Results are in: Ashland good place to live — if you can afford it

Some 58 percent of people surveyed in Ashland believe affordable housing is the chief concern for the city.


The results of the city’s bi-annual survey will be formally released to the Ashland City Council at its regular business meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 1175 E. Main St. The survey of some 1,500 people had about 500 respondents and the great majority listed affordable housing as the chief concern; next was policing and safety.


Those surveyed also agreed City Hall needs some kind of renovation to make it earthquake safe. Should there be an earthquake, the masonry building is expected to collapse. City officials have been looking at a variety of plans which include everything from retrofitting to re-building.


The survey also looked at livability and community activities. It says Ashland ranks similarly to other communities of its size. It’s conclusion was a mixed rating.


“Generally, Ashland is similar to the benchmark comparison of university communities with a population between 10,000 and 40,000," the report says. "However, Ashland ranked much lower than the benchmark for the availability of affordable quality housing and ranked much higher than the benchmark of residents who walk or biked instead of drive.”


The report said that, while the city is a good place to visit and enjoyable, it’s hard to be a resident due to key economic factors. “Respondents positively rated Ashland as a place to live and the overall appearance were both higher than benchmark ratings. The cost of living and employment opportunities in Ashland were both lower than the comparisons cities.”


The full report will be presented to the council on Tuesday. Also on the agenda is a discussion about the upcoming budgeting process and approval of a contract with Gordon Huether, the artist selected for the Theater Corridor project.


Study session Monday night


The Ashland City Council will also be discussing how to fill a vacant seat at their table.


At its study session on Monday, councilors will discuss in greater detail the process of considering applicants to council position No. 6. The seat, vacated by Pam Marsh who was elected state representative in November, is expected to be filled by council vote on Feb. 21.


There are currently 13 applicants for the position. One, Dave Young, removed himself from consideration, stating that given the number of qualified female applicants he felt it would be better to withdraw and allow the process to move forward in the favor of a qualified woman to give the council better gender balance. The previous council had three female councilors; the current council, after Marsh's departure and Carol Voisin's failure to win election as mayor, has one.


Ten of the applicants are women.


All applicants to council will be interviewed by sitting council members and a ballot will be cast on Feb. 21 to determine who has the most votes. The city attorney advised council the original plan of an executive session to narrow down the list would violate open meeting laws, so the process of voting will be in a public forum.


The study session starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Siskiyou Room of the Community Development Building at 51 Winburn Way.


— Email Ashland freelance writer Julie Akins at julieanneakins@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/@julieakins.

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