ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
August 5, 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, Emile Amarotico, Lisa Beam, Dave Young, Bob Hackett (in Cynthia Rider’s absence), Marie Donovan, Lynn Thompson, Michael Dawkins, Joe Graf, and John Fields (arrived at 3:40)
Regular members absent: John Williams, and Joe Collonge
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Bill Molnar, Katharine Flanagan, Michael Faught, Pam Marsh, Rich Rosenthal, and Lee Tuneberg
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Mike Gardiner, and Sandra Slattery
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of July 1, 2015
Approved as presented.
FINALIZE GUIDING PRINCIPLES
Williams apologized for so much background material on short notice. But at the end of the last meeting he sensed a high sense of urgency to get into the plan. He added it isn’t a full plan; it really is just an eighteen month work plan. He reminded the committee of something he said earlier on in this process which is, the only way to get going is to take the first step. He thought it was best to relate it to the first eighteen months and then we can have people react to it and adjust. There are a lot of pieces from the U of O plan in it but his approach is more of an approach to activate some of the ideas that were in that plan as opposed to a more conceptual level plan.
He stepped through the slide presentation (see attached).
Thompson asked if this does not include residential areas where the homeowner may have an interest in having at least some parking. Williams answered it is a really good question and is why he said they could define “customer” as being the resident and their guest. His intent of customers and visitors was that it represents however they define it moving forward. He added they even talked about district plans and in each district the priority customer would be defined but in the downtown, visitors are a key. He said if it isn’t clear enough they could change it. First they define the priority customer and then move on from there. Thompson clarified, customers would include residents.
Williams reminded them of an earlier conversation they had regarding parking 101. The “customer” would be zone based so if the zoning were residential that would be a different customer than if it were a commercial or mixed use zone.
Amarotico stated the priority user should include: visitors, residents, employees.
Williams suggested changing guiding principle number one to “Provide sufficient parking to meet resident and employee demand, specifically in conjunction with other reasonable travel mode options”. He added the intent is on-street parking within a residential zone; the discussion would begin with how to accommodate the residents. Within a commercial zone the discussion would begin with how to accommodate the visitors by time stay.
Thompson suggested a change to guiding principle number two “The most convenient on-street parking will be preserved for the priority user as defined in relation to the zone”. And you would basically define the user somewhere else and it would depend on what area you were talking about. Young agrees with Thompson and added essentially what matters is that they define priority user and in that it is all zone based, every zone would have its own list of high and low priorities.
Williams stated he will work on the language but he thinks they are right, he needs to tie it back to what he began with which was best practices as you start with zoning.
Active Capacity Management
Integration with Other Modes
Williams said he would really like this to be a foundation piece that the group endorses and this is the filter in which the ides and decision making are run through.
Thompson/Amarotico m/s to adopt the guiding principles as presented with the exception to the change to guiding principle #1.
The committee decided to strike the guiding principle “Leverage alternative modes to free up parking capacity” and to modify the guiding principle “Encourage and facilitate increasing percentages of users into alternative travel modes, particularly employees….to free up parking capacity”.
There was discussion about adding back the guiding principle which states “Leverage parking to support and increase the use of alternative modes of transportation”.
The committee decided to add a guiding principle which states “Develop parking strategies that encourage alternative mode use”.
Approved unanimously with changes
REVIEW AND DISCUSS STRATEGY ACTION STEP
Williams said the strategies that are being proposed are comprehensive and complex and they are going to require ongoing focused implementation. The reason he only did an eighteen month plan at this point is because a full parking management plan, which he intends on providing a framework for, is a lot of material. If the committee can understand the first eighteen months then they will be off to a good start. He added everything they are being asked to do is currently not in place. Resource identification is going to be critical to this plan. It also requires active participation of the private sector in the plan. He said a representative group is also going to be essential. These eighteen months set the stage for the big questions that everyone wants to get to (circulator system, new supply). You really can’t have the discussion until you get control of that supply you have because you don’t know how much you can get out of the system you have. The plan is very iterative; you need to take step 1 in order to take step 2, step 2 to step 3 and so on. Sometimes you can run them concurrently but you have to make sure if you’re doing step 4 that you haven’t skipped step 2. The timeline gives a sense of parking management.
