City Recorder liens on properties for non-paid abatements. 
Objective 1.2
Maintain high level of Building Codes administration.
Action 1.2a
The City will review our buildings to determine whether we meet today’s seismic standards.  Although the City complied in 2013, building codes are revised and our buildings should be reviewed for safety.
Action 1.2b
Sam Barnum advised that Building has considered the implementation of a Green Building Ordinance to offer an incentive to contractors; perhaps a reduction in the permit fees for plans that qualify. 
Eric Swanson informed the Council that the plan is to incorporate solar in the plans for the new Police and Fire Department Headquarters.  The City is also using bio-swales, which use plants and other items to filter water runoff to protect our rivers and streams from contaminants.  
City staff is working to determine whether our projects are eligible for state or federal funds for green building options.
Police Chief Tim George has applied for a Red Grant, as part of the Green Initiative for the Police building.  Chief George advised that they have a 50% chance of receiving the funds.
Councilmember Gordon advised there are various types of green building standards.  He specifically asked whether the City creating our own green building standards. 
Sam Barnum replied that Building is attempting to promote green building.
Council President Daniel Bunn pointed out that the Council has recently increased the permit fees, but now Building is considering incentives.  If the Building Department has money for incentives, maybe permit fees should be reduced.
Mayor Wheeler would like to see us at least qualify for LEEDS certification and advised that we should start to look at a green program that is already in place.
Councilmember Stine asked for clarification regarding the goals and initiatives that are outlined in the Strategic plan. Specifically, is the City bound to these items or limited to them?
Mayor and Council clarified that the Strategic Plan is a set of guidelines. The Council will work to promote the goals and actions set forth in the Plan, but will also work on issues not currently outlined.  However, City staff will devote time to the items set forth. 
Action 1.2c
Sam Barnum advised that the Building Department staff is being cross-trained to be able to respond to a variety of customer issues in a timely manner.
Mayor Wheeler advised that the City should provide incentives for employees who have successfully cross-trained.
Objective 1.3
Increase public awareness of floodplain hazards and Fire and Life Safety.
Action 1.3a
The City and FEMA continue to identify local flood areas and update area maps.  Because of the City’s work with FEMA and the improvement of our community rating, the flood insurance cost for some citizens has been reduced. 
The City expects to receive information from SmithWest regarding the mapping and the additional work placed on cities to comply. 
Action 1.3c
The Police Department’s fireworks outreach reduced the number of calls for service for Medford citizens.
Councilmember Corcoran complimented the Police and Fire Departments for their citizen outreach.
Objective 1.4
Direct law enforcement strategies to respond most effectively to crime trends and emerging issues.
Action 1.4a
Police Chief Tim George explained that the City now has two full-time and one half-time analyst positions.   These employees help increase the Police Department’s solvability rates, the clearance of the crimes cases and help analyze the MADGE unit cases as well.  Medford Police Department’s clearance rate for serious crimes is 45%. For other crimes, our clearance rate is 75% to 80%. The approximated national averages are 25% and 50-55%, respectively. 
Chief George also explained the recent news article regarding Medford Police’s crime rate. 
Objective 1.5
Enhance community partnerships to address crime and emerging crime trends.
Action 1.5a
The Police Department’s Neighborhood Watch programs have experienced tremendous growth.
Action 1.5b
Councilmember Gordon commented that the public believes the bike path is unsafe.  Although the Police Department is doing everything possible to promote safety, the City continues to get bad press, at least a half‑dozen times a year.  We need to effectively change the public’s opinion of the greenway.
Police Chief Tim George advised that Police Department volunteers have impact on the bike path, but they are most effective for those people who are looking for them. There is a population of people using the greenway that do not want contact.  Chief George also advised that if/when the Police Department conducts sweeps, they must give 24 hour notice to the greenway residents.  Often, the homeless will leave during the sweep period and then return. 
Improvements for Hawthorne Park should have a huge impact on the homeless community.  In addition, the Exclusion Ordinance and the staff time spent on greenway have improved safety.  People living on the greenway create a sanitation issue, as it was not designed for people to live there.  Police is also concerned about safety, as two people killed by trees during severe wind storms – one in Medford and one in the county.
Councilmember Corcoran noted that significant brush has been removed along the greenway.  He suggested that the City promote the work that has been completed, perhaps through before and after photos. 
Councilmembers Corcoran and Gordon both praised staff efforts to clean-up the greenway, including removing illegal camping and clearing brush.   
Brian Sjothun advised that the Parks & Recreation Department has spent significant time working on the greenway with the Police Department, Oregon Department of Transportation and Jim Hutchins, of the Oregon Stewardship.
Mr. Sjothun added that Parks & Recreation has requested additional funding in their budget for refuse collection to place dumpsters along the path to help reduce waste.  As part of Fund 98, they have earmarked fund to continue to be paid to remove the vegetation and they will continue to find funding.   But, there is some concern for greenway cleanup costs if volunteer organizations are unable to continue their services.
Although local communities look to Medford to control the safety for entire greenway, the City only has authority over the section within Medford’s City limits.
Councilmember Corcoran requested that the Strategic Plan include the finalization of the joint powers agreement for the Bear Creek issue and increase our outreach to outline the City’s responsibilities and would reflect that the City Council considers it a priority for staff.
Brian Sjothun advised that the joint powers agreement and the management plan are scheduled to be completed in 2017.
Glenda Wilson advised that the City has had more special events on the greenway. The City may be able to work with the media to promote the greenway safety. 
Councilmember Stine asked to go back to Action 1.4b regarding properties/nuisances and the Police Department’s procedure for handling repeat calls at a single address. 
Chief George outlined the procedure advising that if Code Enforcement receives more than 3-5 calls for service at a particular location during a 30-day period, for any type of issue, then they take action.  But, the Police Department is looking for voluntarily compliance first.  The City doesn’t evict residents for Code Violations, but they do force abatements. 
In addition, Police plans to bring the Code Enforcement timeline to a study session to review their procedure for safety and to prevent blight and crime.
Glenda Wilson added that the City has a Problem Properties workgroup that reviews Code violations for properties.
Objective 1.6
Assure that law enforcement resources are appropriately allocated.
Action 1.6c
Differential Response Plan is the plan for handling the dispatch procedure and police response for service. 
Action 1.6j
Council discussed concerns about bicycle lanes and safety, especially near parks and schools.  Although the City has been promoting the use bicycle lanes, it appears that citizens are unaware of the laws regarding vehicle parking. 
Objective 1.8
Continue to improve emergency response readiness to meet City Council and Fire District adopted Goals.
Action 1.8d
Fire Chief Brian Fish explained that the City responds to the airport calls for service at their facilities.  The airport does have a contract with a private company to handle emergencies. Our Fire Department has met with the Airport Administrator us looking at taking over the emergency response as well.   However, but if there is an incident, the City would need to respond to take people to emergency facilities. 
Mr. Swanson advised there is a tentative plan in the next 5 to 10 years to include a new fire station near or at the airport.  At this point, the City is still looking at whether that will be a joint project, with the intent of possibly enabling service near Highway 62.
Objective 2.1
Improve the flow of communication between the community and the City.
Action 2.1e
Citizens have expressed interest in the City’s emergency management training.  The first CERT class recently graduated and the second class is scheduled for March.   
Emergency Management has a plan to train a Crisis Management Team of key management to provide a high level of leadership during any major emergency response. 
Objective 5.1
Promote retention and expansion of existing businesses and development of new businesses.
Action 5.1a
Councilmember Gordon asked for the clarification of “redevelopment of underutilized employment sites”.
Bill Hoke explained that the City was looking at utilizing vacant business locations for other types of services such as housing, services or perhaps a center to attract visitors.   Just because a location was once was an employment site, it doesn’t mean that it needs to remain that way. 
Jackson County Health Site Redevelopment Plan refers to the development of the County's East Main facilities that were vacated with the move to the new downtown County building.  He also reported that the Planning Department was asked for information about the land to develop a charter school site. 
Mr. Swanson is hopeful that the County facilities moving to the downtown area, may spur the development of the sites that were vacated by Lithia.  He also advised that Costco is looking at the vacant mill site for their new store, with an August groundbreaking.
Action 5.1d
Urban renewal districts may be created to complete one specific project.  When the project is finished, they create another.
Councilmember Jackle requested duties/responsibilities training for new councilmembers if a new district is created. 
Jim Huttl reported that during the legislative review, there was a proposed Bill regarding the structure of urban renewal districts that may impact our efforts. It would require urban renewal districts to include representatives from agencies financially impacted by the district.  Councilmember Bunn suggested that the City should advise our legislative representative, Cindy Robert, that we are opposed to that bill. 
Objective 5.2
Expand infrastructure systems to meet anticipated demands.
Action 5.2b
Councilmember Corcoran reported that the City Council continues to receive emails and complaints from citizens regarding SDC fees. Cory Crebbin advised that there will be a study session regarding the SDC fees on January 29th.
Councilmember Gordon went back to Action 5.1e to provide a big “thank you” to Parks & Recreation for their work encouraging participation of local firms in City projects.
Objective 6.3
Encourage the continued revitalization of the downtown.
