Capricious is not an adjective that would normally be used to describe the Coronado City Council or their deliberative process. But it was actually fun to see the governing body of the city take an action that lurks somewhat out of their collective comfort zone during their meeting of January 15. In this specific case the issue was the installation of eight bike parking corrals throughout the city at a total cost of $13,000.
Basically any time you make a creative suggestion to Caltrans, the fine folks who run our region’s highways in general and specifically Orange Avenue, plus Third and Fourth streets, you are going to run into an administrative brick wall. A 2011 council resolution to install bike parking in close proximity to the Village Theatre was rejected by Caltrans. A 2012 request authored by the council to place a bike rack on the grass median on Orange Avenue in front of the theater was verbally shot down by Caltrans. The definitive ‘No possible way’ formal rejection letter is apparently still in the works.
So it was on to Plan ‘C’ which originated in the Orange Avenue Bicycle Parking Plan, authored by the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. They came up with the concept of bike corrals spotted throughout town, accommodating 10 bicycles each, using an inverted ‘U’ shaped bike rack. The racks are easy to install and can be moved relatively easily. The racks cost roughly $1,000 each to purchase and the installation costs for all eight locations would total an additional $5,000.
But the best feature is that the locations are Caltrans-proof, as the corrals don’t lie on any of the streets operated by that group. Specifically the proposed bike corral locations, which will each be placed in an existing parking space in proximity to Orange Avenue, are located on the:
• Southeast corner of First Street
• Northwest corner of Second Street
• Southeast corner of Eighth Street
• Northeast corner of Tenth Street
• Northwest corner of Tenth Street
• Northeast corner of C Avenue
• Southwest corner of Loma Avenue
• Northeast corner of Adella Avenue
Discussion of the issue was lengthy and essentially came down to either trying a couple of locations to see if they worked, or going with all eight proposed corrals and a quick review period to see if they live up to their billing. Mayor Casey Tanaka said, “I came into the meeting expecting to support one or two corrals, but now I would like to support all eight. Thanks for focusing (the discussion) on how the racks are beneficial.”
Now that they had the issue surrounded, just the details remained to be worked out. Councilmember Al Ovrom wanted to see more public outreach on the possible negative effects of losing eight parking spots. “I would like to see this plan go back out to the business community,” Ovrom said. “Have the Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Ltd. come back with a recommendation. I want to get an honest reaction and until then I can’t support it.”
The eventual motion on the issue was to install all eight bike racks for a test period of six months, with a council review of the concept 30 days after installation. The corrals are targeted for installation by March 2013. The vote to pass the motion was 4-1 with Ovrom voting against.
Since the council meeting lasted nearly five hours, less the elapsed time allowed for two short breaks, we’ll go into re-cap mode for the rest of our allotted editorial space. In other actions, the council:
• After pulling from the consent agenda the concept of spending $21,000 from the city’s general fund for the installation of two electric vehicle charging stations, a debate on the issue followed. Councilman Richard Bailey noted that the existing city charging station had been used 80 times since it was installed in August 2012. Bailey said, “I have a hard time subsidizing personal choice on a vehicle with tax funds.” The vote to pay for the installation of the charging stations passed 3-2 with Bailey and Councilwoman Barbara Denny voting against the concept.
• Denny requested the removal of consideration of the city’s legislative guidelines from the consent calendar. Denny then requested that the motion be tabled to a future meeting. A motion to that affect was defeated 3-2 with Denny and Bailey voting to table. Councilman Mike Woiwode noted during the debate that the public has had two months to review the guidelines. He added, “It’s important to reiterate what the mayor said, that these are minor changes to what we have had in place for a long period of time. The other thing worth pointing out is that this helps us establish the general approach to things and specific things are addressed by us. The major issues will come to us and we will deal with them as a body.” The legislative guidelines were passed by a 4-1 vote, with Denny voting against.
• Another item pulled from the consent calendar was the expenditure of $30,000 for a professional engineering study of the entrance to the Coronado Cays. Resident Wayne Strickland asked for the item to be removed for discussion, saying, “I don’t believe spending $30,000 on a consultant really solves anything.” Denny thanked Strickland for pulling the item and added, “I’m glad we are finally focusing attention on this issue.” The motion passed unanimously. Tanaka pointed out at this juncture that the council had taken one hour to approve the consent agenda.
• The council then approved former Councilwoman Carrie Downey as the city representative to the Coronado Hospital Foundation. The council also approved the nomination of Phillip Kraemer Beck to the Parks and Recreation Commission.
• Two encroachment permits and conditional use permits were debated by the council. The first was for the combination of Sapori Restaurant and Saiko Sushi located at 116-120 Orange Avenue. The second was for the Coronado Firehouse Bar and Grill. Although the staff recommendation to extend both of the encroachment permits and the conditional use permits were passed, there was considerable discussion on both issues at both locations.
The Saiko/Sapori combination was looked upon more favorably by both the residents of the area and the council. Their permits were passed by a unanimous vote.
Conversely the Firehouse received a critical review relating to noise, smoking and other related issues. Tanaka said, “I want to be on record that The Firehouse is a little different than the other two because we do get complaints. That encroachment isn’t utilized as well as the others have been. I have to say there is a part of me that wants to vote against this. I am indicating that if there are two other people (council members) who want to reject it, that I am leaning that way myself.”
The staff report which severely curtails the outdoor activities at the Firehouse after 10 p.m., was passed. A provision was added to the motion to include a smoking policy for the area. The motion passed 4-1 with Tanaka voting against the motion.
• The final issue of the evening was a discussion of the city’s parking regulations for joint use and valet parking and the city’s parking meter program. Because opening up the first two issues would involve input, approval and possible meddling from the California Coastal Commission, the council opted not to open those issues. The council voted 5-0 to direct staff to investigate possible future options for parking meters.
The next meeting of the Coronado City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5 at 3 p.m. The council meetings are held at City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.