ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE MINUTES
July 2, 2014
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. in Pioneer Hall, 73 Winburn Way
Regular members present:
Pam Hammond, Michael Dawkins, Rich Kaplan, Dave Young, Craig Anderson, John Williams (arrived at 3:40), Emile Amarotico, Joe Collonge, Cynthia Rider and John Fields
Regular members absent:
Lisa Beam, Marie Donovan, and Liz Murphy
Ex officio (non-voting) members present:
Mike Gardiner, Bill Molnar, Mike Faught, and Lee Tuneberg
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent:
Sandra Slattery, Katharine Flanagan, Dennis Slattery and Rich Rosenthal
City of Ashland Staff members present:
Tami De Mille-Campos and Kristi Blackman
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of June 4, 2014 Ė It was clarified that Colin Swales (public forum) discussed the idea of ďremovingĒ the couplet.
Minutes were approved as corrected.
Edem Gomez (TDM Planner, Rogue Valley Transportation District) wanted to introduce himself to the group and passed out a few business cards.
Colin Swales, 95 Coolidge Street
Colin spoke to the delivery truck issues in the downtown area. He stated part of the issue is them double parking in the morning, reducing traffic down to a single lane. He doesnít see the single lane as being the problem because he believes a single lane is sufficient at carrying the traffic through. One of the things he sees as the problem is when the trucks park just before the crosswalk that crosses East Main Street at Water and cause vision clearance issues. He said he went into the Police contact station and spoke to them about the issue and was basically told the delivery trucks can park just about anywhere they want to. He asks the committee to keep this in mind as they address the delivery truck issue. The next thing he spoke to was the idea of removing the traffic signals in the downtown. He referenced the success of Redwood City which removed all of the traffic signals in their downtown and it operated just as efficiently without the signals. He said he has seen this happen in our own downtown when there have been power outages and he finds that during those times there is a lot more courtesy, care and awareness shown by drivers. He would like the committee to keep this in mind, even as a trial.
REVIEW OF CPW INTERIM REPORT
Mike Faught stated that he thinks the CPW team did a very good job with the report. There are a few minor tweaks he would send to them but overall he thinks that it summarizes where we started and where we are at this point. He stepped through some of the highlights of the document. Mike pointed out he thinks this is some really good foundational data as they begin to come up with policies/solutions. Bill added that he thought they did a great job in terms of outlining the sequence of events that have occurred to date. He thinks one thing that CPW took away from the committee early on was the focus on low cost/short term solutions, specifically in the areas of wayfinding and information. Bill pointed out he thinks we need to be careful of the use of some terminology when they talk about downtown versus downtown core, versus downtown study area. Mike said he thinks there are inconsistencies within the report that they need to sit down with the consultant and address before a final report. Mike asked the committee for their feedback on the report.
Chair Young stated the committee has a lot of work to do and that the consultant wants them to move toward the difficult decisions. He stated he does feel the entire report clarified pretty well the distinction between the downtown core etc.
Joe mentioned that he was looking over all of the charts and the area nearby where he lives in (3rd
Street & A/B) was always busy but they said closer to the railroad district it is denser. That is only a block long and is within the railroad district so he doesnít understand what they think the railroad district is.
Craig added that he thinks the terminology that is used is important. The term concern is used when referring to pricing but yet there is no data that indicates that pricing will have a negative effect. The term suspicion is used when referring to employee parking. He thinks the issue is also be confused by segregating customer parking into time regulated parking versus non time regulated parking when most of the spaces downtown are non time regulated. Therefore the term suspicion would indicate that we donít have the data to support that but yet there are data and findings to state that is a problem. He stated it is a real fact that employees are using spaces that would otherwise be used by customers. He thinks dealing with the issue in a meaningful way is important. He also added that while he appreciated the guiding principles exercise that was done at the June meeting, he feels like the context for the consultants and the whole study is really the Transportation System Plan (TSP). He feels the guiding principles should be subservient to the TSP and not the other way around.
Cynthia agreed that the parking issue is not just during peak season. She noted that she feels like the previous surveys havenít been focused or pertain to OSF patrons. She said they would be more than happy to help with a survey directed more towards the OSF patrons. Young added there is going to be an OSF survey at some point in time. She also wanted to remind the committee to remember those with mobility issues (handicap parking, safe drop off areas etc.).
John Williams echoed what Cynthia said regarding the peak season. He pointed out he would really like to know the cost of some of these options so they can put everything in perspective when making recommendations.
