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Agenda & Minutes

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Mayor & Council (View All)

City Council Study Session Agenda & Minutes

Thursday, June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016
Medford City Hall, Medford Room
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon

  1. Community Development Block Grant – Action Plan Revision
  2. Receivership Program – Code Changes
  3. Tiny Houses Discussion

June 23, 2016
Medford City Hall, Medford Room
411 West 8th Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 12:00 p.m. in the Medford Room of the Medford City Hall on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Daniel Bunn, Dick Gordon, Tim Jackle, Eli Matthews, Kevin Stine, Michael Zarosinski
City Manager Pro Tem Alison Chan; Deputy City Manager Bill Hoke; City Attorney Lori Cooper; City Recorder Karen Spoonts; Parks and Recreation Grants Support Technician Angela Durant; Deputy City Attorney Kevin McConnell
Councilmember Chris Corcoran was absent.
Community Development Block Grant – Action Plan Revision by Angela Durant, Parks and Recreation Grants Support Technician
Angela Durant presented a PowerPoint presentation on the Community Development Block Grant Program, the status of a CDBG funded project and the direction the project is moving over the next program year. The Demolition Project is a carry-forward program of $155,218 to remediate problem properties through demolition, abatement, and/or clearance. The national objective is to remove slum and blight on a spot basis. The outcome would be seven properties over the next 12 months. This has presented the opportunity to expand the Project Scope.  A collective community approach would be implemented; increasing housing opportunities is the objective by identifying properties, match with community partners, approach property owners, remediate code violations, and generate affordable housing. This is a more efficient use of our CDBG investment. Staff will continue to work with Code Enforcement but will identify specific properties that can be reached with community partners. Community leverage was listed, such as Habitat for Humanity for in-kind labor, ACCESS for veterans support and homeless transitional, and Wells Fargo for down-payment assistance. These agencies on a day-to-day basis work with affordable housing. Staff will continue to work with community partners and the Housing and Community Development Commission. Staff will present an update of the 2016 Action Plan during a public hearing.
Councilmember Zarosinski questioned projects already funded; Ms. Durant noted they will not be affected; this project will be expanded by moving into an affordable housing plan to remove slum and blight.
Tiny Houses Discussion
Councilmember Gordon stated he would like to continue looking at the project. Staff has asked for direction. If the Council is willing to lease land to Hope Village Project then that puts the burden on Hope Village. If the answer is no, it is up to Hope Village to find another location. Mayor Wheeler noted we have been looking at the Spencer Street property but there has been objection to the use of that property for this purpose. City Attorney Lori Cooper noted it is free and clear from what she has read although the letter from the donor speaks otherwise. Councilmember Zarosinski noted from SPAC’s standpoint there are things that could be put into place to make it fit into the location where it is proposed and thought it should go through SPAC approval. Other issues such as trash, etc., can be worked out. Concerns were addressed with what seems like we are subsidizing a project, unfairly treating one organization more than another, and if it does not work out to unwind the project. Councilmember Bearnson noted the Housing Commission is on board with the original project, as they did not know anything about Spencer Street. He noted there are many non-profits involved in this. He mentioned he would not want to go against the original intent of property owners who give property to the City.
Councilmember Gordon did not think this has much to do with urban camping. Councilmember Bunn noted this helps us to avoid the problem regarding Oregon law. Councilmember Zarosinski thinks we must be prepared to admit when it does not work. Councilmember Gordon wanted to know what is involved to establish an urban camping area. He also noted the property is vacant and we are not earning any money on it although he thought $1.00/year would be appropriate. Councilmember Zarosinski stated that we could sell the property as well. Councilmember Gordon noted there will have to be private donations to get this off the ground. He would like to see a lease rate after the first year. Councilmember Stine is in support of the project, they have addressed all questions Council had, and the City has given in other areas for the better of the city. Councilmember Bearnson noted this is a collaboration of non-profits that receive CDBG funds and they are pooling their money together to make it work. He liked the idea of it going to SPAC and perhaps they can address the issue of closing it if needed. Mayor Wheeler noted there were two potential properties: 3rd and Front and the Spencer Street property, although the Spencer Street is an issue. He questioned committing to the property, lease, exit strategy, how long, and will the non-profit agencies look for more desirable properties as eventually this will go to them to find an area that would work better. Councilmember Bunn expressed concern with bypassing the regular system but can get pass this when the non-profit reviews this at a later time; he also thought this was a limited decision.
Councilmember Zarosinski noted if this is not a good site perhaps we shouldn’t even do the project. Councilmember Bunn noted he doesn’t know if anyone knows if it is a good site. Councilmember Zarosinski expressed concern with neighbors in the area. Councilmember Bunn noted if there are negative impacts we need to know those conditions and tolerances at the beginning. Councilmember Jackle recused on this decision although he asked Council to be clear under a new ordinance to make conditions of approval. Councilmember Bunn asked if SPAC approval is required. City Attorney Cooper noted if there are ten trips or more. Planning Director Jim Huber stated if you looked at it objectively you would say this would go to SPAC, who would look at the compatibility with the neighborhood and if it complies with the code. Mr. Huber stated there would be underground and grading permits as well as a restroom facility that would need to be approved; tiny homes don’t need a code. Ms. Cooper read ORS rules pertaining to transitional housing/urban camping sites. This does not speak to zoning, has not been litigated, and was passed in 1999. Some businesses have sued the city of Portland as the mayor allows camping on sidewalks. Mr. Huber noted this can be handled by zoning and SPAC would be a recommendation only. Councilmember Bunn noted it is not fair to give all issues to SPAC except how to make it better for the neighborhood. Mr. McConnell noted there are a few state law considerations. Councilmember Bearnson wondered if SPAC could bring some concerns to the table pertaining to the lease. Councilmember Jackle noted you do the lease first and then contingent on staff approval. Ms. Cooper did not think we needed an ordinance change.
Mayor Wheeler questioned if staff would want a lease agreement. Councilmember Stine questioned the minimum amount of lease time to make this a viable option; Rich Hansen requested a 12-month lease and is leasing at the pleasure of the city. If the experiment fails the non-profits will pick it up and leave. There is a start-up of $200,000 and they expect to have the money when the lease is signed. Councilmember Bunn thought we put in the agreement about the length of time in the lease.
Councilmember Matthews noted he was concerned with the neighbors for the 3rd and Front location. Mayor Wheeler noted we have done an exhaustive search on city properties. City Manager Pro Tem Chan will ask staff to check inventory again. Mayor Wheeler noted it is a self-contained piece of property. Councilmember Zarosinski would like a public hearing for everyone to speak.
Receivership Program – Code Changes by Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Kevin McConnell stated this is a continuation of a March 24 study session where Council asked for more information. He provided information on a recent settlement agreement with HSBC Bank pertaining to a house on 1866 Springbrook Road which received 82 violations. Once staff was able to get in contact with their attorney it took about a day to get resolved.  Sgt. Don Lane noted problem properties are a major problem. Code Enforcement receives citizen complaints on properties, many with criminal behavior and other issues. HSBC Bank is the legal owner of the Springbrook property; there was $6,000 in man hours plus the cost to abate. Mr. McConnell noted the city settled for $10,000; the amount due was $20,000.
Mr. McConnell provided information on people wanting to buy bank owned properties and are willing to pay a fair market price. The banks would have to put up very little money to clean up the property and they are not willing as they are collecting mortgage insurance as it is more profitable. The receivership program should be used where there is a violation of building codes and this would require a code change subject to Council approval. He noted we could use Chapter 9 for the purpose of the Oregon Housing Redemption Act. Council would make the ultimate determination to apply for a receivership. He noted we notify “interested parties” per Oregon law. The receiver can remediate the property. Mr. McConnell requested Council direction to prepare a final draft of the receivership ordinance for council review and approval.
Mayor Wheeler noted some people, such as Leigh Johnson, would like to be on an Ad Hoc Committee. Councilmember Stine questioned the process for Council to review. Mr. McConnell stated receivership will be like an appeal for those properties where we can’t get compliance. He does not think the non-profits have the capacity to take on a lot of these. Councilmember Gordon questioned home loans; Mr. McConnell noted Mr. Culbertson, a local realtor, can come to the next study session to address his questions. Mayor Wheeler would like a banker to show up to hear their side. Ms. Chan noted we are looking for Council direction but we can hear from a local banker before Council makes a decision.
The meeting adjourned at 1:27 p.m.
Karen M. Spoonts, MMC
City Recorder

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