Planning Commissioner dismisses petition against lane reduction.

This year the ONEN Board of Directors proposed eliminating traffic lanes on major roads through ONEN. Many ONEN residents don’t agree with this proposal, and volunteers have gone door to door throughout ONEN collecting signatures from fellow residents against lane reduction. Additionally, has hosted (and is still hosting) an online petition against lane reduction.

Thanks to your help, we’ve collected hundreds of signatures. We’re still examining our list to make sure we don’t have duplicates, but the paper and online petitions combined have garnered at least 650 signatures from residents who don’t want lane reduction in ONEN.

These petitions were originally in reaction to the ONEN Board’s proposal, which has been in the works for months. Then, quite suddenly, barely a week before the Planning Commission meeting, City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager announced a new proposal focused on narrowing only Cascade. This took both ONEN Board members and the general public by surprise, and with only a week until the Planning Commission meeting there was little time to review the new proposal and form responses.

During the meeting, one resident against lane reduction provided the Commission with the hundreds of signatures volunteers have worked so hard to collect this year. He referenced the number of signatures as he explained why he opposes lane reduction.

Commissioner Robert Shonkwiler clarified that the signatures were in opposition to a different proposal, and not the Cascade-only proposal before the Commission at the moment. The resident explained that the signatures were from people against lane reduction in ONEN, and Shonkwiler clarified twice more that the signatures were not against the specific proposal before the Commission today but were actually related to a different matter.

The implication is that we can’t truly know if everyone against neighborhood-wide road narrowing would be against narrowing Cascade alone. This implication is disingenuous. If we can’t know how residents feel, it’s not the fault of volunteers for being inaccurate with their petition wording; the responsibility lies with Krager–for allowing no time for the public process to take place–and with the City for letting her push a proposal that hasn’t been vetted. It is absurd that Shonkwiler would dismiss the efforts and work of citizen volunteers while accepting how hurriedly and inappropriately Krager put forth this proposal.

(Note, also, that when residents argued Krager hasn’t collected data or done studies for a Cascade-only proposal, Krager cited the CC analysis that examined narrowing multiple roads throughout ONEN. In that case Commissioners didn’t argue the point.)

City Council president pro tem Jill Gaebler recognizes the problem. As quoted in the Gazette:

‘The fact is, we have been holding community meetings for the last few months to get public input for the previous plan to narrow all four roads,’ Gaebler said Thursday after Krager briefed the Parks Advisory Board. ‘We’ve had significant input and public process over that plan, and this plan came out in a press release a day ago, is coming to the Planning Commission June 16 and then to the council. I want the voice of the people in my vote decision. It seems very rushed.’

If the City has any genuine interest in how the public feels about narrowing Cascade only, perhaps its employees should follow a process that allows public feedback. And if they will not, perhaps its Commissioners should recognize where the fault lies.

[Note: a previous version of this post said Commission Chair Eric Phillips had been questioning the petition signatures. Now that the Planning Commission has released the video of their meeting we reviewed and realized Phillips only let the resident know that Commissioner Shonkwiler had a question.]

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