After reviewing the city’s plans to build three north-south bicycling corridors in west Vancouver, adding protected bike lanes but removing some parking spots, the Vancouver City Council chose to re-examine options for balancing parking following an outcry from residents.
The council chambers were, unusually, packed for the workshop, with residents concerned about the lack of parking options and what they called poor communication on the city’s part.
Following the discussion, City Manager Eric Holmes said city staff would provide the council with other options for how it might pursue the first phase of the project, which would involve repaving and adding the protected lanes to Columbia Street between, roughly, Mill Plain to Fourth Plain boulevards.
The Westside Bike Mobility Project is designed to provide better north-south bicycling options through west Vancouver. As most recently revised, the project would create three north-south, more bike-friendly corridors: one along Jefferson Street and Kauffman Avenue; the second on Esther, Franklin and Daniels streets; and the third along Columbia Street. The city planned to start the first phase of work, on Columbia Street, this summer.
Doing so would mean some lane re-striping and modified intersections, but the most visible change would remove many parking spaces in favor of sheltered bike lanes up Columbia Street and the Jefferson-Kaufman corridors.
City staff estimate they’d have to remove or relocate 421 parking spots along Columbia Street for the project, and 261 spaces along the Lincoln-Kauffman corridor. The Daniels-Franklin corridor would lose no parking spots, but the city’s plan would not add protected bike lanes to those streets.
In summer last year, officials analyzed traffic patterns in the corridors, as well as on-street parking usage.
On Columbia Street between 13th and 45th streets, and the side streets to the next blocks, most blocks had a peak use of 40 percent or less. On blocks around 41st Street, 39th Street, 21st to 24th streets, and 13th Street to McLoughlin Boulevard, about 60 to 70 percent of spots were used, with 80 to 100 percent use around peak times.
In the Lincoln-Kauffman corridor between 13th and 45th streets, parking utilization ranged from 4 to 29 percent.
Staff also examined off-street parking capacity, estimating which homes have off-street parking space for vehicles.
On Columbia Street from Mill Plain Boulevard to 45th Street, 2 percent of all midblock homes had no off-street spaces, and 77 percent had two or more spaces. In the Lincoln-Kauffman corridor, from Mill Plain to 45th, 2 percent of midblock homes had no off-street parking, while 97 percent of homes had two or more off-street spots available.
Homes with side-street frontages were not included in the street parking analysis.
Council members Erik Paulsen and Bill Turlay said they were concerned about the discrepancy in parking impacts they were hearing between city staffers and from community members.
“There was a lot of concern about the public process, and there was a perception among folks in the neighborhood it wasn’t adequate,” Paulsen said, adding that some told him there was little opportunity to participate, or that the information provided to stakeholders was “in some way misleading or avoided presenting some of the material facts that have since energized the community.”
City Long-Range Planning Manager Rebecca Kennedy said the city sent out hundreds of mailers, emails and other messaging to building owners and occupants, and hosted other forums to solicit public comment. Still, she said, reaching out to everyone that could be affected by a given project is difficult.
Councilor Bart Hansen shared those concerns about notifying neighbors.
He said that judging by what he’s been hearing, he worried that the city has been running through a checklist and not looking at the substance of what’s being communicated.
“We’ve been checking boxes and saying, ‘Mailer, done, door knob, done.’ All these things are done,” he said. “And nobody put on this, ‘And by the way, we’re removing all the parking.’ ”
That comment was met with roaring applause.
“Words matter, and in this case … it’s an omission of words that’s what’s mattering,” he said.
Glen Yung, who lives on Columbia Street, agreed, saying he found the city’s assertion that its public notification process was thorough “ridiculous.”
He pointed to a project poster he brought, posted in a business in the area, that made no real direct mention of what the protected bike lanes would mean for parking, and a several-hundred-strong petition he, his wife and other neighbors organized, with names of people who also felt inadequately notified.
Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle wanted to know if there are opportunities for denser diagonal parking in affected areas, and what more the city could learn about affected homes and businesses, among other questions.
“Let’s go ahead and get some numbers and get that back to this body, because we do have a short timeline right here,” she said.
Holmes said while the council could defer that road work on Columbia Street, what a delay would mean for the city’s other work wasn’t immediately clear, as the roadway is in need of repairs as it is. The council’s next workshop meeting, where they’re slated to revisit the issue, is March 4.