CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION MINUTES
July 18, 2001 - 12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor DeBoer called the meeting to order at 12:07 p.m.
Councilors present: Reid, Hartzell, and Laws. Hanson and Morrison were absent.
Staff present: Community Development Director John McLaughlin and Public Works Director Paula Brown
1. Strawberry Lane LID - Update and Discussion
John McLaughlin stated that Mayor DeBoer, the developers, and he met to discuss the project. The developers agreed to be responsible for street improvements from the upper part of Strawberry down to, and including, the intersection of Strawberry and Alnut. Total improvement costs are $1,076,600. The city bears $734,000 of the cost, the developer bears $140,000 of the cost through participation in the LID, and the neighborhood bears approximately $202,600. The per-lot cost for existing residents will be $4,140, which is the cap established by the City as part of the amendments to the LID process. If the council agrees to the formation of the LID, a meeting will be held in August to present the proposed improvements and cost estimates.
DeBoer noted that the developers were unwilling to pay more than $140,000. A clause has been written into the agreement adding potential liens to future lots, should an owner choose to partition his land. Brown noted that only four or five lots would be effected by this clause.
McLaughlin explained that the zoning designation in the Strawberry Lane area is half-acre lots, but the developers voluntarily chose to develop 1-acre lots. The lot size would actually be less than 1 acre after adding right-of-way, etc., which means the lots could not be partitioned. McLaughlin clarified that a year remains on the developer's building permit.
Laws stated his concerns regarding the goal to pave city streets. Should this project expire, these streets may never be developed. In 1980 a development was turned down because the council felt adequate streets could not be developed. Additionally, there was a water moratorium, which has since been lifted. At this point, he felt the council must move forward on the project. It has been delayed long enough.
Streets in the area differ in size, but in most cases they are narrow. Two-way roads are 22 feet wide with sidewalks on one side of the street. One-way streets are approximately 15 feet in width. To widen roads, trees would need to be removed, hills would be cut, and retaining walls would be built. Hartzell noted her concern regarding access for emergency vehicles. Brown noted that paving the roads increases safety as compared to leaving them unpaved.
Reid supported initiating the LID process. She added her concern regarding the number of retaining walls planned for the project. Brown explained that utilizing narrower streets reduces the number of retaining walls.
McLaughlin explained that the property owned by the City in the Strawberry Lane area does not have to be linked to the LID process. It could be sold to help pay expenses for this project or it could be sold later to fund another project. DeBoer noted that funding for the LID has been budgeted for next year.
Michael Donovan/110 Westwood/Owns property in the area, but is not effected by the LID. He questioned SDCs and funding of the project. Brown clarified the total expenses would be $1 million. Donovan stressed that the City's surplus land could be used for Parks purposes, and he did not support selling it. Currently there is open-space in the area, but no parklands have been set aside for neighborhood use.
2. Presentation and Discussion of the Transportation, Transit and Parking Committee Report
McLaughlin explained the three facets of the plan and the need for funding for the transit portion. Staff requested a review of the plan by the mayor and council, and direction for the implementation of the recommended strategies.
Michael Donovan/110 Westwood/Member of the Ad Hoc Transportation, Transit, Parking Coordinating Committee/Stated that the study of this issue began more than two years earlier. Parking in the downtown area is over capacity. Donovan advocated allowing employees to park in the new parking lot, especially since the park-and-ride project has been a failure.
Reid stressed her desire for long-term parking for patrons. Providing 6-8 hours of parking encourages shopping and dining, along with theater attendance. Forcing people to move their cars every two to four hours compounds traffic congestion.
Hartzell noted that accommodating parking for employees does not encourage them to find alternative transportation. She felt that if the City was going to provide parking for employees, business should help subsidize the cost. Hartzell sees staff parking in the structure as an interim situation.
DeBoer noted that the City is not subsidizing the parking structure. The council's direction to the City was that the parking garage would pay for itself and generate adequate revenue to pay the City back for its expenses. He stated he would ask staff to return the ordinance to council regarding employee parking in the new parking structure. By removing employees from current parking lots creates long-term parking in Ashland. The failure of the park-and-ride program shows that other alternatives are needed.
Hartzell stated she supported an ordinance only if it was used transitionally. She wanted to see the Chamber of Commerce come up with a proposal, including incentives/disincentives for employee transportation.
Donovan did not think it was more of a community issue than a Chamber issue. He noted other communities who created multi-faceted transportation programs. Donovan noted the number of employees who cannot afford to live in Ashland and are forced to commute. He felt that more was needed than disincentives.
Laws did not feel that a committee could come up with specifics for a transit program and funding. He thought a consultant could provide the information that is needed.
Colin Swales/461 Allison/Noted an OSF parking study that was done in 1999. During the high season, OSF causes the majority of parking issues. He suggested adding a $1 ticket tax to OSF ticket prices to pay for parking alternatives. He quoted from the OSF parking survey where more than 70% of patrons stated they were not willing to pay for parking. He noted the various piece-meal projects and urged the council to create a comprehensive plan. He stated that people living in downtown neighborhoods should be notified of parking proposals and possible permits. Finally, he suggested creating a car-share program for citizens.
DeBoer stated he would reactivate the Transportation and Parking Committee with the charge of proposing funding for the parking plan, speaking to Rogue Valley Transit, and addressing council's issues.
Brown brought the door-hangers and table cards created for the water curtailment program. The cards, which explain why water is given to patrons only upon request, were given to the Chamber for distribution at local restaurants. It was noted that a notification plan has been utilized, including information on the website.
Meeting was adjourned at 1:43 p.m.
Michelle Cole, Assistant to the City Recorder/Treasurer