MINUTES OF THE CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION
July 19, 2000
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Shaw called the meeting to order at 12:05 p.m.
Councilors Laws, Reid, Hauck, and Fine were present. Staff present included City Administrator Greg Scoles, Public Works Director Paula Brown, and Director of Community Development John McLaughlin.
DESIGN ALTERNATIVES FOR PARKING ON GRESHAM STREET ADJACENT TO LIBRARY
Brown presented three alternate options: parallel parking on the east side only; head-in, diagonal parking on the east side; and parallel parking on both sides of Gresham. She noted that parking is currently on the west side of the street.
Fine stated that he remembered that this same parking issue had been presented to the Traffic Safety Committee, and they had rejected the idea due to safety reasons. Laws explained that the Traffic Safety Committee felt that all the values must be weighed as parking at the library is of significant value. Brown recommended that if the council has a preferred design, she could take it back to the Traffic Safety Committee and ensure that safety concerns are addressed through modifications by that committee.
McLaughlin explained that there is a condition of approval through public process before finalizing a plan and requested council to provide alternatives and appropriate guidelines for the public process. He stated that it is important to include safety needs, library access, and community needs when developing parking on Gresham Street.
Reid questioned aggravating traffic by developing head-in parking and that cars backing out of those spaces could hit or be hit by other cars traveling on Gresham Street. Brown explained the park row on the west side of the street would be taken out, giving the street four or more feet, whereby increasing maneuverability.
Scoles explained that what is required of council today, is to discuss the process with consideration to the condition of approval, including a proposition to discuss the proposal and notice to neighbors of the opportunity for discussion.
Questions were raised as to whether or not the street improvements were included in the library budget. Scoles stated the cost of the Gresham Street improvements are in the current budget, including the anticipated parking improvements on the east side of Gresham.
Shaw suggested using parallel parking on both sides of the streets rather than head-in as this would negate the need for curb stops, increase street-sweeping ease, while allowing for existing spaces on the west side to remain.
Laws suggested, in terms of public process, that the council make a choice of concepts and then hold a public hearing in order to make a decision. Reid and Hauck stated their support of parallel parking on both sides, allowing for higher safety.
Fine noted neighbor concern with parking on Gresham Street, including safety issues and losing character/livability for those who live there. Council discussed private parking for residents, noting many have their own parking. Scoles stated another alternative is to leave parking on Gresham Street as it stands currently. He also noted that change to the corners at Gresham Street and Siskiyou Boulevard are intended to enhance the angle for vehicles traveling on Gresham Street. Council engaged in a discussion of speed on the street, especially in comparison to other similar streets within the city.
Colin Swales/461 Allison/Stated he attended the Traffic Safety meeting spoken of earlier, agreeing concept three (Gresham parking) was presented and rejected. He then relayed comments from, Dennis Donahue, who lives at the property directly adjacent to the library. Mr. Donahue thought the whole reason for rezoning his property was to get away from the parking requirement. As a result, he feels the neighborhood should not be degraded further.
Swales also questioned the length of the proposed parallel parking spaces. They are shown as twenty feet in length, whereas City requirements are twenty-four feet. By moving the spaces to the eastern side of the street and increasing them to the full size requirement, one or more spaces are lost. He also noted there has been no mention of a traffic count done on Gresham. He spoke with the Engineering Department and found the traffic at the top of Gresham doubles as it reaches Siskiyou Blvd due to library traffic. He noted the pattern on the street will change if traffic is rerouted down the alley rather than circling through the parking lot and back onto Gresham. He also feels traffic in the alley must be addressed as it is very narrow and residential parking lines the alley.
In regard to the bump-outs at the corner of Siskiyou and Gresham, these may give the corners a ninety-degree angle, but traffic heading up Third Street would have to go against traffic on Main in order to navigate the bump-outs and travel up Gresham. Although the bump-out may make the crosswalk safer, it makes vehicle traffic more dangerous. He suggests bumping-out further on the west corner, while gently grading the east corner. He also questioned where the money is coming from for the Siskiyou Blvd junction improvement. He concluded by stating he would like to see some of the trees along the street is allowed to remain.
Craig Wright/25 Gresham/Explained he lives on Gresham, and the only parking he has is on the street in front of his house. He stated he works hard to maintain his property, and is concerned with losing his parking privileges. He requests the council take his concerns under consideration for those living on Gresham.
Madeline Hill/Spoke regarding the "necking down" where Gresham meets Siskiyou Boulevard. Several months ago she sent a letter and a drawing to Jim Olson (Public Works) regarding the policy of aligning streets to an X pattern. She suggested leaving the curb as is on the east corner, while bringing the bump-out further out on the west corner. This not only allows for straightening the street, but also provides more parking on Siskiyou at the corner.
Reid asked for clarification regarding standards when placing parking spaces near a corner. McLaughlin clarified although there are standards for placement of driveways near corners there are none for parking spaces.
Scoles stated this issue now goes through a public process and a recommendation by Traffic Safety for technical matters, before coming back to the council. At the next meeting, a motion is needed to either select an alternative or give direction. Notification will also be given to neighbors regarding consideration. Council concluded with a general agreement that the plan is still in the rough stage, and will require more information before a final decision is made.
Funding New Parking Garage
Councilor Fine stated he surprised by the cost estimate of $600,000 as the one third share for city for the new parking garage. His first thought was a tax increase to the people of Ashland and asked if the council was open to ideas from staff offering ideas other than raising taxes.
Reid stated that she is open to any ideas. Fine stated he has developed four different concepts to pay for the garage, without raising taxes, by focusing on the people who are causing the City to incur the expense. Reid stated that she would like to know what these parking spaces are going to cost.
Scoles explained that the numbers the council has currently ($1.8 million) came from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). The amount of $600,000 is approximately one-third of the cost and represents one level and that none of these numbers are real, but estimates. The true cost will be determined later as engineering and building dictates. Financing will be provided through the Festival, with the City agreeing to pay the loan with interest. However, nothing has been said about how much each year, for how long, or from what source. The lease states a 140-space structure will be built. Using $1.8 million as a base, this comes to $12,000 per space. The council engaged in a general discussion of whether or not a third story is necessary. As the lease/contract has not been signed, alterations are possible.
Laws stated selling spaces to the two largest groups of parking consumers – Oregon Shakespeare Festival attendees and city employees – would generate enough funding to pay for the parking structure.
Colin Swales/461 Allison/Stated there are a number of items in the lease needing to be addressed. A number of individuals are in opposition to the Planning Application. He feels those who would use the spaces, as well as the neighborhood directly impacted, should know how much parking is actually going to be provided. The need for parking in ratio to the number of seats for OSF is approximately 600 spaces. He feels the City of Ashland does not have a parking problem, but that OSF has the problem. The price for parking should fall on the ticket holders coming from out of town and not the people of the City.
Swales made the suggestion of reorganizing angle parking on B Street, which is fairly wide, allowing for forty more spaces at a relatively small cost.
Shaw stated that she believes Lithia Way is the most underdeveloped street in the city and that it is important to look toward the future in developing underground parking, giving the area a downtown feel.
Fine stated that he would like to take this opportunity for building a parking garage to consider a more global scheme for paying for visitor parking. He feels it is not fair that parking is paid for by the residents of Ashland as a gift for visitors from out of town. He would like to see staff suggest alternatives for funding parking, whereby taking the burden of cost off the city taxpayers.
Reid voiced her concern about the portion of the local economy based on tourism. Fine voiced his agreement in supporting tourism. He also noted he had previously suggested the City hire an economist to determine whether the citizens of Ashland are unduly subsidizing the tourist economy or if there is a fair exchange.
Shaw noted that a study had been done previously which showed that the business component of the City supports more functions acre per acre than any other land use. The entities using the most City services (schools, fire, police), is high density residential (R2, with R1 breaking even). Businesses subsidize more proportionally primarily as they have very little demand on the systems to which they contribute. She feels it is important not to make this a divisive argument of tourists versus residents. Fine agreed tourists are contributing, but he would like to establish whether their contributions are too much, too little, and in what proportion in order to make sound public policy.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:17 p.m.
Submitted by Barbara Christensen, City Recorder