Public Works and Facilities Committee on 2016-11-09 3:00 PM – Nov 9th, 2016

Live and Recorded Public meetings of Public Works and Facilities Committee on 2016-11-09 3:00 PM for The City of Fort Bragg, CA

Source: Public Works and Facilities Committee on 2016-11-09 3:00 PM – Nov 9th, 2016

 

The City of Fort Bragg Public Works & Facilities Committee meeting in Town Hall.

I attended to vent the collective frustration felt by the tenants who lease space in The Union Lumber Company Store regarding the recent predatory parking policy by the Fort Bragg Police Dept. Recently a Mendocino TV client was issued a parking ticket in our parking lot. I was astonished to see City of Fort Bragg Public Safety Officers working on private parking lot, ticketing my clients vehicle parked off of City streets. I advised my client to challenge the ticket, which he successfully did.

I was the only member of the public attending this Novembers Public Works & Facilities Committee meeting.

One of the items under discussion was negotiations regarding renewal of the lease of the parking lot between the City of Fort Bragg and Mendocino Railroad.

With only my negative public input, The City of Fort Bragg Public Works & Facilities Committee approved a plan to place 4 hr limitations in the 122 parking spaces of the Mendocino Railroads parking lot. This because of a perceived parking problem!

When Vice-Mayor Lindy Peters questioned the reasoning behind this discussion, he was told that it came up in a general discussion while reviewing the City’s lease. “It’s been a few years since we visited the concept. Having it or not having it”, (timed parking) as Tom Varga says, “Is not all that important. It’s just time we have that conversation.”

The lease agreement under discussion is a plan to lease 12 spaces for $25 a month per space to North Coast Brewing Company, whom has two other parking lots across the street. I have no objection to The North Coast Brewery Company negotiating for this novel answer to their lack of off street parking. I just don’t think enough public input was taken before leasing of these 12 spaces when the City plans to place time limits to the rest of the local and visitor community.

I objected to the idea of more timed parking in the belief that it discourages people from shopping downtown. Christmas is coming and we all want to encourage local shopping, especially if the shoppers want to stop and take a break for lunch or cup of tea. This new policy would send them “over the hill” to shop.

The most critical aspect to developing this community as a Cycling Friendly City is the access to and development of Staging Areas.

In 1995 through 1999 and in 2008 I promoted a Mountain Bike event called the Tour De Skunk. This event brought thousands of recreational visitors and their families, who spent a lot of money shopping and dining while parked in this parking lot waiting for their partners to return from the forest. This would not be possible with 4 hr parking limitations. Staging Areas are parking lots where a trash can, restroom facilities, safe, patrolled and lighted and where a map/trail guide sign can be placed. The Mendocino Railway parking lot meets all of those criteria and is already a staging area to an adventure in the redwoods and along the coastal trail. People are also using it as an overflow lot for the coastal trail parking lot when they walk or ride their bike to the trail. When they return from their train ride, bike ride, beach hike, downtown tour we want to encourage them to stay and dine and shop some more. Once they get into their cars they are gone. They will not drive around looking for another parking space.

Exerpts from the City Staff report:

The City of Fort Bragg Staff is looking for a public discussion and guidance regarding the idea of timed parking throughout the leased portion of the Depot parking lot excluding any NCBC sub-lease as noted above. This issue has not had a public dialogue for five years. With the upcoming lease renewal, it is worth revisiting this topic to see if parking needs or concerns have changed and if timed parking in the Skunk Train parking lot can help address any issues.”

I request that this policy be removed from the consent calendar and voting be delayed until the new council members are seated and given a chance for them and the rest of the community to participate in this policy change that effects everyone who shops or has a business downtown.

The City, since October 1, 2008, has leased the parking lot at the foot of Laurel Street from Mendocino Railway (MR). The current lease with the parking lot’s owner, Sierra Railroad, expires in 2018. In recent months, staff has been reviewing possible options to consider for the upcoming lease renewal. As one possible consideration, staff is seeking direction on the future utilization of the parking lot including the possibility of implementing a 4-hour timed parking regulation throughout the lot–both on areas operated by the City (77 spaces) and areas operated by Mendocino Railway (50 spaces). The 12 spaces being considered as a sub-lease to the North Coast Brewing Company would not be included in these regulations.

Again, the Fort Bragg citizenry needs to monitor and give input on the many vital local issues being considered. It is not enough to just trust that your elected officials will represent your views and opinions. While I believe that Fort Bragg City council members and staff are essentially well meaning people trying to do the “right thing”, citizens often have differing perceptions, perspectives, ideas and experiences that can have tremendous impact on the decision making process.

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