City Council setting goals for 2023-24
Last updated 3/1/2023 at Noon
Sisters would pay closer attention to housing and aligning its development code with its comprehensive plan under new goals proposed for 2023-24.
The Sisters City Council is entering the new year by setting goals for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Every year, the Council gathers for a public meeting to discuss goals proposed by the staff, and to amend any existing goals or change the language of goals set forth before them. The Council met for such a session last month.
Mayor Michael Preedin led the meeting, reading through each one of the goals within different sections of issues that concern the City overall. New goals proposed by staff were highlighted by the Council. The purpose of last month’s workshop was to delve into the language and the goals themselves; Council will not adopt these goals until late March in an official City Council meeting.
To kick off the discussion, the word “housing” was added to the Livability and Growth section of goals. The staff recommended the addition of housing to the section due to increased houselessness and increased development. With that now included in the section, Council discussed adding the goal of leveraging resources to help Sisters’ houseless community. This goal overall allows for flexibility within programs to help the houseless community.
“What we have been looking for recently in addition to affordable housing is workforce housing… I think it’s appropriate to have both statements in there,” said Council President Andrea Blum.
This potential amended goal will be added, in addition to the continuation of pursuing resources for partnerships for development for workforce housing.
In addition, the new goal proposed by staff to the section involved “prioritizing amendments to the Sisters Development Code to bring it into conformance with the Sisters Comprehensive Plan and develop a process to monitor the effectiveness of code amendments.”
“The theory behind a comprehensive plan is that your development code is the implementing document for your vision,” said Scott Woodford, community development director.
This type of goal does not mean a complete rewrite of the Development Code; it includes prioritizing potential amendments to the code and different state and federal laws they must abide by as things evolve and change.
“In the meantime, we could do some sort of audit of our existing code, and choose the highest priority areas,” said Woodford, when discussing what this goal would look like in action.
Councilors suggested their own additions, including a goal of prioritizing dark-sky codes and updating the language in the ordinance for all development in Sisters.
In addition, councilors discussed adding a goal of conducting a study or report on options for managing short-term rentals in Sisters. The potential goal would look at having a study conducted to collect data on short-term rentals and second homes, to see what we have in Sisters as well as what other policies around the state have been put in place surrounding short-term rentals. The goal would involve evaluating the current code to determine what modifications need to be made to mitigate the effects of short-term rentals and second homes in the community.
Within the Wildfire Mitigation section, there were discussions on working toward adopting defensible space requirements and structural-hardening modifications within the city code, and continuing work with partners on wildfire home and city hardening.
The Economic Development section features a potential goal that includes exploring project concepts for a multipurpose covered recreational facility that supports both residents and visitors at the future park adjacent to the Sisters Woodlands development. The goal of continuing partnership with EDCO (Economic Development for Central Oregon) to support traded sector economic development was supported by Council, with the addition of including the assistance with childcare and workforce housing in partnership with EDCO.
Under Essential Infrastructure, Council wants to continue the goal to create a funding strategy for design and construction of the Water and Wastewater and Capital Improvement Plans. The process is being worked through by City staff. An added goal may include constructing an emergency preparedness project, including backup generators at wells, which will be followed through by City staff.
Under Good Governance, Council discussed setting a goal of implementing a community outreach plan as well as updating utility rates and system development charges.
Staff is continuing to develop an environmental sustainability plan for City operations and will begin implementation of the plan. An added goal was the design of the East Portal Mobility Hub, based off the approved final concept plan.
The hub project is moving forward, with design and then construction in 2024-25. An additional goal proposed by Council involved charging stations for electric vehicles being readily available in Sisters Country. There will be charging stations available in the East Portal Mobility Hub as well. Councilors brought up the point that the City should be able to Advocate for having a charging unit station in our community. They set a goal to discuss alternative energy and what that looks like for Sisters Country in regard to cost and electricity pull, information that will come from data studies and from the State.
Under Urban Renewal Agency goals, two of the remained the same from 2022-23, with the addition of completing the design and initiating construction of the Westside Pump Station, which is all development related and includes a new pressure main that will run across the highway, down Pine Street and into Jefferson Avenue. The last addition was to allocate the remaining Highway 20/Locust roundabout funds for a future landscaping project. Council was excited about discussing the addition of local art created for the middle of the new roundabout.