Agendas and Minutes

Planning Commission (View All)

TC/PC Joint Study Session

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September 27, 2011


Transportation Commission Chair Steve Ryan called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street.  

Planning Commissioners Present:   Transportation Commissioners Present:
Michael Dawkins
Eric Heesacker
Pam Marsh
Debbie Miller
Melanie Mindlin
  Tom Burnham
Shawn Kampmann
Steve Ryan
Julia Sommer
Colin Swales
David Young
Corrine Vieville
David Chapman, Council Liaison
Absent Members:   Staff Present:
Russ Silbiger, Council Liaison
Brent Thompson
  Mike Faught, Public Works Director
Bill Molnar, Community Development Director
Maria Harris, Planning Manager
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor
1.  July 26, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes.
Commissioners Marsh /Swales m/s to approve the July 26, 2011 Joint Study Session Minutes. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Marc Butorac and Susan Wright with Kittleson and Assoc. addressed the commissions and provided an overview of the materials that were submitted to the group. Ms. Wright reviewed the project schedule and stated they plan on having a joint work session with the Council in December, the Planning Commission public hearing in January, and the City Council public hearing in February. She stated the desired outcome for this meeting is to review the draft preferred and financially constrained plans, address questions, and begin prioritizing the actions.
Questions and Comments
It was asked if the consultants had considered the impacts of SOU’s plans to build new dormitory facilities on Ashland Street, and whether this would necessitate a “pedestrian place” in this area. Ms. Wright clarified SOU is preparing additional studies and information on this element, including a pedestrian safety crossing study. 
It was questioned how the decision to include a specific project in the constrained plan was reached. Ms. Wright clarified a full explanation of the decision making process is contained in the white paper included in the packet materials.
Comment was made about the estimated costs for the studies listed on pg.15 of the summary worksheet, and it was questioned if these reflect the considerable staff time that will be involved. Mr. Butorac agreed this is not fully reflected in the document and stated there are items were they will need to go back and add in some staffing costs.

Review of Preferred Plan Policies, Programs, Studies and Projects
Mr. Butorac asked the commissioners to list any items they need further clarification on and then begin identifying items they want removed from the plan. The following are the items identified by the commissioners for further discussion:
  • Street Functional Classifications(L1): Mr. Butorac noted the following three changes to the functional classifications map: 1) Wimer from Siskiyou to the west is currently called an avenue; based on volume levels this will be changed to neighborhood collector. 2) Peachey Street will be converted to a neighborhood street. 3) Central Blvd in the Croman Mill site was included. It was questioned if Winburn and Granite had been downgraded from avenue to collector. Mr. Butorac stated they will go back and take a look at this.
  • Street Patios(L4): Public Works Director Mike Faught noted he and Steve Ryan provided a presentation to the Chamber’s Board a few weeks ago. He stated the Chamber is opposed to street patios and will be presenting their comments tonight.
  • Incorporate Bicycle Parking(L7): It was questioned why this is listed since this is current policy. Mr. Butorac agreed and stated this policy will be included in the TSP to provide guidance.
  • Develop Incentives for Truck Loading/Unloading(L8): Suggestion was made to include stronger language about this item. Mr. Butorac indicated this would likely be a Chamber driven project since this is a private sector issue. Several commissioners commented that this is a shared issue and should not necessarily be left to the Chamber to address.  Mr. Butorac suggested including a study that could be done in conjunction with the implementation of any changing or narrowing of downtown.
  • Funding Sources Feasibility Study & Downtown Parking Management Study(S1/S2): It was asked why staff cannot perform these studies. Mr. Faught explained staff is already over-booked and do not have sufficient time to work on these types of studies. He stated it will come down to either hiring additional staff or hiring a consultant to perform the work. Opinion was given that parking should not be looked at separately and should not be isolated from the other support systems. Regarding the funding source study, comment was made that funding sources should be looked at as a strategic tool to obtain certain types of desired develop or to make certain things happen.
  • Create TravelSmart Educational Program(O1): Mr. Butorac commented that these types of programs have been very successful, and clarified the cost listed is the physical cost; He stated there will be staff time involved and the cost will need to be updated. Suggestion was made to partner with a non-profit to do these types of projects. Additional suggestion was made to reference TGM grants and non-profits as options to offset the costs. The commissioners held further discussion about educational programs, and shared their opinions about the priority of this element.
  • Establish an Electric Assist Bicycle Program(O3): Opinion was given that this type of program should come from private business incentives and the City should not be subsidizing electric bike purchases. Opposing opinion was given supporting this concept. It was stated that electric bikes are costly (around $2,000) and the City should treat this similar to energy efficiency rebates for appliances.
  • Sidewalk and Bikeway Projects: Mr. Butorac noted this issue was discussed at the TSP Technical Advisory Committee meeting. He stated questions were raised about whether sidewalks should be built in areas where it would be challenging to do so, such as on Wimer Street. And if so, should the sidewalk be limited to just one side of the street. Or, if it is not required, should the development provide cash-in-lieu and that money be put towards the sidewalk installation in a more desired location. Comment was made that steeper and less used streets should have a lower priority, and the safe routes to school sidewalks should be at the top of the list. Additional comment was made that while sidewalks on every street is preferred, in some areas sidewalks on one side only is acceptable. Additional comments were made and Mr. Butorac recommended the commissioners indicate their ranking preference on their TSP summary worksheet. 

