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Agendas and Minutes

Transportation Commission (View All)

Transportation Commission Meeting

Thursday, May 24, 2012

MAY 24, 2012

Commissioner Ryan called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:  Mike Gardiner, Pam Hammond, Steve Ryan, Colin Swales, Corinne Vičville and David Young
Absent:  Tom Burnham, Shawn Kampmann and Brent Thompson
Council Liaison:  David Chapman
Staff Present:  Mike Faught, Scott Fleury, Jim Olson and Jodi Vizzini
Ex Officio Member:  Brandon Goldman and Officer Steve MacLennan
Commissioners Gardiner/Young m/s to approve the March 22, 2012 minutes.  Voice vote:  all AYES.  Minutes approved as presented.
(Commissioner Swales abstained)
The first action item, Training by City Recorder, was canceled and will be added to a future meeting agenda.
Honorč Depew/ 63 California St./Introduced himself as the newly appointed Southern Oregon University Student Liaison to the Transportation Commission and shared he will be attending the monthly meetings and report back to his fellow students on issues affecting them and hopefully be a voice for students in the Commission.
The Commission welcomed him and encouraged his input.
Commissioner Swales requested that packet information be provided in HTML or OCR format instead of PDF.  Commissioner Vičville added she is not able to read PDF format with her document reader.  Staff affirmed they will follow-up with the City Recorder on alternate scanning options available within the City.
Election of Officers
Mike Faught directed attention to the new language of Municipal Code 2.10.050, Election of Officers, Secretary, and Subcommittees and recommended the Commission elect the new chair and vice chair in April, as was done the previous year;  and then elect a new chair and vice chair in December, transitioning at the first meeting of the following year.  (The Transportation Commission did not meet in April, so the election of officers took place at this meeting.)
Commissioners Vičville/Young m/s to elect Commissioner Corinne Vičville as vice chair. Voice vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed 6 –0.
Commissioners Swales/Gardiner m/s to elect Commissioner David Young as chair.  Voice vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed 6 – 0.
Newly elected Chair David Young took a moment to recognize Commissioner Ryan for an enviable job as the Transportation Commission chair, as well as chairing the joint Planning/Transportation Commission meetings and thanked him for his service.  Commissioner Ryan stated the position had been one of the most interesting learning and professional development experiences, and he thanked everyone for the valuable opportunity. 
Commissioner Attendance Policy  
Mr. Faught referred to Municipal Code 2.10.025, Meetings and Attendance.  He stressed the need for Commissioners to specifically notify the chair and staff prior to meetings in the event of an absence and the importance of attending meetings which are quorum/decision driven.  He acknowledged the heavy volume of joint Planning/Transportation Commission meetings as Commissioners continue to work on the Transportation System Plan.  He addressed the 2/3 minimum attendance rule and opened discussion on the criteria for an excused absence.
Commissioner’s comments included:

  • The chair requested that staff keep track of absences on a spreadsheet and forward to him for review in January and July
  • A comment was made that meetings are random, making it difficult to plan ahead
  • Commissioners agreed the time frame for absences needs to be reworked, i.e. Jan – June / July – Dec; should be any combination of a six month period, not just these specific six month periods
  • Comment was made that dismissal due to vacation seems ludicrous and suggested the ability to attend meetings electronically/teleconference when possible (i.e. temporarily out of the area, on vacation)
  • Commissioners felt the current system is problematic
  • A suggestion was made to track absences on a yearly basis, much like sick leave; allotting a certain amount of absences up to the 2/3 minimum of all scheduled meetings
  • Commissioners would like to be recognized for attending other meetings pertaining to the Transportation Commission, i.e. Road Diet, Open Houses, Council presentations, and Planning Commission meetings as the Transportation Commission liaison
  • Defining what is excused or unexcused could be a slippery slope as individuals places their sense of value on what is important in their personal lives

