Notes from Shoreline council meeting January 4, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
January 4, 2021

Notes by Pam Cross

The meeting was held remotely on Zoom.

Mayor Hall called the meeting to order at 7:00pm. 

All Councilmembers were present.

Report of the City Manager, Debbie Tarry

A reminder that the statewide restrictions remain in effect through January 11, 2021.

  • Outdoor Sports
    • The City worked for several weeks trying to get mask-wearing compliance by adding increased signage and communicating directly with users of the pickle ball and tennis courts.
    • Because users did not follow the mask-wearing requirement, Shoreline has reluctantly locked the facilities.
  • A look at the King County case trends shows the importance of working together as a community to bring these numbers down.


    • Shoreline trends follow the same pattern as King County.
    • The King County average over the past 14 days was 279 new cases per 100,000 residents. Remember that the target is 25 per 100,000. Hospitalizations continue to increase and hospitals are at 86% of capacity. Some have stopped performing non-emergency procedures. 
  • Please continue to protect our community by taking the following prevention measures:
    • Wear a face covering, especially indoors in public settings regardless of the distance between people.
    • Wash or sanitize your hands regularly.
    • Maintain six (6) feet of distance, indoors and outdoors.
    • Gather ONLY outdoors with a limit of five (5) people.
    • Get tested at the first sign of illness. And then stay home! Do not go to work or to stores if you’re not feeling well.
    • Additional information  shorelinewa.gov/covid
Public Reminders
  • The Planning Commission meeting for Jan 7 was cancelled.
  • The Hearing Examiner will hold an appeal hearing on Friday Jan 8 at 9:30am. The public may observe or listen, however only the appellant, City, and witnesses may participate. This Appeal Hearing is for SNAPPS (Shoreline Neighbors for Appropriate Placement of Shelters)
  • More information at shorelinewa.gov/calendar
Council Reports
  • None
  • Mayor Hall has agreed to requests from Councilmembers McGlashan and McConnell to trade positions on the SeaShore Transportation Forum for 2021: CM McGlashan will be the designated member and CM McConnell will be the designated alternate.
  • The Mayor also asked to hear from Councilmembers who would like to review the applications and conduct interviews for potential openings on the Parks Board.
Public Comment 
  • Jackie Kurle, Shoreline, spoke about safety measures protecting the neighborhood adjacent to the new enhanced shelter and requested more frequent monitoring at the beginning of its operation.
Approval of the Agenda 
  • Agenda adopted by unanimous consent.
Approval of the Consent Calendar
  • Consent Calendar approved unanimously by roll call vote. 
Study Items:

8(a) Discussing the Light Rail Station Subareas Parking Study 2020 Update.
Kendra Dedinsky, City Traffic Engineer, made the presentation

We last discussed this in October 2019. The purpose of the study is to prepare for increased parking demand due to light rail stations and increased density within the light rail subareas. 

The first study set the groundwork by looking at the on-street parking capacity and utilization, then made on-street parking demand projections. Near-term, mid-term, and long-term strategies to manage parking demand were recommended.


The data was collected prior to COVID-19 impact. Complete details are available in the staff report.




RPZ (Restricted Parking Zones) are created to help ease parking congestion in residential areas

Near-Term Recommendations (2021-2025)
  • We will continue to collect parking data and work with Sound Transit on mitigation as the stations open. We will consider updating the Transportation Master Plan policies around parking specific to land use context. We will also start looking at grouping subarea parking utilization into smaller analysis zones. That way high demand zones can be addressed as they develop.
Mid-Term Recommendations (2026-2031)
  • Plans are to evaluate the need for special use zones, establish basic real time parking information technology, and perform feasibility analysis of metered parking in key locations.
Long-Term Recommendations (2032+)
  • At this point we may implement metered parking in key locations. We will expand real time parking information and technology, and continue to build upon and refine existing parking management strategies and resources.
DISCUSSION

Is the study done over a time period or is it just a single snapshot?
  • Reply: we do it over a period of days in the first quarter and at two different time periods 

We’ve seen a lot of growth in the 185th area. Was there a change in street parking? It will be interesting to see what impact will come from commuter or park & ride traffic as opposed to townhouses/apartments.
  • Reply: We are collecting the data so we can identify the impacts you mention. The larger apartment buildings generally make a bigger impact than townhomes, but we have to see what happens with the larger townhome project going in on 185th.

We are under constant pressure to reduce parking requirements. Will any data collected here help us with those decisions?
  • Reply: All departments are working together to address that type of question. But during COVID restrictions, it is very difficult to organize people and to cover this amount of material in a video meeting. One suggestion has been unbundling the charge for parking (parking fee charged separately from rent).
Kirkland recently bundled parking for the same reason we did - to keep people from parking on the street to avoid the parking fee. We’ll have to see how things develop in Kirkland.

