The new normal? PT ponders open streets

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A portion of Taylor Street in Port Townsend was closed over Memorial Day weekend as part of the city’s “Open Streets Initiative.”

Blockades were placed at either end of Taylor Street in front of the Rose Theater, and chairs and tables donated by Alchemy Bistro were placed on the street

This effort, which also included additional outdoor seating and trash cans at the end of Adams Street and in the Tyler Street plaza, was partially designed to start a community conversation about the use of outdoor space, City Manager John Mauro said.

This comes as many cities across the country are re-evaluating their public space, with some cities like Seattle choosing to permanently change what was once miles of normal city streets into pedestrian-only.

Even as downtown restaurants remain closed to dine-in seating, many are serving takeout, creating a need for outdoor seating and additional amenities like garbage cans and hand-wash stations.

Additional outdoor seating spaced adequately apart is designed to accommodate those looking to get outside but still maintain a safe distance, Mauro said.

Part of the plan was also to model what safe distancing looks like, with outlines indicating a 6-foot distance drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

“And any visitors will also get clear messaging about what we are expecting,” he said.

As the county moves into Phase 2 and beyond of Washington’s “Safe Start” plan additional outdoor cafe-style seating might help restaurants increase their capacity, Mauro said.

 

For now, closing Taylor Street was just an experiment and anything more permanent would require a formal public process through the City Council. Mauro said he welcomes the engagement.

One issue historically high on everyone’s minds when it comes to downtown is the availability of parking, which is usually at a premium during summer months. While the downtown area was largely vacant at the start of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, traffic and parked cars has slowly increased.

A permanent closure of Taylor Street would eliminate about a dozen parking spaces often used by local employees, and might also cause congestion when people realize they cannot turn at the corner of Taylor and Washington streets.

Mauro said he sees the potential for public space transformations in other neighborhoods in the city as well as downtown.

Initial feedback received over the weekend has been good, Mauro said. Many people are excited about the possibilities, and lots of good concerns have been raised.

The city will look for more ways over the coming weeks and months to use design to its advantage, he said.

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HarveyW Collateral Damage

The press release by City Manager Mauro said exactly--"Second, the initiative will close the one-way portion of Taylor Street from the Haller Fountain to Water Street to cars to allow for safer travel on foot and bike as well as limited and spaced outdoor seating." He also spoke of converting other parking spots and dismissed them off hand as not needed. Really?

The context was along with other open ended "temporary" (day? week? month? years?) changes and adjustments, some also damaging business access. There was absolutely no mention of just the weekend in the release, just 2 days before the closure, really a conversion. A PDN article also did not state this was a one weekend only trial. It has changed after Mr. Mauro and the City Attorney got quite a bit of bad feed back. Of course Mauro got good feed back from the politically connected special interests he was serving.

Closing streets and calling it "opening" and an "initiative" no one voted on needs to be looked at closely. What other communities do, hopefully after true public input, fits specific dynamics for them. A residential street in Seattle is not Taylor in Port Townsend. Locals need to wake up and recognize manipulations and sound bites that hide much larger issues. AND SPEAK UP.

As the Leader pointed out "A permanent closure of Taylor Street would eliminate about a dozen parking spaces often used by local employees"...….Those spaces and most in the Historic District are posted 2 hour spots for the customers that pay the wages of those employees needing some guidance. Those employees and residents damage us all as proxies of Appointed Mayor Sandoval, who has her own private lot that will tow you if you mess with her turf.

The Leader once dove into parking problems at the same time new City Manager Mauro was getting his PR as probable new City Manager. Parking and Mauro shared the headlines. He knows the history and current problems he oversees. Now the Leader openly says employees use these 2 hour spots all day (and dozens more). Taking parking space, a limited resource against municipal code meant to protect all and create fairness is "PT Normal".

Sound bite that Johnny. You can fool some of the people some of the time...…

Hey Leader, how about follow up questions when BS comes spewing at ya?

How are we a community going to be able to heal and "recover". Everyone's customers will be limited as they have been for years by the ongoing illegal tolerance policy City Manager Mauro is now entrenched in, along with the interim police chief he just appointed.

We ask visitors from near and far to respect us and wear masks. We don't even respect them or each other. The City of Port Townsend discriminates against its own and all visitors. Under appointed Mayor and 19 year No Term Limit Council member Sandoval. It all starts with leadership. Or, lack of it.

The City Attorney is working on a reply to a letter asking for clarification of closing streets without proper processes and just what a City Manager of 5 months, overseen by a special interest 19 year City Council member and 3 time appointed Mayor can implement without public process.

After that we must keep on the City and Mauro regarding his damaging parking tolerance policy he took on with open eyes. A study would show hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses over the years. I deal with the people who can't find parking and know of the purposeful kicking down the road of any plan at all.

Covid 19 should not be a smoke screen to make changes some special interests have wanted for years., on top of failed leadership. The City Council needs to understand what they are there for. To represent all the people who put them there and guide Mr. Mauro. That failure is seen in the budget deficit, and parking.

