Updated on City Hall Furniture PLUS Traffic Studies Expiration dates

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I’ve asked several questions of the Council and City Staff members in the past few months; most of them have had less than stellar responses.

August 24th, 2016 via email to Council (Council@redmond.gov)

Good morning!

Of course I have questions…some from last night’s study session and some just in general. 

As a council, about how many hours a month are spent in council business?  Committees, meetings, research, study, etc.

What was (is?) the impetus for the ESCO/Climate Action Plan?  Why the Public Safety Building?  What is the end game for this?

 How will the City encourage PSE to comply with requests for correct consumption figures?

 Where is the criteria listed for weighting priorities in CIP?  CIS?

 Is there a standard expiration date for studies, projects, etc.?  For instance if a traffic mitigation study is created; how long before that study is not an adequate representation of the study area?  There was discussion last night about expiration dates for projects – waiting for funding, grants, etc.  But how long can a project be on wait list before being dropped? 

There is a lot of information (apparently) in the packets council members receive at study sessions.  When is this information received?  Do you as a council discuss it other than during Study sessions and council meetings?  It would seem to me that you would have to – in order to take in all the information.  How long is information in the packets current?  Can you ask for further information other than in Study session or Council meetings?

And a general question, regarding City Hall…The furniture in the lobby is still gone.  In June, when I asked it had been sent out for cleaning and “With the furniture removed, City staff have been evaluating the layout and potential use of first floor lobby space for a “one-stop” Customer Service Center, an ongoing study effort that is expected to conclude later this summer.”  What are the results of the evaluations and when can we expect the Service Center to be installed or the furniture/lobby to be restored?

Thanks as always for your responses.

The first response received from the Ombudsperson of the month, Councilmember John Stilin:

I am still working on securing answers for your questions.  In this message I will answer the following question:

And a general question, regarding City Hall…The furniture in the lobby is still gone.  In June, when I asked it had been sent out for cleaning and “With the furniture removed, City staff have been evaluating the layout and potential use of first floor lobby space for a “one-stop” Customer Service Center, an ongoing study effort that is expected to conclude later this summer.”  What are the results of the evaluations and when can we expect the Service Center to be installed or the furniture/lobby to be restored?

I discussed your question with staff.  There is still an on-going effort to evaluate the lobby space as a new location for the Customer Service Center that is currently located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall.  Additionally, I learned that some of the furniture was water damaged and is out for repair.  The remainder of the furniture has been deployed to other areas in City Hall.  Having the furniture removed also, eliminated the need to remove it during the Derby Days and Ananda Mela Festivals.  So there is the question of whether it made sense to keep moving the furniture and carpet in and out of the lobby, with the high possibility that the area will be repurposed soon.  The results of the evaluation will be presented this fall as part of a budget offer for funding this project that is expected to be included in the 2017-18 Biennial Budget.  The offer will include scheduling information, my assumption is the implementation would occur early in 2017.

 

So, to back up a bit, I posted about the lobby furniture/homeless/day center issue a few months ago.  This issue STILL has not been resolved; but apparently the City has determined that keeping the furniture out of sight is a better use of space than allowing it for use by citizens or the growing homeless population that wanders around Redmond during the daytime.

I guess I was unaware that the furniture was moved during Derby Days and Ananda Mela; I’m unsure why these events would necessitate the furniture being moved.  With the City using the property more for events and festivals and the like, I’m sure the open space is more usable; but it still looks pretty empty on a daily basis.

 

My 2nd set of questions were answered by Councilmember Stilin in an email on September 8th:

Dear Ms. Norman,

 I am responding as the Redmond City Council Ombudsperson for August 2016.  Attached is another response to one of the questions you asked in your email dated August 24, 2016.

 You asked: Is there a standard expiration date for studies, projects, etc.?  For instance if a traffic mitigation study is created; how long before that study is not an adequate representation of the study area?  There was discussion last night about expiration dates for projects – waiting for funding, grants, etc.  But how long can a project be on wait list before being dropped?

I discussed your question with the Planning Department.

Planning responded:  There is no standard expiration date for studies. It depends on the nature and the use for the study.  If a study is going to be used to evaluate or validate a particular situation, we would first review its content and assumptions and determine if they are still valid or not.  We may then utilize it, have certain components updated [if they are out of date] or develop/require a new study.  Some studies may have a long life span and others may have a short life span. Again it depends on the nature of the study and the purpose for which it is being used.

In regards to future projects, we generally keep them on the list until they are completed or unless conditions have so changed that the reason for their inclusion has so changed that the project is no longer needed.  Rarely are projects taken off of lists although their priority may change as conditions warrant or change.

Three questions remain to be answered, (1) Climate Action Plan and (2) Transportation Master Pan which are currently assigned to staff.  (3) Council Time Commitment – I am working with the Council to quantify how much time is required of Council Members.  It turns out this question is not easily answered, as each member of the Council has their own approach to how they fulfill their role as a council member.

 

I asked this question because there has been a lot of discussion (rumors?) regarding when studies are completed vs. when projects are completed.  For example, the Education Hill Re-channelization project (4 lanes to 3 with medians down the center) was completed in 2015; however studies for the project were completed nearly 10 years earlier (possibly earlier than that)!!!   10 years ago none of the new homes on 116th were even in the planning stages (or WERE they?).  10 years ago we had not added all the multi-family buildings in downtown Redmond or seen the TREMENDOUS growth spurt brought on by our current mayor and council.

According to this, between 2000 and 2014 we’ve had a 31% INCREASE in population in Redmond.

Based on the City’s statistics  our population in 2016 is 60,560; up from 45,256 in the 2000 census.

Education Hill conversion packet from City Council meeting, August 2015 

So 10 years ago in 2006 we had somewhere around 50k people (my estimates); today we have TEN THOUSAND more in population alone.  And that’s not counting the number of cars who are coming into Redmond to use bus services, medical, schools, childcare.  THOSE cars are ALSO using Hwy 202 (Red-Wood Rd), OR Avondale, OR 166th Ave NE.
10 years ago a traffic study was done when there were TEN THOUSAND fewer people LIVING in Redmond; and they decided to move from 4 lanes (which was already packed) to 2.  I’m not even sure how to calculate the numbers of people using those 3 roads during “peak” hours; but it’s a whole heck of a lot of people trying to get to schools, work, errands all at the same time.

Am I the only one that thinks a traffic study completed ten years ago would be outdated in about 2 years?

The City is also using an old traffic study for a re-energized Microsoft-biased project on 51st Street NE; studies completed in 2008 and the buildings the studies were completed for have been in use for several years.  The City’s response to a citizen enquiry about the dates of the studies was “they think the data is fine and there is no need for further study.”

Seems the City is fine with using old data for old projects in the hopes of attracting new businesses and taxpayers.

 

I’ll post another entry on answers to the other questions above; plus I’ve asked questions about Historic buildings/downtown core, and the process for a project from start to finish.

 

If you are irritated or at least curious about things the City of Redmond is doing I encourage you to write to the council and to attend the City Council Business meetings.  Emails will be answered by the Ombudsperson of the month; you have 4 minutes during the beginning of Business meetings to speak about any issue you like.

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