ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
March 2, 2016
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, Dave Young (chair), Cynthia Rider, Marie Donovan, Lynn Thompson, Michael Dawkins, John Williams, Joe Graf and Emile Amarotico (arrived at 3:51)
Regular members absent: Lisa Beam, John Fields, and Joe Collonge
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Katharine Cato, Michael Faught, Sandra Slattery and Pam Marsh
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Bill Molnar, Mike Gardiner, Lee Tuneberg and Rich Rosenthal
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
Gus Janeway, 2000 Ashland Mine Rd
Co-owner of Picadilly Cycles. He and several others bike shop owners have been slightly herded by the SOCAN group into trying to synchronize their efforts. Mike Faught gave a great presentation at one of their recent meetings and from what they saw the 6 or 7 local bike shops are in support of the plan. He added, personally he is very much in support of the plan.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of February 3, 2016
Minutes are approved.
Dave Kanner, City Administrator
Kanner would like clarification from the committee as to what they had intended during the November 2014 discussion/recommendation on increasing parking fines. They are currently working on a resolution for Council and the question came up regarding exactly what number they are supposed to use. Currently the parking fine is $11.00 with $4.00 of that being a surcharge. The remaining $7.00 basically covers the cost of the parking program and the surcharge goes into a restricted fund balance to pay for parking programs.
The committee voiced frustration over this not being explained this way previously. They questioned how much money is available in the restricted fund. There wasnít a dollar figure available but Kanner said it was a pretty substantial amount of money.
De Mille-Campos read from the November 5, 2014 minutes. ďKanner stated it wasnít his intent to discuss the Hargadine fees at this time. He added he and Tuneberg recently discovered that one of the gaps in the code is that it does not provide a method or assigned responsibility for establishing parking fines. They will be addressing that gap in the code as well as others at the first of the year. He was looking for a recommendation from this committee to be forwarded to Council to act upon & set the fine.
Flanagan asked if there is any data that shoes what percentage of fines paid are from our local area. Due to the variables the answer is no, the data isnít available according to Tuneberg.
Donovan said she thinks the City has the right to increase the fine but she doesnít feel this committee should be the ones making that recommendation.
Williams reminded the committee that the current parking fines are kind of a breakeven point. Tuneberg answered that the parking fines and Hargadine fees pay for the debt service, enforcement and maintenance and there is a little leftover after that. He added the parking fines also include a $4 surcharge which helps fund studies, improvements, debt service etc.
Hammond asked what percentage of fines go unpaid. Tuneberg answered that we had a problem about 10 years ago but weíve fixed that. He said would guess maybe 5% arenít paid. Hammond said she doesnít want a guess, she would like that answer at the next meeting.
Young/Williams m/s to authorize the City Administrator to present a parking fine increase to Council.
Roll call vote: All Ayes (Graf abstained) Motion passes
Collonge said he worked in the bay area and getting a fine for $11.00 was the cheapest parking place he had to park. Coming into Ashland for years he would just pay the fine if he was running late to an appointment because it was only $11.00. There is a way of using that as part of the encouragement to park farther away and walk to the destination. He added he missed the last meeting but the committee put parking structures away a long time ago.
The committee started out by looking at the low hanging fruit and parking structures were farther out so he isnít sure where this concept is coming from.
Chair Young reminded the committee that according to the consultants our current parking fine is 50% of the average fine.
The average is $22.00. He thinks it is entirely reasonable to at least increase the fine to the average. He stated members of this committee have previously mentioned how it would be nice to have money available for other initiatives downtown.Ē End
Donovan asked if there is any way to earmark the money towards anything specific.
Kanner said Council does have the ability to earmark the funds. The intent is to payback the parking enforcement piece, payoff the debt which will be paid off fairly soon. Currently these funds are for parking related expenses, however the current Council cannot bind a future Council.
Chair Young remarked he made the motion at the November 5, 2014 meeting. Given that they were just going to the average and not being excessive the spirit of his motion was to double the fine to $22.00.
Thompson recalled a cost figure around 300 thousand dollars in the draft plan and she wonders if that assumed an increase in rates/fines. Faught said he didnít bring that but as he recalls, his assumption was an increase to $22.00 as well. Kanner said the entire amount would go towards parking related matters; covering enforcement/management costs first and then the rest would go into the restricted fund.
Cato asked how this motion impacts the Hargadine garage and would Council just assume they are also recommending doubling that as well? Kanner said the committee is welcome to weigh in on that but he didnít come with the intention of discussing that.
Williamsí recollection of how this came up was because they wanted to help fund a Parking Manager and it was pointed out that parking fines were extremely low based on the average.
There was some confusion over wording of the motion and what relevance the specificity has. Kanner said he felt confident that he understood the tone and their desire and that Councilor Marsh is also present and can vouch for this committeeís intent.
Williams/Dawkins m/s staff take to Council a recommendation to increase the parking fine to $22.00 with the funds going towards parking related uses.
All in favor. Approved.
FOLLOW UP TO FEBRUARY MEETING
Parducci said the two things that were follow upís from the February meeting were the First Street alleys and the changes on Hargadine related to OSF patron drop off/pick up.
Parducci showed pictures of the First Street alleys. She pointed out it is a small 10-12 foot alley that goes from Hargadine to Vista. Right now the First Street alley is one way. Parducci asked Rider if her question was about making it a two way. Rider said at one point during the idea stage there was discussion about whether a roundabout would lessen traffic on Pioneer by having a better path up to Vista. It was sort of a conceptual idea that she thought was looked into at one point and she was just following up on that.
Faught said as he recalled there wasnít sufficient right-of-way to be able to accommodate two lanes of traffic.
Parducci said she isnít sure youíd want to add traffic to that alley because the sight distance on Hargadine is really poor. She displayed several pictures that she took of the alleys.
The other follow up is the OSF drop off/pick up along Hargadine (near Hargadine/Pioneer). Parducci displayed pictures of the potential area. Faught said they think this is a good concept and they recommend moving that forward and discussing that further with OSF.
Graf asked if this plan will also go to the Transportation Commission (TC) to look at these issues. He thinks the roundabout and OSF drop off/pick up might be more suited for the TC than they are for this committee. Faught said he thinks both bodies need to look at it because it is going to impact the downtown parking plan. He recommends the new committee work on it and then it go to the TC. He intends on taking the plan to the TC and the Planning Commission for their support. He assure the committee and stated he thinks it is very important to make sure and have that support before moving the plan forward.
Fait pointed out there is currently a staging area on Pioneer, next to Wells Fargo. She asked if this proposed area would be in addition to that and was the current area not working well. Rider said for her personally itís more of an issue of individual pick up/drop off issue not the larger tour busses. However, even the Wells Fargo area presents problems for those with mobility issues trying to get up the hill.
3 LANE TO 2 LANE CONVERSION
Parducci displayed the proposed concept maps and also displayed the current configuration. The proposal would extend the existing road diet all the way through to Helman Street. The traffic off of Helman Street would have a dedicated lane to turn into. Right now as people come around the loop road and stop they have 2 lanes theyíre looking back at to try to find a gap in order to turn left or go straight across to Church Street. What this does is put all of the traffic coming into the downtown into 1 lane and then people coming off of Helman Street and the loop road would be on the inside lane. It makes it easier for people on the loop road to make the turn which is going to be important because the other part of the proposal is to reduce the Lithia portion also. It would go from 2 lanes to basically 1 organized lane that is coming around the loop and 1 lane that is continuing straight through. They are also talking about closing off the beaver slide which will add additional traffic to the loop road. All of these things will work together to make it operate more efficiently. Faught pointed out the bike lane on Lithia would also be extended through instead of just sharrows.
Williams asked if there would be any changes near Liquid Assets and Brother Restaurant because there are people frequently trying to cross there. Parducci said there is nothing proposed there.
Hammond voiced concern with the loop road traffic coming down and trying to jet over into the through lane.
Thompson voiced concern with those coming down the loop road and wanting to cross over to Church Street. She said currently the signal at Helman creates the break in the traffic. Parducci said right now with the signal at Helman it creates a platoon of cars thatís been held up for a while coming through the green light. In theory, if there is adequate capacity there should be some gaps in traffic just based on the volumes.
Slattery asked about lighting in that area. Parducci reiterated sight distance and lighting will be the two things they look at most.
Thompson asked if thereís been a determination that the current flow is failing. Parducci said with the projected growth in the TSP it doesnít appear 3 lanes are needed along East Main and because that isnít needed, in order to meet the need of traffic this was the only way that the multi-modal aspect of the TSP could be incorporated and still be able to maintain capacity for the cars.
Graf said one of the issues that this solves is turns onto Bush Street which has been a concern with the road diet. He also asked if there are plans to put flashers at any of the crosswalks. Parducci said theyíve gone back and forth on whether or not they should have a flasher at Helman and they arenít sure because of the disruption of traffic it would cause. There is one currently on Hwy 99 in Phoenix that they are going to go look at to see if it ever backs traffic up.
Williams said this area is very congested in the mornings with delivery trucks and he is wondering if there are any proposed loading zones. Also he is wondering if the City plans to pay for all of these changes or if we would be getting funds from the Oregon Department of Transportation since its Hwy 99. Faught said the estimated cost of the whole plan is about 6 million dollars and we envision putting in for a grant for some portion of that.
Parducci continued going over the maps. She pointed out there would be new signals at Oak/Main and Lithia/Main. Faught pointed out the original plan was to remove the trees and put a loading zone in but they decided to save the trees and allow loading zones on the opposite side of the street. He said the only way this plan will work is if the loading zones are adhered to and there would have to be an ordinance that prohibits trucks from loading/unloading in the roadway. He has already shared that with the trucking agencies.
Slattery asked how many parking spaces would be lost with this proposal. Faught said he thought he remembered it being 21 parking spaces. However the only way this plan works is if we make those 21 spaces whole again. The committee expressed the need to have that specifically outlined in the plan before approving it. Graf asked how many of those are permanent losses and how many are during the loading zone hours? Faught said only the spaces near Brothers Restaurant would be permanent and the others would open back up after 4:00 pm.
Thompson asked if they would be able to still put meters in the loading zone areas if the City goes to metered parking down the road. More than likely it would just mean that the trucks wouldnít be ticketed in the loading zone areas.
Slattery asked if this configuration and the plan to expand the sidewalks utilizes the existing curb to curb right of way. Faught answered in the first section there is about three feet extra on each side and then it begins to narrow as you move up the street.
Graf asked how much it costs without the beautification piece. He is worried that people are going to see this as the City is going to spend 6 million dollars to put bike lanes through town. Faught said we have the unit costs available but in order to get grant money it really needs to be multi-modal.
Parducci spent some time showing the committee the traffic modeling on her computer. After which Amarotico asked if the modeling could be recorded as a video. Parducci said she will give it another try. Faught thinks it would be a good idea to put it on the website as part of the proposal.
Hammond wants to be sure we are sensitive to how the downtown is disrupted because it would be devastating to many of the businesses. Faught said he and Scott Fleury (Engineering services manager) have previously spoken about that and theyíve discussed doing the work at night, closing 1 late at a time etc. He added from a staff perspective they are sensitive to those things as well and they will be sure to work those things out with the impacted businesses.
Hammond pointed out that while December may be off season for OSF and the restaurants it is very busy for retail. Faught said we have such a thriving economy that we donít want to do anything that is going to be detrimental to that.
Williams asked who makes the decisions regarding prioritizing Public Works projects. For instance, water versus transportation or beautification. Faught said ultimately everyone in town pays for the whole product. The water and sewer are dedicated funds and are specific to the needs of those funds. The street fund was actually a discussion point at a recent City Council study session regarding the need for pavement repair as well as the need to fund the East Nevada Street project and the new IPCO (Independent Printing Company) connection. That funding package totals about 16 million dollars. He added, those priorities are really specific to water, sewer, and transportation. The water and sewer funds are driven by regulatory needs and within each of those there are life cycles that have to be managed.
Faught and Parducci concluded their presentations and Faught asked if the committee would like to spend more time on the 3 to 2 lane conversion.
Chair Young said the goal as he sees it is that we want to arrive at consensus and not just a split decision that goes to Council. The committee would have trust in the details being that we have a transparent and comprehensive process in terms of prioritization and implementation of these things. Faught said he and Slattery have been working with each other on setting up a community meeting to share the proposed downtown plan so we can make sure we have community involvement and support. The plan is also to take this to the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission, as well as some of the local civic groups.
Donovan asked if they would be discussing what was presented today at next monthís meeting. Faught said he isnít trying to push this through quickly. He is just saying they are done with the planned presentation but we need to be sure the committee is comfortable with this. She added she wants to be sure this accommodates future traffic because this is a massive project to finish just to undo in the future.
Rider said one of the things that would help her is if before the next meeting staff would send out what they are looking for recommendation on, along with the key stipulations that allow them to make the recommendations (i.e. not disrupting the downtown businesses, not eliminating overall parking spaces etc.). If that kind of summary can be put into place then that would help her when it comes time to vote on this.
Marsh said she hopes the recommendation includes some emphasis on urban design opportunity. She said clearly we are about parking and transportation but this is the opportunity to build a downtown that will last for generations to come. This is going to require funding and a plan. Rider said she couldnít agree more and the design element is what is going to make it all work.
Slattery said when we start talking to the community the overarching questions are going to be cost and what is it for. She feels it is important to have a general idea of how much it costs for the 3 to 2 lane conversion and how much for the improvements, in addition to where are the funds coming from.
Faught said once this process is complete it would be wrapped into the TSP which would then allow him to be able to go after the money. A downtown multi-modal project that promotes economic development is one of those packages that legislatures like to see. Slattery thinks it would be nice to see a timeline for how long it is likely going to take to build that package.
Thompson feels the piece that is missing in this is, what are we trying to achieve and what are the priority objectives in this redesign. Without stating what they are she feels the assumptions are that we are just trying to create a bike lane through downtown. She added, multi-modal may be a term full of rich significance to some people but itís not particularly a term full of rich significance to her. She hopes that a significant piece of this is creating a much more user friendly downtown and a large component of that is the pedestrian piece with walkable sidewalks. This needs to be stated in a forceful way because when she looks at something like this her concern is theyíre really just saying people are trading off cars for bikes. And her concern is because of growth and the fact that most of the people that access the downtown do so in cars and the tourists come here in cars. Our economy is sort of driven by people arriving in cars. Faught said itís actually a benefit to the cars and performs better as seen in the modeling. Thompson thinks you could articulate what the problems are with the current configuration. Chair Young pointed out they are already stated within the guiding principles for this committee, as well as the goals within the TSP. Thompson said the plan also needs to address future growth. Parducci said they used the 2034 model which is the TSP future year and that predicted an increase in traffic.
Slattery said these are the types of questions people are going to ask.
Chair Young said one of the problems in the City is that things get fragmented and thatís a great point to bring up. Whatever the committee approves still needs to be vetted with the public and then passed by the Council, which is going to require a sell strategy.
The next meeting will be held on April 6, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant