Minutes from the fifth PAC meeting

Here are Bike Concord’s minutes from the fifth meeting of the Plan Advisory Committee, which was held on Monday, August 24.

Comments have been moved in some places to group them by subject matter.  They are chronologically ordered under each heading.

The PowerPoint presentation referred to is available online from the City: http://www.cityofconcord.org/pdf/projects/transit/08242015.pdf


Sergio Huerta (at-large PAC member) was unable to attend. Laura Hoffmeister (Vice-Mayor and chair of the committee) was running 15 mins late.

Kenji opened the meeting for Sergio as vice-chair. The following people were present:

  • Claire Linder (at-large member).
  • Kenji Yamada (at-large alternate, filling in for Sergio Huerta).
  • Carlyn Obringer (Planning Commission representative on the committee).
  • Mark Sinclair (Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Commission representative on the committee).
  • Andy Mogensen (Principal Planner, City of Concord).
  • Ryan Lenhardt (Project Planner, City of Concord).
  • Laura Simpson (Planning Manager, City of Concord).
  • Coire Reilly (Contra Costa Health Services).
  • Aaron McHugh (Bike Concord).
  • Smitty Ardrey (Bike Concord).
  • Brian Cory (Bike Concord).
  • Jim Bartlett (member of the public).

Kenji asked if there were any public comments on non-agenda items.

Smitty made a comment about glass in the bike lane on Concord Blvd from Landana to Concord HS. Andy said he would convey this to Public Works.

Salvio Streetscape project

Ryan Lenhardt presented the City’s Salvio Streetscape project. City qualified for a priority area grant from ABAG and MTC pursuant to the Downtown Specific Plan. Feedback on the DSP included a comment from some businesses that on-street parking on the Todos Santos block of Salvio St decreases business visibility.

The project will eliminate on-street parking on the north side of the block and add seating and walking areas. This will eliminate backing movements into traffic by motorists leaving parking.

Curb ramps will be brought into compliance with ADA.

Bike racks will be added next to Peet’s (5 racks) and the former Suwa’s restaurant (5 racks).

Plans are still conceptual. Feedback from the PAC is welcome.

Plans have been presented to the Todos Santos Business Association. Also presented to Ed Andrews, owner of the property on Mt Diablo St (where Old Spaghetti Factory is).

Carlyn brought up a request from an attendee at the presentation to TSBA for the City to add public power outlets for events. Ryan said this can probably be done.

The owner of Capriotti’s (sandwich shop on Mt Diablo St next to Peet’s) does not support the project because they feel the on-street parking is key for their business.

The City is considering changing parking restrictions. Capriotti’s bldg owner is also considering adding parking in the back of the building.

Funding has not yet been identified. The desired output is a set of design drawings to be used in applying for grants to implement the project.

LH arrived.

The PAC is serving as the interim Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Can give input on the project, but cannot set binding conditions.

Bike parking

Ryan said the City had received an email from Bike East Bay asking for bike racks to be prominently located along the Salvio St frontage.

Kenji echoed Bike East Bay’s perspective that bike parking should be prominently located. Ryan suggested the spot in front of Hop Grenade as a possibility. Kenji supported this and noted that Hop Grenade management has expressed a desire for bike parking next to their business.

Kenji brought up a concern about placement of bike racks.  Bike racks are sometimes placed without sufficient room for bikes to extend out from the rack when correctly locked.  Andy said the City is working behind the scenes on standards for bike parking including the issue of placement and spacing, based on best practices from NACTO et al. They will be included in the Master Plan.

Smitty had additional ideas for bike parking. BikeLink lockers would allow secure parking at more remote locations. The planned locations provide cover for thieves. Bike Concord has brought large numbers of cyclists to TSP businesses for events, and plans to do more. A lot of parking is needed for this, and needs to be in locations where it can be seen by business patrons for security. Smitty would also like to see some art racks, not just generic designs.

Brian Cory thought bike parking would be better placed next to the former Mi Pi Pizza than next to the Hop Grenade entrance.

Maintenance responsibilities

Carlyn said TSBA members are wondering who will be responsible for maintenance in the area in front of Peet’s.

Ryan says an encroachment agreement is likely. A design for outdoor seating would be included in this. Maintenance (e.g. cleaning) would then be individual business responsibility. Owner is responsible if there is no tenant.

Public seating

Police Department opposed addition of seating along the street frontage because they don’t want homeless people sleeping there. LH noted that there are features that can make benches difficult to sleep or skateboard on.

Number of seats and tables in the drawing is optimistic; it will probably be less. The area will be surrounded by a decorative steel fence.

LH noted that putting seating on the street side of the columns puts them outside the shade of the arcade. Ryan said there have been some ideas about enclosing or covering the space.

Police Department wants seating that can be stacked and removed at night.

Trash cans

LH brought up a need for trash receptacles close to seating to make sure people throw away their trash.

Carlyn reiterated LH’s concern about providing adequate trash receptacles. LH thought these could be movable rather than fixed, and would be the responsibility of businesses.

Miscellaneous

LH asked whether the future pedestrian-scale lighting in the section drawing is part of this project. Ryan said yes. LH did not like the style depicted. Andy said other styles were available.

Ryan said the City’s Transportation Division thinks the existing parking garages can cover the loss of parking capacity from the street.

Mark Sinclair asked if the drawing is to scale. Ryan said it is.

Mark thought cypresses are not a good choice of tree for consistency with the style of Todos Santos. Others had suggestions for other tree species.

Carlyn asked what the project timeline is. Ryan said Planning Division will turn over the project to Engineering to seek grants, and he is not sure how long that will take. LH thinks a year or two for the whole process.

Kenji asked if raised crosswalks are in scope for this project. Ryan said no.

LH asked if the PAC’s approval of the project could include comments made. Ryan said yes, and that the PAC’s comments have reflected staff’s own thoughts.

Smitty wonders if Salvio could be one-way. LH said this was considered in the 80s. Pleasant Hill had tried it in their downtown and gone back to two-way.

Brian talked about Hyde Park, an area like Todos Santos in Idaho where he is from. It was a destination for bicycle traffic and commercial success.

Jim Bartlett asked whether the design was being done by City staff or a consultant. Ryan said it was the consultant.

LH summarized the comments made.

Community Workshop input report

Andy said there were about 70 attendees at the July 30 Master Plan Community Workshop on policy.

The comments in the packet include translations of comments made in Spanish.

Staff have gone through all input received looking for consistent themes.

Andy presented staff’s draft vision statement:

“The City of Concord envisions an environment that supports walking, bicycling and active living, and enables people of all ages and abilities to comfortably access jobs, schools, recreation, shopping and transit by foot or on bicycle as a part of daily life.”

Carlyn was not sure “comfortably” encompasses safety, which has been a consistent theme in input across many meetings. LH also felt that safety should be prominently featured in the vision statement.

LH thought “by foot or on bicycle” does not adequately include wheelchair users. Kenji agreed and suggested “by non-motor modes” as a more inclusive phrase.

LH questioned the length of the phrase “envisions an environment”. Carlyn was not so concerned about this, and thought including safety explicitly was more important.

Andy thought the goals would address some of these concerns, but was willing to edit the vision statement to address them.

Andy said not all bicycle and pedestrian plans have vision statements, but all have goals.

Staff arrived at four goals from input received:

Goal 1: Safety. Prioritize travel safety for all modes of transportation.
Goal 2: Design. Design active transportation projects that are accessible and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
Goal 3: Network. Identify and implement a complete and convenient active transportation network.
Goal 4: Programs. Increase awareness and support of walking and bicycling through education, encouragement, and evaluation programs.

LH thought terms like “comfortable” admit of subjective interpretation, and wanted to know how and by whom these would be assessed.

Maintainability

LH suggested for the “Design” goal the word “maintainable”. Andy thought this was addressed by the “evaluation programs” in Goal 4. LH said the goals should make sure that projects are sustainable.

Kenji thought this was a good point, but was concerned that it should not become a reason not to install active transportation infrastructure.

Andy thought maintainability is a more appropriate concern for the project level rather than the policy level, but said he would talk with Alta about how it could be integrated.

Claire shared the concern that a high-level focus on maintenance could compromise the City’s commitment to serious infrastructure.

LH clarified that she was not seeking to head off infrastructure projects on the basis of lack of future maintenance funding, but rather wanted to assure that maintenance funding would be adequately allocated.

Andy said the Master Plan is not meant to address funding questions; it is a “pre-money” plan. Costs will be assessed and funding will be sought at a project level.

General discussion of Master Plan draft goals

The committee agreed that the four goals shown have captured the themes of community input received so far.

Coire Reilly said he had heard community input for education of motorists about how to safely interact with other road users. LH agreed that this should be included. Andy thought it was a good objective under Goal 4.

Carlyn said plainclothes police officers have been going out to catch unsafe driving at intersections with a lot of complaints. Smitty said on his ride to the meeting there had been a police officer parked at the Concord Blvd crossing of the Canal Trail. He was generally satisfied with the draft goals.

Aaron asked whether the Concord Naval Weapons Station project would be held to the Master Plan goals. LH and Carlyn said it would, as the Master Plan covers the entire city. Aaron noted that we should think about the opportunities to build good infrastructure which the CNWS project offers as a new development. LH agreed and said this would be done.

Aaron asked whether “comfortably” implied anything about travel times to retail destinations. Andy said the Master Plan will not affect zoning and land use.

Andy said he would follow up on the edit suggestions the PAC had made for the vision statement.

Safety vs Level of Service

On Goal 1, Kenji noted that Policy T-1.9.5 of the General Plan already prioritizes safety ahead of level of service.  (It reads: “Prioritize bicycle, pedestrian, and automobile safety over vehicle speed and level-of-service at intersections and along roadways.”)  How will the Master Plan make this commitment more effective, so that it reaches all the City’s transportation projects?

Kenji said he understands that perfection is not possible, but wants to be sure that the Master Plan will provide the impetus for project designs to push as far as possible in the direction of safety for active modes even when this comes at a cost in motor traffic flow. He cited the recent Treat Blvd x Clayton Rd project as an example of when Level of Service had served as a reason for bicycle safety improvements to be ruled out, in spite of Policy T-1.9.5.

LH said T-1.9.5 is a goal, not exactly a binding policy.  Kenji said it is a policy according to the General Plan.

Carlyn said she has already seen more real infrastructure for pedestrian infrastructure in projects that have come before the Design and Review Board and the Planning Commission, as a result of the Master Plan process and input.

Committee approval of draft goals

Andy asked for the committee’s approval of the four goals and of his summary of the committee’s suggested edits to the vision statement.

Claire suggested “The City of Concord supports an environment that facilitates…”

There was more discussion of edits to the vision statement. Andy will bring back an edited version at the next meeting.

The committee members were all satisfied with the draft goals.

Final business

There will be a neighborhood workshop on the Franquette Ave Pedestrian and Bike Trail Connector Project tomorrow (August 25) at 5:30pm in this room (Permit Center Conference Room).

The next PAC meeting will be about project prioritization criteria. There is a conflict with another meeting for the next planned date, so the next meeting will be October 26. [This has since been changed to October 19.]

LH closed the meeting at 7:24pm.

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