Agendas and Minutes

Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee (View All)

June 3, 2015 meeting

Minutes
Wednesday, June 03, 2015

 ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MINUTES

June 3, 2015

 

 

CALL TO ORDER The meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 East Main St.

Regular members present: Pam Hammond, Michael Dawkins, Rich Kaplan, John Williams (arrived at 3:41), Emile Amarotico, Lisa Beam, Dave Young, Cynthia Rider, Marie Donovan, Joe Collonge, and Joe Graf

Regular members absent: John Fields

Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Sandra Slattery, Bill Molnar, Katharine Flanagan, Michael Faught, and Pam Marsh

Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Mike Gardiner, Rich Rosenthal, and Lee Tuneberg

City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos, and Maria Harris

 

ANNOUCEMENTS

Chair Young announced that there was an error on the agenda and the second item will be public comment.

 

Chair Young reminded those in attendance that this is the first meeting since February and we have a new consultant. With that said, the agenda is pretty packed with his presentation. He asked the public to keep that in mind going into public comment.

 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Minutes of February 4, 2015

 

Approved by unanimous consent.

 

Chair Young introduced Lynn Thompson to the committee. Lynn has replaced Rich Kaplan who is no longer on the Planning Commission.

 

PUBLIC FORUM

Andrew Kubik, 1251 Munson Dr.

He stated he is here to reiterate a few things from the last meeting. He noticed on the national citizen survey that Ashland was in the college town category instead of a tourist town but he believes that may have something to do with the population more than the structure of the downtown. He stated there arenít too many people from SOU on the committee and he feels that might be something to address at some point. The survey itself shows that most of the college towns similar to Ashland in the survey have a trolley or transit system and because of that he thinks the committee should be looking at that a little closer. He added that at the end of the last meeting Mike Faught stated that 26% of the respondents thought that the parking was acceptable but if you actually look at the results 44% thought it was fair. There was another 7% in the excellent category and 19% felt it was good, so in total about 70% felt the parking was fair or better. He said he wouldnít swing all the way to thinking there is a big parking problem in Ashland and would recommend backing off a little especially since there is a new consultant.

 

Donna Swanson, 863 Plum Ridge Dr.

Read letter submitted into record (see attached)

 

Elizabeth Hallett, 938 Mountain Meadows Cir.

Read letter submitted into record (see attached)

 

Louise Shawkat, 870 Cambridge St.

Read letter submitted into record (see attached)

 

Tamsin Taylor, 594 Great Oaks Dr.

Read letter submitted into record (see attached)

 

Paul Stang, 2235 N. Hwy 99

He spoke to the traffic flow through the city. He said he has had some dialogue via email with Scott Fleury from Public Works. He is aware that there may have been a presentation about new traffic proposals for the downtown area and he is concerned about this. His initial interest was regarding the bike lane on the north end of town. He is a bicycle enthusiast and he finds that having reduced the lanes from four to two greatly constricts the traffic through that area and he finds it unnecessary. During a discussion with Scott one of his comments was ďif you build it they will comeĒ but that hasnít happened. There is a beautiful greenway bikeway that is serving the same North/South flow so he doesnít find that the bike lane justifies having reduced the lanes in that area. Through this discussion with Scott he is finding out that there is a lot of talk of a loading/unloading zone through the downtown. As a cyclist he appreciates the concern for having a bike lane but this has him concerned because of how the turn lanes intersect with the bike lane. He also stated that currently going through the downtown area as a cyclist is pleasant and he doesnít feel there needs to be another bike lane there. He also drives a vehicle through downtown and traffic can bind up through the downtown. He doesnít see how taking the traffic lanes down to two would make it any easier to get through town for occasional loading/unloading. Another area of concern is the pedestrian zone at Water Street; he would really like to see a timed crosswalk signal there. He also found out that the light at Helman is planning to be removed and he doesnít feel that is a safe move with the curve and the hill. However the light at Laurel doesnít seem to be served very well.

 

SUMMARY OF RWC SCOPE

Faught introduced a few people in the audience; Kim Parducci, Al Densmore.

 

Faught read through some of the scope of work and what Rick Williams will be taking over. Rick will take what has already been done and use that as a baseline. He is going to review our existing policies, operating strategies, on/off street management, look into land use. The committee will have him for 6 meetings and then probably 2 city council meetings. Faught said there are more details to the scope of work but that is a broad overview. 

 

Rick Williams thanked the committee for having him here. He shared with the committee that somewhere around 1999 or 2000 he helped write the plan that is currently in place. He comes from a background of downtown management. In the 80ís and early 90ís he was Vice President of what was called The Association for Portland Progress (downtown Portlandís business association) and what has now developed into the Portland Business Alliance (their Chamber of Commerce). He was responsible for all phases of downtown promotions and activities. They formed the first business improvement district in Oregon, which at that time was the second in the United States, called Clean and Safe and they also later created what is now called Smart Park. His approach is the fundamentals of vital downtowns and supporting vital communities.

