The City of Ashland Building Division’s main role is to ensure that all buildings meet the applicable building codes, zoning regulations, and safety standards set by the State and local government. The Building Division is responsible for reviewing and approving building plans and issuing building permits for new construction or alterations to existing buildings. Inspections by the Building Division during various stages of construction ensure new developments are being built according to the approved plans and meet the relevant building codes and safety standards.
BUILDING SERVICES AND GOALS
Mandated Services - ORS 455.467 requires the building inspection program to approve a permit application within ten business days of receiving a complete application for plan reviews of simple low-rise residential dwellings. For commercial reviews, the statute requires the building inspection program develop a reasonable process for plan review services. The building inspection program plan is required to be updated every four years to ensure the needs of the department, and participants, are being met (ORS 455.148).
OAR 918-020-0090 mandates municipalities to administer and enforce a building inspection program. These standards cover requirements that must be identified for compliance through the Oregon Building Codes Division. They are reviewed for compliance and renewed every four years (OAR 918-020-0070). Building plan examiners and inspectors are also required to maintain key certifications at the State level in order to administer program requirements. Code cycles are updated every three years and continuing education and code update classes are required to maintain these certifications.
OAR 918-020-0010 addresses expected cooperation between local municipalities and the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s local designee to consider uniform fire code in the plan review process.
The Building Division has the following goals for the 2023-2025 biennium.
- Establish a consistent and uniform code inspection program with other nearby cities by creating Standards, Educational, and Code Committees with representatives from local jurisdictions.
- Develop an online self-service portal for EnerGov Permitting software, allowing customers to monitor their permit status, submit applications, request inspections, review fees, and communicate with the Community Development Department remotely.
- Implement mandated State building codes addressing Wildfire Hazards, Energy Conservation, and Climate Change.
BUDGET LINE ITEMS (EXPENDITURES)
Long Range Planning Program - The Long Range Planning program maintains and updates the Ashland Comprehensive Plan and AMC Title 18 Land Use, and performs technical studies as required by the Statewide Planning Program, as well as the City Council, Planning Commission, advisory committees, and other citizen-initiated projects.
Mandated Services - The City is legally required to maintain its Comprehensive Plan in accordance with the Oregon Statewide Planning Program and implement land use regulations that align with the Plan (ORS 197.175). This involves conducting research, revising the land use code, and updating the Comprehensive Plan. Over the past decade, around one-third of long-range planning projects were mandated by state or federal laws, one-sixth were initiated by the City Council's goals, and half came from citizen advisory commission or grassroots efforts. In the current decade, more than half of the nine legislative actions taken so far were required by state mandates and new state legislation. These include updating the Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI), revising the land use code to permit duplexes (House Bill 2001), conducting a Housing Capacity Analysis (HB 2003), carrying out a Housing Production Analysis (HB 2003), and implementing Middle Housing Land Divisions (Senate Bill 458).
Several recent long range planning projects were required due to new state legislation or federal requirements, including amending the land use and building codes for floodplains in Ashland, updating the flood insurance study and insurance rate map by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), adding the Regional Plan to the Ashland Comprehensive Plan, updating the Transportation System Plan (TSP), amending ordinances for medical and recreational marijuana use at home, and adopting new codes for Middle Housing Land Divisions (MHLDs). Although it's challenging to predict the extent of work resulting from new state legislation or agency requirements, such as Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities requirements or Housing Needs Analysis and Housing Production Strategy requirements, staff expects an increase in workload in addressing state land use mandates in the coming biennium due to the state's growing concerns with housing, homelessness, and climate change.
The City will seek grant opportunities, and allocate professional services funding to aid in completing code amendments in response to state legislative requirements, amend manufactured housing park zoning, and prepare a new Economic Opportunity Analysis (EOA) at Council direction. If development activity decreases during FY 23-25 in response to rising interest rates, staff resources will be reallocated from Current Planning to the Long Range program to address new state legislation and agency requirements.
Expected Services - In the past, the Long Range Planning program was expected to perform projects generated by City Council goals as well as those projects initiated at the request of advisory committees or the general public. Examples of past projects include adoption of wildfire development standards, , Middle Housing code amendments, the update to the affordable housing standards in the land use code, the development of the Transit Triangle overlay and land use code, and the recent adoption of Food Truck code amendments.
Discretionary Services - Long Range Planning program resources are used to support the review of legislative planning actions by the Historic Preservation Advisory, Tree and Urban Forest Management Advisory, Housing and Human Services Advisory, and Transportation Advisory Committees. All of the aforementioned advisory committees are assigned an advisory role in the review of amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and land use code in under Resolution #2023-06.
CURRENT PLANNING PROGRAM
The Current Planning program reviews development proposals, conducts the public noticing and hearing process for development proposals, reviews building permits for compliance with land use standards and staffs the Planning Commission and three advisory committees.
Mandated Services - The City has a statutory obligation to make land use decisions in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan and adopted land regulations (ORS 197.175). Current Planning program resources are necessary to satisfy this state mandate as well as specific state laws which outline the land use process requirements such as public noticing requirements, timelines for land decisions, public hearing requirements and appeal requirements. The Planning Commission serves as the body that largely satisfies the Statewide Planning Program Goal 1 Citizen Involvement [OAR 660-015-0000(1)] as well as the requirement for a Citizen Involvement Committee (CIC) which is reflected in the Ashland Comprehensive Plan.
AMC 18.5.1.050.C requires a decision on Type I planning applications within 45 days of when an application is deemed complete. In contrast, state law requires cities to make a final decision on a land use application with 120 days after the application is deemed complete (ORS 227.178). The use of the considerably shorter 45 days to make a final decision for Type I applications is an example of the City’s emphasis on customer service.
Expected Services - Provide mandated Current Planning program services with a high emphasis on clarity, responsiveness, accessibility, and customer service. Assist other city departments on areas of mutual concern, such as coordinated development services and implementation of council goals.
The Current Planning program attempts to meet its adopted customer services targets as identified in the Community Development Operational and Organizational Review. This includes response time goals such as returning customer inquiries (i.e., phone calls and emails) within 24 hours and finishing completeness reviews of land use applications within seven days where state law allows up to 30 days.
Discretionary Services - Current Planning program resources are used to support the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, Public Arts Advisory Committee and Tree and Urban Forest Management Advisory Committee. The Historic Preservation Advisory and Tree and Urban Forest Management Advisory Committees serve in advisory roles in planning applications to assess conformance with Historic District Design and Tree Protection and Removal standards. Approximately 23 percent of planning applications are within nationally designated historic districts and are therefore reviewed by the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee. The Historic Preservation, Public Arts and Tree and Urban Forest Advisory Committees were established by Resolution #2023-06.
Ashland was designated as a Certified Local Government (CLG) by the National Park Service in 2000. As a CLG, the City must meet certain qualifications to receive the CLG certification including having a locally appointed body of a variety of experts in the historic preservation field and general citizens to oversee the City’s historic preservation program. The Historic Preservation Advisory Committee fulfills this CLG requirement. The CLG designation qualifies the City to receive federal grants through Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and additional technical assistance.