How Mayor Stromberg’s Dream Hits Where You Live

By Alexander Mesadieu, Staff Writer

 

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Ashland mayor John Stromberg has a dream that housing in the city of Ashland will allow people who work and study here to also live here. He references the fact that housing prices are not designed for the people who work in businesses in Ashland, but wealthy visitors and part time residents,” it [the city plan] has provided mainly condos for second homes, retirees, investors.”

Stromberg recently released his dream for Ashland at his “State of the City” address laying out ideas about making changes to land use rules so that property bought and sold must honor the vision of the future which includes high density apartments, residential housing above and behind businesses and affordable housing so people who work in Ashland don’t find themselves necessarily commuting from Talent and Phoenix.

Stromberg’s speech centered around five issues in the city which were- how to manage additional
density as Ashland grows, where to put new businesses, where to provide family friendly housing,
how to create a pedestrian friendly environment, and how to make mix used housing work the way
it was intended to.

One part of Stromberg’s speech that directly affects students who work in Ashland is his proposed actions on mix use housing. Stromberg said, “mixed used housing hasn’t fulfilled some of its original purposes. For example providing housing for employees of the businesses over which it has been built.”
Stromberg later on proposed to “modify the mixed use housing overlay to require a portion of the
units to serve local employees and business owners and managers.”

If this proposal follows through it would mean more affordable housing for some employees in
downtown businesses.

Stromberg also visualized the creation of high density apartments built upwards around a public
transit map. He proposed doing this by changing the developmental rights practices of certain
places. In Stromberg’s own words: “we may decide to implement a system of development rights
transfer that allows the owners of certain properties to sell or buy rights to develop their properties
to facilitate some of the above proposals. This would draw upon work done six or seven years
ago on work done for another purpose but not yet put to use. What that means is that when you
own a piece of property, you own under the land use ordinance, the rights to do certain uses on
that property. But those two things can be separated and you can retain the rights to those uses
but sell them to somebody somewhere else in town who has more profitable or community
benefiting way of using those rights. So if we’re going to go up in some of these notable
neighborhoods in along public transit route somebody’s got to get not only the permission
but the development rights to build higher.”

Stromberg laid out his plan for Ashland on January 27 2015, but how his goals will play out is yet
to be seen. Stromberg needs to work with various groups in the city for his vision to be achieved.
If it is Ashland will be noticeably changed.

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