Rich Kaplan wasnít quite sure what to expect with the report but was pleasantly surprised and felt it was very comprehensive. He pointed out there are some anomalies in how we handle parking here. During OSFís off season the lot that is normally 4 hours at Pioneer/Lithia is unlimited. Without any data, his sense is a lot more employees park there. He noted he is not suggesting this but one could look at eliminating that and creating more turnover. He brought up the ďzonedĒ parking (parking in one area and moving up the block or across the street). He pointed out that making it more known may also increase turnover.
Mike noted if anybody didnít get a chance to speak regarding the report they could email staff with their feedback, questions etc.
HIGH LEVEL POLICY DISCUSSION
John Williams thinks we should leave that in the mix as a discussion item because it is too early to remove it.
Michael stated pricing tends to be his number 1 priority so he is in favor of moving it to the short term.
Pam thinks it would be a good idea to implement the low hanging fruit; things that donít cost a lot, are easy to implement. Then if that doesnít work come back. She stated it may be something that needs to be done but they could come back a few years down the road, which would allow time to see how much paid parking would cost to install. Pam asked whether the parking tickets generate revenue. Lee Tuneberg stated the parking ticket revenue is pretty much flat; it is enough to cover the Diamond Parking contract but not much more. He also stated the Hargadine parking structure generates enough to pay for its debt service and maintenance and there is also a surcharge that goes into the general fund to cover parking studies and parking improvements.
Michael commented there is always this misconception, growing up Ashland had parking meters. He said Aspen went through this process in the mid nineties and discussed a lot of these same issues. He said they have an incredible bus system and they still have a huge problem with employee parking. They started out with the low hanging fruit solutions and finally put in the parking meters. During the time he was there he said you could really see the turnover that was happening by instituting this.
John Fields remarked we havenít had any discussion/debate regarding pricing so if the committee wants to include it then they need to spend some time. Back when the City had metered parking he felt and still feels that it is a small town, open thing to not have meters, just to be able to pull up and park. He comes to downtown 3-4 times a day and to have to deal with a parking meter to park for 10 minutes is a hassle. He also mentioned the hassle of getting a parking ticket when you park in an area, leave and come back but receive a citation for parking within the same block. He feels that making it more difficult to park and having more of a regulatory approach is a negative.
Pam added that after reading the interim report she was confused and she noted she gets all this stuff as she was on the Transportation Commission and was involved with the Transportation System Plan and she doesnít want to do anything that is so complicated that nobody will ever get it. She also pointed out that for anyone who has been here since before the food and beverage tax came into affect they know how public opinion can poison something. She added we donít want that, we should be able to roll it out in a way that is comfortable for the citizens and visitors. She hopes that the committee is careful with whatever they do.
Cynthia said if the consultants were saying that pricing was the most effective way to succeed then she would say yes look at pricing but it appears to her that they do think there are other things they could do that are just as effective. If that is true then she feels we should try those things and save pricing until afterwards unless someone is telling them that pricing is inevitable but she doesnít think that is being said. She would agree with Pam to keep it on the list but do the other things first.
Emile questioned what the difference is in what we are doing now with enforcement (timed parking) versus metered parking which would still involve enforcement. He wonders what the benefit is to the paid parking, other than revenue. Chair Young answered increased turnover is the benefit. Bill also added the increased revenue is another benefit which could be put towards other parking management programs (Travel Demand Management, employee incentives, leasing private parking areas, planting street trees, multi-modal etc.).
John Williams sharedhe had read an outside study that said an 85% occupancy rate is the sweet spot from the industry standpoint as far as the ideal occupancy demands to optimize retail and have enough space for people to reasonably find a space. The study was also arguing for using smart parking meters to manage it.
Rich Kaplan stated he thinks you also have to be careful of unintended consequences. So if people decide they donít want to pay for parking they are going to start moving to the nearby residential areas. He thinks there are a lot of implications with pricing, in terms of peopleís behavior.
Joe/Pam m/s to direct the consultants to defer pricing until a time when the more easily achievable policies do not work.
Discussion: Emile isnít comfortable with removing pricing from the list completely because he doesnít feel like there has been enough discussion regarding the other items and sensed whether everyone feels the low hanging fruit is going to do the job. John Williams doesnít think he can even make a decision without having more information. Michael said he is where Emile is on this. He said people tend to park closest to their destination and then move out from there and even though the low hanging fruit seems nice he isnít sure they will make a huge amount of difference. He doesnít want them to be taken off the table and he thinks there worth trying but we should keep this in mind. Rich is in favor of keeping this as an option because he thinks it is inevitable but there are many things they could look at in terms of how the current parking strategy is implemented. Chair Young said he supports the motion because he feels there is a lot to be done and it isnít in anyway excluding pricing later on. He said in over 20 years nothing has been done. In the spirit of moving towards something he would support the motion.