Mayor John Stromberg came forward and addressed the group. He explained the concept behind this plan was to create a visionary plan for the integrated transportation and land use future of the City. He stated this process is at a critical stage and hopes the plan that comes forward will be both visionary and thoughtful. He spoke to the public input component, and asked the group to think about the assumptions they are making. Mayor Stromberg also commented on special consideration for the downtown merchants. He stated communications with this group should be handled in a sensitive way and asked them to consider adding downtown parking. Mayor Stromberg asked the group to be careful about overly condensing the work they have done, and asked them to provide Council with good materials they can dig their teeth into. He added ODOT has provided a lot of support in this project and they are hopeful Ashland will produce a good plan that can be used as a model in other parts of the state. 
[Meeting adjourned for a 15-minute dinner break.]
Mr. Butorac commented that they will likely not have enough time to review every project element at tonight’s meeting, and urged the commissioners to fill out the summary worksheet and submit their comments by October 4th.

  • Transit Service Program(O5): It was noted RVTD will be presenting their near-term and long-term transit goals for the City at the October 3rd Council Study Session, and encouraged commissioners to attend if they are interested in this element of the TSP plan. Mr. Faught stated the RVTD plan is very well written and he is interested to hear what the Council has to say. The group held general discussion about RVTD’s plan. Several opinions were given that Ashland should not solely rely on RVTD and should keep their options open to achieve the transit service Ashland desires. It was questioned whether the City could run their own transit system, or whether they could go back to free fares. Mr. Faught commented on RVTD’s plan and stated he believes the plan does address Ashland’s desires. Comment was made that Ashland should create its own transit plan, find out what RVTD can bring to the table, and then look elsewhere to fill in the gaps and accomplish their desires. Mr. Faught again encouraged the commissioners to attend the Council Study Session and submit their comments on this element.
  • Railroad Crossings(X1-X5): Ms. Wright explained they would like to plan for three new crossings; however typically opening a new crossing comes at the price of closing another, and they understand the group is reluctant to do this. The group held discussion and general support was voiced for prioritizing a crossing at Fourth Street, and if necessary closing the Glenn Street crossing in order to achieve this. Mr. Butorac reminded the group about the implications for the Croman site and asked if they would consider closing the Wightman crossing in order to open the Washington crossing on the Croman site. Much discussion was had about this item, but the group was unable to reach a consensus. In the interest of time, the commissioners were asked to list their preferences and comments on the summary worksheet. 
  • Downtown Couplet Transition Study(S8): Mr. Faught noted the cost for this study would be $150,000 and stated he is not supportive of moving this forward. He stated the downtown street system works well in terms of moving traffic and people through it, and stated this is a lot of money to justify spending. Two commissioners voiced their disappointment in not moving this forward.

Public Testimony
Pam Hammond/President of Ashland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors/Ms. Hammond read a statement into the record that outlined the Chamber’s comments on specific plan elements. A full copy of the submittal is attached to these minutes as Exhibit A.
Sherry Smilo/215 Tolman Creek/Stated she had heard that the TSP lists the construction of a new roadway off Clay Street behind her trailer park. She stated she is speaking on behalf of herself and the other residents and voiced her opposition to a roadway in their backyard.  
Multi-Modal SDC Considerations
Mr. Butorac explained when this project was originally scoped the SDC update was priced as an update of the existing ordinance and methodology, which is based on vehicular trips; However, this process has transitioned to a methodology that would be person-trips (multi-modal). He stated a new methodology and ordinance will need to be prepared and taken through the City’s process for approval. He stated there are some budget considerations that go along with this and asked if the group was supportive of spending an additional $10,000 to create a multi-modal SDC.
The commissioners held general discussion on this item. Several comments were made that this is an important component of the TSP Update and should move forward.
Commissioners Sommer/Swales m/s to approve the expenditure. Voice Vote: all AYES. Motion passed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,
April Lucas, Administrative Supervisor

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