Nick's Council Connection (26 August 2013)

Council Meeting Date: August 26, 2013TrafficCalmingTechniques.jpg

Council Meeting Location: City Hall, 220 Clay St, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

It is a light meeting this week. We revisit the Sidewalk Cafe Ordinance, set hearings, and do the minutia business of Council. In my Briefs, I cover a long journey and traffic calming.

- Committee of the Whole (6:30pm-7:00pm, Mayor's Conference Room)-

Between 2005 and 2006, City Council developed ordinances allowing sidewalk cafes (i.e. tables and chairs). While I am in absolute bewilderment SohoCafe.jpgthat this happened only in the 21st century, I was surprised to learn that it only applied to C-3 commercial zones and "Cultural Districts" (i.e. the downtown). Not surprisingly, certain College Hill businesses are requesting equal treatment. Hence, we will discuss removing the "Cultural District" requirement. I would take it a step further... why limit to C3 zones? It hardly seems a zoning classification should pre-empt a business from allowing customers to sit and eat on public right-of-way. Especially considering the current design restrictions of the ordinance, which are prohibitive enough. 

In addition, we will discuss Cedar River channel improvements for 20 minutes. There is no accompanying information in our council packets; I am eager to learn what this entails.

-Regular Council Meeting (7:00pm, Council Chamber)-

Special Order of Business

E.3) This item sets the public hearing for the plans, specifications, and contract for the Beach House. Bids will be reviewed by council on September 23rd. Funding for the project comes from FEMA flood recovery (~$250K), Black Hawk County Gaming Association (~$100K) and the North Shore Boat Club (~$175K)- a good example of public-private partnership. No property taxes will be used for this $528,000 capital project. 

New Business & Old Business

All other items are non-controversial in nature. Each meeting City Council adopts benign resolutions creating or deleting positions of employment, plat approvals, liquor licenses, among other things.

-Nick's Briefs-

IMLogo.jpgIronman Journey For most of my life, 'Ironman' was a mythical super hero.  A few years ago, I witnessed my first Kona on the Wide World of Sports. Little did I know that mere mortals could attempt it too. It has been quite a journey so I had to download my thoughts. Even if they are soon forgotten, at least my kids will understand the summer mission of 2013. I transcribe my thoughts in this entry: Going the Distance.

Traffic Calming If you aren't aware, speeding occurs on some of our city streets. What we admire as smooth, wide, straight and tidy looking roads, they soon become objects of disaffection, runways with hazardous speeds.  We need to design roadways with target speed in mind.

A little background. The Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) recommends setting speed limits based on the speeding comfort of motorists. ITE suggests the speed be set at the 85th percentile of speed of motorists on the road section. With this logic, we take would take down all speed limits and re-sign according to the comfort level of the motorists. I find this logic dreadfully flawed.  Imagine applying ITE logic to a kids in a candy store. Serving sizes would be determined by 85% comfort level for Snickers, Red Hots and Laffy Taffys. While food labeling has its own flaws, at least its serving size guidelines are somewhat scientifically based on human diets. 

Speed should be a function of contextual surroundings, just as diet is based on your metabolic function and activity level. Homes, business driveways, schools or environmental surroundings should be the determining factor, for road speeds. We've designed some fast roads to the detriment to the surroundings (W. 1st St., W. 4th St., Pheasant, University (the new sections), Rownd, Orchard, etc.).

The good news, city engineers have taken measures to calm speeds. The Parkade (business and peds), Clay/8th Street Street bump-outs and bike lanes (school), and Ridgeway Round-a-Bout (commercial traffic) are examples of design that accomplish speed reduction. These designs have a collateral effect too -  in all cases, the designs move traffic more efficiently, safely while creating a better aesthetic effect.

So what tools can we apply to 12th Street? Here are some pencil sketches (not my own) to choose from:




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