ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
July 6, 2016
CALL TO ORDER The meeting was called to order at 3:35 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 East Main St.
Regular members present: Chair Dave Young, Pam Hammond, Marie Donovan, Michael Dawkins, Joe Graf, Lisa Beam, John Fields (arrived at 3:45), and Joe Collonge
Regular members absent: Lynn Thompson, John Williams, John Fields, Cynthia Rider, and Emile Amarotico
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Katharine Cato, Michael Faught, Bill Molnar, Pam Marsh, and Sandra Slattery
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Mike Gardiner, Lee Tuneberg, and Rich Rosenthal
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
Chair Young read a brief statement regarding resigning as Chair of the committee effective immediately, He handed the meeting over to Vice Chair, Michael Dawkins.
Chair Dawkins thanked Young for the two and a half years that he served as Chair. He suggested for the next couple of meetings he will serve as Chair but he thinks in September or October there should be an election for Chair and he feels the Chair should only serve for one year. He isnít big on term limits politically but he thinks in commissions and committees it is important to change it up and have new leadership. He also suggested the outgoing Chair becomes Vice Chair so we donít just have people moving up the ladder. He thinks it should be an open process where it isnít just automatic for someone to become Chair.
Roy Sutton, 989 Golden Aspen Place (read attached letter)
Colin Swales, 143 8th Street
He thanked Young for having served as Chair since this committee began and he thinks he has done a wonderful job even though at times it wasnít easy. He also thanked the Chamber members and City staff for the wonderful 4th of July parade. He has come to this committee before to share how impressed he was with how the two way traffic on Lithia Way and it has shown that Lithia Way can adequately cope with two-way traffic through the downtown. He also mentioned that he sees on the agenda that Fregonese and Associates is giving a presentation. In 2008, John Fregonese, who was the City of Ashlandís Planning Director, came and spoke to the Jefferson Exchange. One of the things he said regarding urban planning was that Ashland Street didnít need two lanes of traffic in each direction because the traffic counts didnít warrant it. At that time he was on a subcommittee of the Transportation Commission, looking at ways to make Siskiyou Blvd. safer after the fatality there with a student. He said that is something else to consider, road diets do seems to work and John Fregonese seems to agree with that.
He pointed out that he has been studying the counts on the cityís arterial roads and downtown is especially interesting, it peaks in about 2003. Since then, the average daily traffic counts for Main Street have been reduced by about 31%. He said maybe now that gas prices are cheaper gas maybe that will start to trend up. That was up to 2014 which was the last time ODOT published their figures. From 2003-2014 the traffic through the downtown has been reduced by up to 31%.
He spoke about delivery trucks, he shared he came through the downtown around 5 oíclock the other morning and noticed there was a delivery truck. He said none of the stores downtown seem to open until about 10:00 am so up until about 9:30 am there is plenty of places to park downtown. He said it was interesting to see the one delivery truck who he thinks was delivering to one of the restaurants. He added there was only 1 truck parked curbside in the downtown and the delivery truck was parked in the through lane next to that other delivery truck likely do he could make that delivery without having to walk. He feels the driver could have easily parked curbside, as any of the delivery trucks could do if they delivered before 9:30 when traffic picks up.
John Brenes, works at Music Coop with his wife (268 East Main), resides at 501 E. Ashland Lane
He spoke about the loading zones that are being proposed. He read in the minutes from a few meetings ago that someone had said that a real count was never performed. He said he knows Faught has spoken to the trucking companies. He is there from approximately 9:00-6:00 six days a week and then on Sundays he is there for three to four hours, 360 days a year. On the block that there store is on which has a restaurant on it, the big trucks double park. Yesterday there were three delivery trucks there at around 2:00 pm. If one of the trucks would have been in the loading zone the other two would have parked next to it in a traffic lane. He knows it costs money to do a count but he feels a count needs to be done. He added he knows that after 4:00 pm the proposal includes having the loading zones converted back to regular parking but at that point ĺ of the retail day is over at that point. He wishes there was a way to widen Main Street and put the bike lane in. He isnít against biking or the bike lane but two lanes is going to cause major congestion problems. He watched one lady parallel park for 6 minutes and that whole time that lane was unusable. He doesnít believe the trucks are going to drive around the block endlessly while another truck finishes up and leaves the loading zone. Most of the time there arenít any large delivery trucks after 2:00 pm. He thinks there needs to be a serious study done on these loading zones and the needs of the delivery trucks and plan accordingly. As the Rogue Valley grows we need more parking.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of June 1, 2016
Minutes approved as presented.
Faught said Young had called him in advance to let him know he was planning to resign as chair. He had anticipated the committee would want to have a conversation about who was going to take over as chair but he agrees with Dawkinsí recommendation, if the rest of the committee is agreeable.
Fields and Amarotico were late to the meeting and they didnít hear that part of the discussion. Faught informed them of what happened. Amarotico said he was fine with the proposal to have Dawkins Chair and Fields indicated he was too.
WHY A PILOT BIKE LANE WILL NOT WORK
Faught said the suggestion has come up a few times to do a pilot project in the downtown, rather than waiting for a lengthy study. From staffs perspective he canít see how that would work. The aerials that show the 3 lane to 2 lane proposal show why he believes it wonít work. He pointed out in order to have the bike lane you would have to extend the road diet through town so you would have to take out the signal at Helman which would result in losing 3 parking spaces in front of Brothersí restaurant. At the intersection of Oak Street you would need a signal there in order to put a bike lane through which also would require a traffic signal at Lithia Way in order to get that traffic through. The signals would have to be put in whether it was temporary or permanent which is pretty expensive. The other thing is, if you drop down to two lanes you still have the truck issue where you would have to have the ordinance that prohibits them from loading/unloading in the traffic lane and you would have to create the loading zones to accommodate that. Plus you would still displace the same number of parking spaces.
In his opinion doing a pilot project doesnít change the project, you still have to spend the money and figure out the parking so there isnít any net value to doing this on a temporary basis. His recommendation is that this wouldnít work and all of the issues the committee has been wrestling with are still there with the proposed temporary bike lane.
Young said Faught already gave this argument at the Transportation Commission but Faughtís point about needing to solve the parking issue is a given before anything could be done anyhow. It sounds to him like Faught is deferring this now to the Parking Advisory Committee down the pike. His question is why is this such an onerous thing and why canít we just find those parking spaces now? Faught apologized that was Youngís understanding because he thought he had been clear all along about that really comes once you get to the design point. So you look at all the multi-modal projects and look at solving them all at the same time because some of those potential solutions create problems for parking spots and so it needs to be more comprehensive. He reiterated that if you donít find the parking spaces that are displaced then the project wonít go forward. He thinks we can find the parking spaces but he is trying to be clear about the fact that it isnít just the parking spaces; it is the parking spaced, the loading zones, the multi-modal. Nothing about the project changes by calling it temporary. You would still have some pretty major capital expenditures even if it were a pilot.
Hammond asked if you have the issue of multi-modal for pedestrians with new sidewalks and such. Faught answered you wouldnít necessarily have that on a temporary project because the sidewalk construction wouldnít happen, you would just have that extra space. She said the new traffic signals wouldnít be temporary. He said he appreciated that question and pointed out the construction side of this as a temporary project would be, at a minimum, re-doing the intersection at Oak Street and Lithia with the bulb outs and if you take the signal out at Helman you would need to build a median there as well. Those are construction projects that would be permanent.
Young said he was at the meeting with Faught when they met with some of the business owners along East Main Street, near Brotherís Restaurant. He wanted to put it on the record that Brotherís was fine with the loss of the proposal to eliminate the three parking spaces given that other parking would be found. Faught said he had heard them say those parking spaces would need to be found. One of their suggestions was creating spaces along Church Street and one of the members of this committee, who lives on Church said they wouldnít be happy with that. He said the problem is, you can conceptualize how to find the parking but everything works together and you canít just take pieces of this and solve it.
Chair Dawkins said when you Faught put this out there and after all of what the committee has been doing, it seems to him like we are kind of at a dead end. He is wondering if we have been looking at other things to do that maybe donít involve quite as much construction. He has made the suggestion of trying to simply slow the traffic that is going through the downtown, perhaps having a shared road down the middle lane. He is an advocate for both. He thinks it is very important to have the connection going all the way through town but he is also concerned about the vitality of our business owners and the downtown, which is probably his biggest concern. As one who has lived through a vital Ashland to an Ashland that was all boarded up to then coming back to a vital Ashland. He is sensitive to everything the downtown business owners are going through. At the same time, how are we going to be able to create a bike lane when there is this much conflict? He thinks that is the sort of thing that needs to be discussed.
Collonge asked Dawkins about his comment on looking to slow traffic down. He said it is already 20mph. He asked if Dawkins wanted to go to 15mph. Dawkins said yes. Part of what he feels is that he is getting to the age where as a cyclist he is having a hard time keeping up with traffic going down East Main and he is one of the riders that can pretty much ride everywhere. Most of the people that we would like to get on bikes are very uncomfortable with the speed of the traffic going through the downtown. He pointed out that he is just throwing ideas out there, trying to find something that we can explore. He added, we also need an alternative for the people that want to zoom on through town that arenít actually destined for the downtown. He said there are many people going through downtown because that is the only way you can get from one side of the town to the other.
Hammond pointed out she thinks what Faught is saying is that it wonít work as a temporary thing. She thinks we can do this multi-modal project and she thinks it should be done but itís not going to work as a temporary project such as the road diet pilot on Main.
Faught said at the last meeting the committee made the decision to move forward on the visioning next and the suggestion came up to do this as a temporary. He was just trying to address the temporary aspect.
Chair Dawkins said the way he saw it was that we canít be reconstructing the downtown without then all of a sudden thinking this is really a downtown plan. He said this is sort of the same place we got stuck in the TSP process.
Fields said one of his criticisms is what it costs to do the whole thing. He wasnít thinking of it a little more incremental. Rather than doing this massive reconstruction project and moving all of the curbs and trying to resection the whole road he doesnít see why you couldnít have a shared lane on the right hand lane. So the third lane would still be there when there are no bikes using it. He personally thinks unloading works pretty well in the middle of the street until noon when you start getting more traffic. Rather than displacing parking we could maybe have a curfew for the delivery trucks but it isnít going to work to have the trucks circling the blocks. Faught said he spent a lot of time with the local truck drivers and what he told them is in order for this to work we would have an ordinance saying that it is illegal to load/unload in the lanes but he told them on the secondary streets they could still do that. So if there is multiple trucks they could simply pull over to the side road and double park there so that way they donít have to circle the block waiting. The feedback he got from them was that would work for them.
Donovan commented on the shared lane idea. She said she was all over New Zealand and there are many areas where the bike path merges into something else and there is a lot of signage about it. People seem to be very aware of it and you are going slowly. We are talking about a four block section here and she feels we should have these discussions. That concept isnít a bad one and she thinks there are ways to do it. If you are trying to get through downtown as opposed to if you are going to stop/shop in downtown maybe there could be some signage for that, such as a lane designated for through traffic. She is still very concerned about the traffic getting backed up. The theory that we can run a 4th of July parade or a Halloween parade downtown without a problem, to her isnít realistic because there are detours and police there to guide everyone and no one is going through the downtown including delivery trucks.
Graf said he appreciates that Faught doesnít think we can do the whole nine yards but what concerns him is whatever we do is going to require change. Some people arenít going to like change and are going to fight against it. The problem is then there will be no way to demonstrate that it is going to work, especially if we have to spend six million dollars to completely rebuild the downtown. He feels it would be nice if there was a way to do it in a step wise fashion. We may want to try a few things and see how it works and get more buy in. A lot people may not buy in until they actually see it working.
Collonge said it seems like what Faught has said is that you canít do a little bit of it because everything is interconnected. Once you commit to doing something a lot of stuff falls into line and you canít just leave some stuff out.
Beam said in the last few weeks she has been riding her bike downtown and she thinks in some ways we might even consider the real user of that four block stretch. The idea of a sharrow there and having other bike lanes coming from Oak Street that go towards the park are more of the recreational user. And the person that is really commuting might want to just avoid downtown because it is congested and more hazardous. The person that is headed downtown to shop that four block stretch, if thereís a way that we can create that sharrow attribute that brings awareness to the bicyclists that would be nice. She keeps coming back to that and putting the negatives and positives on the list to see how each choice impacts people. The sharrows seem like a great alternative.
Young said he continues to advocate that whatever we do, it is with a plan in mind. He doesnít feel that it makes sense to throw an arbitrary bike lane in that may not represent the designed plan.
Chair Dawkins shared he likes the idea of the center lane for loading/unloading and bike lane.
COUNCIL UPDATE FROM COUNCILOR MARSH
Faught said he had asked Councilor Marsh to come speak to the committee. She shared Council has a progress update scheduled for the first Study Session in August (8/1). They took this action because they know this committee is moving parking on and it is a good opportunity to stop and look at what still needs to be done and look to see if any adjustments should be made in how we go about that work. It is also a good time to see if there are any urban design elements that should be folded into the process. She added that generally an ad hoc committee has a life span of a year and this committee has exceeded that. This committee has done great work but it is an appropriate time for Council to look and see what is the best way to move this process forward. She welcomed any comments or input at the meeting.
URBAN DESIGN CONSULTANT PRESENTATION BY FREGONESE ASSOCIATES, INC.
Scott Fregonese from Fregonese Associates gave a PowerPoint presentation (see attachment). He shared that his father was the Planning Director for the City of Ashland for 14 years and he grew up here in Ashland. He now works for his father and they have a consultant firm located in Portland. They do regional visioning, comprehensive plan updates, small area plans, downtown plans, hands-on workshops etc. He thinks this is a good time for the committee to come together and look at some of these options and plans and visualize how that could occur and make sure it is something that the community wants.
What they would like to do is build a 3D model of Ashlandís downtown and have this committee tell them what the options are that the committee would like to look at. They can also create videos from that 3D modeling which is a nice tool to allow people to visualize it.
Slattery said she understands the urban planning piece but asked about the actual design. Who makes the decision and creates the visual design once there is community feedback in terms of lighting placement and tree placement etc.? Fregonese said he didnít want to step out of line but he would probably say that would be an additional set of work that likely wouldnít be done as a committee. He pointed out the City of Ashland has design standards currently in the downtown. Faught said this committee makes recommendations based on working directly with the consultant and flushing out those ideas, as well as public input. He said this is a helpful tool for public input but ultimately all of these decisions go to Council.
Young thanked Fregonese for coming. He asked him to distinguish between being an Urban Planner versus an Urban Designer and how those two functions differ for this type of project. Fregonese said he is an Urban Planner, not an Urban Designer. It is a different skill. Urban Design is more site specific and has to do with architecture, window spacing, facades, size of doors, how much setback there is, landscaping requirements etc. They have Urban Designers on staff. As previously mentioned, the City actually has very good design standards already in place. They work in a lot of places where they are not so lucky. If there are things you donít like about the current design standards then that might be something that could be recommended for change within this report. He added that their success has been not separating urban design and urban planning, they work together just like transportation and land use.
Collonge Said what he saw in most of the graphics showed empty spaces between buildings, unlike Ashland where we donít have any empty space or buildings that need to be torn down? Fregonese said that is correct. Ashland is in a much different place than Beaverton who is trying to fill in vacant lots in the downtown. He thinks it is important to model the existing and then put in the options for the streetscapes in the downtown. They werenít proposing new development or growth in the downtown.
Fields said about 10 years ago they were trying to make this happen on this scale. He said he doesnít want to underplay the idea that Ashland is the way it is going to be. A major thing we need to address is the parking requirements and the potential need to create some sort of funding mechanism for future parking.
Council Marsh said the potential to enter into a contract for this work would also be something that Council would be discussing at the upcoming study session. Faught said we will get the feedback from Council on August 1st and then report back to this committee.
Faught asked the committee if this was helpful and if this was what they had in mind when they said they wanted to do visioning. Graf said we are going to have a prettier picture of the options but if we get too far off into the visioning and redesigning the committee could lose sight of why they are here which is to look at downtown parking and circulation. Faught said he envisions this working by running a visual on what the 3 lane to 2 lane looks like and then look at the amenities we have in mind and we could run it the way it is with the sharrows and see what that would look like. The problem is, we havenít seen how it is going to impact us or how it will do in the future and he thinks that is where this visual will help us. This would allow us to look at what the roundabout would look like and what the beaver slide would look like etc. When he saw this tool he was excited to have something to show what these changes would look.
Fregonese said it would allow the committee to have discussion about specific views of the future downtown while understanding what it would feel like. He said if this rolls into a large planning process these types of visuals are really important to present the ideas. It has been really successful in other cities. Amarotico asked how long this should take to get to the visuals that were described. Fregonese said the first thing they would do is sit down with the committee and nail down the options that they should look at. Then they can go back and start building the model and have that ready so they could start populating those options with the committee. The timeframe would be approximately 5 months.
Faught said they arenít looking for a decision from the committee on this today. He was trying to get a sense of whether or not this is a useable concept before he were to go to Council and offer this as one way to address the urban design component. Chair Dawkins asked if 2 days in between the Council study session and this committeeís regularly scheduled meeting is enough time to have something to move forward with. Faught said no. Dawkins asked what we would be doing at our August meeting. Faught suggested as he has before that this committee takes at least August off and wait and see what Council says before moving forward.
Donovan thinks that makes sense. She said what is offered is a really great tool and she thinks it would help a lot of people visualize whatever decision does get made. This tool benefits the planning department and Council in big ways, even going forward to the public. She thinks taking the time off while this goes to Council is a good idea.
Collonge asked if Fregoneseís technology would allow them to create the actual operation of downtown, including the parking and the delivery trucks. He thinks it would be helpful to generate videos to show the public how everything would function. Fregonese said yes they could show streets views, sidewalk views, oblique views. Once the model is populated in 3D you can move it wherever you want.
Young said piggybacking off of what Graf said. Graf and Young are the two Transportation Commission representatives and he is more and more confused. He said this committee might not be the one that is going to do whatever the next step is but what this committee did was spend 2 Ĺ years on parking and the understanding of the initial charge, at least for a couple of them, was that they were going to be doing some transportation commission related things. A lot of what is offered by Fregonese is impressive but he feels we have already been there. He doesnít have a problem with urban design or urban planning but weíve accomplished the parking and now weíll go to urban design and transportation seems like it gets left out. He asked Fregonese what his experience is in doing transportation stuff, rather than design? Fregonese said he can see what he is saying about urban design but he isnít coming at this with just doing urban design. He thinks you are looking at this with streetscape options and to look at a streetscape option you have to look at that interface with the building which is urban design. Young said he is referring to transportation or the multi-modal piece of it. Fregonese said he thinks the recommendation would be whatever those cross-sections look like. Young said he is interested in more of the functionality piece and asked if this firm is experienced in that aspect. Fregonese said they do have experience in that, he isnít a transportation planner and he doesnít do transportation planning but the work they do canít be successful without looking at transportation hand in hand. Every plan he works on has a transportation component to it or it wonít be successful. Faught stated Kim Parducci is our Transpiration Engineer and will remain on the project, if it moves forward. This firm brings the visualization and the urban design that wasnít previously there.
The next meeting will be held on September 7, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Supervisor