 

Secondarily, he had another job for over twenty years while he was doing parking consulting. He was contract Executive Director of The Lloyd District Transportation Management Association, which is now called Go Lloyd. Their focus there was parking management through alternative modes and that really transformed the Lloyd district. He added that as much as he loves parking, we really need to look at things globally and look at it as a multi-modal phase.

 

REFRESH: U OF O STUDY FINDINGS/RECOMMENDATIONS

Rick shared with the group that the Community Planning Workshop did a great job and there is a lot of good data which provides for a good foundation.   

 

Rick stepped through his PowerPoint presentation (see attached).

 

PARKING 101 Ė BEST PRACTICES IN DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT

Rick said sometimes our problem with parking is that we think it to death and it needs to be simplified.

 

Continued slide presentation.

 

RWC: SUMMARY OF DOWNTOWN PARKING OBSERVATIONS

Continued slide presentation.

 

 

COMMITTEE INPUT AND DISCUSSION

Continued slide presentation.

 

He informed the committee that these were his observations and he would like them to push back too on everything they have heard and bring their ideas and solutions, while reacquainting themselves with some of the recommendations from the U of O study.

 

Some of his observations are that the City of Ashland has a problem to die for! The downtown is robust and vibrant, with constant activity. The activity begins at 9:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm as was the case for him on a Friday, Saturday and so far on a Wednesday. He added that we donít want to exacerbate the problem but we also donít want to do anything that would cause the city to go in the wrong direction. There are areas of high parking activity throughout the entire study area. He was looking at the data and doing his own observations and he feels that Ashland has some unique districts that are starting to happen. There is a potential to simplify the system, through signage and parking zones, which he likes the idea of. One of the recommendations in the report, which he thinks they need to do is, going to permits. He just completed an on street permit program on the eastside in Portland and they are working on a new permit program for all thirty three neighborhoods in Seattle. The committee needs to discuss the intent for the permits and then develop the permit program around that. He added that permits are an option but they should make sure they are approaching it properly as it can be rather contentious and it needs to make sure that the residentsí needs are continually met.

 

One of the other things he noticed is that there is an extremely high opportunity for bikes in this community. During his time spent walking and driving around in the central downtown he ran into four bicycle shops and all of the bike racks in the two bike corrals he found were highly maximized. The bike shelter on the plaza was also full and there were even people chaining their bikes up to parking signs. He feels that the idea of pursuing bike lanes strategically would be very effective. He also pointed out they need to start thinking beyond bike lanes. He is seeing people chained up all over downtown to parking signs which says the city needs more racks. With the bike corals being highly utilized, he thinks the city should explore a pilot program with the nearby businesses. He thinks the city also may want to look at more bike hubs, like the bike shelter we have near the Plaza. Lastly, he feels they should work with businesses to bring bikes inside. They did a program through Go Lloyd where they bought wall racks for businesses so their employees could hang their bikes on the wall. That is sort of a four phased approach to bikes that he would recommend.

 

The communication system (wayfinding), which was already in the plan, definitely needs improvement.

 

One thing he found interesting was as a third party outsider there is more than just the downtown core. There are some unique districts starting to happen, such as the Railroad district, the area around 3rd/4th and A/B has the potential to not only create parking zones but also to create districts which become your parking districts. He mentioned the desire to balance short term retail parking, theater/patron parking and employee parking all on street he doesnít feel is practical and he thinks that is something they need to look at. They need to decide who the priority is in a specific area. He also thinks there is an opportunity for shared use if it is done strategically but he thinks it should be done for employee parking because in working with private sectors sometimes if you say ďI want to use your lotĒ theyíll likely say no because they donít think you can control who is going on to their lot but with employees you have an easier time controlling that than controlling visitors. He shared with the committee that he had a discussion with Mike Faught. He told Mike if they had a goal of how many employees they wanted to me removed from the downtown parking system then they would know how many spaces they need to create with remote lots, shuttling, private lots etc. He stated businesses can control their employees. Customer first programs exist and that is something we could explore. In Corvallis, Gresham, and Oregon City parking is a condition of employment.

 

Chair Young recommended the committee members go around and briefly introduce themselves, which they did.

 

Faught asked the group to spend the next thirty minutes sharing their thoughts or feelings on what they heard.

 

Amarotico said Williams previously stated free parking doesnít build a downtown and he wondered if paid parking can kill a downtown. Williams said yes and that is why the eighty five percent rule is so important because the only thing parking management can do is minimize your risk. When your parking is over eighty five percent the customer is beginning to feel tension and angst and if the parking supply is under eighty five percent then you arenít doing a good enough job convincing people to be with you. The product can always be improved. The purpose of parking is to support the product and there comes a point when the product is so good that you have more people coming to it than you have the capacity to serve it with an option to park or get there. This is why he says donít take pricing off the table. He wants to challenge the committee with the idea of pricing, heís not necessarily recommending it but when the committee gets to the point of solutions they need to come back and ask how they are going to do this. Otherwise, his fear is this plan will end up back on a shelf.

 

Thompson stated there has been a lot of work done studying data but itís not clear to her where they are going to start. The document that was presented at the February meeting was essentially a redesign of the downtown streets. Her question is what is the order in which they are going to address some of the ideas that are on the table? Faught answered Rick is working from the U of O point, which is what the committee spent a little over a year on before the three to two lane configuration was introduced. He said the three to two lane configuration was presented at the last meeting so that way the committee can consider that as they move forward but the real focus now is on the parking side of the equation. He added we are also going to be working on some other transportation improvements in the downtown and that is why Kim Parducci is here. Ultimately when the plan is finished Al Densmore will help with the funding side of the equation. Lynn added she feels these issues are interrelated and she is curious how we are going to address those issues, such as the fact that our data shows the loading zones are underutilized but we are proposing new loading zones and we are proposing eliminating parking spaces yet we show we have a supply problem. Faught spoke to the loading zones and stated he actually agrees with the loading zone analysis and he would like to see the committee take all of the existing loading zones, with a couple of exceptions (in front of 51 Winburn Way and the Post Office) and start over. Heís asked the trucking industry to provide feedback regarding their needs so that way it is focused on delivery needs. With the elimination of unnecessary loading zones we can add more parking spaces.

 

Williams said his approach would be at the next meeting the committee would work on the policy options matrix document. The document has some good elements but there are some things that could be refined. Also, a re-look at the guiding principles would also be helpful. He thinks it would be good to have a conversation at the next meeting discussing who the priority is for on street parking because that is unclear in the document.

 

Marsh asked where the land-use element folds into here? Williams said that is what we want to work together on. It could be that an ITE model is used or you could look at it a different way and look at what can be done with bikes, what can be done with walking and what can be done with transit and then those ITE estimates could be factored downward to reflect a new mode split. He added we will be cognizant and aware of it and with his background he will push at it and pull at it and decide if it is a normal transportation forecasting model or is it something that has more options in it.

 

Rider asked if staff could resend the policy option document to the committee if it is going to be on a future agenda. She also added she has been here in Ashland for a little over two and a half years and during the past fall to spring she has received more complaint letters than she has before so she isnít sure if that just means there are more vocal people or if there is more of a parking issue. She also stated the difference between when they have one performance a day versus five performances is quite significant so she would note that the three days that Rick has spent here is very different than the height when they have five in a day. The employee issue is also very important to her. Her employees work at all different times of the day so she is curious to see what the committee comes up with as far as a solution to getting her employees off of the desirable streets. She shared that visitorís for them need two to six hours based on the length of the play. She also wants to make sure the committee looks at people with mobility issues (employees, visitors etc).

 

Young asked Rick if he has a sense of how long this process will take. Faught answered 5 more months (5 meetings). He also added he thinks if Rickís five core questions can be answered then the solutions start happening fairly quickly but the committee needs to come to an agreement in terms of the principals and how the committee would like to solve them. This will likely be the challenge during the next meeting, as the committee begins to roll up their sleeves and hopefully have a really healthy debate about some of these proposals. Young asked for clarification on whether the committee is just going to focus on parking for the next five months. Faught said he thinks some of the others will fall into that as well but the principal part of that is the beginning of the conversation. 

 

Collonge shared what he is generally hearing is that Williams thinks all of the issues can be solved by parking management and that multi-million dollar parking garages and trolleys are a farther out option. He asked if his assumption was correct. Williams answered the committee needs to start as simply as possible and the first thing they need to do is agree on what the problem is which it seems like there is still a lack of clarity about. Then if everyone agrees on what the problem is then they need to begin with the existing supply and convince themselves there are no options other than capacity (looking at data, talking to the private sector, looking at remote lots etc). His mentor in parking said ďnothing else works if the parking you have is not fullĒ. It will be more expensive, it will be harder to do and the market wonít be there so the committee must expend all opportunities to solve the problem. Then you would look at district by district, area by area and figure out how you get to new capacity. Itís easy to say a garage or a shuttle system would provide more capacity. His question would be if it would be used if itís not properly managed, centrally located or coordinated into the system itself. He said it does take longer to get there and his is sort of an arduous check system but it also helps the community stay on point. He added somewhere in that check list the communication system has to be added (wayfinding, signing, branding etc.) but it all begins with a process to try to keep people focused which is the hard part of parking management because everyone wants to get to the ultimate solution. He thinks new supply and new capacity (parking and alternative modes) are both relevant options. 

 

Marsh asked if we go through this process and the committee figures out in todayís world parking can be managed at eighty five percent and new modes are not needed, is the committee going to take the next step in this process to include steps to take if the eighty five percent is exceeded. Williams answered yes; it would include the long term plan. The plan will include immediate, near term (0-2 years), mid-term (2-5 years) and long term (5 + years).    

 

Graf asked if there is any reason to redefine the study area. Williams answered yes but not necessarily as a first order of business. Study areas can morph as you get trigger areas in place.

 

NEXT STEPS

Williams asked the committee if there were any issues with the scheduling of the next meeting which falls during the week of 4th of July. He just wanted to be sure everyone was okay with that date. The consensus was everyone will be available for the meeting as scheduled.


ADJOURNMENT

Meeting adjourned at 5:29 pm

Respectfully submitted,

Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant

 

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