Agendas and Minutes

Downtown Parking Management and Circulation Ad Hoc Advisory Committee (View All)

September 7, 2016 meeting

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

September 7, 2016

CALL TO ORDER The meeting was called to order at 3:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1175 East Main St.
Regular members present: Chair Michael Dawkins, Joe Collonge, Lynn Thompson, John Williams, Lisa Beam, Emile Amarotico, Joe Graf, Pam Hammond, and Marie Donovan
Regular members absent: Dave Young, and John Fields
Ex officio (non-voting) members present: Michael Faught, Pam Marsh, and Sandra Slattery
Ex officio (non-voting) members absent: Katharine Cato, Bill Molnar, Mike Gardiner, Lee Tuneberg, and Rich Rosenthal
City of Ashland Staff members present: Tami De Mille-Campos
Roy Sutton, 989 Golden Aspen Place
He didnít think he was going to come to the meeting but an incident happened yesterday that he really wanted to relay to the committee. He was standing in Lithia Park on the path by the childrenís area and a boy around the age of 10 or 11 was on a bicycle. The boy stopped and came up to him and asked where a particular street in town was. Apparently he had gotten lost and didnít know his way home. The only way he knew for the boy to get home was to go to the plaza and turn right onto East Main Street and onto Siskiyou. He saw that one of the agenda topics was the East Main Super Sharrow concept. He would like for the committee to keep in mind this 10 or 11 year old kid, who is by himself and needing to get home, when making whatever decision regarding the bicycle lane downtown. From what he has seen of the super sharrow he doesnít think it is a good way. He thinks a bike lane would be understood by him and respected by the motorists.
Kristen Sivesand, 1497 Windsor Street
She has lived here for over 15 years. She would like to know, briefly, where things stand on getting rid of one of the lanes on Main Street, getting rid of parking spots etc. She said they have been gone quite a bit the past couple of months and not only are they strongly opposed to, but everyone they know is, going down to two lanes on Main Street and eliminating parking. She doesnít think making pull outs for trucks is going to be helpful if you only have two lanes left to work with, especially if people are using one of those lanes to parallel park. She stated there are very few bicyclists on Main Street to begin with and itís not like cars are going 40 mph through town, it is very safe. She thinks the majority of people should be taken into account. In a town like this it seems to her that something like this ought to be up for referendum and not decided by the City Council, particularly like what happened with the parking fines increasing. It seems that decisions are made that affect people every day and yet people arenít consulted.
Chair Dawkins said she wasnít the first person to say this and the three lane to two lane proposal has been put on hold.
Paul Niedermeyer, 1497 Windsor Street
He asked how many people on the committee came today on their bicycle (2 people raised their hands). He asked, when the study came out what was the reaction of the people who own stores in the downtown. He said people on bikes usually arenít hauling stuff away and shopping.
Chair Dawkins said he wasnít the first person to bring that up and it has been a continual theme. He pointed out this is a public process where we take the public input, throw things out there to see how viable they are and if they arenít they back off and try something else.
Thompson pointed out all of the minutes are posted online and are very detailed.
Minutes of July 6, 2016
Donovan/Graf m/s to approve minutes.
Minutes approved as presented.
Faught welcomed everyone back after taking a little break during the summer. He shared with the committee that at a recent Council study session Council decided to disband this current committee and move on to the public input process. Typically when an Ad Hoc committee is formed it is short term, 12-18 months. This current committee has been at it almost 3 years already. He heard lots of accolades about what a great job this committee has done and how much Council appreciates the work that has been done. After the public input process is complete then the committee will finalize its recommendation to Council. As he envisions it the committee would meet today and then wait until after the public meeting to come back together for one more meeting to see if any changes to the plan were necessary before moving the plan on to Council.
He said we expanded into this longer conversation about urban design and he thinks that was a great nexus in terms of if you are looking at multi-modal you want to see how that affects the downtown. What the Council envisions is having a new committee, which could include some of the people from this committee, start working on the multi-modal/urban design after the next budget cycle begins because it is going to be a fairly expensive study.
Chair Dawkins is slightly disappointed with the decision to split this up. He doesnít feel there is any way you can separate the parking and the design. There are so many things that are interlocked. He listened to the study session discussion and he disagrees with it.
Collonge said one of the things that gets lost is that this isnít just to have people come down and go shopping on their bicycle with a basket on the front of it. The real intention is for people to ride to work on their bikes and then that frees up parking.