Mr. Faught stated he understands the Commission is impacted by the onerous rules, realizing they are volunteering their time.  He requested feedback on the attendance ordinance, which he planned to take to Council.
Commissioner Young requested this topic be placed on the next agenda.  He suggested the Commission come prepared for a focused discussion.
Unifed Land Use Code
Staff Report
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman provided an introduction to the Unified Land Use Code project.  He explained the Ashland Land Use Ordinance (ALUO) was originally adopted in 1964 and has been amended a myriad of times throughout the years, including 12 separate amendments in the last four years, causing a result of inconsistencies, repetitive clauses and confusion.
Mr. Goldman explained the City is embarking on a 12 month process to take all of the codes and reformat them into a Unified Land Use Ordinance.  He provided a sample outline of the statewide model code for reference.  He explained the overall intention is to streamline information into a centralized location, consolidate tables, be consistent with the state, and develop a final document that will be easier to digest. He added it is not intended to make a major policy shift, but instead will be doing some minor housekeeping.
Mr. Goldman explained there will be a public involvement process which will include Planning Commission Study Sessions, Advisory Commission updates, and online Open City Hall forum.
Questions of Staff
Commissioner Swales asked if the end result will be more of a forms based code with graphics as was intended in a previous recommendation.  He requested information where he might find a model to look at as an example.
Mr. Goldman stated the organization structure will be modified and Planning will be using the Statewide Model Code as the model for the project.
Drive-up Uses:
Type III PLANNING ACTION: #2012-00265
APPLICANT:  Ashland Food Cooperative
LOCATION(S):  C-1- & C-1-D-zoned portions of Ashland's "Historic Interest Area"
REQUEST:  A proposal to amend the Ashland Municipal Code (AMC 18.32.035.E) as it relates to drive-up uses in Commercial districts. Drive-up uses are currently a special permitted use in the C-1 zoning district, but only in the area east of a line drawn perpendicular to Ashland Street at the intersection of Ashland Street and Siskiyou Boulevard.  Drive-up uses are currently explicitly prohibited in the Historic Interest Area as defined in the Comprehensive Plan. The proposed legislative amendment is to provide exception language which would apply only to existing drive-up uses within the Historic Interest Area and would allow them to relocate to a new site elsewhere within the Historic Interest Area provided that they are located predominantly underground or otherwise screened from view from the public right-of-way.
Staff Report
Senior Planner Brandon Goldman introduced the planning action as a land use application which is a legislative amendment to the code previously referenced and would set forth standards that would be applied to drive-up uses within the historic district.  He explained the current code limits 12 drive-up uses within the city of which four are financial institutions located within the historic district.  The businesses that would be impacted by the proposal of the applicant and subsequently subject to new requirements if approved by Council are:  Wells Fargo Bank (67 E Main), U.S. Bank (30 N Second), Chase Bank (243 E Main) and Umpqua Bank (250 N Pioneer).
Mr. Goldman explained the Planning Commission reviewed the land use application at the pre-application stage prior to drafting the code, and reviewed the project at the May 8, 2012 meeting and felt it would be beneficial to hear input from the Transportation Commission before making a formal recommendation to Council on June 12, 2012.  
Mr. Goldman stated issues that came up during the staff evaluation of the proposal were identified as areas staff would make recommendations in terms of modification and were located on page 9 of 9 in the staff report section of the application.  He noted in particular, criteria specifically related to transportation read:
That driveways serving relocated drive-up uses may not enter from or exit to a higher order street frontage or through a primary elevation of the building, and that there is to be no placement of driveways or queuing lanes between a building and the right -of-way other than an alley.
He added the proposal intends to change the code so if one of the four institutions were to relocate elsewhere within the historic district they would be able to do so.  Currently there is a prohibition on new drive-ups within the historic district. The code amendment would allow drive-ups when relocating; but would not increase the number allowed.
Questions of Staff
The following questions and comments were issued to staff:

