Services Departments Government

Planning Commission Minutes
July 24, 2017
6:30 p.m., DSB Auditorium

Commissioners present: Michael Wilson, Gail Holmes, John Drentlaw, Brian Pasko, John Gray, Tom Peterson, Mary Phillips, Christine Drazan.

Commissioners absent: Mark Fitz

Staff present: Mike McCallister, Jennifer Hughes, Darcy Renhard.

  1. Commission Chair Drentlaw called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. There was no public comment on things outside of the agenda items.
  2. The hearing tonight is for continued deliberations on ZDO-267: Transitional Housing. Commissioner Drentlaw said that at the last hearing there were some motions that were difficult to follow. There are many things to consider, for example a train going by is much louder than a dump truck tailgate slamming. And yet we have million dollar homes along the railroad in Lake Oswego. With industrial lands, LUBA has overturned conversions to residential in the past when the land was found to be unsuitable. It was then returned to industrial zoning. Commissioner Drentlaw asked all Planning Commissioners to provide their thoughts on this proposal.

    Commissioner Pasko has spent a lot of time reflecting on this proposal since the last hearing. He understands that many people are probably frustrated with the Commission, but we need to rise above that and find some sort of solution. No matter what decision is made, there are going to be people who do and don’t like it. Clackamas County needs a tool to solve this problem, and even though he does not think that this is the perfect solution, and he does not assume that the Board believes that this is the perfect solution, it is at least something to get started in the right direction. There is no substantive evidence to show that crime will increase. He asks if it is worse to sleep in a sheltered place next to an industrial area or outside under the Burnside Bridge in February?

    Commissioner Phillips: based on her review of the record and what she heard in the first hearing, there is agreement that there is an issue with homelessness. It sounds like there are also some concerns about the proposal itself. A lot of the concerns that were negative were that this proposal will not solve the homeless issue, which is true. But no single thing is going to solve it. The way that staff has proposed it as a conditional use is the right way to go about it because every time there is a proposal for one of these facilities it will go under review for compatibility. The conditional use standards require that the applicant show that there will be no negative impacts on the surrounding neighbors of the property.

    Commissioner Wilson used to live in a neighborhood that was established close to an airport. When he moved in he knew and understood that they were next to an airport. But then other people moved in who decided that they were tired of the airport noise, so they insisted that it move. He is concerned that the same thing might happen here. The Planning Commission needs to look at each item brought up at the last meeting and make a recommendation on each one accordingly.

    Commissioner Drazan had an opportunity to tour the site in Eugene that is similar to what we are proposing. Her experience was that the structures were sheds and that they were about as inhospitable as anything she has ever seen. But then again, the residents have no complaints about it. The site in Eugene is about 10 steps from a major road. The industrial site that they are looking at is not cut off from the community, and in fact already has some residential sites. The people who live in this facility go through an application and interview process, it is not based on first-come, first-served. People are allowed in based on the decision of the group. Residents under the age of 18 are not allowed, which seems appropriate due to the condition of the housing.

    Commissioner Peterson drove by the proposed site on 115th on his way to the meeting tonight. Despite his personal opinion, he understands that there are not a lot of options. Even though it seems like the problem will be moved “out of sight, out of mind”, there needs to be some method of dealing with the homeless issue. There is a shortage of industrial property in the region, so it seems counterintuitive to take industrial property for this use. That being said, he is willing to go along with the concept if there is some sort of sunset clause. He thinks that the only conditions that we need to put on this are that it does not become permanent housing sites, it reverts to industrial.

    Commissioner Gray used to work for Washington County. The discussion of industrial land varies vastly throughout the area that we live in, mainly due to topography. There is a disproportionate number of people leaving Clackamas County to go to Washington County for jobs, but this has been the case for 25 years. Industrial land within Clackamas County should be held in the highest value. Using industrial land for these kinds of facilities is not appropriate, and he is very unhappy with the location that is proposed for this one.

    Commissioner Wilson would like to strike out the whole clause in the definition related to government funding.

    Commissioner Holmes agrees with a lot of what Commissioners Peterson and Gray are saying. Three years ago, the BCC was concerned with not having enough jobs in Clackamas County, and now here we are using job-producing land for something that will not even produce jobs. If one of these facilities was put in, why couldn’t they have a shuttle or some other means to get them to transportation?

    Commissioner Pasko asked about changing the proposal to say that facilities can only go on property that is owned by the government, and what if there was a maximum percentage of industrial land that could be used for this?

    Commissioner Drazan asked Jennifer Hughes for clarification on the definition of temporary.

    Commissioner Peterson said that market activity may end up imposing restrictions that we do not need to get tangled up in. Private industrial owners are not going to want to use their valuable property for something that has no return, and if they do have land that is just sitting there unused they will change their minds when the next project comes by that they can profit from. They are not going to profit from a transitional housing community. To keep it simple, we should hash out what message we want to relate to the BCC rather than muddying everything up so that it is difficult for staff to even work with.

    Commissioner Holmes would take out that we would allow residents under 18 years old. Commissioner asked about altering language so that instead of saying “25% of funding from government, ” it says that there is “a minimum funding from government of $100,000”. It would set the bar, and would also allow use of private land as long as there was the recommended government involvement and oversight as far as land ownership, funding, or government operation. Commissioner Drentlaw would like government involvement to be completely removed from the standards and definition. He asked if everyone else was comfortable with limiting the number of facilities allowed within the County. Commissioner Phillips would like to add a sunset clause of 2 years, and a limit of 3 facilities within the County. Everyone agreed that this is reasonable.

    With regard to allowing residents under 18 years of age, Commissioner Phillips would like to leave it as is so that they are allowed. Commissioner Peterson pointed out that if we start constraining them, then we are limiting part of what makes them successful. In the event that this pilot project works, why would we want to have limitations on who can use it? There may be other projects that are much more suitable that happen down the line. Commissioner Drentlaw asked if we should say that residents under the age of 18 are prohibited. Yes=Drazan, Gray, Drentlaw, Holmes, Wilson. No=Phillips, Pasko, Peterson.

    Regarding requiring transportation or some sort of bus pass, Jennifer Hughes explained that we cannot guarantee that Tri-Met will commit to having a bus come close to the potential facility on 115th, but the conversation about it has been initiated. Commissioner Holmes believes that having transportation access is extremely important, but understands that there are different means of doing this. This all strikes Commissioner Peterson as another point where we are trying to interfere in their business. It is the applicant’s responsibility, and if they want to make it work, then they will consider access to transportation when selecting a location. Maybe this would be something better addressed in the conditional use permit, which means that we don’t even need to get into it. Commissioner Pasko agrees with Commissioner Peterson, we should leave it to the operators and the experts to find the best solution. Mike McCallister agreed that transportation is an important aspect to the success of these facilities, and transportation should definitely be a consideration when the applicant puts their operating plan together.

    Commissioner Drentlaw feels that there should be a time limit on how long people are allowed to stay. People should not be allowed to just sit there and get a free stay. Commissioner Holmes is concerned with this discussion on limiting length of stay because there may be someone who has more issues to work through. It is difficult to assign a number to someone—you can’t just say that in 2 years you are going to be fixed. She also does not like the idea of saying that there is an absolute cutoff date and then you are back on the street. Commissioner Peterson agrees and does not support having some arbitrary length of time that people can stay. Commissioner Phillips heard the testimony that the length of stay is very unique to each resident. It is not the place of the zoning ordinance to determine this. There are professionals who are better qualified for this. Having a requirement that there is a plan for transitioning residents into regular housing is reasonable, having a requirement that there is some randomly decided cutoff date is not.

    The Planning Commission discussed having some sort of standards for qualifying as an operator. Currently H3S does not have a licensing or certification process for these operators. Jennifer explained that our County Counsel advised us against writing code that requires standards to be met that do not exist.

    Everyone agreed that if the transitional shelter ceases operations on the property for a period of one year, the conditional use is void. For clarification, this does not mean that the applicant has one year to implement the conditional use, it means that activity as a shelter stops for one year.

    Commissioner Holmes recommended having a 2 year time period to implement the conditional use after approval, and to allow for a single one-year extension. Jennifer Hughes explained that with the 2-year sunset clause, there would be no opportunity for the one-year extension. Everyone agreed on this.

    Regarding requiring a minimum financial investment from a government entity, Jennifer explained that unless there is some degree of government involvement, there is no oversight on how these facilities are operated. Since there is no due process to be approved as an operator, we cannot write it into our code. Commissioner Peterson said that the chances of having these projects happen without government funding is highly unlikely, so he doesn’t think it is necessary. Nobody else thought that government funding should be a requirement. Nobody thought that requiring these facilities to be placed on government owned land was necessary, nor was requiring governmental operation of these facilities. Commissioner Pasko pointed out that everyone needs to take another look at what just happened. We just eliminated the entire definition of temporary shelters. The original proposal envisioned some involvement with H3S to ensure that the facilities are run properly. Commissioner Peterson said that there is a fatal flaw in the recommendation because there are not already licensing standards in place for facility operators. Mike McCallister said that we can recommend that H3S develop standards, but is highly unlikely to be done by the time the Board hears this proposal. Commissioner Phillips suggested that we move forward with this one pilot program due to the critical need, but we could recommend that the standards be in place before the sunset standard can be extended. Commissioner Pasko does not feel that it is unreasonable for H3S to develop standards quickly and get them in place prior to implementation of this project. Commissioner Phillips asked if we could move the requirement to have the operator approved by H3S into the standards instead of the definition and say that the facility is “Operated by an entity approved by the Director of the County Department of Health, Housing, and Human Services”.

    The definition as agreed upon by the PC members for Transitional Shelter Communities will be: “Temporary shelters for houseless people, operated by an entity approved by the Director of the County Department of Health, Housing, and Human Services. Residents under the age of 18 are prohibited. The operator may also provide the transitional shelter residents with food, clothing, and other support services on the transitional shelter site.”

  3. Commissioner Pasko moved to recommend for approval the proposal as drafted by staff with the following amendments:

    Commissioner Phillips seconded the motion. Ayes=8; Nays=0. Motion passes.

  4. Commissioner Pasko moved to approve the June 12th minutes as submitted by staff. Commissioner Holmes seconded the motion. Ayes=5(Pasko, Wilson, Holmes, Gray, Drentlaw); Nays=0; Abstain=3 (Phillips, Drazan, Peterson).
  5. Commissioner Pasko moved to approve the July 10th minutes as submitted by staff. Commissioner Holmes seconded. Ayes=6 (Pasko, Wilson, Holmes, Gray, Peterson, Drentlaw); Nays=0; Abstain=2 (Drazan, Phillips).
  6. Mike McCallister discussed some potential topics to discuss at later meetings. There is nothing scheduled in August, so he will schedule them after the solar farm hearing on September 11th. We will try to cover the urban & rural reserves update, a check-in on last year’s work program as well as what the BCC adopted for our work program this year. We can also discuss employment land with regard to the urban reserve and industrial lands.
  7. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:13 p.m.

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