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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Minutes
Monday, June 26, 2017

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at 12:05 p.m. in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
 
Commissioners Present
Patrick Miranda, Chair
David McFadden, Vice Chair
Joe Foley
Mark McKechnie
E. J. McManus
Jared Pulver
Alex Poythress
 
Commissioners Absent
Bill Mansfield, Unexcused Absence        
David Culbertson, Excused Absence
 
Staff Present
Matt Brinkley, Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Assistant Planning Director
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
                
Subject:
20.1        CP-16-036 – Transportation System Plan Goal & Objectives
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner reported that the Transportation System Plan (TSP) was adopted in 2003 and is fourteen years into its twenty year planning horizon.  It is the City’s guide to developing and funding its transportation system.  It includes everything from air, freight, and transit to vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians and how best to accommodate and improve each of these means of travel.  It identifies priority projects and what we want the transportation system to look like in the coming decades.  The plan addresses existing and future needs and identifies improvements to be made.  Improvements can include everything from new traffic signals, to additional bike lanes or installation of sidewalks to modifications to enhance transit stops.
 
The plan is an important document because it directs how the City will build upon its existing system to meet future needs. 
 
An update to the plan has been in the works since 2010.  The update will incorporate the street network needed with the proposed UGB expansion and will look at the period 2018 to 2038.  The goal is to complete the TSP update by the end of this year.
 
As part of meeting Statewide Planning Goal 1 – Citizen Involvement.  In order to receive input from a range of stakeholders, the TSP has two formal advisory committees.  One is the Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and this group was established by the City Council in May 2011.  The members of the CAC are those who serve on the Joint Transportation Subcommittee (JTS).  The second formal group to work on the TSP is the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).  This group includes representatives from public sector agencies that are affected by the plan or who can provide important feedback on the plan.  Agencies such as the Oregon Department of Transportation, Jackson County Cities of Central Point and Phoenix, RVMPO, School District, etc.  A resolution to formally establish this group is going to the City Council on July 6, 2017.  The goals and objectives have been reviewed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and their feedback has been incorporated into the document before the Commission today.
 
Establishing goals and objectives is an important first step in updating the TSP.  These serve as the guiding principles for the plan and inform the work we do.  It lays the foundation for what the document is intending to accomplish over the planning period and encompasses the entire transportation system.  The goals and objectives help establish priorities on what we want to accomplish and how we want the transportation system to look and function moving forward which in turn informs citizens, developers, staff, and appointed elected officials.
 
The goals and objectives in front of the Planning Commission today were established by the JTS and have been reviewed and modified by the BPAC.  The goal today is to receive feedback or comments from the Planning Commission and incorporate any changes.  In the coming month or so we hope to meet with the City Council to go over these as well.
 
The proposed breakdown:
•             3 Overarching Goals established
•             17 Objectives that relate to a Goal
•             100 total Action Items spread under the Objectives
•             The to-do list
 
Goals:
•             Goal 1: Plan, Manage, and Invest Comprehensively & Strategically
Provide a system that serves a range of modes while enhancing public health and safety, economic vitality, and community livability.
 
•             Goal 2: Make cost-effective investments
Maintain, manage and enhance the existing multimodal system through sound, efficient, adaptable and innovative investments that balance existing and future needs.
 
•             Goal 3: Support a complete multimodal transportation system
Enhance the connectivity throughout Medford and coordinate regionally with private and public sectors to strengthen the Valley’s transportation system.
 
Objectives:
•             Provide a street network that is safe, convenient, and attractive for all users traveling by foot, bicycle, transit or automobile.
•             Improve access for people to walk and bike to public places especially schools, parks, employment centers, commercial areas, and other public facilities.
•             Increase the number of walkable, bike-able, mixed-use, transit oriented, and supportive neighborhoods while promoting connectivity to the existing neighborhoods.
•             Remove impediments to mobility for more vulnerable citizens including those with challenged physical abilities, children, and older adults.
•             Reduce environmental impacts of the built transportation system.
•             Reduce emissions of atmospheric pollutants including greenhouse gas emissions and particulate matter while complying with State and Federal law.
•             Promote active transportation as a means of improving public health.
•             Connect automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle networks with current and planned public transportation routes.
•             Preserve and enhance the livability of existing neighborhoods.
•             Replace, mitigate, or enhance transportation facilities and conditions where the safety of the traveling public is at risk.
•             Encourage the reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), the use of Single-Occupant Vehicles (SOV) throughout, and roadway congestion throughout the City of Medford.
•             Deploy and promote new technologies that safely increase the efficiency of existing facilities without unnecessary expansion.
•             Support the development of stable and flexible transportation financing systems and incentives that provide adequate funding sources for Medford’s transportation system.
•             Prioritize project selection based on safety improvements and their cost-effectiveness.
•             Ensure that all new development contributes to a built environment that is safe for pedestrians and encourages walking to the greatest extent possible while connecting to the existing transportation system.
•             Maintain and improve the efficiency of the movement of freight and goods by ground, rail, air, pipeline, and transmission infrastructure.
•             Maintain active roles in regional planning efforts for the continued development of the Rogue Valley’s transportation system.
 
Sample of Action Items:
•             Create street design standards that allow flexibility and alternative design concepts where appropriate
•             Coordinate locally and regionally to develop trails and other non-motorized infrastructure that make connections
•             Incentivize and encourage new dwelling units within a ¼ mile of transit routes
•             Continue to ensure improvements comply with the Americans Disability Act
•             Improve signage to destinations like parks, commercial centers and urban trails
•             Evaluate parking standards
•             Review block length standards for providing access to vulnerable populations and modify if necessary
 
Ms. Paladino showed the Planning Commission the virtual online open house where people can comment on the transportation system plan. 
 
After getting the Planning Commission’s comments staff will go to the City Council and get their feedback.
 
Vice Chair McFadden stated that he does not see anything that allows the City to purchase property for roadways.  Ms. Paladino reported there is nothing specific about property purchases.  It might be something they can add.  It is in the document of focusing on creating circulation plans and neighborhood plans.
 
Matt Brinkley, Planning Director, asked, is there an action item or policy in the current TSP that talks about acquiring right-of-way for future facilities?  He cannot recall but it is not a bad idea.  The higher order streets are in the plan but local streets are not. 
 
Commissioner McManus stated that he worked on a TSP and some of the elements are specific to what the network is in demand for.  There are specifics for Rogue Valley Transit District (RVTD) and looking at some other transit locations outside of Medford.  One thing that stood out to him was if there were an emergency on the I-5 Viaduct and no longer accessible would that be an objective.  Commissioner Foley responded that there is an action for that.
 
Vice Chair McFadden commented that Foothill Road will be an alternate route.
 
Commissioner McManus stated for instance Talent made their objectives and actions more specific to address RVTD to have a potential station in Talent.  They started to make their goals more specific.  He is curious in somewhat making it broad but specific if the I-5 corridor were to be down that the infrastructure would not only be supporting traffic but neighborhoods in that area.  He knows that there is probably already an emergency preparedness for that but how do we invest in that?  Ms. Paladino replied she does not know specifically but she would discuss that with Larry Masterman who is the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator.  They are updating the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.  It does not get down to the finite details.  She is hearing if it goes down what happens? 
 
Mr. Brinkley responded that under Objective 14: Prioritize project selection based on safety improvements and their cost-effectiveness.  Then 14-b gives the method for prioritizing projects.  We can add something about addressing vulnerabilities of natural hazards and disasters.
 
Ms. Paladino stated the Viaduct is under study to be upgraded.  
 
Mr. Brinkley reported that they are close to being done with the initial part of that.  They are going to seismically retrofit it.  They will have to add on to it a little bit.  It is still going to collapse.  That is why Foothill Road is such a priority and potentially South Stage overcrossing will also be a high priority to maintain freight movement.
 
Vice Chair McFadden asked, how do you do that without a bridge?  Mr. Brinkley stated that South Stage will be constructed to ideally withstand Cascadia.  Foothill Road is vulnerable to landslides. 
 
Vice Chair McFadden asked, has ODOT studied the conditions of the rail bridges in the area?  He wonders if they will collapse like the road bridges.  Mr. Brinkley reported that he does not know if ODOT has systematically assessed the bridges or not.  ODOT has their own bridge section that do bridges and nobody else does.
 
Commissioner Poythress stated in Objective 16: Support the efforts of the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport and the airport’s associated master plan.  He has not seen the master plan for the airport and does not know what that consists of.  One thing that would be interesting to consider, maybe putting it in the goals and objectives at a higher level, an overall map of the relationship between the efforts of the airport, RVTD and other transportation options that exist.  To basically become more friendly for outside travelers.  He knows personally that if he does not have someone he knows to pick him up from the airport he cannot count on a cab being there and cannot count on really any fail safe means of transportation from the airport.  He can’t imagine the frustration of an outsider coming in.  Maybe take a look at what is the relationship between people arriving at the airport and getting into our transit system, cab or some option. 
 
Mr. Brinkley stated that is going to change. 
 
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney reported that there is a new vehicle for hire ordinance to possibly allow a transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to come in.  There is a proposed ordinance drafted.
 
Vice Chair McFadden commented that RVTD does have a route that goes to the airport and comes back by the airport.  One is the timing of the route versus the timing of the flights.  Is there adequate communication to match these up? 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that one of the things that came up during a Joint Transportation Subcommittee that RVTD has routes that service the airport.  They are financially constrained.  
                               

Vice Chair McFadden reported there has been discussion on rapid rail in the Valley.  If buses have a hard time financially the cost of rails would be even more.  He likes the idea.
 
Mr. Brinkley stated that RVTD has looked at the concept of doing bus rapid transit which would be the most feasible high capacity rapid transit system that can be done here.  Again, there is the financial issue with the way funding works for RVTD.  There has to be the population density to do it.  Eugene and Springfield have the bus rapid transit system that they did inexpensively.  That system accomplishes exactly what it was meant to do.  It brings people who live in Springfield down to Eugene where they work and back.
 
Commissioner McManus reported that ODOT was putting a significant effort into looking at the railroads.  His understanding is that their investment to improve this area was to have a commuter from Grants Pass to this area.  Mr. Brinkley reported they studied a commuter rail between Grants Pass and Ashland.  At the time it was approximately $30M to make the necessary changes.  It is an interesting idea.
 
Vice Chair McFadden stated that when Northgate was originally designed part of the proposal was for a train station to the west of the Northgate area that would take people downtown and back.
 
Commissioner Pulver reported that the Joint Transportation Subcommittee is a group that has heavy interest in public transportation and bike friendliness.  It shows in this document.  His biggest concern is that they put a document out there that has inconsistencies within it that make it sort of useless to the City and users.  He is in favor of multiuse paths and the like but he struggles every time he looks at a bike lane on the street.  He cannot see himself riding on that and feeling safe.  When a street is built instead of making them wider put the money in a pool and make paths so that they are close but not on the road so that the people riding bikes can feel safe.  A good example is the Larson Creek Trail. 
 
Mr. Brinkley wants to get the goals and objectives completed in the next month or so.  It will drive the development of the prioritized project list which is the meat of the TSP.  They do not have a final list yet.
 

Commissioner McKechnie stated that it would be easier for him to look through a prioritized list.  This is general stuff.  It can be twisted however but he would rather look at the list of priorities and give his input on that.  Once the priorities are set then adjust the goals and objectives to meet the priorities.  Mr. Brinkley reported that these should really drive the prioritization.  It is not scientific.
 
Commissioner McKechnie stated that it is hard to object bringing everything up to ADA standards.  It is hard to object to help the airport do what it can to be a success.  If eliminating all four lanes of a road having a one lane road with a bike lane, parking and multiuse path then that has a major impact on what they are doing or live in the Valley.
 

Ms. Paladino reported that the prioritized list will be on the virtual open house.  Staff will send that out when it is ready so the Planning Commission can comment on it.
 
Vice Chair McFadden stated that he will spend approximately quarter of million dollars to help ODOT do their road guide.  The small part that he has is the facilities on old Highway 99 between Talent and Ashland taking four lanes down to two lanes with a turn lane.  There is a value in the turn lane for safety.  Would it not work better to widen the existing asphalt still put the turn lane and leave it four lanes of traffic.

Commissioner Poythress did not notice park and ride facilities.  Commissioner McManus stated that it is under Goal 2 Objective 8-d.
 
Mr. Brinkley reported that in addition to the project list the consultant will do an SDC fee and funding study to determine how we pay for everything so they can have a constrained list.  The entire document will be approximately 300 pages. 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that it will bring together the various plans that exist.  The Street Classification Plan should line up with the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.  They will all be the TSP including utilities.
 
Commissioner McManus asked, is there enough ability to do it objectively where if there were clarity needed on some of the objectives where either they are conflicting or needing a waiting level. Is there a way to separate that to ask for further direction?  Or is it up to the body’s that are helping to develop this either through this committee or the Commission?  Mr. Brinkley stated that staff provides them their expert opinion and the Commission makes a recommendation to the City Council.  The City Council is a legislative body and may see things differently than the Planning Commission, JTS, BPAC or the public.  Some of these things will be in conflict.  There will be a difference of opinion between Planning and Public Works.  There will be a difference of opinion between Public Works and City Council when it comes to level of service.  That is the way it goes and in the end City Council will make the final decision.
                             
Commissioner Pulver asked, if an application was submitted and a bike advocate stated that the TSP states the City is going do everything in their power to facilitate bike and pedestrian traffic and the Commission completely ignored the requirements to provide right-of-way to accommodate a 7 foot bike lane or whatever compromise was made, does that give them grounds to make an appeal and take it to the highest level, is that fair?  Mr. McConnell reported that they could do that but the City would have to address those concerns.  He does not think they have to satisfy the bicycling community but if they address the conditions of approval which the TSP would be part of, they probably would not be successful.  Governments get overturned on appeal by LUBA.  The easiest way is failing to address the criteria.  Addressing the criteria makes a lot of people mad.
 
Mr. Brinkley reported that there are TFs (Transportation Facilities).  There are currently standards that require various multimodal facilities on all the higher order streets.  There is the TF when there are times when either we cannot accommodate the facility at all or cannot accommodate it according to the standards that is in the TSP and Land Development Code.  Transportation facilities are basically like a variance.  Foothill is a great example.  The center median ordinarily would be 14 feet.  The City would have to buy more land that what they already have to and the City does not want to impact the property owners so they have to be creative and find a solution. 
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that the City Council’s involvement with this had been pretty limited at the meetings.  They are supposed to have two Council representative on the Joint Transportation Subcommittee.  Tim Jackle was on JTS as a Planning Commission member and continues to come and Michael Zarosinski came to several.  It is unfortunate that it will come to the City Council a little “cold turkey”.   Mr. Brinkley reported they will have joint meetings.  Planning Commission and City Council will have two or three study sessions during the fall.
 
Commissioner Foley used the link that was sent to him but does not think it is user friendly.  He could not put his address in. 
 
30.          Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 12:57 p.m.
 
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary
 

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