In Shoreline we had one large apartment building unbundle parking and as a result there was very little street parking available in this largely residential neighborhood. Unbundling would have to be very carefully addressed. We can’t say that only owners of single family homes can park on a public street. Right now most people in Shoreline own cars. On the other hand, some don’t own cars and forcing them to pay for a parking space seems unfair too. This is a difficult issue to address.

Thanks for the update and close monitoring so we can stay ahead of future parking problems.

8(b) Discussing the Arterial Speed Limit Study. 

The complete study is available as an attachment to the meeting agenda.

Kendra Dedinsky, City Traffic Engineer made the presentation and introduced 
Brian Chandler, Transportation Engineer, and National Director of Transportation Safety for DKS, a consultant hired for this study. He will be available to answer any questions.

Recent shifts in research and practices urge local governments to utilize new speed limit setting methods that consider pedestrians, bicyclists, collision history, and land use as significant and relevant factors.

The Target Zero plan represents a bold vision: zero deaths and serious injuries on Washington’s roadways by 2030. It is more important now than ever. Data show that Shoreline’s traffic fatality and serious injury trend is going in the wrong direction.



Sensitive speed limit setting can reduce serious and fatal injury collisions. In the past, speed limits were set using the 85th percentile speed - that is, the speed 85% of the vehicles were traveling at or below. New methods consider traffic volume, crash history, adjacent land use, and history of resident requests to study the speed limit. This was last done in 2007.

Based on this, six key arterial corridors have been analyzed for possible speed limit reductions.
Corridor selection guiding factors were that it have an existing speed limit of 35 mph, and that it not be a State Route. A State Route requires a lot of coordination and significant process with Washington State and their speed limit guidelines are currently being updated.

1. Greenwood Ave N, from N 145th St to N 160th St.
2. Meridian Ave N, from N 145th St to NE 205th St.
3. NW Richmond Beach Rd, from Fremont Ave N to 3rd Ave NW.
4. 15th Ave NE, from NE 180th St to NE 196th St.

The first 4 corridors were selected by the City.

5. N 175th St, from Aurora Ave N to 15th Ave NE.
  • Highest crash rate of all corridors studied. The upcoming capital project could be a good opportunity to readdress the posted speed limit.
6. 15th Ave NE, from NE 145th St to NE 175th St.
  • High collision frequency and crash rate. Planned rezoning provides an opportunity to reassess the posted speed limit.


NCHRP is the National Cooperative Highway Research Program

This is the tool selected by the City. Based on inputs, it is recommended that the 35 mph limit be reduced to 30 mph with 15th Ave NE, from NE 180th St to NE 196th St. to remain unchanged.

There are other streets that will be studied in the future.

DISCUSSION  

I’m in favor of reducing the speed limits. Why wouldn’t we include 15th north of 180th? There will be more pedestrian traffic as we proceed with light rail. Speeding on this route is already noticeable. 
  • Reply: The analysis recommended no change but we can take another look before our next meeting with Council.
  • Reply Brian Chandler: This new NCHRP tool still starts with the existing speeds but also incorporates the long list of additional inputs (shown above). Actually, if we just used existing speeds, the 85th percentile is 39 mph. So we have used the additional inputs to get to 35 mph as it is currently posted. But again, they will take another look.
When we rechanneled Richmond Beach Road, we found that people were driving 42 mph when the posted speed limit was 35. Now it has been reduced to 30 and people are traveling 37- 38. People appear to choose the speed they want to travel. Where’s the data that shows that a speed limit change actually reduces speeds? Since we only pull over an occasional driver, are we really accomplishing anything? 
  • Reply: That is one of the reasons we still use the operating speed when we do these studies. Some of the roadways have seen pretty significant land use or other changes that suggest a lower speed is fitting. Seattle has seen general speed come down as they have lowered their speed limits across the board. Just changing a sign might change some people’s behavior.
  • Brian: I agree that posting a sign doesn’t change speed. But by tweaking a little bit (5-10 mph) we do see speeds reduce. The latest look at Richmond Beach Road shows an 85th percentile speed of 34 but on average, people are driving lower than 30. 

We should keep our arterials consistent (at 30) - so drivers know what to expect especially if they’re not familiar with the area. I would like to see 15th consistent as well (rather than not reducing the limit on one end).
  • Reply: thank you. That’s useful information and consistency makes a lot of sense, especially along a single roadway.
A 5mph difference in speed makes a significant difference to a person involved in an accident. It can reduce recovery time or even be life saving.

