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Agendas and Minutes

Transportation Commission (View All)

TC Regular Meeting

Agenda
Thursday, December 15, 2011

 
ASHLAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Minutes
 
Commissioners Present:  Tom Burnham, Steve Ryan (Chair), Colin Swales, Brent Thompson, Corinne Vičville, and David Young
Absent: Shawn Kampmann
Council Liaison:  David Chapman
Staff Present: Mike Faught, Karl Johnson, Jim Olson, and Jodi Vizzini
Ex Officio Members: Brandon Goldman
 
ADJUSTMENTS TO THE AGENDA
Commissioner Burnham suggested moving the Non Action Items before the Action Item while waiting for Commissioners Vičville and Thompson to arrive.
 
NON ACTION ITEMS
Memorial Marker Policy Update
Mr. Olson gave an update on the policy stating it has cleared all hurdles and is scheduled for Council review and approval on January 17, 2012.
 
N. Main/Hersey/Wimer Intersection Re-alignment Update
Mr. Olson stated the project is moving forward. He gave an update of the progress and clarified Commissioner Swales question regarding previous challenges of meeting the City’s requirements for the property at 430 N. Main Street.  Mr. Olson explained this has been resolved as the entire property will be developed as public parking with landscape and water features. Mr. Olson added the negotiations for this project will begin within two weeks. 
 
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 6:08 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street by Chair Ryan immediately following the arrival of Commissioners Vičville and Thompson.  The meeting resumed.
 
Central Ashland Bike Path Lighting Proposal
Mr. Olson gave an update of the tentative cost of the luminaries for the project. He explained that based on a rudimentary estimate, the cost of the project will be approximately $385,000. He stated more information will be gathered before the proposal is presented at the Council’s March study session.
 
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The November minutes were not available.
 
PUBLIC FORUM
None
 
ACTION ITEM
A.  SOU Student Housing Development Review
PLANNING ACTION:  2011-01576
SUBJECT PROPERTIES:  1554 Webster (on the Southern Oregon University campus)
APPLICANT:  American Campus Community Services

DESCRIPTION:  A request for Site Review approval to construct a new single-story dining hall near the Intersection of Wightman and Webster Streets, two new four-story residence halls near the intersection of Webster and Stadium Streets, two parking lots and associated site improvements on the Southern Oregon University campus as 1554 Webster Street.  Also included are requests for Conditional Use Permits approval to allow buildings that exceed the maximum length and vary from the locations identified in the SOU Master Plan and to exceed the 40 foot height allowance in the SO zoning district, and a request for a Tree Removal Permit to remove 18 trees that are 18-inches in diameter-at-breast-height (d.b.h.) or greater.  The application involves the demolition of five residences and their associated assessor structures near the intersection of Webster and Stadium Streets to accommodate the proposed development.  COMPREHENSIVE PLAN DESIGNATION: Southern Oregon University; ZONING: SO; ASSESSOR’S MAP #: 39 1E 10 CD; TAX LOT: 4200
 
Declaration of Ex Parte Contact
Commissioner Young stated his wife is an employee of SOU and added the approval of this project will not produce a financial benefit to his family. Commissioner Swales stated he does not have a conflict with this project, but he is concerned the consulting firm for SOU, Kittelson & Associates, is the same consulting firm representing the Transportation System Plan (TSP).
 
Mr. Goldman explained the reason for checking conflict of interest has to do with City appointed and/or elected officials who could have an actual or potential conflict by final decisions being influenced by personal financial interest. Mike Faught added Kittelson & Associates was not used to review this document as they have for the TSP; they are the agent for SOU on this project.
 
Chair Ryan opened the Public Hearing at 6:17 p.m.
 
Staff Report (Planning)
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman presented the staff report for the planning application. He provided a brief PowerPoint overview of the proposed North Campus Village which included: 1) new dining hall (27,000 sq ft); 2) south and north residence halls (providing approximately 700 beds); and 3) two parking lots. He showed the general locations of the proposed facilities.
 
Mr. Goldman continued his presentation and explained the reason for the Transportation Commission review of the SOU Master Plan is due to the pedestrian connectivity, vehicular routes, and parking which are all transportation related. The SOU proposal includes decommissioning an existing residence hall (Cascade) and relocating a new residence hall on the north side of campus.  He explained the proposed improvements to Wightman/Siskiyou Blvd intersection and other crossing treatments to accommodate the pedestrian shift, and to improve safety. Mr. Goldman provided a visual of Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFB) proposed in the plan. He explained the public hearing for the planning action was opened December 13, 2011 and continued to January 10, 2012 giving the public an opportunity to provide written and/or oral testimony.   Further consideration of staff questions and Transportation Commission recommendations will be included in the final Planning Commission report.  
 
Prior to the Public Works staff report, Chair Ryan reminded the Commissioner’s that the purpose of the meeting was to review and comment on the proposed SOU Housing Development.  Mr. Faught recommended the Commissioner’s review the Conditions of Approval and the sample motion provided:
 
 RECOMMENDED CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL FOR PLANNING ACTION 2011-01576
S. Mountain Avenue/Siskiyou Boulevard
1) Replace Pedestrian Heads with Pedestrian Countdown Heads
2) Provide a 5 second leading pedestrian phase
University Way/Siskiyou Boulevard
Replace flashing beacons with Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons
Garfield Street/Siskiyou Boulevard
Replace flashing beacons with Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons
Avery Street/Siskiyou Boulevard
Replace flashing beacons with Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons
Bridge Street/Siskiyou Boulevard
Replace flashing beacons with Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons
Wightman Street/Indiana Street/Siskiyou Boulevard
1) Replace Pedestrian Heads with Pedestrian Countdown Heads
2) Design and Reconfigure the intersection with single crosswalk as shown conceptually on new Figure 12 (see attached); upgrade existing controller at both Wightman and Hwy 66
3) Install high visibility pavement marking for diagonal crosswalk
Ashland Street/Siskiyou Boulevard
1) Replace Pedestrian Heads with Pedestrian Countdown Heads
2) Provide a 5 second leading pedestrian phase
Stadium Street/Ashland Street
1) Install advance pedestrian signs
2) Install Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (pedestrian activated)
3) Review location of existing crosswalk, and if conditions warrant relocate crosswalk with appropriate pedestrian ways and pedestrian amenities from the new facility
Walker Avenue/Ashland Street
1) Replace Pedestrian Heads with Pedestrian Countdown Heads
2) Provide a 5 second leading pedestrian phase
 
Sample Motion
MOTION: Move to recommend the Ashland Planning Commission include the Transportation Commission’s recommended Transportation Improvements as Conditions of Approval for the proposed SOU Student Housing.
 
Staff Report (Public Works)
Mr. Faught gave an overview of the Public Works staff “Recommended Conditions of Approval for Planning Action 2011-01576.” He systematically went through each condition and explained the staff reasoning for the individual intersections. Mr. Faught displayed the revised Figure 12 map “Recommended Pedestrian Improvements at the Wightman/Indiana Street Intersection” as a visual reference. He explained in detail Karl Johnson’s creative concept in response to Kittelson’s 36 second delay scramble recommendation.
 
Mr. Faught explained the applicant will give an overview of the parking proposal based on the Figure 1 map. He added that Public Works staff is recommending a minimum of 280 parking stalls based on SOU’s statistics of .27 residing students who use public parking.
 
Questions to Staff
Commissioner’s questions/comments were as follows: 1) need more detail and a rationale of the recommended parking stalls; 2) does the State of Oregon have specific parking requirements for athletic events involving large facilities as the proposed plan does not appear to have enough parking for large events; 3) does the plan include a proportionate amount of parking set aside for handicap parking, audible signals, and audible RRFBs; 4) questioned the undersized sidewalks and improved street frontage on the Ashland Street lot; 5) improved pedestrian crossing at Stadium Street; 6) improvements on pedestrian diagonal crossings at Wightman and Ashland Streets; 7) questioned if other ideas on crossing Siskiyou Blvd. are off the table, i.e. tunnel and/or bridge as the Transportation Commission has spent a lot of time and money putting in crosswalks and signals only to have it become antiquated in two to three years; and 8) questioned the change in the municipal code on page six of the executive summary.
 
Staff Response
1) Mr. Johnson replied to the recommended parking stall inquiry by stating he would need to take another look at the numbers supplied by Kittelson, but his conclusion was determined on a gut feeling based on future improvements; 3) Mr. Olson replied audible signals on RRFBs are standard features.
 
Mr. Faught and Mr. Goldman clarified various questions from the Commissioners regarding improvements being evaluated by the Planning Commission, and encouraged the Transportation Commission to submit their recommendations for consideration.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Jonathan Eldridge, Vice President of Student Affairs, gave an overview of the SOU Master Plan which included: 1) vacating 600 beds on the south end of campus with the demolition of Cascade Complex; 2) building a new 702 bed complex on the north end of campus; 3) public transportation; 4) bicycle parking; 5) neighborhood parking; and 6) pedestrian crossings.
 
Questions to Applicant
Commissioner’s questions/comments were as follows: 1) utilize students as monitors for pedestrian crossings; 2) concern of gateway locations being sufficient enough to warn approaching motorists, i.e. Walker / Stadium Streets; 3) design and cost of proposed overhead walkway; 4) safety of the proposed crosswalk at Wightman / Indiana; 5) student crossing patterns; 6) future plan for vacant lot left behind after demolition of Cascade Complex;  7) pedestrian places location, 8) campus parking demands; and 9) commuter students and public transportation.
 
Applicant’s Rebuttal
Mr. Eldridge replied as follows: 1 & 2) the idea is to design a University gateway that will incorporate concrete seat walls and SOU signage which provides awareness to motorists, as well as plazas for pedestrians to load at crossings. In addition SOU and student ambassadors will continue to educate students on pedestrian and bicycle safety as well as public transportation options; 3, 4 & 5) Mr. Eldridge stated the plan will be to work with the City, consultants and consider recommendations from the Commissioners; Susan Wright clarified the proposed Wightman / Indiana crosswalk and the reasoning behind not using an island at this intersection 6) Mr. Eldridge stated the vacant lot will be landscaped in the near future and it is not included in the 10 year Master Plan for academic purposes; 7) Mr. Faught stated the Commissioners can include this in their Condition of Approval; Mr. Eldridge stated SOU will work with the City on the design and location of a functional crosswalk; 8) Susan Wright provided information on existing demands and  potential recommendation for the City’s parking code; and 9) Mr. Eldridge shared SOU is working with RVTD on public transportation for commuters.
 
Applicant’s Presentation
Susan Wright, Kittelson & Associates, provided data on traffic impact analysis, SOU student parking, pedestrian crossing, and pedestrian safety.
 
Questions to Applicant     
Commissioner’s questions/comments included the possibility of a road diet at Siskiyou and Ashland and the pedestrian bridge design and cost.
 
Public Forum
Reese Jones/107 N. Wightman St. /Stated he thinks the scramble crossing needs revisited based on the following: 1) SOU students are not the only pedestrians using this crosswalk; 2) the design will not serve the needs of students traveling from the new development to campus; 3) Oregon state guidelines state clearly to not create multiple legged crossings; 4) design is driven by the length of time motorists will have to wait at intersection; and 5) the goal should be to minimize difficulty for pedestrians to get to destinations.
 
Deliberation and Decision
Chair Ryan read the sample motion provided with the staff recommended Conditions of Approval Move to recommend the Ashland Planning Commission include the Transportation Commission’s recommended Transportation Improvements as Conditions of Approval for the proposed SOU Student Housing. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Swales recommended a robust Transportation Demand Management (TDM) to be included in the recommendations. Commissioner Burnham asked for clarification of on-street parking. Commissioners Young/Burnham stressed concern of the short time frame allowed to make important community decisions and felt more time was needed. Mr. Goldman stated that according to the land use process the City is required to make a decision within 120 days after an applicant submits their application. Commissioner Thompson suggested if Commissioners have individual concerns they can attend the Planning Commission meeting on January 10, 2012 and share input.
 