9 yes; 1 no. Motion passes.
Some of the committee members feel Regulation and Incentives go hand-in-hand. Emile stated he knows his employees park all over the railroad district and there is no incentive or regulation in those areas. He said he talked to the people at Ashland Christian Fellowship who said his employees could park there but his employees do not park there. He pointed out there isnít anything to move them in that direction until they regulate and tell them where they can park.
John Fields sees the financial cost of the supply issue and the trolley and is willing to remove that from the list. John Williams would be interested in seeing relative cost of things. Chair Young added if they look at the Trolley idea as the City has to buy the trolley then it looks expensive but who says the burden is only on the City, there are a lot of stakeholders that benefit and may be willing to share the expense. John Fields said if youíve looked at how the Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTD) 15 minute service and the look of their systems established and working what it cost to make that happen on a small town that is seasonal he just doesnít see how you can make that work. He added that it hardly works in Portland which is highly leveraged with a large megalopolis supporting it. Chair Young pointed out that may be true but there are indirect benefits.
Michael mentioned he remembered when they were going through the Transportation System Plan (TSP) process that the Hargadine parking structure was engineered to add an additional level or two to it. A few other committee members remembered the same.
Chair Young added the single most frequent suggestion is the shuttle/trolley. Michael pointed out when they worked on it during the TSP process they spent quite a bit of time working on it and they came up with some scenarios that are quite doable and not quite as daunting from a financial standpoint.
The committee feels ill equipped to prioritize the high level policies and that they need to look at all of them. They would like to see the consultants recommend what solutions/policies they should start with. Chair Young added this is their town and their process. Mike also pointed out he thinks the consultants are ready to do that they just need the committee to let them know which tools to use to do that.
Michael stated he would leave wayfinding on the list but he doesnít think it really does a lot. Pam responded that she disagrees with that. She said patrons are confused because nothing is marked. Michael added he feels people are going to park closest to their destination regardless. He would leave it on because it would be helpful to the visitors but changing behavior is another thing. Chair Young asked the committee what they think about a mobile app. The committee supports exploring that idea. They are also in support of exploring blue ďPĒ (parking) signs throughout the downtown and informational kiosks.
Informational Resources -
John Williams said it is such low cost, low hanging fruit that itís a no brainer to leave it on the list. Information resources could include maps, brochures, a website etc.
Incentive Programs/Regulation -
Michael thinks Incentive Programs and Regulation are two great places to start. Emile added he offered $10 to the first 10 employees that came to him and said Iíve tried it, Iíve parked in Ashland Christian Fellowshipís parking lot 10 times (or something of that nature) and only one person came to him! Mike replied when Standing Stone began offering bikes to their employees as an incentive it worked really well so there may be some incentives that do work. Joe mentioned employer provided residential parking permits could be an incentive. Emile added subsidized or free bus passes could be an incentive, along with regulations that makes it onerous to park.
It was mentioned that the timed spots along A Street are not enforced by Diamond Parking. Lee stated they do enforce down there based on complaints. They do increase their routes and expand during the in season.
Michael pointed out some of the railroad district parking problem is attributed to employees of the post office.
Mike mentioned when he was in Albany a few years ago they set up employee parking areas. They would assign them some type of sticker and this way it keeps the retail turnover. He felt it worked pretty well.
Chair Young thinks the most important piece is to manage demand. Cynthia thinks it is important to look at the long term so from OSFís standpoint she thinks they need to look at adding supply. Chair Young added he would like her to consider demand and use of the festival can increase without building new structures.
Satellite Lots/Trolley Ė
Joe asked during the TSP how far along they got in terms of the rough design of the trolley plan. Mike answered there is a route design in the TSP. Joe asked if anyone has talked to RVTD about what it would cost to drive it. Chair Young stated it isnít that easy. There is a concept but it is bigger than just RVTD or a private contractor. Mike offered to provide the Trolley section of the TSP so they can see that as they try to wrestle with the idea. He pointed out this also includes identifying places such as the bank, Bi-Mart or any other business that has open concrete that could be served as parking. Schools and churches were also mentioned. Michael brought up that a pedi-cab could be an idea to explore.
Meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant