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Agendas and Minutes

Transportation Commission (View All)

Transportation Commission Meeting

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 23, 2012
Chair David Young called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
Commissioners Present:  Tom Burnham, Mike Gardiner, Pam Hammond, Shawn Kampmann, Corinne Vièville and David Young
Council Liaison:  David Chapman
Staff Present: Mike Faught, Scott Fleury and Jodi Vizzini
Commissioner Gardiner motioned to approve the July 26, 2012 minutes.  The minutes were approved as corrected with a unanimous consent.
No one came forward to speak.
Ethics & Commission Guidelines
Training by City Recorder was canceled.
AMC 2.13.020 Established-Membership
Mike Faught, Public Works Director, referred to AMC 2.13.020 and proposed the concept of reducing the Transportation Commission membership from nine to seven members.  He outlined advantages to a reduced membership and added he was in support of the reduction.  He asked for feedback from the Commission. 
Commissioners discussed the pros of a reduced membership which included; 1) mathematical reasoning associated with a smaller membership as it related to the availability of a quorum; 2) difficulty finding nine committed members; and 3) efficiency challenges at meetings with a large membership.  Commissioner Young noted the Transportation Commission represents a merger of the Traffic Safety and the Bicycle & Pedestrian Commissions and voiced his concern that a reduced membership may not have a broad representation from all aspects of transportation.
Commissioners Gardiner/Vièville m/s to request that membership as referenced in AMC 2.13.020 be reduced from nine to seven members.  Commissioners Gardiner, Hammond, Kampmann, Vièville, YES.  Commissioner Burnham, NO.  Motion passed 4 – 1.  [Commissioner Young abstained.]
Commissioners discussed the purpose of abstaining.  Councilor Chapman shared it is the Commissioners responsibility to request more information if needed to make a decision; if it is a conflict of interest it should be stated and the vote is excused.
Commissioner Young changed his abstention to a vote in favor of the motion.  Motion passed 5 – 1.
Lori Lane Alley Vacation
Staff Report
Scott Fleury, Engineering Services Manager, stated staff received a request to vacate an alley which he unofficially referred to as the Lori Lane Alley as it is a direct extension of that road, connecting Hersey St. to Van Ness Ave.  He provided details of the alley and its origin. He explained the procedural process of vacating a public right-of-way as determined in Ashland Municipal Code 4.18 Vacation of Public Property.
Mr. Fleury provided reasons why staff was not recommending the alley vacation which included Ashland Comprehensive Plan verbiage to maintain a public easement for bikes and pedestrians as well as utilities. He explained the difficulty and cost involved in regaining access to a public right-of-way if needed in the future. Mr. Faught added the importance of maintaining connectivity as part of the Transportation System Plan.
Commissioners Questions/Comments
  • Why is the Transportation Commission hearing this request if the recommendation to Council will essentially be decided by the Planning Commission?
  • Answer: The petition will have more validity if the Commission has a counter recommendation to staff.
  • If the alley is vacated, what measures will be taken to keep a person from using it; property owners will still need access.
  • Answer: The alley would become private property and could be gated and fenced at a center line location.
  • Who would be responsible for maintaining the alley?
  • Answer: The property owners would be responsible for developing a maintenance agreement.
  • A comment was made to change the code to reflect review and recommendation by the Transportation Commission as well as the Planning Commission.
Public Testimony
Greg Hartley/342 Glenn St./Stated he was representing Jeannie Azzopardi, 279 W. Hersey St. who has an easement from her backyard to the alley and is adamantly against vacating the alley. He added he uses the alley frequently as a shortcut both driving and walking to avoid N. Main St.
Rebecca DeSalvo, 292 Van Ness Ave. / Provided the definition of an alley as outlined in Oregon State laws as “providing access to property along an alley...not intended for through vehicular traffic.” She noted the alley is not designed or maintained as a street. She stated she and her husband have lived at this address for twelve years and have noticed the traffic on the alley has increased significantly adding the majority of traffic travels from Hersey St. to Van Ness Ave. and moves much faster in this direction. She described the challenge of using their gate which accesses the alley, and included safety issues involving their children and other pedestrians.  She proposed closing the alley in the middle, allowing property owners to access it on the Hersey St. side, yet closing it to through traffic.  Other ideas provided by Ms. DeSalvo included closing the alley completely, making it one-way travel from Van Ness Ave. to W. Hersey St, and making it pedestrian only by installing posts at both ends. She provided a letter from Michael and Lisa Walker/304 Van Ness Ave. in favor of vacating the alley. (DeSalvo letter attached)
Laura Williams/307 W. Hersey St./Stated she has lived at this address for 17 years and works at home. She highlighted several issues listed in her letter submitted to the Commission including the desire to restore livability, which is outlined in the City’s vision.  She voiced concern with the reconstruction of W. Hersey St./Wimer St. and the upcoming restrictions on N. Main St./Van Ness Ave. causing vehicles to divert into surrounding neighborhoods.  She felt the remedy would be to close the alley and urged the Commission to support the property owners request to vacate the alley.
Jeannie Azzopardi/279 W. Hersey St./Acknowledged the applicant’s concern with increased traffic in the alley but was unwilling to relinquish her right-of-way which could potentially affect the  property value of her home.
Rebecca DeSalvo/292 Van Ness Ave./ Readdressed the Commission and added the four property owners on the alley have been talking extensively over the past year.  She stated her understanding was the meeting would be informative and give direction on how to proceed.  She felt the process was catching her off guard as she has not yet discussed this with others in the neighborhood. She added the weigh-in from the Transportation Commission was not, to her knowledge, part of the alley vacating process.
(Additional Lori Lane Alley vacation letters attached)
Mr. Fleury clarified part of the Commission’s responsibility is to make recommendations on Transportation related items to the City Council. He added both the Planning Commission and the Council will consider the Transportation Commission’s recommendation when reviewing the process.  Commissioner Young questioned the order of entering the process prior to the submittal of the petition and asked staff for direction on how to proceed.  Mr. Faught commented the purpose of presenting the item at this meeting was to get ahead of the process and acknowledged the process in the future could wait until an actual petition is filed. 
Commissioner Gardiner voiced concern over this item being an action item based on the applicant’s concern with being blindsided. Commissioner Young noted the Commission’s actions are merely advisory.  Mr. Faught provided information on the role of the Transportation Commission as outlined in Municipal Code 2.13.10 Uniform Policies and Operating Procedures for Advisory Commissions and Boards. Commissioner Burnham noted the alley is part of the overall transportation plan for the City and should be vetted by the Commission.
Commissioners offered the following suggestions as alternative solutions to vacating the alley; 1) oiling the alley to eliminate dust; 2) posting a speed limit; 3) post loading zone signs; and 4) making the alley one-way travel only. Mr. Fleury offered to do a traffic study on the alley after the Hersey St./Wimer St. construction is completed. Commissioners offered their empathy for the conditions of the alley affecting livability and yet acknowledged a compromise should be considered in keeping the connective value of the alley to pedestrians and bicycles.