Mr. Mauro's course since taking the job is now easy to plot. Parking anarchy remains a wedge in the community and damages everyone's chance of a recovery by eliminating already minimal parking on many days by a very significant amount.

Pay lots of attention to Mr. Mauro. He is off leash and resuming under appointed Mayor Sandoval what City Manager Timmons left us with. Chaos and denial that serves to sell condos and office space.

I have a new business neighbor that replaced a woman who walked 2 blocks daily to park her car in all day areas to protect her business access so customers could get to her. My new business neighbors have 2 vehicles and park in front of my business, also damaging their own access. 2 of many vehicles I see daily, many for years on end. At what point is responsibility delivered to those who don't take it on their own? Port Townsend under Michelle Sandoval and John Mauro is wounded and in denial.

Covid 19 put the effort for term limits and a fairly elected not appointed Mayor on hold. The reasons for that are not on hold. Waiting on word from the City Attorney.

Wednesday, May 27
Justin Hale

Terrible idea, don't do it. The downtown area is already a C/F during tourist season, and a double C/F on event week-ends.

Wednesday, May 27
HarveyW Collateral Damage

Seeing the pic of David Peterson putting up barriers reminds me that I just reminded him of his word to me to replace 2 spots that once served 4 motorcycles that were eliminated when 21st century curb bump outs were constructed on several historic corners. Short notice on that too. The one on my corner is now full of tree droppings and weeds as I explained it always would be due to locating it under a tree that sheds many times a year.

David told me last week things were on an essential need schedule. Following through on promises, not diminishing access and safety is essential to me. There was and is the potential for perhaps even a few new spots.

The arrows that help keep people from entering Adams the wrong way from Washington are also in need of paint and up sizing. Many cars a day head in the wrong way. The yellow striping that mark my pull through exit for customers has no paint at all. I reminded David and have a picture of a motorcycle parked there blocking my exit. The rider was very nice and asked about motorcycle spots as he moved to an auto sized space. There has been many windows of fair weather to paint and finish the job from last Jan.

I did see full crews battling the never ending weeds at the round abouts this week. Essential.

I also was reminded that Community Services officer Wendy was used for parking enforcement when I brought a little attention to then Appointed Mayor Stinson and the Council person many saw as her handler. That ended fairly quickly. Now the handler is Appointed Mayor again.

If it is broke do fix it.

Thursday, May 28
Sandra Stowell

I would love to see practical safe adaptations to our current pandemic reality: physical distancing, outdoor activities (Vitamin D & clean air) whenever feasible, and fewer tourists this year for everyone's safety!

We would be a healthier community if more of us would walk or bicycle, at least in good weather, which is when outdoor seating gets used. Of course we will provide necessary access for everyone who needs it. But we should be able to create more outdoor seating for restaurants, perhaps with one way/one lane access on several streets.

Restaurants will need local business, and what will bring locals downtown in summer? The answer for many is: fewer tourists! But also safety: we must be convinced that we are not taking unnecessary risk of contracting Covid-19. Well spaced outdoor tables would go a long way toward that, and most of us can bring a warm jacket.

Closing streets to most traffic & adding outdoor seating seems to make excellent sense, and could be fabulous for this summer! Let's try various scenarios to see what works. Restaurants may be required to limit customers for a long time, and well space outdoor seating could be our new normal for a few years, or longer. There are lots of possibilities: what about EV "golf cart" parking spots, with rentals at the Park&Ride?

| Thursday, May 28
HarveyW Collateral Damage

Sandra- What just occurred was an illegal taking of public space that still is waiting on a response from the City Attorney. Your wishes sound good to some, but just answer one question regarding your plan. Really, answer this..... how do you keep "tourists" away, and mobilize "locals" to come and spend the money your plan, if even possible, would remove from a very damaged local economy.

Is someone from Port Ludlow that comes here regularly to eat and shop a "tourist". Kala point? Sequim? Kingston? Edmonds? For sure Seattle, right? The appointed mayor was once a "tourist" from So Cal. Now she runs the place. Can your plan be retro active?

The illegal takeover of Taylor that would have remained if some had not strongly reacted with legal concerns shows that we must remain vigilant, as long as the structure of City Government allows a city employee, benefiting certain insider individuals to pick and choose which laws and codes to follow. The Taylor Street takeover was a like a 3 year old stealing a cookie. A valuable cookie. It was a test of our early warning system. The alarms went off. Some are sleeping through it all, dreaming of bicycles and unicorns. I love them too. And reality.

Not personal, but the term shallow thinking and those who are able to partake in it without considering many important details, laws, and ripple effects applies. Shallow thinkers used each other in the closure of Taylor, that many will never understand the severity of. Especially with the untrustworthy broken structure of Port Townsend's No Term Limit Council, Appointed Mayor (3 terms 19 years on council} who has almost exclusive control of the City Manager according to insiders.