Thompson asked if a DPAC will still be constituted. Faught said Council is very interested in continuing to see this committee finish the work on the parking proposal and then sending the plan onto them. Thompson asked for clarification on whether Rick Williamsí plan included an ongoing committee. Faught said the proposal to have an ongoing committee would remain the same. She also asked if that implies that nothing else is going to happen along the lines of the super sharrow until the future committee gets to that or are there things that could happen in the short term? Faught said there is actually some interest from Council and the Transportation Commission in moving forward with the supper sharrow concept.
Graf said he has several things he is worried about. He doesnít know whether this committee is the solution to all of these problems. The parking plan is going to go to a certain point and then it is going to back up against the fact that this new committee hasnít redesigned the downtown. He predicts that the new committee is going to run into the problems that this committee has struggled with in terms of the three lane to two lane proposal and the limited options. His other concern as chair of the Transportation Commission is how all of this relates to the Transportation System Plan (TSP) and what happens to all of the other projects like the Beaver Slide, the roundabout at Hargadine/Pioneer and all of the other ones that were recommended. Since we are doing the 5 year update of the TSP do we say we can do everything but the downtown once again and letís just wait for the downtown design committee to get to the same place we are?
Faught responded there is no reason that the TSP canít still look at improving the downtown. The key thing that he thinks this new committee will do is hire a new consultant with the expertise in urban design which is the element that we didnít have. This is simply waiting until the next budget cycle to make sure we have sufficient funds in the budget to pay to get the right consultant working on this element of the plan. He is optimistic and thinks that committee with that focus and that charge will move along fairly quickly. He also agrees that there is nothing easy about any major change that could be proposed by the committee and it will generate input from the community.
Councilor Marsh said she didnít have too much to add but did want to reinforce some of the things that Faught said. Council is very excited about the parking plan and sees the need to move forward quickly with that and they donít want the parking piece to sit and wait while the urban design piece is being worked on. At the same time, they understood that as we look at multi-modal and the potential for digging up the streets that there is much to be gained in broadening the vision. We bring in people and talk about the different elements of downtown and what the impacts might be and then you might start to see buy in at different levels from people who are engaged in downtown. This is the chance to take on that bigger vision and plug multi-modal into that. There are discussions at the Council level that need to be had before the next budget cycle regarding how big and how much and what is that study going to look like. And then once the new committee comes back after the beginning of the next budget cycle we can look at this with a fresh set of eyes.
Donovan said Marsh said that very well and really encapsulated everything she was thinking. She thinks this is the place they got to a couple of meetings ago. The committee had spent so much time on the parking element and those that work in the downtown saw over the summer how challenging parking was and if we donít get moving on that while we have momentum and Councilís attention then it is going to sit and we are going to be in worse condition. She thinks it is important to move that forward and get input from the citizens of Ashland. She doesnít see this as a dying subject because this is important to the vitality of the downtown.
Graf clarifying that he isnít opposed to moving the parking piece forward because he thinks that is the logical thing to do. He is just worried that the other stuff is pushed back now until a new committee is formed and gets themselves up and running. He worries that they will get to the hard stuff which as he understands, has faced this committee and the committee before them. At some point someone is going to have to face that and come up a solution.
Williams said he hears all of the concerns, although he isnít quite as pessimistic. He is concerned that it is going to take a long time but he thinks there are some things that Council and staff can do to speed things up. One of the key things will be to define specific goals for these committees to achieve; particular milestones or deliverables and maybe even a time limit associated with them. That was something he thinks this committee kind of struggled with, it felt like they had a nebulous goal.
Chair Dawkins agrees with what Graf is saying. He thought this was going to be a continual process with all of the same people working on it. He also mentioned that he was going through some of the old stuff that is around his house and there was an old Ashland Gazette. This particular article was going on about the 1967 plan and why didnít that work? The article was kind of along the same lines as what Graf was saying about how you sort of get to this point where everyone gets panicked and the work stops.
Faught said he had never heard this term before and then he got an email from Dave Young about this idea that was spurred from Donovan sharing about what she saw while vacationing in New Zealand. He wasnít familiar with this concept and neither was our traffic engineer so he contacted Kittelson and Associates who is pretty familiar with our downtown. They think it has the potential to work as well, although there is one potential drawback which is while cars can drive on it, delivery trucks cannot park and unload using that lane. When he spoke to Kittelson about that they thought they could come up with a way for it to work for us. As he shared with Council, to hire an engineer to do the work necessary to look at the feasibility of this it is going to cost about 40k and to construct it would cost about 100k. He pointed out the Transportation Commission voted for him to bring this to Council and this committee. Council really likes this idea but they would like feedback from this committee before proceeding.
