ASHLAND DOWNTOWN PARKING MANAGEMENT & CIRCULATION AD HOC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
November 4, 2015
CALL TO ORDER The meeting was called to order at 3:37 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 East Main St.
Regular members present: Pam Hammond (arrived at 3:37; left 4:46), Dave Young, Marie Donovan (arrived at 3:45), Lynn Thompson (arrived at 3:37), Michael Dawkins, Joe Graf, John Fields, John Williams, and Joe Collonge
Regular members absent: Emile Amarotico, Cynthia Rider, and Lisa Beam
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Bill Molnar, Katharine Flanagan, Michael Faught, Rich Rosenthal (left at 5:22), Sandra Slattery and Lee Tuneberg
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Mike Gardiner, and Pam Marsh
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
Young asked if Mike Gardiner is still a part of the committee as he hasn’t attended a meeting in a very long time. Faught said he would follow up regarding that.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Minutes of September 2, 2015
There was some confusion regarding the context of the minutes in a few sections. Young pointed out that Mary McClary had done the minutes and wasn’t present so we aren’t entirely sure but staff feels some of the information was pulled from the PowerPoint. Young pointed out a few corrections to verbiage and corrections were made. The committee agreed to the corrections Young mentioned.
Minutes approved as corrected.
REVIEW 18-36 MONTH PARKING STRATEGIES
Williams shared that the draft plan included in the packet begins to detail the first 18 months. Hopefully that gives a sense of how each step is detailed out. He said today the committee would review the 18-36 month plan, which would be mid to long term strategies.
18-36 month Solutions Outline
§ January 2018 – June 2019
§ Builds on work completed in 0 – 18 month plan (July 2016 – December 2017)
§ Focus is on data, capacity management, communications, capacity growth and funding sources.
§ Active participation of the private sector will be essential.
§ Can be accelerated or moderated as necessary.
§ Requires dedicated management and coordination.
Solutions – Step 16 (18-36 months)
Go live with on-street pricing
§ Implement findings of Step 13 in Phase 1
§ Supplement with on-going data (Step 7) to develop revenue/expense forecast for meter system and other plan funding needs.
§ Select target go live date.
INITIATE NO LATER THAN JANUARY 2018
Solutions – Step 17 (18-36 months)
Explore residential and employee permit programs (on-street)
§ Implement residential permit program in areas zoned R (if feasible)
§ Assess supply capacity (based on data update) for feasibility of employee on-street permit program(s) in 4 hour parking areas (contingent on residential program).
INITIATE NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 2018
Williams said as you move to a go live system it is going to have impacts on the dynamics of how people park and their behavior. In conjunction with the decision or not to go to paid parking there needs to be an outreach and education effort to neighborhoods on the permit concept. He added for a while it’s going to be like a balloon. If paid parking is initiated on street and you initiate paid parking in off street lots there is going to be an attempt to flee. This also anticipates a shared use program that would be in effect before the decision is made to go to paid parking. Theoretically when we get to the 18-36 month plan there will already be a shared use plan, at least on the way. We will also want to have a conversation with the neighborhoods about parking and about the possible solutions for them should they feel burdened by a new parking program and that would be a permit program. He added then you would let them come back and say whether they just want to let it go or whether they want to initiate a permit program in conjunction with the paid parking downtown. It’s not something the city should just impose upon a neighborhood. The main point is to have a conversation with the neighborhoods first and then let them request the program. Once requested you can see the flexibility that creates because you can control the supply.
Solutions – Step 18 (18-36 months)
Marketing / Communications Plan and Roll out
§ Finalize Marketing and Communications Plan for meter roll out
§ Emphasize new brand/logo
§ Emphasize on- and off-street system options
§ Communicate “where the money goes”
COORDINATED WITH GO LIVE DATE – STEP 16
Williams said if we need more capacity we need to get a plan going sooner rather than later as to how we would provide it.
Solutions – Step 19 (18-36 months)
Identify new garage opportunity sites
§ Establish desired parking “need” (w/ Steps 7 & 13)
§ Evaluate locations where parking is possible downtown.
§ Evaluate “remote” sites that could be connected via shuttle/transit (surface lot option).
§ Evaluate public/private partnerships to develop supply.
§ Coordinate site evaluation with Community Development.
§ Narrow to “feasible” site.
COMPLETE BY JUNE 2018
Solutions – Step 20 (18-36 months)
Explore shuttle/circulator connections (remote connector)
§ Evaluate route options
§ Explore connections to remote parking (Step 19)
§ Determine desired levels of frequency/type of vehicle/seasonality.
§ Circulator shuttle or existing transit?
§ Coordinate with RVTD.
§ Narrow to preferred option.
COMPLETE BY JUNE 2018
Solutions – Step 21 (18-36 months)
§ Develop cost forecasts for preferred parking supply and shuttle/transit system options.
