The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
David McFadden, Chair
Patrick Miranda, Vice Chair
Jim Huber, Planning Director
Bianca Petrou, Assistant Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Principal Planner
John Adam, Principal Planner
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Jennifer Jones, Planner III
Carla Paladino, Planner IV
David Culbertson, Excused Absence
- Multi-Family Design Standards
John Adam, Principal Planner, updated the Planning Commission that the City Council approved the Medford School District 549C Master Plan and the Airport Master Plan last Thursday.
Site Plan and Architectural Commission reviewed the exemption for non-public buildings within the security fence at the airport. They voted unanimously to support the amendment. It will go to the City Council March 3, 2016.
Carla Paladino, Planner IV, asked the Planning Commission to think about the types of housing they have lived in starting from childhood to present. What type of housing do they see themselves living in the future? Did any of these include multiple family developments?
It is her opinion that multiple family developments get a bad reputation. Maybe it is the term or maybe it is what we see that is built. It is important to remember that is a component of the housing stock. It is permitted in many of the residential zones. It is permitted in all the commercial zones except one. This provides a lot of opportunity to see projects with multi-family use.
Jennifer Jones, Planner III, and Ms. Paladino discussed what they think about multiple family standards. They discussed the current code standards and think there is room for improvement. Rather than coming forward with code changes to the Planning Commission they request the Commission’s input.
The Planning Commission will interact with the Visual Character Survey.
Ms. Jones reported that the Visual Character Survey (VCS) will help define the overall vision of multiple family developments within the City. Data from the VCS will be tallied and analyzed. In two weeks staff will come back to the Planning Commission with the results of the VCS that will help inform Land Development Code revisions.
Ms. Jones explained that the VCS included a series of photographs of real places that are built but not in the Rogue Valley. The photos were all of multiple family developments and the Planning Commission would score each image from negative 5 to positive 5 based on the degree they liked or disliked the image and whether it was appropriate in Medford. There were 99 images to rate. Following the VCS, the end of the handout included three questions for the Commissioners to answer.
The Planning Commission spent approximately 20 minutes completing the Visual Character Survey and additional questions.
Commissioner Pulver stated that he struggled with balancing the looks of the project and whether it would be appropriate in Medford.
Commissioner Mansfield reported that except for the four story buildings that many of the photographs were almost identical to projects in Medford.
Ms. Jones stated that staff wanted to get the Planning Commissions feedback and will come back to the Planning Commission on Monday, February 22, 2016, showing a lot of the same photographs and how the group ranked them. What were the highs, what were the lows, the themes, trends, etc.? Staff will take this survey to the Site Plan and Architectural Commission to get their feedback.
Chair McFadden commented that it would be interesting to compare the Planning Commission and Site Plan and Architectural Commission feedbacks.
Jim Huber, Planning Director, shared that the Planning Commission completed their part of the Urban Growth Boundary amendment process. It was broken down into Phase I (ISAs) and Phase II (ESAs). When working on the ISAs which are to use land more efficiently before expanding the Urban Growth Boundary it is supposed to demonstrate that efficiency measures have been taken. Staffs efficiency measure was predominately the ISAs. When it was first presented to the City Council they were not interested. Their issue was high density development. They requested that Planning staff come up with design infill standards. The survey that the Planning Commission will take will help with the design standards. How can we have higher density and make it compatible to existing uses and development?
Mr. Adam reported that it is a relationship with infill neighborhoods and the livability of the development. If there are basic layout guidelines, green space requirements, etc. it will produce better products.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that there is resistance in the community to low cost housing. Those are cultural problems not design, traffic, school availability problems or anything else. He regrets this problem exists. It is time to acknowledge it.
Chair McFadden reported that over his tenure on the Planning Commission that this Commission has done extremely well ignoring a lot of that. The Planning Commission has approved a lot projects that fits the code and the Commission has not bowed to those types of pressures.
Commissioner D’Alessandro stated that design can have an impact on changing the culture.
Commissioner Foley reported that one of his concerns is the ability to maintain the development simply. They look great when they are first developed but then after 10, 20 or 30 years they do not look good. How does one make sure architecturally that the properties in the development are easy to maintain?
Commissioner D’Alessandro stated that the importance of proximity to public transportation gets overlooked a lot; especially with low income housing.
Commissioner McKechnie reported that for infill to be successful it has to do with the number of units. If it is a rental it needs to be 50 to 100 or more units in order for professional management. If it is smaller it should be owner occupied. They owner will maintain their own place.
Chair McFadden stated that he has heard a lot of complaints of people who live in single family neighborhoods that have a Homeowner’s Association. A lot of people get upset with the Association and hate it. He suspects multi-family associations fare much better.
Vice Chair Miranda reported that he can speak from experience. He has a Homeowner’s Association where he lives. There is a mix of rentals and owner occupied. They have definite guidelines on what is allowed in the front yard and what is being displayed. When units do not comply it is the Homeowners Association that enforces the guidelines.
Commissioner Pulver commented that the legal power of a Homeowner’s Association varies on how it is setup, the mechanisms to correct or discipline is tricky. Depending on units and the turn-overs can be difficult, especially for the City, whether it be maintenance, common area space, or what the concern is.
Chair McFadden stated the question that should be asked is what would be the appropriate level of how the City would help with painting the building, roofing storm drainage or rebuilding or repaving the streets?
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney, reported that he reviews plats and one of the items that he looks for is if there are CC&Rs that are submitted he makes sure that they do not bind the City to anything. The City does not want to have any responsibility other than how things currently run. He believes that Oregon law allows Homeowners Associations to seek injunctive relief and enforce CC&Rs.
Commissioner Foley stated that the biggest concern would be that the multiple family developments stay maintained. A separate issue would be maintenance of private streets.
Commissioner Pulver asked how much specificity the Commission wants in the Code for the Site Plan and Architectural Commission to comply.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that the problem with design standards is that they are established as minimums and often they become maximum. The places that he likes best to work with are where one goes in and meets with the planner. One ends up with a better project.
Chair McFadden reported that in his opinion the City should take an advance position on developments. The City should sponsor lectures aimed at professionals in the business to enlighten them of what is available.
Commissioner Mansfield asked whether it is a proper function of government to determine taste. The Oregon Supreme Court was almost in favor of it being a proper function of government about 40 or 60 years ago. It is a question that concerns him.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:03 p.m.
Terri L. Rozzana