There was some concern regarding the narrowness of East Main as it comes into the plaza area, near Brothers restaurant and Liquid Assets. Faught said there would likely need to be some kind of ordinance against loading/unloading in that area.
Graf pointed out that right now people are allowed to ride their bike in the middle of a lane, itís just that most people donít have the courage to do so. He also said it wasnít the 3 lane to 2 lane that was going to cost 6 million dollars, it was everything else that makes it go from half million to six million. Faught said he doesnít completely agree with that.
Williams said his initial thoughts are with the painted solid line, he would be concerned with keeping the paint up. Also, he is slightly concerned about spending $140,000 on something that could potentially change after the urban design committee gets done. He said maybe we should wait a year or so to see what the urban design committee comes up with.
Beam asked about whether there is any kind of grant funding out there for something like this? Faught said he will look but unfortunately for something this small it likely wouldnít compete very well on a grant application.
Chair Dawkins said this would make it very distinct and without making too much of a change it would give us a chance to see if it increases bike ridership.
Faught said the Transportation Commission and Council support it but as the Public Works Director he also supports it and thinks it is a great idea and is something we should definitely explore.
Thompson thinks it is a great idea and as we have talked about the congestion in the downtown and the difficulty of reducing lanes it has always seemed to her like we have to find a way for the bikes to share what is there. Her hope would be that this is the long-term solution.    
Graf asked about the section of bike lane going south on Lithia Way over the bridge. Faught said he could have them take a look at painting that area. He added that he hasnít met with Kittelson yet but he would probably have them look at where the bike lane ends on North Main Street all the way through and then look at the other side as well.
Amarotico thanked Donovan for recognizing this and bringing it to the committee. Having seen them in Portland over the weekend he stopped and looked at them. He is really excited about it and he doesnít see it as a compromise, he sees it as a win-win.
Williams said one other concern he had in looking at this was hopefully in the future there would be a way to physically separate bicyclists from cars with some sort of barrier. His concern is that everyone thinks this solves the problem and then this becomes the permanent solution.
Graf said he agrees partly with Williams but if East Main were four lanes and we were going four to three then that would be feasible but going three to two is hard. Graf also wanted to give credit to Young who was the one who brought it to the Transportation Commissionís attention after hearing the discussion that was started by Donovan and others in the group.
Marsh said in addition to giving us a venue to get used to driving alongside bikes it also gets us used to potentially driving in just two lanes. If we have an influx of cyclists then cars are going to get used to driving in just two lanes and maybe that wonít be quite as overwhelming as we think it is now.
Donovan/Graf m/s the committee supports the super sharrow concept.
All in favor.
Faught said he had worked with the Chamber on this and thanked Slattery for her help. The Chamber was able to secure the Rogue River room at SOU on November 2nd which gives us plenty of time to get the word out. Rick Williams will be at the meeting and will give his presentation. He would like the committee to be there if possible to listen to the concerns/feedback from the community. The exact start time hasnít been determined but will likely be either 5:30 or 6:00. This will be relayed to the committee soon. There would then be a final meeting, likely December 7th, of this committee to come back together and make any necessary changes to the plan before forwarding it on to Council.
Graf asked about whether committee members would be able to openly communicate their opinions at this public input meeting. Faught said he appreciated that question and the intent of this meeting is really to get feedback from the public and Williams will be the one presenting. He personally doesnít think the committee should engage in that but it is a personal choice. He thinks the idea is to be actively listening to the feedback. 
Donovan said she is against committee members talking to the public or giving their own personal opinion because she thinks it messes up the whole process for everybody. The last time we had that happen with this committee it really set us back and she is leery of that happening again.
Fait (Diamond Parking) said she would love it if, once the details of the meeting are worked out, some sort of flyer or handout is shared with Diamond Parking because they get a lot of questions from people and often times they donít have any answers or information to give to people. Faught said we would share the flyer with them when it is ready.
The next meeting will be held on December 7, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.
Meeting adjourned at 4:51 pm
Respectfully submitted,
Tami De Mille-Campos, Administrative Supervisor

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