In response to Ms. DeSalvo’s previous reference to the Oregon State law definition of an alley, Mr. Faught referred to AMC 1.04.010 Definitions, Subsection T which reads, “Street includes all streets, highways, avenues, lanes, alleys, courts, places, squares, curbs, or other public ways in the City which have been or may hereafter be dedicated and open to public use, or such other public property so designated in any law of this state.”  He also referred to AMC 11.08.20 Alley which reads, “Means a narrow street through the middle of a block.” Mr. Faught stated the need to maintain the current connectivity for all modes of transportation and suggested that staff meet with the property owners and discuss alternatives to vacating the alley.

Commissioners Kampmann/Vièville m/s for staff to meet with the property owners, gather information and attempt to resolve the issue without taking it to the petition level.  DISCUSSION:  Commissioner Kampmann felt this would be the most practical action to take. Commissioner Vièville stated she is in favor of litigation. Commissioner Gardiner felt the action item was presented to the Commission in the wrong order. Commissioner Young clarified the property owners should proceed with the petition, followed by the action item presentation to the Commission. Commissioners Kampmann, Vièville and Young, YES. Commissioners Burnham, Gardiner and Hammond, NO.  Motion tied 3 – 3.  Motion is lost.
Cycle Oregon Community Grant
Jodi Vizzini provided information on cycle related items to utilize a $3,500 Community Grant and a $50,000 Signature Grant if applied for and awarded by Cycle Oregon.  She directed attention to a table of items gathered from the Transportation System Plan including the Commissions prior suggestion to use grant funds to support the Bicycle Safety Education program.  She added Mr. Faught will present the Bike Share Program as an option to utilize the $50,000 grant if pursued. 
Commissioners Burnham/Kampmann m/s for staff to apply for the Cycle Oregon Community Grant of $3,500 to be used for the Bicycle Safety Education program. DISCUSSION:  Commissioners discussed whether the $3,500 would be allocated for the 2012-2013 school year or applied to the Bicycle Safety Education program in 2013-14 if awarded.  It was determined the program is underfunded and recommendation was made to apply the grant award to the current school year. It was acknowledged the $3,500 would be in addition to the $3,000 approved for the program at the July 26, 2012 meeting. Voice vote:  all AYES.  Motion passed 6 – 0.
Cycle Oregon Signature Grant
Mr. Faught shared the idea of submitting a grant came from the City Attorney who suggested looking at a bike rental program.  Staff recommended support of the rental program with two locations; Southern Oregon University and the Plaza. He explained the grant would support 10 – 15 bikes as a start-up program as illustrated in the information provided. 
Commissioners discussed locations that could be appropriate for bike rental stations and shared experiences with out-of-state tourist locations where bike rental stations are successful.
Commissioners Gardiner/Hammond m/s to recommend staff request City Council support to apply for the Cycle Oregon $50,000 Signature Grant to be utilized for the Bike Share Program. Discussion: Commissioner Burnham stated he has seen this program in other towns and felt it would be a great business venture for someone to start on their own. He added existing businesses could offer bike rentals. Commissioner Kampmann supported the idea but questioned the demographics.  Commissioner Young commented Ashland is the perfect town for this program as it is would serve the tourist population. Commissioners discussed logistics of implementing and maintaining the rental stations. Voice vote:  all AYES. Motion passed 6 – 0.
Bike Registration Policy
Commissioner Burnham stated he is in favor of bike registration but felt the $2.00 fee discourages owners to register. Mr. Faught advised the Commission to have the discussion when a police department representative could be present.  Mr. Fleury noted that a public outreach article regarding the bike registration ordinance was included in the City Source. Commissioner Burnham requested this item be added to next month’s agenda for further discussion.
N. Main/Hersey/Wimer Intersection Realignment Update
Mr. Faught reported the project will be done by September 14 and the restriping for the road diet will begin September 17.
Commissioner Vièville left the meeting at 8:10 p.m.
Hersey/Laurel Railroad Crossing Improvements Update
Mr. Fleury reported the plans and specifications are complete and will be sent out for construction bid in early 2013.
Oak St. Railroad Crossing Improvements
Mr. Fleury reported that he has not heard back from ODOT Rail on their proposed improvement schedule on Oak St.  He stated the Public Works sidewalk/crosswalk improvements are ready to go but are hinging on the progress from ODOT Rail.
Traffic Crash Summary
No discussion.
Action Summary
Informational item only.  No discussion.
TC Budget Balance
Informational item only.  No discussion.
Oregon Roads Newsletter
Informational item only.  No discussion.
Commissioners requested the Ethics & Commission Guideline training be included in a regularly scheduled Transportation Commission meeting. They were not in favor of attending a separate meeting for the training.
Meeting was adjourned at 8:15 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
Jodi Vizzini, Public Works Assistant

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