New legislation from context sensitive street committee authorizes angled parking

Other legislation clarifies landowners’ responsibility for sidewalks

By Steve DiMattia
Resident Community News

The City Council’s Special Committee on Context Sensitive Streets, chaired by District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer, has produced two pieces of legislation geared to improve parking and more accurately codify responsibilities for property owners with respect to the construction and maintenance of sidewalks, curbs and gutters abutting their property.

The committee first convened in September to “determine the appropriateness” of guidelines put forth over a year ago by the city’s Planning and Development Department in a handbook, Context Sensitive Streets: Street Design Guidelines. They were tasked by Council President Bill Bishop to “make recommendations for and/or draft legislation as appropriate to address this issue.” The committee includes council members Greg Anderson, Doyle Carter, Kimberly Daniels and Don Redman. The two bills are the first to come from their efforts.
Ordinance 2012-635 authorizes the use of angled and reverse-angle parking on all city roadways. Boyer said it was in response to a state statute that provides that all parking, even on local roads, would be parallel unless otherwise determined by local ordinance.

“The idea was to take away the state pre-emption of that decision and allow our city engineer to make a decision as to whether or not angled parking is appropriate in a particular circumstance,” Boyer said. “Now if you want angled parking you don’t have to go through a whole legislative process, you just have to present your case to the city engineer.”
Boyer noted angled parking is advantageous in urbanized commercial areas because it uses less space than parallel parking so maximizes parking availability. She also pointed out that, with angled parking, car doors open into a parking space and not into bike lanes or sidewalks.

“It’s not only safer for bicyclists, but it also improves the streetscape by allowing for more sidewalk seating,” Boyer said.
That point aligns with the planning department’s street design guidelines, which defines context sensitive street design as: “An approach to roadway planning, design and street operation, to meet regional transportation goals while enhancing neighborhoods and considering the adjacent uses of land. CSSD respects traditional street design objectives for safety, efficiency, capacity, and maintenance, while integrating community objectives and values relating to compatibility, livability, sense of place, urban design, cost and environmental impacts.”

The second bill (2012-634) amends Ordinance Code Chapter 740 – Sidewalks, Curbs and Gutters – to accurately reflect current practices.
“When we started looking at the code we realized it did not reflect how we actually operated. This is a codification of all of the processes currently in place with respect to sidewalks, gutters and curbs,” Boyer explained.

The bill clarifies the requirements for owners of land that “abuts upon a street, park or other public place”:
• Owners of undeveloped land are required to construct a sidewalk when the land is developed.
• Owners of developed land that does not have a sidewalk may construct one at their own expense.
• The city may install a sidewalk at its expense by request of a city councilmember, school principal, the Department of Public Works, or its own initiative.
• Owners may petition the city for a sidewalk.
• Owners are required to maintain existing sidewalks. The city is responsible for repairs, such as cracks, not resulting from lack of maintenance.

“All of these methods already existed, they just weren’t all in one place where someone could read and understand them,” Boyer said.
The Context Sensitive Streets Committee will next meet on Feb. 6 to take up the creation of a full-time bicycle-pedestrian coordinator position and to discuss the composition and focus of the so-called “red book” committee, which adopts standards for things such as pavement widths, sidewalks, transit stops, etc.

“This is the bigger piece of legislation. The challenge is to get a broad enough representation – health, retail shopping center, urban, and transit perspectives, for example – without getting too big to be effective. That [red book] committee writes the rules for the whole city, so it needs to be broadened beyond just homebuilders and developers and we need to figure out how to make it work better for the whole city,” Boyer said.

For more information on Context Sensitive Streets Committee:
http://www.coj.net/city-council/council-committees,-boards—commissions/context-sensitive-streets-special-committee.aspx

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