  • The existing policy would hopefully phase out drive-up uses in the downtown area and yet the staff report states more general discouragement of auto-centric uses in order to maintain the downtown historic districts character. Is the policy/staff discouraging auto drive-up uses?
  • Staff stated all buildings would be subject to the historic design standards and staff will look at relocating, not increasing the number of drive-up uses.
  • Commissioner questioned existing and new gas stations under the purview of this proposal. 
  • Staff stated drive-up uses are separate and distinct from automobile fuel sales.
  • What if a fast food restaurant bought one of the downtown area buildings with an existing drive-up?
  • Staff stated they could do so under the existing code, but would have to go through a conditional use permit and site review.
  • Comment was made concerning the language stating the Transportation Commission had previously heard and commented on the application. This is a misstatement as they have heard, but have not deliberated on it.  Suggestion was made to provide information to the Conservation Commission as it pertains to emissions and could affect their mission policy.
  • Staff responded it is not an application for the Ashland Cooperative (Co-op) to expand parking; it is an application for an ordinance change.
  • Commissioners commented the ordinance change is driven with future parking in mind.
  • Staff added it is a separate issue; if this application is approved it does not automatically approve the location of additional parking. Mr. Goldman explained it is a legislative amendment proposed by an applicant and described the process for application approval.
  • Will there always be four downtown drive-up uses?
  • Staff stated four or less. Staff added at six months of non-use, the drive-up use can expire.
  • Questioned zoning of the Co-op and Umpqua Bank.
  • Staff deferred question to the applicant.
  • What is the city policy on encouraging large scale surface parking in this type of zone? 
  • Staff explained parking requirements are based on the use, and to dicourage large expansive lots the city has a cap of 10% of the square footage of a building which cannot be exceeded.   

Commissioner Hammond left the meeting at 6:54 p.m.
Applicant’s Presentation
Mark Knox, Urban Development Services, Applicant’s Representative addressed the commission.  He stated in general the goal is not to increase the number of drive-ups uses, but to look at a variety of comprehensive plan policies.  The goal would be to identify a system and include language that would allow and encourage redeveloping of the existing drive-up properties.  He encouraged questions and feedback from the Transportation Commission.
Richard Katz, General Manager of Ashland Food Cooperative addressed the Commission.  Mr. Katz stated the Co-op moved to the location 20 years ago and described it as a mostly residential area at that time. The business has tripled in the last 10 years causing the need to expand and accommodate parking issues to meet the needs of the Co-op’s patrons.  He added half of the citizens of Ashland are not only shoppers, but are owners of the Co-op. He acknowledged the concern of emissions that are caused by patrons idling and driving around looking for a place to park.  He shared his vision of how the Co-op would utilize the Umpqua Bank property if they were able to occupy the space.
Questions of Applicant

  • Is the goal for redevelopment of the existing drive-up businesses driven by the need, aesthetically, to conform architecturally to the character of downtown, i.e. redeveloping as banks, but with a different look?
  • Applicant stated the goal was to accomplish all the existing codes in place, including discouragement of auto-centric uses.
  • Would a change to the ordinance affect existing drive-up businesses retroactively or only if redeveloped?
  • Applicant and staff stated only if redeveloped.        

