City of Highland Park Committee of the Whole met Oct. 15.
Here is the agenda provided by the committee:
CALL TO ORDER
At 4:31 PM, Mayor Rotering called the meeting to order and asked for a roll call.
Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman
Members Absent: None
Mayor Rotering declared a quorum was present.
Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Rob Sabo, Emily Taub
Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A. Regular Meeting of the Committee of the Whole – September 23, 2019
Councilman Kaufman moved to approve the minutes from the regular meeting of the
Committee of the Whole held on September 23, 2019. Councilwoman Stone seconded the motion.
On a voice vote:
Voting Yea: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Knobel, Holleman
Voting Nay: None
Present: Councilman Blumberg
Mayor Rotering declared the motion passed.
Councilman Blumberg moved the Committee close its meeting to the public, pursuant to the following cited sections of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/2(c)), for the purposes of approval of closed session minutes (5 ILCS 120/2(c)(21)) and pending litigation 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(11)). Councilwoman Stone seconded the motion.
On a roll call vote:
Voting Yea: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman
Voting Nay: None
Mayor Rotering declared the motion passed unanimously.
At 4:33 PM, the Committee recessed the public portion of the meeting to meet in Closed Session.
At 4:42 PM, Mayor Rotering reconvened the open session of the Committee of the Whole Meeting.
Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel, Holleman
Members Absent: None
City Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Larry Amidei, Joel Fontane, Ramesh Kanapareddy, Julie Logan, Rob Sabo, Charmain Later
Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman
Housing Program & Stock Report
Mayor Rotering stated that everyone is concerned about the City of Highland Park’s housing program legacy and supporting affordable housing. She opined on her appreciation of the City having a 50 year old program and being a model for other communities. She made it very clear that over the decades, this community has reasserted the City’s commitment to economic diversity. She explained that 50 years ago, the City committed to affordable housing; nearly 20 years ago, the City created a comprehensive Mater Plan that included prioritizing affordable housing needs and implementation and out of the Master Plan, the Housing Trust Fund was developed. From that 50 year ago concern of the diversity of residents and affordable housing was decreasing, came the Housing Commission. She thanked those that have served on the Housing Commission in the past and those that are currently serving today. She explained that the Housing Trust Fund was created to provide financial resources to address the housing needs of the community. In 2002, the Community Land Trust was created and from that came Community Partners for Affordable Housing. She stated that what the Council and City are always tasked with the challenge of balance and how to achieve the goals that have been set forth decades prior with the economics of the present. She stated that in order to move forward, the resources need to be available and that is what tonight’s conversation is about. In 2015, staff was asked to look at the impact of affordable housing on development and how to maintain sustainability of the funds to meet the housing needs of the community. She explained that staff has reviewed the information, it has been discussed during numerous public meetings and there is a State mandate that states a municipality need to strive for. She stated that everyone is supportive of affordable housing.
City Manager Neukirch stated that a comprehensive staff report is available on the City’s website as it relates to discussion points at tonight’s meeting.
Community Development Director Fontane presented an overview of the City’s housing program. He presented an overview of the waitlist process for tenants at Walnut, Ravinia, and Peers.
Mayor Rotering and Community Development Director Fontane discussed waitlist transparency.
Councilman Kaufman asked if Community Development Director Fontane can provide insight as to how the waitlist works because it is not the same as waiting in a line at the store.
Community Development Director Fontane provided information as to how individuals and families can be added to the waitlist and explained that the waitlist information is available to staff but it is not a public document. Applicants would need to call and request information from the management firms about where they are on the waitlist. He explained that the City could explore an online system for applicants to check their position on the waitlist. He explained that turnover in the buildings has been slow as people want to stay in the housing. He provided an overview of how the waitlist works.
Councilman Holleman explained that the frustrations that have been heard have been related to getting responses to inquiries regarding waitlist statuses. She opined on the opportunity to modernize the process.
Councilman Knobel asked if the City is collecting information on the unit types applicants are seeking.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that unit type preferences and local preferences work into the waitlist process.
Councilmen Knobel and Stolberg discussed how to use data from the waitlist to assist individuals who need help with housing through communicating with the development community about the types of units needed.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that the market will generally dictate the types of units needed. He stated that municipalities haven’t dictated the sizes of units needed within a development and instead leaves it to the market to determine the appropriate housing mix.
Councilman Kaufman noted that the matrix provided stated that local preference was removed from Ravinia and asked if staff was able to conclude what the rationale was for that information to be removed.
Community Development Director Fontane stated that more research can be conducted.
