Additional Thoughts (October 15, 2022) – Removing Street Parking on South Seventh

Oct 15, 2022 | City Council

The following was originally published as part of my October 15, 2022 Newsletter in the “Additional Thoughts” section.

Removing Street Parking on South Seventh

Residents in the Lawton neighborhood have reached out to me with concerns about a proposal to remove street parking on Seventh, south of Scio Church Road. For anyone unfamiliar: a City project to replace a water main in this area (Seventh/Greenview) includes plans for traffic calming and expansion of biking infrastructure.

On September 13, 2022, City staff led a public engagement meeting and presented details of the Seventh/Greenview project as well as various options/proposals for curb bump-outs and bike lanes. You can watch that meeting and staff presentation here:

At their meeting on September 21. 2022, the City’s Transportation Commission discussed the Greenview/Seventh project. Staff presented their recommendation for designated bike lanes on both sides of Seventh (Scio Church Road to Lawton Elementary) that would meet the Transportation Plans and All Ages and Abilities Guidelines, while preserving both travel lanes and on-street parking. You can watch that Staff presentation here (time stamp: 21:48)

After the Staff presentation, Mayoral appointed members of the Transportation Commission approved their own recommendation: remove on-street parking on one side of Seventh to create buffered, protected bike lanes. Their discussion can be found here (time stamp 42:52).

The meeting minutes describe discussion of this issue:

From the minutes:

Commissioner questions and comments:

  • Crosswalk at Scio Church service drive and Greenview are in need for improvement.
  • Vertical elements and parking; posted speed limit; current parking usage
  • Some residents have reported concerns in regards to the speeds, despite of the fact that we do not posses such speed date; posted speed limit; what is the need to keep the parking?
  • Speeding is a problem; road is wide; Seventh north of Scio has buffered bike lanes and looking for consistency;
  • Are the driveways in this area bigger, and if so are they capable of supporting multiple cars?
  • Driveways are large; concern about riding in the door zone; don’t want to maintain on-street parking
  • Not a lot of cyclists in the area; counts of cyclists
  • Project that leads to a school and a protected bike lane is most appropriate. There is a lot of traffic at drop-off and pick-up. There is a mandate for aggressive safety improvements and we should not compromise.

A motion was made by Wanninkhof, seconded by Houk, to remove parking on one side in the project area in favor of an all ages and abilities protected bike lane. The motion was approved by the Commission and forwarded to the City Council and should be returned by 11/10/2022. On a voice vote, the Chair declared the motion carried.

A motion was made by Brovan, to remove parking on both sides in favor of an all ages and abilities protected bike lane. The motion failed for lack of second.

During the meeting, the Chair of the Transportation Commission explained:

I don’t understand why we are prioritizing private vehicle storage on public land for a handful of landowners over the safety of all of the people who could potentially be travelling this route by bike … I think it’s clear from the results of the most recent City Council elections that we have at this point a mandate for really aggressive safety improvements city-wide. Not only is it in our transportation plan but we now have chosen leaders who have said this is what they will do for us and that mandate is not ever going to be visible if you focus just on the people who own property adjacent to a specific project. Like, there’s always going to be less support among those people but if we keep making this compromise every time we will never get the kind of robust all ages and abilities network that we say that we want, that we have voted to fund, that we have elected the people that said they’re going to do it and if we keep deferring to a hand full of property owners, like, what are we doing?

I appreciate that these are the kind of City decisions where residents hope that their needs, concerns, and observations will be taken into account, i.e. these are situations where compromise might be appreciated. A decision to eliminate street parking for more than one block does require a resolution from City Council. This recommendation from the Transportation Commission may land on a Council agenda after my last meeting on November 10th. In that case, it would be voted on by your newly elected representatives.