The Vancouver City Council wants more feedback from residents, community groups and stakeholders before making a call postponing to next year a plan to add protected bike lanes, at the sake of parking spots, along Columbia Street.
At its Monday night meeting, the council also asked for more specific information on what the city might be able to do to address the concerns of residents, many of whom were packed into the council chambers.
The plan, the Westside Bike Mobility Project, would create three north-south, more bike-friendly corridors — one along Jefferson Street and Kauffman Avenue; Esther, Franklin and Daniels streets; and along Columbia Street — as part of a broader strategy to offer more transportation options for an urbanizing west Vancouver.
The first phase of building would start this year along Columbia Street, and the council asked for more information concerning the stretch from Mill Plain to Fourth Plain boulevards, where the first phase of work is slated to start.
Last month, the council opted to revisit the plan, which, as presently conceived, would remove or relocate nearly 700 parking spots to build sheltered bike lanes, including about 400 on Columbia, following a groundswell of resident feedback.
Many were concerned about lack of notice, or incomplete notice, saying it wasn’t always immediately clear what that trade-off was, and that it would limit parking. The council was also concerned about discrepancies between staff research and public comment regarding parking availability.
City Long Range Planning Manager Rebecca Kennedy said Monday that city staff again reviewed the project area, and identified along Columbia three homes total without off-street parking, and roughly 13 homes with older garages in between 13th Street and Fourth Plain Boulevard.
Staff also offered possible mitigation strategies. Those include the potential for 19 replacement parking spaces by adding diagonal parking stalls along side streets, and some potential alleyway spots.
Kennedy said a residential parking permit program could also help, although there’s been previous resistance to it in the past. Also, although it wouldn’t be a quick fix, the city could offer one-on-one technical assistance for residents wanting off-street parking improvement help.
Kennedy said the city has additional outreach events planned with stakeholders, including the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center, which is concerned the project would create accessibility problems for its patrons.
Council members agreed that while they support the broader policy goals that drive the project, they wanted to ensure a fair and inclusive process.
“The good news is, we now have the attention of the community, and we have a high degree of engagement,” Councilor Erik Paulsen said.
Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle directed City Manager Eric Holmes to come back to the council’s March 25 meeting with more information from public feedback in the coming weeks and more specifics on means to mitigate the loss of parking, including working directly with the three residences that would lose their only parking.
The work on Columbia Street is slated to occur alongside long-scheduled road repairs. Due to the added costs of doing one at a time, delaying the bike lane work means delaying the road work, and therefore the whole project, to next year.
March 25 is the effective cutoff date to decide to proceed or postpone the project to next year, said Ryan Lopossa, the city streets and transportation division manager, due to how the city’s road work contracting process operates.