Lower speeds reduce fatalities but nobody wants to drive 5mph everywhere. Speeds need to be a balance. Where do mobility and economy come into the decision making process?
  • Reply: They are not directly factored in the tool itself. But we do look at what difference in total time results from a lowered speed limit. Most time is spent at traffic signals and we need to work to coordinate the signals to smooth out the flow of traffic.
  • Brian: right now since we don’t leave our houses there is much less risk. We can all stay home all of the time and there won’t be any accidents. (Laughing). As a society we are willing to take movement as a risk. To balance mobility and safety we look at speed and safe vehicles. But, trade offs are made. A truly “safe” vehicle would be unaffordable. We don’t talk much about the cost of traffic crashes to the individual, their family, their business, or society as a whole.

We understand that, but it doesn’t appear that mobility and economy are built into the model. They all have to do with traffic safety and crashes.
  • Brian: We are talking about the difference between 30 and 35mph - not 60 and 80. There is a negligible effect on actual travel time and economic impact in the real world at these lower limits. 
  • Reply: we can provide some examples and try to quantify some of those trade-offs. 
You provide us with the safety data and is it up to us to apply the economic impact to that safety data, correct?
  • Reply: yes, that’s accurate. Every tool starts with the current operating speed. Then we incorporate different factors and we come up with a suggested speed limit based on speed, drivers, other research, pedestrians, bikers, and other drivers. Freeways don’t have to consider pedestrians and people on bicycles. We are recognizing the differences between freeways and urban areas that need to have a stronger emphasis on safety.

8(c) Discussing Ordinance No. 914 - Amending Shoreline Municipal Code Chapter 15.05 Construction and Building Codes to Provide Amendments to the International Building Code, International Residential Code, and International Fire Code

The presentation was made by
Ray Allshouse, Building Official and 
Derek LaFontaine, Fire Marshal

Under the current provisions of Shoreline Municipal Code (SMC) Chapter 15.05, the updated Washington State Building Code is effective in the City by reference upon approval by the Washington State Building Code Council (WASBCC) through their rulemaking authority.

The Shoreline Fire Department (King County Fire Protection District #4) is seeking to expand fire sprinkler installation coverage to include all new single family and duplex projects constructed in the City as part of this code update. This was discussed with the City Council on December 7, 2020. 

A significant majority of the proposed local amendments are intended to maintain consistency of applicable Fire Code provisions among King County Zone One Fire Districts.


Emergency Responder radio coverage is important and Zone 1 Fire Marshals are working closely with King County as we go through a change out of radios. 

We want to make sure that the policies and requirements are consistent. These radios need to work within buildings to protect the firefighters and get the fire under control. The system is not cheap. 

We also need to make sure the fire flow is available because minutes count. (Fire flow is the quantity of water available for fire-protection in excess of the required for other purposes.) 

This is why sprinklers are such an important element in new building construction. Private hydrants have to be available and working where public hydrants do not exist. Protection of fire lanes not only make access easier for fire trucks but also for aid cars. 80% of fire department calls are medical aid calls.

DISCUSSION

The cost of new sprinkler systems has come down. And it makes sense for a new single family home. But would this amendment apply to an ADU (accessory dwelling unit)? Would it still make good economic sense for a smaller building?
  • Reply: If the ADU is part of an existing dwelling, it does not have to be sprinklered. So this is an alternative if they are cost conscious. 

I would like to hear from the Master Builders Association. You have done a good job of answering their concerns but I would like to give them the opportunity to explain their objections.
  • Reply: I think because we don’t have a lot of new subdivisions the Master Builders Association has expressed their opinion by letter rather than in person or by phone-in to a Zoom meeting. We’re at an impasse. We are hearing the same objections they’ve had the entire time. Yes, there are added costs but the systems have become more affordable. And we have lightened up our demand on additions. Current codes consider an addition of 500sf makes the structure a brand new home per the fire code. If you don’t meet fire flow, you would have to retroactively sprinkler your entire house. We don’t want to require anybody to retroactively sprinkler a home. 

When we talk about economics, affordable housing (multi-family) is required to be sprinklered. Those people pay more in rent because the cost of construction includes the cost of the sprinklers. Why then should we be exempting our wealthier residents from the cost of sprinklers if we consider it an important safety measure?

The letter from the Master Builders Association addresses several issues, but it does not address people with mobility issues, especially if the fire is in the room you are occupying. 
A smoke detector can alert you to a fire, but it cannot remove you from the room. So maybe ADU’s should not be exempt from sprinkler requirements.

New rules call for parking 3’ from a fire hydrant instead of 15’. Why is this change being made?
  • Reply: we need three feet in all directions to spin the hydrant wrench. Actually the 15’ code also refers to the 3’ code and it’s contradictory so we are trying to align the two codes.

This will come back on the Consent Calendar January 25, 2021.

Meeting adjourned.



1 comments:

Ray R January 8, 2021 at 6:42 PM  

i appreciate the posting of these notes. Very informative.

Thank you

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