Action 6.3c
Councilmember Bearnson explained that the Parking Commission requested the new language, because decisions were reported to the Commission after the Council decision had been made.  Specifically, the Parking Commission was concerned with the parking lot behind the Mail Tribune was designated for a non‑parking use without notice or comment.  They would like to know when there are changes to downtown’s parking areas, before the changes take place. 
Objective 6.5
Support and encourage community driven efforts to establish identity and sense of place.
Action 6.5a
The City requires that neighborhood associations have insurance at their expense.  The City received a suggestion that the cost of insurance should be paid by the City to promote the associations.  The Council discussed the
The State of Oregon requires non-profit agencies to be registered and insured.  The City’s insurance requirement is required for a more formal or recognized neighborhood organization with a board. It should not apply to small community groups gathering for various neighborhood improvements.   
Councilmember Corcoran requested that if there are CDBG funds available for community groups to purchase supplies for small projects in Medford, the public should be made aware of the funding.   
Councilmember Stine believes there are differences between a regulated neighborhood revitalization group and a group of citizens gathering to pick up garbage or cleaning their neighborhood.  He believed the City should provide providing garbage bags and gloves, etc. for citizens who want to pick up trash. 
Councilmembers Gordon and Corcoran requested that the Council hold a study session to discuss neighborhood associations. 
Mayor Wheeler requested input from staff on the City’s requirements and how to start a Neighborhood Association. In addition, he would like to have a template created for citizens with the step-by-step process of creating a recognized neighborhood association. 
Mayor Wheeler declared a 10 minutes recess.
Meeting reconvened with same persons present.
Proposed Action 6.8
The Parking Commission has recommended the addition of a new Objective 6.8 regarding Medford homelessness.
Councilmember Bearnson advised that Brian Watkins on the Parking Commission brought this topic forward because there is nothing in the Strategic Plan about homelessness.
Councilmember Corcoran suggested that the item should be added to Parks & Recreation Commission item and that two commission volunteers were conducting a survey of the homeless population.  Mr. Swanson advised that the two departments working with the homeless taskforce, Police and Parks & Recreation, should report to the Council from time to time.  Also, that Brian Sjothun has requested funds for the installation of a concrete pad at the Salvation Army property.  Through the process of trying to find a spot, but the only one that was viable was at the Salvation Army. 
Glenda Wilson informed the Council that the citizens had made multiple comments and suggestions feeding the homeless population in the citizen survey responses.
Objective 6.9
Develop a strategy for improving business emergency preparedness and resiliency.
Topic was added to educate business owners regarding how to reopen after an emergency.  Statistics indicate that 40% to 60% of businesses will not reopen after an emergency.
Mayor Wheeler added that when buildings share common walls, it can cause a ripple effect through communities.  A business that shares walls with one that has collapsed will also be closed until it has been inspected for safety.
Emergency Coordinator Larry Masterman advised that businesses that bounce back and reopen, after an emergency, can help provide the resources to build the community.
Councilmember Stine went back to Objective 6.8 regarding homelessness and providing his opinion on how the issue affects every aspect of living in Medford.
Mayor Wheeler added that homelessness is a county-wide issue.  Medford should partner with the Jackson County Homeless Taskforce. 
Mr. Swanson reported that the taskforce has meetings and they have representatives reporting on our issues.
Councilmember Bunn suggested that if the Council wanted to offer more help, we could provide additional funding to the grant programs.  Medford doesn’t have the staff and resources to do these projects, but we can help fund the organizations that specialize in these areas.
Objective 7.2
Encourage development of a regional conference center in conjunction with Jackson County and the Chamber of Commerce/Travel Medford. 
Action 7.2a
Councilmembers discussed their opinions about this process, the status and possible sources for funding of the feasibility study.
Objective 8.1
Ensure that long-term plans are adopted that identify where land is needed for parks and pedestrian/bicycle trail systems throughout the City.
Mayor Wheeler would like a pedestrian bridge from Hawthorne Park to Inn at the Commons.  This suggestion was added to 8.1.
Proposed Objective 8.4
The City has a philosophy of support for and appreciation of the arts.
The Council discussed the City’s current art, the display, the value and the setup of a tracking system.
Objective 9.2
Encourage pedestrian friendly design near activity centers.
Action 9.2a
Jim Huber reported that the Planning Department has looked at areas within the Urban Growth Boundary.  There were about 4 or 5 areas that were identified as possible locations for potential activity centers. 
Objective 9.3
Address the parking needs within the Central Business District.
Action 9.3c
City hasn’t had a parking study for approximately three years.  With new businesses coming to the downtown, the parking situation has changed.
Meeting adjourned 8:56.
Winnie Shepard
Assistant to the City Manager I

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