COMPLETE BY SEPTEMBER 2018
Solutions – Step 22 (18-36 months)
Explore and develop funding options
§ Examine and recommend specific funding options to pursue for capacity expansion.
§ Coordinate with Community Development and RVTD
§ Finalized package options and conduct outreach and communications to affected stakeholders and City Council
COMPLETE BY MARCH 2019
Solutions – Step 23 (18-36 months)
Initiate New Capacity Expansion(s)
§ Based on findings of Steps 19 – 22
PLAN INITIATION JUNE 2019
COMMENT AND INPUT ON 0-18 MONTH PLAN REPORT
Donovan asked what the odds are of a private entity coming in and building a parking garage and what sort of loopholes that would entail with the city. Also, what would be the incentive for them to do that? Molnar said it would be difficult for someone to come in and build a standalone parking structure. He said we don’t allow private parking structures so it would need to be managed as a public facility. Faught asked if a private developer was coming into the downtown and had a parking requirement but couldn’t provide it at that location could they build the parking elsewhere? Molnar said there is a distance requirement but yes.
Young asked if it there is a mechanism for requiring developers who develop in the downtown to provide parking. Faught said possibly if it were a public/private partnership. Molnar said they have spoken with a few developers over the years about the possibility of the city adding parking onto their development but as far as changing zoning codes just to require more parking for demand that would probably have legal concerns.
Williams said Ashland is challenged by its geometries ad its lot sizes. A lot of cities rather than requiring parking will charge system development charges (SDC), fees in lieu of or even form a LID (Local Improvement District) for those businesses already in existence.
Slattery said she thinks Young is spot on because so much of the condition we are in is because there was no parking required to begin with and as we added onto the demand it worsened the problem. She said it is a huge philosophical change and is a much bigger city issue which is going to have to be looked at by the Planning Department, Planning Commission, and City Council etc.
Williams said that is why it is so important to get the Community Development department, the Chamber of Commerce and RVTD involved because at the end of the day someone is going to have to go before Council so hopefully by then we’ve built up to it.
Faught pointed out that general funds are probably not a viable option to fund this but he thinks SDC’s are a funding source to consider. Williams said this is not the entire list of possible funding sources but he will be sure to include a complete list in the report along with what he thinks as a consultant is the most viable for Ashland.
John Williams was curious if there is currently a parking SDC for the new buildings under construction along Lithia Way and Water Street. Faught said there aren’t any parking structures in the current SDC capital improvement list. Williams (Rick) added that SDC’s are a legitimate funding source for parking garages if they are creating new trip demand.
Molnar said there is a small portion of the downtown that is C-1-D where since 1978 or earlier there hasn’t been a requirement for parking unless it’s a hotel/motel or a residential unit, and now residential units aren’t required, but everything on the other side of Lithia Way that is being built has been required to provide parking. He added he thinks it is important to say there is a tremendous benefit that the code provision provided. A lot of the businesses in the downtown today would not be allowed if we had required parking. With the geometry and lot sizes that were created before the turn of the century if you had a change of use it would require a variance and generally the business owner wouldn’t go through that kind of risk. Ultimately that would have caused those buildings to languish and you wouldn’t see the types of businesses (restaurants, retail etc.) that exist today. In hindsight what could have been done is to have charged a fee in lieu of parking. Williams feels Molnar makes a good point and added that most people would envy the problem we created. It’s going to be hard moving forward but we should be strategic about it. Fields added he would argue that the decision to not have parking was intentional. 30 years ago there were no businesses, everything was boarded up and the decision was how we add to the vacancy, not the parking.
Dawkins said what Hammond wrote for the packet was great and it gave a good general direction on what could be done. For instance, one of the biggest problems is the long-term parking, particularly for employees. Finding that satellite lot and getting simple transit back and forth seems like something we should be focusing on. Cost wise this is still probably cheaper than a parking garage.
Williams said he thinks he is exactly right and hopefully the committee sees that in the shared parking plan because there’s that process of identifying lots and then working backwards to see how you make that work. As you go through this shared use process ideas like this start to spring up.
John Williams wonders what the methodology was to ordering these steps. Williams (Rick) said basically experience and having done it in other cities. He added he doesn’t really like plans with dates but he thinks plans need dates but they are only targets and you can accelerate or moderate accordingly. It is really an iterative process coupled with some logic and experience.
The committee discussed what the expectation is for them in regards to nitpicking the plan and how to move forward. Faught said his plan is before this goes to council he would like to hold a public meeting and invite the community. Before that happens he would hope that the committee would be comfortable enough at that point to support the plan so whatever level of nitpicking is necessary to get to that point is what he would like to see.
Collonge is skeptical that the Parking Manager position will ever become a reality and whether that person would be chosen in time to start this 18 month plan. Faught said he thinks it is possible if we’re looking at a contractor for the short term. The proposal includes a half time employee but he feels there is much more work than a half time employee could get done. However, if the city contracted with someone for the first 3 years to get the plan going then maybe a half time employee could keep up at that point.
Slattery asked how you would handle the costs as they increase due to delays in getting things off the ground. Williams said when they do cost estimates there all based on the year of construction.
Thompson said as she was looking over the plan she was surprised to see the recommendation that this is kicked off by codifying the guiding principles and amending the comprehensive plan. She feels if council does that then they are in a sense buying into having centralized management and a lot of things that have economic consequences. She wonders if that is really necessary. Williams said it doesn’t have to be in the comprehensive plan. A lot of code has policy elements that interpret the code for you. He added that most cities would adopt this as a policy element to their Transportation System Plan (TSP); others would put it in their Comprehensive Plan, if it was timed right with their Comprehensive Plan update. He thinks it is extremely important for the council to say they buy into this and that they direct their advisory committee to run through this filter.
Graf had some confusion regarding an earlier point that Faught made regarding whether they are endorsing step 1 and step 19 because he feels step 1 can’t be funded without step 19. Faught answered the point he was trying to make was they are looking at the entire plan and approving it, which includes evaluating paid parking in the future should it be triggered.
John Williams feels they need to look at this plan as a bunch of options that have a chronological element to them because some things have to be done before others but it’s not necessarily a discrete list of things that you have to do.
Williams (Rick) said that is the problem with putting dates on things, it should all be data driven. He hopes they don’t get to the point where they reach year two and because of that they don’t need to go to paid parking and then everyone just walks away from it. He added while he hates to say it someday there will be paid parking. The key to this plan is managing it whether it’s free or paid or not; that’s what’s missing. Council will need to come to terms with it. It may not be paid parking on this schedule but there’s going to need to be a program to support parking in Ashland and that’s going to take some resources. Then the data itself will tell you when it’s time to act.
Slattery said the way she has been thinking about Williams approach is that it’s more of a process. It doesn’t mean the committee is approving all of the recommendations but they are approving a way of thinking and then measuring the options. The outcome will be based on the data. Moving forward she feels it is key for everyone to remember they are approving a process as opposed to approving implementation.
Williams pointed out it is a process that leads to good decision making. The timeline will be based on the data and on the guiding principles.
Young shared he has been in 4 different places in the past month and all of them had paid parking. For him it wasn’t an obstacle, it was just the cost of doing business there.
Williams said it takes him back to an earlier question which was “will paid parking hurt us?” He said this plan/process is about trying to minimize the risk when the decisions are made. The guiding principles are the most important part of the plan because it states public policy intent. The other part of it is, when you’re over 85% the industry has shown that the risk goes down tremendously. Then the key is you don’t price for that reason alone, you price for what we’re using the money for to create additional options in the downtown.
Faught shared that by January/February the committee should begin to finalize the details of the plan. He added he will work out the costs for staffing/contracting and share that with them because that is something council will want to look at.
Slattery re-iterated that this really is a process and she thinks of it as a flow chart which is more fluid. She thinks it will be dangerous if we say we’re going to do everything on the list. Some people won’t like certain elements of it (shuttle, parking garage, paid parking etc.) and the committee is going to get caught up in the drama of it and then people start taking up sides. Her worry is that then they will start arguing about what’s going to happen. What she likes about this plan is it is methodical and we aren’t taking anything on unless it’s been vetted. She is feeling very optimistic about this plan versus previous plans that had sat on a shelf; this is fresh and different.
Thompson thinks the plan really flows; it’s a systematic approach to a problem. She said it is likely that most of the steps identified in the plan will be taken as time goes on. She added hopefully with community involvement none of it will come as a total shock. She feels comfortable with the plan provided it is disclosed to the public as to what this is going to look like over time and people will be able to react to it.
Dawkins finds this interesting as he reflects back on when the meters were taken out of Ashland back when the mills went away and the freeway went around the town instead of through it. He said what is cool about this is there’s an ongoing process and nobody is blindly doing anything. He really likes this plan/process.
Graf likes this plan and thinks he now understands it but he now is starting to think about how it will read when a citizen picks up the plan and skips directly to a particular step as opposed to reading the entire plan. He was especially concerned with Figure B showing changes proposed by the previous consultant for timed parking within downtown. He said it is important for citizens to understand that this is a process and that all of the steps in the plan are to be fine tuned with a lot of public input. He also pointed out that the step #’s in the draft don’t cross reference correctly. Williams said he still needs to go through and make further edits to the draft plan.
Young understands this as the committee is doing the work of filling in the hole of the TSP. He added the Transportation Commission and Planning Commission kicked the can down the road so whatever they do here will be folded into the TSP. Faught said the TSP actually identified this as a project not necessarily as kicking the can down the road. He added at some point there will be a TSP update tied to this.
The next meeting will be held on December 2, 2015 at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 5:30 pm
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Assistant