Step 1 - Centralized Parking Management
Williams said Ashland has a complex system. High volumes of traffic, good areas of time stays, good enforcement but there isn’t anyone working on it every day. He thinks the system has become so sophisticated that parking should become a division within the city.
Rich asked about the timeline in terms of what has already been budgeted.
Step 2 - Stakeholder Input – Parking Advisory Committee
Rosenthal voiced concern with adding another commission and the workload that it adds to staff. He wonders if it is something the current Transportation Commission could take on since it already has staff assigned. Williams said it probably could until such time as this group would wear that commission out. In the interim the real key message is, will they have two hours a month to spend on parking?
Williams shared there are other cities out there who have accomplished this in a variety of ways; hiring a consultant to do the work, through their downtown booster group or through their main street program. He added he feels the Transportation Commission could be a good place to start or even through the Chamber of Commerce.
Hammond said as previously having served on the Transportation Commission she feels it would probably be a good starting place but she would just want to make sure the interests of the downtown businesses are represented.
Faught stated his thought process is, no matter how you look at it this is staff intensive so he is sort of looking at this Parking Manager position no longer being a half time position but maybe more of a full time position since we have that public responsibility. He also worries about having the Transportation Commission in charge of this because their focus is much broader within the community and it also needs representation of those that are affected by these decisions.
Williams said ideally the parking advisory committee would be appointed for staggered two-year terms and they would agree to meet on a routine basis over those terms. He added you would definitely want a representative of the Transportation Commission as part of the advisory committee. He added this current committee could easily do it but is there a commitment to serve for 2 more years and is it representative of all the user groups? But that is all it takes to make it work (commitment to a charge, longevity and representation).
Marsh shared as she thinks about a new staff position (Parking Manager), she thinks there’s another really important function that needs to be coupled into there and that is alternative transportation. It is a very common position in a lot of other communities but missing here. She added there would probably be broader support if the position was looked at that way.
Williams mentioned there are a few cities where the position is actually Parking and Access Coordinator or Manager. Faught agrees with that and said it is so much more than just the parking management. He said we talked earlier on about the public/private partnerships. He asked if there is a sense that public/private partnerships, in terms of funding these positions (pricing, fees fines), is feasible.
Graf said the advisory committee is going to work on parking but it has to have a baseline to start from. It has to have a plan in place and presumably the current committee will be the one to develop that plan. He added right now they wouldn’t have anything to enforce or to manage because there’s no plan. He thinks this committee needs to work its way through this timeline before it can be handed off to this advisory committee. Williams said the goal is to have that plan in three months so that they have this eighteen month plan to go off of. He said he has written and seen a lot of parking plans but very few of them have become management plans so that is his intent.
Donovan shared she had assumed the city had already been thinking about & pre planning for the need to eventually have someone at the city level to manager this plan.
Williams said the sooner the city had a parking professional doing this the better off you would be but the city may or may not have the resources to do that. The hope would be that when the city embraced the plan they would say it is their intent to get a Parking Manager. It will move faster if you have someone working on it 20-40 hours a week. These are solutions but they’re only good if there is someone who can move it forward. Faught said given there is interest; staff will explore various options for this position.
Step 6 - Simplify On-street time stays
Williams said he really likes U of O’s recommendation about simplifying the time stays on street. One of the issues though is the timing of when you do it because the recommendation was that it be combined with a program of on street permits. The idea was in the 4-hour areas you could sell employee and residential permits but the problem is you can’t put 4-hour parking in a residential zone during the day unless the residents are willing to use a permit program. This recommendation should be done over a 12-18 month period because the first thing you would have to do is notify the residents and they would have to agree to that. The committee was curious who the 4-hour parking serves. Williams said it came from the U of O study and it was to encourage people who needed longer term parking to park in the residential areas. Linda Fait (Diamond Parking) pointed out when they originally brought the idea up there was talk of perhaps making the south side of say B Street all residential parking and the opposite side would be 4-hour permit parking.