Councilman Knobel explained that the City may find that the City’s needs are different than the market and the City needs better information to provide to developers who either develop single family or multifamily homes. She stated that the Housing Trust Fund is not depleted but there are no funds currently being directed to that fund.
Mayor Rotering explained that reports have indicated that the community is lacking three bedroom affordable units.
Councilman Holleman explained that the waitlist data would be useful for the City for policy making decisions and to inform the types of housing that is desired for the community. The City currently is allowing the development community to decide what the City wants. Part of the policy discussion should be whether we want the development community to dictate what is good for the City or if the City should provide data to inform the developer what types of affordable units should be built.
Mayor Rotering stated that if people are waiting too long and falling off, we aren’t meeting the needs of the community.
Community Development Director Fontane explained the Tenant Selection Plans for the City’s units. He explained how Community Partners for Affordable Housing (“CPAH”) and Community land trust works within the City.
Councilman Kaufman recused himself from the conversation as his spouse works for CPAH. Councilwoman Stone recused herself from the conversation as she serves on the Board for CPAH. Councilmen Kaufman and Stone left the meeting room at 5:15 PM.
Community Development Director Fontane provided an overview of the Community Land Trust Model. He explained that CPAH was created to serve as a land trust for Highland Park. He summarized the CPAH governance structure. He explained that there is no specific number of CPAH board members needed to be from Highland Park and provided an overview of the breakdown of the Board structure.
City Manager Neukirch explained that Councilwoman Stone serves on the CPAH Board but her service on the Board was not appointed by the Mayor or City Council.
Councilman Blumberg explained that the City has appointed a CPAH board member in the past and that individual has been allowed to discuss such housing matters without recusing themselves. He felt it would be important to the discussion to have a Councilmember who can participate in this discussion who is appointed to the CPAH Board.
Deputy Corporation Counsel Passman explained the past land trust board bylaws which required three appointments by the Mayor to the land trust Board which requires one Councilmember and one Housing Commission member to be appointed members of the board. The City’s Ethics Guidelines did allow a Councilmember who was appointed by the Mayor to be a board member and continue to participate in discussions pertaining to that Board.
Councilman Blumberg stated that it would be beneficial for both the City and CPAH to allow the City Council to appoint a Councilmember to the CPAH board; in turn, this would allow the Councilmember participate in discussions establishing policy and housing. The appointment will allow for more direct communication between the City and CPAH.
Rob Anthony, President of the CPAH Board, explained that around 2007, the City determined that it wouldn’t be appropriate to appoint a Councilmember to the Board as it is not really a Commission of the City and it isn’t appropriate to appoint someone to a private non-profit Board. However, Mr. Anthony indicated that such an appointment would be welcome.
Councilman Holleman explained that under the current structure, the City doesn’t have oversight of an organization which was originally intended to be overseen by the City. She explained that money given to CPAH is taxpayer money over which the City has no direct control once under CPAH’s control.
Councilman Knobel was in agreement with Councilman Blumberg in that the City should approach CPAH and ask about the appointment of a Councilmember to their Board of Directors. She agreed that there has been the loss of direct control and communication with an organization that was created via the City.
Councilman Stolberg was in agreement as well.
City Manager Neukirch explained that a formal request will be sent to CPAH to allow the City Council to appoint a Councilmember to serve as a City representative on the CPAH Board of Directors.
Community Development Director Fontane discussed the different models of Boards for organizations similar to CPAH.
Councilman Holleman explained that the City doesn’t have a claw back should CPAH were to go under; currently their by-laws state that their assets would be handed over to another organization. Evanston and Lake County have land use restrictions that allow them to have claims to assets if their land trust organizations dissolve. She stated that there should be a stipulation to have funds return to the City should CPAH dissolve to protect taxpayers.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that the land use controls discussed can be evaluated.
Councilman Blumberg asked if the City was providing money to CPAH on an annual basis.
The Committee and Community Development Director Fontane discussed the funding provided by the City to CPAH based on a grant agreement between the Housing Commission and CPAH, with the budget approved by the City Council. It was discussed that funds also are distributed for property acquisitions under the terms and conditions in the grant agreement with the Housing Commission.
Community Development Director Fontane presented program space at Peers and Walnut. He explained that there is an office in Peers for use by CPAH and that an office is used at Walnut for a social service coordinator.
Mayor Rotering inquired if one of the units could be put back on the market to add additional housing.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that the unit in Peers is for a maintenance worker but being used by CPAH under permission by HUD. The City can ask HUD if the unit can be used for housing. He explained that CPAH does have its main offices in Libertyville but does use the unit for office space for Highland Park activities. He stated that having the space available to CPAH was a benefit for the community to see the local presence of the organization.
Councilman Knobel explained that footnote in the staff report indicates that the CPAH office in Peers and the social services coordinator unit in Walnut were intended to be temporary. There was a time when the spaces were needed by CPAH but it is something to look at as a possibility to bring an additional unit back on line.
The Committee discussed looking into converting the maintenance worker unit for an additional unit.
Mr. Anthony explained that people walk into the CPAH office daily with a variety of inquiries. If that space is not available, CPAH may work out of the office in Libertyville unless other space would be available.
The Committee discussed looking into other spaces within the City that could be used by CPAH to make an additional unit available for housing.
Councilman Blumberg expressed appreciation to Community Development Director Fontane and the staff involved for the thorough explanation.
Councilmen Kaufman and Stone returned to the meeting at 5:40 PM.
Councilman Holleman explained that the City Housing Commission holds mortgages on properties and also have the power to levy bonds. If the City has $5MM in mortgage obligations, there is also something to be said to have a financial expert review the financial processes of the Housing Commission.
Finance Director Logan explained that the City and Housing Commission operate as separate financial entities.
City Manager Neukirch explained that the Housing Commission was setup as a separate legal entity with separate financial processes separate from the City’s finance tasks.
Councilman Holleman explained that it would be worth it for the City to review the housing financial processes.
Councilman Kaufman explained that there is comfort in the auditing process of the housing financials. He explained that the $1MM that created the Housing Trust Fund was based on a refinancing of the Peers Building.
Mayor Rotering asked staff to review the financial mechanisms and current financial status of the Housing Commission and Association and provide a report to the City Council.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that the City Council approves the Housing Commission budget and there is oversight from the City Council built into the relationship with the Housing Commission, however, financial decision making with funds is vested with the Housing Commission. He stated that staff will review the financials and report back to the City Council at a later time.
Article 21 Inclusionary Housing Zoning Amendments
Community Development Director Fontane presented a summary of the proposed ordinance amendment which allows partial payment in-lieu with market rate bonuses for inclusionary units provided and payments in lieu for fractional units required. It makes planned unit development market rate unit bonuses by-right and payments in lieu due in direct proportion to the number of units issued permits. The ordinance clarifies calculation of fee waivers, requirements related to amenities for parking and storage, and the proportion of units required to be affordable after bonuses. The ordinance requires that inclusionary rental units be affordable in perpetuity.
Mayor Rotering asked if there should be a multiplier applied to the payment in lieu if the City indicates that larger units are needed but don’t work within a proposed development.
Councilman Blumberg explained that his recollection of discussion with the City Council and with Plan and Design Commission was that the Annual Fee Resolution process was to set minimum and not a set a predetermined amount. There is a required demonstration by a developer that the amount of money they are paying will provide for an equal or greater opportunity for an offsite unit for each payment in lieu of building on site.
Councilman Stolberg explained that the minimum wording is important. He explained that the development community has asked for clarity on what affordable units they need to develop to help allay the perception that Highland Park is difficult to develop in.
Councilwoman Stone asked if there is a way early in the process to trade with the developer to include a three bedroom unit instead of multiple one bedroom units. It would make sense to do so based on a square footage.
Councilman Holleman explained that the fee in lieu is not a one-to-one unit creation rather it’s an investment to leverage the dollars in a more efficient way. The City should make it attractive for developers to build affordable units or donate as both are needed.
Councilman Kaufman explained that for fee-in-lieu, the City could break down for one fee with rental and one fee for ownership opportunities and the City can then revisit annually. That would add clarity for developers to know what they need to develop.
Councilman Knobel explained that developers have explained that they desire predictability from the City so they know what the City wants. She explained that there are supposed to be partnerships and multiple funding sources based on historical information. The City has been asking developers to give us equal value of what has been developed to go into a fund. The City Council should be diligent in setting the fee annually as part of the annual fee resolution review process.
Councilman Blumberg explained that except for the exception of two developments recently, no developers have proposed fee in lieu. He explained that to suggest that a developer is footing 100% of the cost ignores that a developer is being given a density bonus for additional units. He explained that developers are being compensated for complying with the Code. He explained that the amount of money to be paid in payment in lieu should be demonstrable to create more affordable units. There is no better way to bring affordable units online than to have them included in a development. In payment in lieu, funds have to be used to purchase market rate units for use as affordable units.
Mayor Rotering explained that for the sustainability of the Housing Trust Fund, the City needs to understand where the funds are coming from.
Councilman Blumberg explained that payments in lieu that are deposited into the Housing Trust Fund must be used for bringing additional units online.
The Committee discussed the impact on development in Highland Park as it relates to inclusionary housing, the Housing Trust Fund, and the number of units within the City.
Councilman Holleman explained that the Housing Trust Fund provides a different housing stock than what the development market states the community needs, and provides housing for families who desire a home rather than residing in a rental unit within an apartment building.
Councilman Stolberg provided an explanation on the impact of affordable housing and fee-in- lieu on the return on investment for a development. He hopes that developers will take advantage of the density bonus opportunity but at the same time, the market indicates there is a need for single family homes which can’t be made available without the Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund provides diversification of affordable housing units.
Councilman Kaufman commented on the advantages of affordable housing to the workforce residing within the City.
Mayor Rotering requested to review the map of affordable units within the City.
The Committee discussed how the density bonus works for onsite affordable units and fee-in-lieu and the desire for rental and ownership affordable units.
Community Development Director Fontane explained that the proposed ordinance allows for those units built on site to benefit from density bonus and there is no density bonus for payment- in-lieu.
The Committee was in consensus and supportive of the proposed ordinance terms including perpetuity of affordable, rental units, the proposed calculation of fee waivers, the proposed requirements for parking, storage proposed, proportion of units required to be affordable after bonuses, PUD market rate bonuses by-right, payments in lieu due in direct proportion to number of units issued permits, partial payment in lieu and payments in lieu for fractional units required.
Councilman Holleman exited the meeting at 6:27 PM.
Councilman Knobel stated that the policy within Article 21 needs to be updated because it does not represent what the City is doing as of today.
Mayor Rotering requested that Councilmen Knobel and Blumberg review the information and provide a proposal to the Committee.
City Manager Neukirch explained that the matter will return in ordinance form for City Council review for the October 28 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Community Development Director Fontane inquired if there is a request for a minimum payment in lieu that staff should look into.
The Council was in consensus that a minimum should be evaluated.
At 6:30 PM, Mayor Rotering recessed the Committee of the Whole Meeting. At 6:34 PM, Mayor Rotering reconvened the Committee of the Whole Meeting.
Members Present: Mayor Rotering, Councilmen Stolberg, Stone, Kaufman, Blumberg, Knobel
Members Absent: Councilman Holleman
City Staff Present: Ghida Neukirch, Larry Amidei, Joel Fontane, Ramesh Kanapareddy, Lou Jogmen, Julie Logan, Rob Sabo, Stan Olson, Jon Lowman, Kristi McCaulou, Jon O’Connell, Carolyn Hersch, Laura Frey, Hayley Garard, Emily Taub, Laura Fairchild, Lara Lukasik
Also Present: Deputy Corporation Counsel Hart Passman
Budget 2020 Workshop
City Manager Neukirch provided an overview of the proposed FY2020 budget process.
Assistant City Manager Rob Sabo provided an overview of the proposed FY2020 City Manager’s Office (“CMO”) budget. He introduced the CMO staff and divisions, highlighted 2019 accomplishments, 2020 major projects, performance metrics, the CMO budget variances, and sought Council confirmation regarding funding for special events.
The Committee discussed the requested funding increase from Bitter Jester for the Bitter Jester Music Festival and sought Committee direction pertaining to providing funding for a Taste of Highland Park event. Following discussion, the Committee was in consensus to reallocate the total year over year increase included in the budget from Bitter Jester in the amount of $11,820 to provide funding for a Taste of Highland Park event for 2020.
Human Resources Manager Taub provided an overview of the FY2020 proposed training plan.
Fire Chief Amidei provided an overview of the FY2020 Fire Department budget including 2019 accomplishments, 2020 major projects, performance metrics, Fire Department budget variances, the apparatus replacement schedule, and sought Committee confirmation on the recommended nursing home business license and impact fee.
City Manager Neukirch explained that the City had presented a proposed service fee for nursing home businesses which was supported by the City Council. After working with Corporation Counsel, the structure of the fee was modified as presented.
Following discussion, there was majority of the Committee in support of the proposed license and impact fee.
Police Chief Jogmen introduced the Police Department representatives present, provided an overview of the Police Department’s 2019 achievements, 2020 major projects, budget variances, and performance metrics.
Finance Director Logan introduced Finance representatives present, provided an overview of the 2019 Finance accomplishments, performance metrics, 2020 major projects, budget variances, and department objectives.
Councilman Stolberg and Finance Director Logan discussed the leasing of the fiber network that was recently installed throughout the City.
There was none.
Councilman Stolberg moved to adjourn. Councilman Kaufman seconded the motion. On a voice vote, the Mayor declared the motion passed unanimously.
The Committee of the Whole adjourned its meeting at 7:30 PM.