With no parking plan or enforcement in place, we will do well to simply survive what the coming months will bring. Special interests within city government and the community are using each other using shallow thinking is what Taylor showed us. The double speak verbiage of the City Manager treating us all like simple shallow thinkers as he explains what happened double speaks for itself. Real change takes time. Things evolve from planning well in advance. We have none. Sociological change as you want immediately, isn't dumped on a community all at once.

The city government that Appointed Mayor Sandoval has been pivotal in has not created the foundation needed to slowly move towards well researched and understood changes as you envision. We all want ice cream. Sometimes it isn't affordable or the right time of day.

Lets start with some real parking enforcement so both locals and visitors can use the entire recourse fairly and legally and see what that looks like. Parking tolerance as has been managed into existence discriminates and displaces local as well as and some days more than "tourists".

City Manager Mauro has avoided that. It is now his responsibility as his job description clearly states, along with his limitations as an employee of the City Council, who is supposed to be making important policy decisions to have him implement. Within the set out legal processes to protect all. All. All.

If all your ideas were implemented without any enforcement such as is the case now, there would be no benefit. Everyone would just do as they wish as is the case now. It would create busy work and jobs for the City Manager and others. Might look good on a resume if the details weren't looked into.

So, Sandra, what is a "tourist" and how do we mark them for exclusion. Then, who is next? Maybe local trouble makers?

Collateral Damage

Friday, May 29
HarveyW Collateral Damage

Taylor Street update---Still no word from the City Attorney regarding public process, limitations of City Manager, and the very damaging parking tolerance policy that has gone on for years.

Caption for photo of David Peterson and Wendy shutting down Taylor last week...WE WERE ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS That may have been used before.

Saturday May 30 saw Taylor open to traffic, but around half of parking was blocked off and tables set out in the rain. No one was seated that I saw, it rained off and on all day. There were very few people in town, "tourists" or "local" , so plenty of parking all over. That will change Monday is officially a big day.

No harm no foul Saturday May 30, except process wise on this specific day, as the taking of limited and mis managed for years public parking was again converted for some businesses. Nice seating, but your customers need parking. Locals too. Not all can or will bike. It is reality. Changes slowly and with a plan all participate in.

There will be many more days it is raining, no one will want outside seating, and parking will be maxed out with illegal all day parking if this model of outside seating remains. Converted spots taking away customers for ALL many days will be accomplishing nothing. There are no "spare" parking spots, especially with the City of Port Townsend tolerance policy that favors those in the know and discriminates against locals and visitors who obey signage.

Having runners or bicycle delivery shared by eateries to waterfront parks or other spots thoughtfully set up with tables seems to make sense. Could be a thing. Order in person or by phone. Promote it. Brand it. Make it fun and adaptive. Or, crap in your own nest and take your own shared parking as already occurs regularly. Who is served by that?

Off leash lazy thinking by the City Manager and Main Street Association compounds damage done for years, that the relatively new City Manager lets continue. His boss, appointed Mayor Sandoval and the very quiet and confused No Term Limit City Council seem absent.

I can't remind people enough that Appointed Mayor and 19 year City Council member Sandoval has her own lot at Windermere, and is a board member of Quimper Mercantile, also with its own private lot. Last year that lot sent out and posted notice they would tow all day parkers, who moved to public street parking to join others already using that limited resource. There was no action or response to my photos and communication regarding business blockage. Obviously Sandoval is aware and in denial.

It is much easier to sell condo's, office space, and other development if parking just does not exist.

Checks and balances? Or a system that could not be better designed for corrupted thinking to flourish and become "normal".

Busy times ahead. I dealt yesterday by appointment with regular customers some would call "tourists" from Bremerton who purchased wood and shop time for a table project, and another couple who divide time between Woodinville and Port Townsend who really made my day, and week, and month. What should we label them? How can "we" keep them away?

At any rate they both helped pay my rent, and probably got something to eat while they were here. Are we all in "this" together? Appointed Mayor Sandoval has never been in "this" for the broad range of business and visitors she is sworn to serve by following or changing parking (business access) law and code.

It is not personal. If you choose to lead, lead. Don't mismanage in silence and spew sound bites now and then about "all in this together".

"We" allow it. Best to all. Treat each other truly like family, which includes communicating, not BS ing everyone and fooling fellow shallow thinkers thinking there is personal gain to be had.

City Attorney??? Waiting on a response, what am I (and you) missing? John Mauro City Manager pledged utter transparency when he was looking to get this very high paying job. If you look closely you can still see through what is occurring. Remember, he had no experience and is doing on the job training with specific buzzing in his ears. Poor guy, he was going to be Prime Minister of Camelot and got something quite different.

Don't fall into "them and us" unless "them" is any form of government and individuals that want to fool ya and rule ya.

You may resume your Netflix binge. Maybe find a movie about small town corruption. Or, pay attention here. And participate after deeper thinking.

CD

Sunday, May 31