The Community Development Department comprises two divisions, namely Planning and Building. The Planning Division is responsible for the maintenance and update of Ashland's Comprehensive Plan and Ashland Municipal Code Title 18 Land Use. In addition, it is tasked with reviewing development proposals, evaluating building permits for compliance with land use standards, providing support to various advisory committees and the City's Planning Commission. The Planning Division also oversees the City's Housing Program, which aims to promote affordable housing through public education/outreach, zoning initiatives, grants, direct funding, and other financial incentives. Furthermore, theCode Compliance program is responsible for providing assistance to individuals and businesses who violate municipal codes and can take enforcement actions through the municipal court.
The Building Division, on the other hand, has the mandate of implementing Oregon's statewide building codes program. This program is administered through a comprehensive building plan review and inspection program. As such, the Building Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with Oregon's building codes and ensuring that buildings are constructed safely and meet the required standards.
- Reviewed and issued 2,138 building permits and conducted over 7,300 inspections from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022.
- Processed 173 Planning Actions and issued 347 zoning permits from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022.
- Supported the development of 60 new low income housing units by Housing Authority of Jackson County and 29 new permanent supportive housing units for low income households by Columbia Care. The creation of these 89 new affordable units were supported with City of Ashland Affordable Housing Funds and the waiver of System Development Charges.
- Awarded and distributed $750,000 in local Community Development Block Grants, Social Service Funds, and Affordable Housing Funds to local non-profit organizations assisting extremely low-income and low-income households obtain housing, food, and emergency shelter, most notably, the OHRA Project Turnkey shelter project.
- Completed the 2021-2041 Housing Capacity Analysis, and drafted a Housing Production Strategy document that addresses the housing needs identified in the Housing Capacity Analysis document.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
- Develop an online self-service portal for EnerGov Permitting software, allowing customers to monitor their planning and building permit status, submit applications, request inspections, review fees, and communicate with the Community Development Department remotely.
- Ensure that the Department maintains optimal staffing levels and provides new employees with the necessary training to obtain the required certifications that enable them to competently perform their assigned duties.
- Develop and implement a consistent and standardized code inspection program across neighboring cities by establishing Standards, Educational, and Code Committees consisting of representatives from local jurisdictions. This will ensure that inspections are conducted uniformly across all jurisdictions and reduce any confusion or discrepancies that may arise.
- The city of Ashland has identified several key initiatives to improve the community's well-being and economic vitality. These include drafting and implementing land use ordinances to promote a Climate Friendly and Equitable Community by encouraging walkable neighborhoods and activity centers, preserving manufactured home parks as identified in the Housing Production Strategy, and redeveloping the Croman Mill District to enhance economic development and improve residents' quality of life. These initiatives are designed to address housing, economic, and environmental challenges in Ashland and promote a more sustainable and equitable community.
Affordability and Attainable Housing: Measure the effectiveness of policies and incentives designed to encourage the production of affordable housing. Monitor progress towards completing the strategic actions identified in Ashland’s 2024-2032 Housing Production Strategy. Track the number of regulated affordable housing units, the number of multifamily housing units, and the number of single family housing units developed within the City.
Economic Development: Streamline the development review process and evaluate potential land use ordinance amendments to promote the development of new businesses and retention of existing ones within Ashland, with a focus on activity centers such as the Croman Mill District and the Southern Oregon University District. Measure the effectiveness of policies and incentives designed to encourage investment and growth within the City and track the square footage of new commercial buildings developed within the City.
Climate Energy Action Plan (CEAP) goals: Evaluate and adopt land use codes in accordance with the State of Oregon Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities initiative policies and Ashland’s Climate Energy Action Plan. Designate and implement Climate Friendly Areas through the zoning code to encourage sustainable development practices. Measure the effectiveness of policies and incentives designed to encourage the development of the designated Climate Friendly Areas.
Wildfire Risk Reduction: Implement and monitor new statewide building codes related to wildfire safety, and update the local building code accordingly. Conduct educational sessions to inform builders and developers about the new standards and how to comply with them, including best practices for wildfire safety in building design and construction.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES FROM 2021-2023
- Funds included to conduct the Economic opportunities Analysis.
- Funds included to perform records digitization to improve transparency and access.
- Climate change: Climate change can have severe consequences for communities, such as increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, rising sea levels, and droughts. These effects can challenge community development efforts and require innovative solutions.
- A slowdown in development due to rising interest rates could lead to a decrease in revenue to the General Fund, as building and planning permit fees and taxes generated from construction and real estate transactions may decrease. This could impact the ability of the General Fund to fund community development initiatives, potentially leading to delays or cancellations of long-range planning projects.
- Advancements in technology: The use of technology can help community development departments improve efficiency and effectiveness in delivering services, engaging residents, and monitoring progress.
- Community engagement: Community development departments can leverage community involvement to build support, identify local priorities, and promote collaboration.
- Increases in Federal and State funding to address needed housing may provide opportunities for the city to work cooperatively with housing providers and homeless service providers to address Ashland's housing goals. By leveraging these resources, the city may be able to expand affordable housing options and address homelessness, which could have a positive impact on the community's well-being and economic vitality.