Step 9 - On-street Pricing
Williams said the committee should begin to consider on-street pricing. This is 18 months out but if the data is coming back and you’re continuing to have occupancy problems and resources are needed to fund some of the solutions priced parking is something that needs to be looked at. He added he doesn’t think we should price now, they need to go through steps 1-8 first and then you would have a better idea of where things are at.
Thompson isn’t sure why charging for parking is the way to go versus establishing parameters of permissible parking (2-hour, 4-hour etc.). She asked what the added benefit is to paid-parking. Williams said it is meant to influence other modes and it provides resources for other solutions (signage system, communication system, new supply etc.). He said pricing is just a tool but it has to be employed strategically. The outcome is, it helps motivate behavior and it helps provide a revenue base for solutions. It isn’t intended to do anything other than maximize supply. The people we most want to influence are employees.
Step 10 - Infrastructure Upgrades
Williams said this is another thing that priced parking can help with, if other sources are not identified. He added Faught and Kim Parducci have been working together on installing counter systems on public parking lots. They believe every facility should have a counter system on it that counts cars in and counts cars out so that over time we will minimize the cost of collecting data. Right now cars are coming in and out of facilities and nobody knows the occupancy unless someone is hired to go count. An investment in that type of counter technology on all of the public facilities now and in the future will be very beneficial.
Williams said he would like to hear back from everybody in September regarding thoughts on this plan, other ideas on things that should be put into it and they can begin to develop phase 2 in a more detailed manner.
John Williams asked if in his experience he finds that other cities that provide more bicycle parking if that leads to more people using bicycles. Williams answered you have to have 2 ends of the spectrum; where they’re originating from & they’re destination. He said the first thing you have to do is create a safe and secure route from the origination to the destination. He pointed out a lot of cities do that and then they stop so this is why he has this 4-step plan. The first step is to get the bike lane network determined. Step 2 is you need a place to park. Step 5, which he didn’t include in the plan because it is expensive, is shower and locker facilities. He mentioned that when the Lloyd district began bicycle parking in 1997 they had less than a 1% mode split for biking. They put in bike lanes, bike sharrows, bike corrals, off-street parking, shower/locker facilities, pricing etc. and today there is a 9% mode split for biking.
Marsh Said the reason Ashland has a parking problem is because traditionally they didn’t require parking of the downtown core businesses. She asked how common it is for other communities to have an assessment district that applies to the people who are not providing their share of parking. Williams answered they aren’t very common. He said what is becoming more common is called a parking benefits district which is where the city guarantees that after expenses (maintaining meter systems, enforcement etc.) that all surplus revenues are reinvested back into those districts based on priority projects plan developed by the parking advisory committee.
Young asked Williams about future trends in terms of the demographics and their transportation choices and how that might play into this. Williams said the trends they are seeing, particularly on the employee side, in the industry now indicate nearly 50% of the employees moving into the market between the ages of 18-24 don’t own a vehicle and that trend is continuing to increase around the country, partially due to wage disparity and lifestyle choices. He knows people that are building garages who are beginning to downsize because they know there is a trend of lower car ownership and drivers. He also mentioned that a lot of developers are designing garages to not be garages 10 years from now and a lot of the developers are afraid of building a garage because they won’t need it in the future.
Faught asked if it is common to charge an in lieu of parking fee. Williams said there a lot of cities that have fee in lieu of programs in which the developer is encouraged not to build parking themselves. They would pay a rate less than it would cost them to build it themselves for what are called access entitlements.
Meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant