Planning Committee Minutes – Jan 30, 2014

January 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Planning Minutes

NWDA Planning Committee
January 30, 2014

Committee Members Attending: Ron Walters, Roger Vrilakas, Bill Welch, Wendy Chung, Karen Karlsson, Greg Theisen, Tavo Cruz, Steve Pinger

Guests: Allan Classen (NW Examiner), Phil Selinger (NWDA President), Tony Schwartz, Vicki Skrye,

Call to order at 8:05 am by Ron Walters (chairing in John Bradley’s absence).

Move West Quadrant height and density discussion to second portion of the agenda in hopes Steve Pinger will arrive. Move on to discussion of Parking Minimums resolution passed by the Board.

On Monday, with the support of the Planning, Parking and Transportation chairs, the board of directors of the NWDA passed a resolution on parking.

Selinger–this was started a year ago, before the parking plan was adopted, Ron had started it, suggested reviving and revising it. Tavo Cruz, Parking Chair, spoke with Bill Hoffman from PBOT, and suggested not being too proscriptive but assert ourselves in presenting the issue. We did leave a suggestion for an interim adoption of the parking minimums adopted by Council for the rest of the city, with the addition of RH and EX zones.

Chung–Hoffman said that the silo structure of the city would cause problems between Planning and Transportation bureaus if a particular solution was proposed.

Selinger–the third bullet talks about alternative modes of transportation, there was some discussion about the relevance but the Transportation Committee found it important and it was retained.

Karlsson–at this meeting last week we talked about modifying the NW District Plan, not just the parking plan. I thought that was another place we could modify this.

Walters–the representatives can find out what approach would be most effective, and if what we think the best way to change it wasn’t, it would slow down coming to a solution. The first goal is to see if the city is receptive. If they’re not, the board talked about what to chain ourselves to.

Jeanne Harrison thought it was important to know how many units were new and planned for construction: this will document that we’re building more units than off-street parking spaces. I see this in my area of the neighborhood.

Some board members didn’t want to dilute the message with the other transportation modes, but I think this is only one leg of the stool, and we have this as an urgent issue (parking minimums, micro apartments) but not the only one.

Welch–many of our apartments were built for the streetcar system and never had parking.

Karlsson–there are statistics in the Eastside parking plan. In the newspaper this last week, they said that 85% of those who use transit & bikes as primary modes also have cars.

Walters– only the Vaux has more parking spots than units, the rest of C.E. John’s developments are in the range of 0.6 – 0.75 spaces per unit.

Theisen–I think the resolution is good, I’d have changed second paragraph to ‘most’.

Cruz–I made it a bit softer to make is more acceptable.

Theisen–this is a good start, bullet point two is strong. Need to look at the strategy, outreach, packet for those meeting with policy makers. These should be written down so you have them when you go to talk with these folks. In this case you’ll be meeting with people who are very busy and will want to see possible answers. It would be good to have three or four possible options to present.

Vrilakas–the level of people we’re talking with are those who take action. We should go with specific things we want done. There’s no downside, there are solutions in place in other parts of the city.

Selinger–some of the approaches are obvious, but at some level you don’t want to tell staff how to do their job. We’re making a bigger deal out of this than it needs to be.

Cruz–there’s a balance there: we need to think about solutions, but this is a thorny, difficult problem. We need to get people on our side, others have to take the initiative to find solutions. When, in the past, we’ve provided solutions, they are usually rejected. This is an opportunity to do both: get support, give examples.

Our first meeting is with Planning head Joe Zehnder, then on to council.

Pinger–we should request (not demand) what we’d like to see, not be utterly deferential to those who don’t have time to do this.

The real estate prices are moving up quickly around here, not sure if it’s the micro apartments or other forces.

Theisen–the place on Johnson & 23rd just sold for $2.5 Million

Walters–we’ve gotten no response to our letter requesting a moratorium on Micro Apartments. I asked John to specifically talk with Joe Zehnder about the loophole for no parking in large developments. I was personally offended by the building on Thurman, not realizing this can apply to ALL of Northwest. It can happen anywhere in the neighborhood.

You guys talking to the Mayor’s office, these are related issues, and related in their timing. Those buildings are remarkably profitable.

Chung–to address the positions for strategy, the resolution addresses this: it’s a two pronged approach. The city-wide minimums that were triggered by the SE concerns only call for 20% to 30%. To say you want what was already passed does not deal with the issues we have here.

The big chunk of our neighborhood is historic, we can’t build parking, but developers can. At the very least they should provide parking we can’t provide for ourselves.

Walters–we’ve never been able as a group (including board and committees) to gain consensus whether there should be a minimum and, if so, what exactly that minimum would be. Opinions vary from zero (discourage autos) to 1:1 or more. Reasonable people disagree. I tried to bring this back to the overall parking plan vs. one particular minimum. It’s a policy issue. I think we’ve come to the conclusion we need a tourniquet, 25% is better than none.

Chung–if we don’t provide some back-pocket solution so we don’t get something that the city imposes, but we also don’t want to tell the staff what to do.

Vrilakas–we do need a tourniquet, need something right now today. I would start with looking at the % now, parking vs. units. Total balance today for residents?

Walters–there’s enough parking spots for residents; but not residents, visitors and businesses.

Vrilakas–let’s get this going, we have wolves at the edge of our tent. It’s pernicious and evil…

Walters–if this group is agreed, it’s urgent: let’s send the reps to the city not to accept “we’ll get back to you.”

The committee agrees it’s urgent.

Cruz–Comment is made that nothing is owed to existing residents, they aren’t owed a parking space. There comes a point where existing conditions become intolerable. Maybe not owed a space in front of our house, but do need a place somewhere nearby.

Vicki–these units coming in do cause a problem: if we could add our own parking solutions, for example garages. Should get the data on construction without parking.

Theisen–the approaches are changing the NW District Plan, changing the parking plan, adopting the city wide parking minimums, case by case modifications, amending the community design standards and reinterpretation of the statute that all development go through that process, and the moratorium on Micro Apartments.

Need to meet with Nick Fish, Steve Novick.

Walters–also suggested to get on-street parking committee set up so it’s ready.
Cruz–the city disagrees, waiting for staffing after the budget it passed.

Karlsson–OK if I bug them about this?

Cruz–yes.

Welch–Allowable off-street parking: do we want to change garage prohibition?

Theisen–under 75″ is doable, but often awful. There are different ways to do this.

Walters–Bill’s right, part of the parking plan should include an off-street parking plan, we have the on-street plan coming, and some elements of the off-street, some approved master plans (conway and legacy) and sites for parking garages. These are all part of a debate, not solved now, but the resolution essentially says to work on all these aspects.

Selinger–Christie White thought the Singers were ready to go with their garage.

Karlsson–but lost a potential tenant.

Cruz–Christie tied it into the adoption of the Parking Plan and expiration of his approvals, so he’s antsy.

PInger–Question–strategies, if we are asking for minimums to be implemented and moratorium on micro-apartments. How long does the existing ordinance to take to implement?

Theisen–two to three months?

Pinger–the 20th and Pettygrove building has not been moving well in the institutional market, and is slowing the type of development. The things we’re concerned with are not really of that scale. There’s a rush to do small infill projects with no parking, innovative housing. We could have the pipeline pretty well filled by that time.

Vrilakas–you will be stunned when you go talk to these people about how little they know. Don’t be shy.

Cruz–I have met with them a bunch of times, all the Council members and staff.

Theisen–PBOT has not done this neighborhood any favors historically: no green street on Pettygrove, crosswalks on 23rd had to be forced by the Mayor and are fading away. I don’t see much support unless you’re handing them a check…

Walters–talked with developers about new development, asking neighbors to find out small ones he may not be aware of, and Mark can ask Joan Frederiksen for an update of the construction vs parking spots.

Pinger–West Quadrant Height and Denisty. WQ staff will come on 19th of March joint Planning and Transportation committee. The summer will be all about feedback, so we have ample time to weigh in about several issues and would like to spend time with this committee on these.

I’ll send out a document on existing and proposed entitlements in the West Quadrant area. It would be good to look at conditions in our neighborhood and as reasonably informed citizens of the city to weigh in on the whole proposal. In doing so I think it’s important to have alternative diagram or diagrams for this. No alternatives were presented to the SAC. That’s the way to get to informed consensus. This is highly influential to how it feels to be in this city.

Walters–so look at Steve’s document, this will be on the agenda next week.

Meeting adjourned at 9:06 am.

No motions or votes.

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