Rebuttal by the Applicant
Mark Knox/Clarified and emphasized the conclusions and recommendations of the Planning Commission as illustrated on page 8 and 9 of the packet provided.
Deliberations and Decision
Commissioner Young felt it was onerous for the commission to make thoughtful suggestions or decisions without the benefit of the Planning Commission’s ideas prior to the meeting. Commissioner Swales stated the purview of the Transportation Commission was to focus on the transportation system plan and the multi-modal future and encouraged the Co-op and Planning Commission to look at creative options that would support the mission.
Commissioner Young asked the commissioners to express their position on the ordinance change as being net negative, net neutral or net positive.  Commission Swales, negative; Commissioner Ryan, negative; Commissioner Gardiner, neutral; Commissioner Vičville, in between neutral and negative; and Commissioner Young, neutral, slightly positive. (Commissioner Vičville withdrew her comment prior to the end of the meeting.)
SOU Student Liaison, Honorč Depew commented on the vague language of the amendments to the ordinance which could potentially provide loopholes and cause potential abuse.
Commissioner Young summarized the majority of the Commission as leaning negative to neutral.  He added Mr. Depew’s comment was neutral, although he is not a voting member but wanted to acknowledge his comment.
Mr. Goldman stated the events of the meeting will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and added if the commissioners had any further comments specifically related to the suggested criteria for approval, they should submit them prior to June 12, 2012.
Request Four-Way Stop Sign at 8th & B Street
Scott Fleury, Engineering Services Manager, reported that staff received a request for a four-way stop at 8th and B Streets prompting a site review of the intersection.  He provided data on site distances, motor vehicle crash summary and 2006 Average Daily Total (ADT) counts and determined the results of these studies did not warrant stop signs at this time, but acknowledged the site issues were problematic.  Mr. Fleury recommended an updated classification study and traffic count of this intersection.
Mr. Depew questioned if the placement of the existing stop signs could be relocated to improve site distance.  Mr. Fleury explained the stop signs and stop bar are placed in the correct locations, yet site issues remain.
Commissioners Gardiner/Ryan m/s to direct staff to update the traffic study for the intersection of 8th & B Streets.  Voice vote:  all AYES. Motion passed 6 – 0.
Commissioner Ryan stated he has received many complaints from neighbors about issues at this intersection.  Commissioner Swales stated he lives on 8th Street and stressed both of these streets are designated as bicycle boulevards and was not sure how this will affect the future of this intersection in terms of bicycle access. He added it is a busy street due to the various businesses and parking yards for City equipment.
N. Main/Hersey/Wimer Intersection Re-alignment Update
Jim Olson gave an update of the project which was presented to Council in an executive session in April.  Council did not like the idea of developing the entire lot at 430 N. Main for a public parking lot.  Instead, only half of the lot will be developed, which will reduce the cost considerably.  Updates included:

  • Four parking spaces (only)
  • Paved access from existing driveway (Lori Lane) for the sole access of Colwell Chiropractic Clinic
  • Changes were made in the plans
  • Submitted project to bid
  • Bid opening will take place on June 7, 2012
  • Expect to go to Council on June 29, 2012 with award of contract

Mr. Olson added the award will be dependent on the completion of the right-of-way access.  If the right of way is not in hand at the time, the project will be delayed. 
Commissioner Swales asked if the Road Diet will be delayed or if it will continue as planned.  Mr. Olson replied that Council did not want to delay the Road Diet and will stay on schedule for August 24, 2012.
Traffic Crash Summary
No discussion was held.
Action Summary
Commissioner Swales requested “parking on both sides of Granite St.” as an action item on an upcoming agenda. 
Commissioner Young asked for a report on the progress of restriping the Plaza.  Mr. Olson reported the process requires the use of an environmentally sensitive machine that has been unavailable, as well as the impact of the fire in the Plaza which has delayed this process.  Staff will look at proceeding with the project in August, 2012.
TC Budget Balance
No discussion was held.
Commission Appointments
Informational item only. No discussion was held.
Traffic Safety Connection (April)
Informational item only. No discussion was held.
The Traffic Calmer
Informational item only. No discussion was held.
Normal Avenue Neighborhood Plan Update
No discussion was held.
Velo Grant Update
Commissioner Ryan and Jodi Vizzini gave an update on the bicycle helmets that were ordered using funds provided by a Siskiyou Velo grant award.  Commissioner Ryan reported he had been in contact with Ashland School District office and will organize the delivery of helmets to the four designated schools utilizing school district staff, City staff or other volunteers.  Commissioners offered to help deliver the helmets if needed.
Prior to the conclusion of the meeting Commissioner Vičville withdrew her neutral-negative position of the Drive-up Uses ordinance change, and changed it to an abstention as she had not read the packet due to technical difficulties with her document reader and the City’s PDF format.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Jodi Vizzini, Public Works Assistant

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