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Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes
Monday, September 14, 2020
The study session of the Planning Commission was called to order in a Zoom webinar at 12:00 p.m. in Medford, Oregon on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Mark McKechnie, Chair
David Jordan (arrived at 12:11 p.m.)
Kelly Evans, Assistant Planning Director
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney
Terri Richards, Recording Secretary
Joe Foley, Vice Chair, Excused Absence
Bill Mansfield, Unexcused Absence
E.J. McManus, Excused Absence
Jeff Thomas, Unexcused Absence
20.1 Permanent and Temporary Shelters
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner reported that on September 20, 2018 the City Council adopted the code amendment for temporary shelters. November 19, 2019 the City Council adopted the code amendment for severe event shelters to operate during declared severe weather events. Staff had a study session with the City Council in December 2019 regarding changes for temporary shelters. The draft language is based on the City Council’s recommendation.
The code summary is four parts: 1) Carry over “Temporary Shelter Policy” requirements into code; 2) Make temporary shelters a permitted use by right with special standards in commercial and industrial zones rather that a Conditional Use Permit; 3) Add special standards for permanent shelters; and 4) Allow temporary shelters serving 15 or few individuals in residential zones with special standards.
There will be new terms in the code. Currently the code does not define shelters related to permanent uses. Definitions added from the Temporary Shelter Policy will be incapable of self-preservation, individual area, limited assistance, marking of sleeping area, sleeping areas and temporary shelter (updated).
Land use review options for permanent shelters within commercial and light industrial zones using existing building would be a Type I procedure with the approving authority of the Planning Director. New construction of permanent shelters would be a Type III procedure with Site Plan and Architectural Commission review. Temporary shelters would be a Type I procedure with the approving authority of the Planning Director.
Temporary shelters in residential zones with 16 or more guests would be a Type III Conditional Use Permit procedure with the Planning Commission as the approving authority. Fifteen or fewer guests would be a Type I procedure with the Planning Director as the approving authority with a neighborhood meeting, There was discussion at the City Council level on whether or not to allow temporary shelters in General and Heavy Industrial zones.
Temporary shelters with fifteen or fewer guests in residential zones would require a neighborhood meeting and submit documentation only for Type I applications. Request that a business safety checklist with inspections and approvals from Fire and Building officials prior to opening. Also, only require a 500 foot distance between shelters in residential zones.
Staff and community partners discussed this draft last week. Some items to update are: Rename Permanent Shelters to Non-Temporary Shelters; Move temporary shelters SIC code with permanent shelters; Modify definitions adding reference to building code and; Merge standards for temporary and permanent shelters.
Staff will work on final edits to the language and send out revised draft to staff and community partners. On September 23, 2020 review with the Housing Advisory Commission will occur. Hearing scheduled for the Planning Commission on September 24, 2020 and City Council on October 15, 2020.
Staff would like the Planning Commission’s thoughts on separating out temporary shelters (as accessory uses to institutional uses) in residential zones with less than 15 versus 16 plus guests. Thought on allowing permanent shelters in I-G and I-H zoning districts.
Chair McKechnie asked, are temporary shelters allowed anywhere without a Conditional Use Permit? Ms. Paladino responded no, not temporary shelters.
Chair McKechnie asked, are the definitions going to define temporary shelters versus non-temporary shelters? Ms. Paladino replied yes. Temporary is a time frame. It is 90 days or with an extension up to 180 days.
Chair McKechnie asked, is the 90 days for the occupants? Ms. Paladino stated it is for the days of operation.
Chair McKechnie suggested that it would be good to get Commissioner’s Foley input on the definitions since he works in this realm.
Eric Mitton, Deputy City Attorney clarified that Chair McKechnie asked whether temporary referred to the occupants. It refers to the shelter’s operation being temporary not that the occupant is there temporarily. Ms. Paladino replied that is correct. It is 90 days of temporary use for that site.
Chair McKechnie asked, if it is extended past the 90 days or even the 180 day extension would it be a non-temporary shelter? Ms. Paladino responded that is correct. Temporary shelters are limited to 180 days, non-temporary shelters are approved to be open year round.
Chair McKechnie asked, is there a definition that defines what a shelter is compared to single family house, apartment or any other permanent style of living per the building code requirements for residential? Ms. Paladino replied there is a specific definition for temporary shelters housing people that are currently homeless and providing them services. The other definitions are separate.
It sounds to Chair McKechnie that a shelter is a shelter and is either temporary or non-temporary depending on how long it is in existence. There needs to be a definition that defines shelter specifically more in building code terms as opposed to what the building code requires residences to have. Like running water, temperature control, electricity, sewer, etc. versus what a shelter may or may not need. Ms. Paladino reported that the current definition of temporary shelter is a temporary use within a building typically not used as a residence meant to provide overnight sleeping accommodations and related services to individuals or groups who are homeless. Staff was not planning on diving into types of services that are there. That is part of the standards. Chair McKechnie is more concerned about the physical structure. There needs to be language that the shelter meets the requirements of the Oregon Specialty Code. Ms. Paladino reported that the Oregon Specialty Code will be brought into one of the definitions.
All the dots do not connect for Commissioner Pulver. The temporary shelters were put in place to manage homelessness in extreme weather events and the smoke situation would qualify. Shelters to him is a bigger picture. He is going to have a hard time getting on board with that until there is a more comprehensive plan. There could be some real determent of loitering or congregating of those types of folks. There has been a major issue with it at Hawthorne Park. He does not know if there is a huge demand to open a lot of shelters. There is a huge need for them. He is uncomfortable with what is being proposed. He is not in favor of Planning Director approval and limiting the Conditional Use Permit requirements. He would be more in favor with shelters being allowed in heavier industrial uses potentially but there is an issue of security for neighboring properties. He has concerns on the lower commercial spectrum as well. Neighborhood commercial and C-S/P zones are intended to be reasonably better neighbors to residential and if this is an outright permitted use next door there will be a ton of uproar from neighbors. He has a lot of reservations.
Commissioner Culbertson echoes Commissioner Pulver’s comments. His commercial building is on the corner of Oakdale and Main Street. There are two shelters close by. He is constantly having agents call him (as principal brokers) saying that there is someone sleeping at the front door and they have clients that are trying to come in or they are using faucets on the outside of the building to shower. The question is after they are displaced from the shelter the loitering or what they bring back to that neighborhood is a concern. He is all for someone getting out of the heat, cold, smoke, food but he does not know how to tackle the balance. It is a poor situation at his office and he is only a block from City Hall.
It feels to Commissioner McFadden that they are putting the cart before the horse. With all the fires there could be a real need for these shelters. Are there applications coming in that are waiting for this change? He agrees with what everyone is saying. He does not have an answer. He thinks it is out of the realm for the Planning Commission.
Chair McKechnie likes the idea of requiring a neighborhood meeting anytime there is a Planning Director decision on these. He also likes the idea of the 500 feet separation. It should be a requirement of every zone. The only types of housing downtown are either temporary or low income. It is not what citizens want downtown. That is the best way to kill a downtown. In fact the separation should be 1000 feet. There should be a limitation on where these shelters can go. He does not have an issue with the 15 guests as long as it is an accessory to an institutional use in a residential zone. He does not think they should be put in the I-G and I-H zoning. Doing other limitations like the 1000 feet and requiring a neighborhood meeting will help.
Commissioner Pulver asked, was the Police Department involved in staff’s phone call last week? Ms. Paladino commented that they are included on the routing for Wednesdays Land Development Committee meeting but they were not on last week’s phone call. Police has been working hard helping with all of this. They have been spearheading along with the City Manager’s Office the new urban campground off Biddle and Midway. They are a part of getting a solution started.
Commissioner Pulver thinks there are different categories of homeless people in the community. There are some down on their luck and need help and others that have a range of issues that need more than a roof over their head to deal with their problems. He falls back on what is the bigger picture solution? Then there are the ones that are incapable of help. Members of the Police Department that he talks to know these guys by name, they break the law, they take them to the Police station process them, they are out and back on the street the same day and the Police see them again for another issue the same day if not the same week. There is a fine line between providing too much support for homelessness and not enough. We do not want to encourage more homeless people to come here.
Ms. Paladino clarified that the 500 foot rule is currently in place. It is required that shelters be 500 feet regardless of zone. The proposed change would be that the 500 feet would only be required in residential zones.
Ms. Paladino commented that temporary shelters are all Conditional Use Permits. The Planning Commission is involved in reviewing them. These are real issues that staff is trying to make code around that will help the situation. Most of this is in the books. This is tweaking some of the things that are allowed. She is hearing that some of the Commissioner’s do not want to change allowing them outright. There are requirements to allow these shelters. It is being directed by the City Council to make these changes.
Commissioner McFadden asked, does staff want the Commission to give their thoughts regarding separating out temporary shelters (as accessory uses to institutional uses) in residential zones less than 15 guests versus 16 or more guests and; allowing Permanent Shelters in I-G and I-H zoning districts? Ms. Paladino commented that would be great.
Commissioner McFadden thinks the less than 15 versus 16 plus guests makes sense. He gets nervous about the residential zone. He would separate them out depending on size. He agrees with Chair McKechnie that in the I-G and I-H zones there are large trucks, traffic patterns and far from where the homeless want to be. He does not see at this point to include those zoning districts in this discussion.
Commissioner Culbertson concurs with Commissioner McFadden.
Commissioner Jordan concurs with Commissioner Culbertson and Commission McFadden.
Ms. Paladino asked, is September 24, 2020 doable to bring this to Planning Commission public hearing? Chair McKechnie commented that it is her call.
101. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 12:38 p.m.
Terri L. Richards