Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, April 04, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way
Mayor Stromberg called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. in the Siskiyou Room. 
Councilor Lemhouse, Morris, Voisin, Seffinger, and Marsh were present.   Councilor Rosenthal arrived at 5:32 p.m.
1.   Public Input  
Louise Shawkat/870 Cambridge/Senate Bill 1547 promoted community solar projects.  Photovoltaics were becoming an increasingly viable source of mainstream power.  A solar farm would put electricity in the grid decreasing the use of fossil fuels.  It was time for a utility scale solar project.  She urged Council to explore solar power and not wait for a recommendation by the Climate Energy Action Plan Committee who would have the community busy with many measures to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint.   
Huelz Gutcheon/2253 Hwy 99/Noted an interview with Elon Musk who equated issues with co2 to running an experiment to see what the capacity levels of co2 in the oceans and atmosphere reach before earth was cooked.  That experiment was 99% likely to show that co2 was not a problem while 1% would show it would cook the planet.  There was no question that at a certain level it will destroy the earth or large portions of the planet.  The question was the level and when people would stop pumping vast quantities of co2 into the atmosphere.  Oil and coal were finite resources as was Ashland’s capacity for environmental adaptation, mitigation, and safe parking places.    
2.   Look Ahead review
City Administrator Dave Kanner reviewed items on the Look Ahead.
3.   Downtown Parking Management and Multi-modal Circulation Committee status update
Public Works Director Mike Faught introduced Rick Williams from Parking & Transportation and Kimberly Parducci from Southern Oregon Transportation Engineering.
Mr. Williams addressed the strategic parking management plan.  The study area included Pine Street to 5th Street, Hargadine and Main Street, and A Street.  The process involved nine meetings and accessed information from the Southern Oregon University 2014 Community Planning Workshop.  Consulting crews surveyed every parking lot in the downtown area and quantified occupancy over a twelve-hour period. 
Key Findings showed on street parking heavily utilized during the peak season with 6-10 hour stretches where parking was over 85% occupied, an industry standard indicating a strain on parking.  The study also revealed off street parking options during peak hours.  The Downtown Parking Management and Multi-modal Circulation Committee recognized the need for more data during non-peak periods.  The Committee agreed current parking would not meet growth and developed an iterative system to manage parking over time. 
Parking was not just the City’s responsibility and active participation from the private sector was essential.
The Committee recommended a two-phase approach.  The first phase was an 18-month process.  The second phase would start at month 18 with a 36-month process.  Phase 1 would formalize guiding principles and the 85% rule, centralize parking management, collect additional data, and assess downtown parking supply.  It would also create a new parking brand and off-street signage, implement a four-tied strategy to improve bicycle parking, design a wayfinding system, and evaluate the feasibility of on street pricing at the end of the 18 months.
Phase 2 strategies would set the stage for pricing parking, creating new access capacity, coordinated parking management in neighborhoods, and identify funding options for new capacity and growth.  Phase 2 would also create a transition to on street pricing through permit programs, public engagement and implementing on street pricing January 2018.  Other Phase 2 strategies would create capacity through parking supply and research transit and shuttle options by January 2019.
Neighborhoods adjacent to the downtown could choose to have a residential permit program that restricted downtown users from using their neighborhoods for parking.  Alternately, neighborhoods could have the City sell available parking to downtown users for specific times during the day.  A residential permit program would require enforcement sustained through citations and the permits.  Bed and Breakfasts could purchase overnight guest or temporary permits.  Priced parking would allow for 2-hour and 4-10 hour parking areas.  Prices could fluctuate during peak and off-peak seasons. 
Mr. Faught explained the Downtown Parking Management and Multi-modal Circulation Committee would make capital project recommendations for the Transportation Commission to consider.
Ms. Parducci explained there were four components to multi-modal downtown projects that consisted of pedestrian, bicycle, roadway projects, and transit.  The Pedestrian Plan would provide a sidewalk on the Beaver Slide from Water Street to Lithia Way, sidewalks connecting A Street from Oak Street to 6th Street, fill in sidewalk gaps on Water Street to Van Ness Avenue and B Street, and fill in gaps on C Street from 4th to 5th Streets.
The Bicycle Plan in the downtown area had five bicycle projects to connect bike lanes on a variety of streets. The Plan established two trails that would expand the existing bicycle network from A Street to East Main Street and include a multi-use path from A Street to the Clear Creek Drive Extension. 
Mr. Faught addressed transit and explained the Transportation System Plan (TSP) included a future Route 8 that would connect the East Nevada Street project up to the hospital.  The TSP identified a transit hub in the Railroad District that would provide a turnaround for Route 10, allow an express route or commuter rail and a trolley route from downtown to Exit 14.   
Ms. Parducci explained the Intersection and Roadway Plan would improve the intersections at Lithia Way and East Main Street, install traffic signals at Lithia Way and Oak Street, and add a pedestrian and bike railroad crossing at 4th Street.  Other potential projects would reduce vehicular traffic on the Beaver Slide and create a multi-use path for pedestrian and bicycle circulation, realign pedestrian crossings at Lithia Way and 3rd Street, and implement a mini roundabout at Pioneer, Fork, and Hargadine Streets.  Tour buses could also park in that area.
The three lane to two-lane conversion incorporated several projects into one.  The first section focused on Bush Street to Helman Street and Church Street and was a transition from the Road Diet to the downtown core.  It would continue as one lane into the downtown area and create a center turn lane onto Bush Street without backing up traffic.   The second lane would come off Helman Street and remove the traffic signal creating a natural transition.  Retaining the signal would create back up and make it difficult to recover.  Instead of crossing two lanes at a time, pedestrians would cross one lane to a wider island then cross a second single lane.  This reduced crossing distance for pedestrians making it easier and more efficient to cross to the island.  They would post signs on Lithia Way as it headed north to alert drivers which lane went downtown and which went to North Main Street.  The conversion would allow continuous bike lanes from Siskiyou Boulevard through Lithia Way and from Bush Street through East Main connecting to Siskiyou Boulevard.  To accommodate these changes they would remove parking in front of Brothers restaurant. 
Eliminating traffic on the Beaver Slide would improve Water Street.  Part of the sidewalk at the busload transit stop would move to the other side of the existing trees by the Plaza parking lot.  Installation of new traffic signals at Lithia Way and Oak Street and North Main and Oak Street would improve vehicular progression and pedestrian safety.   Designated unloading zones for trucks would make 18 parking spaces unavailable daily until 4:00 p.m.  They City would find 18 spaces to make up for that loss.  The study showed in terms of the volumes three lanes was not necessary it was more how the traffic interacted in the downtown area.  
The project would also widen some sidewalks. 
Mr. Faught thought the Committee was close to making a final recommendation to Council.  Prior to going to Council for approval, they would work on an event with the Chamber of Commerce to engage the community and get public input.  This would mostly likely occur in October or November. 
Meeting adjourned at 7:08 p.m.
Respectfully submitted,                                                                                                          
Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder

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