Commissioners Thompson/Swales m/s to endorse staff’s recommendation of the Conditions of Approval for Planning Action 2011-01576. Commissioner Swales/Vičville m/s with an amendment to recommend the Planning Commission enforce the TDM outlined in the overall SOU Campus Master Plan; and the pedestrian amenities on the Ashland Street SOU Campus frontage be brought up to current City standards. DISCUSSION: Commissioner Swales clarified the TDM needs to be more robust and referred to a statement from RVTD. Commissioners discussed the need for wider sidewalks on the Ashland Street frontage. Commissioner Swales added there will be a lot of pedestrian traffic generated from this project and he would like to see the pedestrian amenities brought up to standard now, and not sometime in the future as this may never happen.  Commissioner Vičville agreed with now rather than later. Voice Vote: Commissioners Ryan, Thompson, Swales, Young, and Vičville, YES; Commissioner Burnham, NO. Motion passed 5-1.
 
Commissioners Vievelle/Young m/s to amend motion to include audible crosswalk signals to newly installed crosswalk lights indicated in the SOU Campus Master Plan. Voice Vote: Commissioners Ryan, Thompson, Swales, Young, and Vičville, YES; Commissioner Burnham, NO.  Motion passed 5-1.
 
Commissioner Burnham agreed the Commissioners should push things along, yet he feels useless on the Transportation Commission and stated they are not doing what they were commissioned to do.  He feels more time is needed to make decisions. Commissioner Young stated he feels insulted by the statement that they are wasting everyone’s time by deliberating. He feels the Commissioners will regret not taking the opportunity to do it right. Commissioner Vičville agreed this process was not fair and she was confused on some of the issues, but felt it was better to do something instead of nothing. Chair Ryan reminded the Commissioners they were recommending to add the Conditions of Approval and amendments, not voting to endorse the entire project. Commissioner Thompson added the Commission was making a recommendation for the conditions to be included at the Planning Commission level. Mr. Faught added the Commissioners could opt to continue the public hearing by scheduling another meeting prior to January 10, 2012. He stated the staff feels comfortable with the recommendations. Commissioner Swales added he attended the December 13, Planning Commission meeting and spoke as a citizen. He agrees with Commissioner Thompson that voting does not limit their ability as individual citizens to put forward ideas to staff and the Planning Commission. 
 
Chair  Ryan called for a final vote to endorse staff’s recommendation of the Conditions of Approval for Planning Action 2011-01576 with amendments to recommend the Planning Commission enforce the TDM outlined in the overall SOU Campus Master Plan; and the pedestrian amenities on the Ashland Street SOU Campus frontage be brought up to current City standards; and to include audible crosswalk signals to newly installed crosswalk lights indicated in the SOU Campus Master Plan. Voice Vote:  Commissioner Ryan, Thompson, Swales, and Vičville, YES; Commissioner Burnham and Young, NO. Motion passed 4-2.
 
Commissioner Burnham added the Transportation Commission learned about the expansions and plans months ago, but did not receive the packet of information until days prior to this meeting. He stated he is not happy with the process and feels this demeans the Commission. Commissioner Thompson replied the primary function of the Transportation Commission is the Master Plan and to not lose sight of the main mission.
 
Commissioner Swales asked Mr. Goldman to clarify Type III Planning Action and if this needs to be approved by the City Council.  Mr. Goldman explained this is a site review (Type II Commercial), not a Type III Planning Action.  The Planning Commission’s review on January 10, 2012 will be the decision of the City unless appealed.
 
ADJOURNMENT
Meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
 
Respectfully submitted,
Jodi Vizzini, Office Assistant II

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