Planning consultant reveals final draft report after several charrettes and open houses

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - LAY OF THE LAND - At King City's first planning charrette May 7, planning consultant Keith Leiden (center) explains the Town Center layout to members of the City Council and Planning Commission, including (from left) Darrel Unruh, Martha Granda and Suzan Turley.A joint meeting of the King City City Council and Planning Commission was held May 21 so that Keith Leiden, the city's planning consultant, could present the final draft report for the King City Town Center Plan.

Some of the issues people had complained about in planning sessions or charettes were missing sections of sidewalks, incomplete or unsafe crossings at 99W and bus stops that are sometimes difficult to reach.

Some of the sugestions to come out of the charrettes, which drew very few members of the public, included adding street trees along 99W and in the median; providing direct, clearly marked, generous walkways to connect parking to shopping center destinations; and adding trees and landscaping to the King City Plaza parking lot.

Others included providing walkable and "interesting" environmental elements on town center sidewalks; redesigning 116th and its parking lot drive-through to a "Main Street" character; adding mixed-used development such as residential housing; allocating a small number of parking spaces for use by King City residents while using transit; and relocating the Grocery Outlet's garden center to the parking lot.

Leiden explained that with grant money available to complete sidewalk gaps between Beef Bend and Durham roads, that project would come first followed by possibly adding trees later.

The dangers of crossing 99W were on everyone’s mind, and City Councilor Malka Sekey asked about the cost of adding blinking lights and noise like the chirping-bird sound used at downtown Lake Oswego crosswalks "until (other) ideas come to fruition," and she added, "Right now it's acutely necessary and so much cheaper."

City Council and Planning Commission members, who sat at different tables during the first charrette along with members of the public, said that at every table, people asked for flashing lights at the 99W intersections.

While some of the council members expressed disappointment that the list of potnential projects was not prioritized, Councilor Suzan Turley said that it would be dangerous to prioritize at this point because people needed to keep their minds open to all possibilities.

Planning Commissioner Martha Granda said she was opposed to the suggestion that spots for parallel parking be included along the curb in the Plaza parking lot. "We would have a lot of angry people and fender-benders," she said.

Another Planning Commission member said, "It's hard enough backing out of the diagonal parking spaces. If you put in parallel parking, I would park across the street, but some people can't walk that far."

The concept plan leaves room for future transit possibilities, and in fact, TriMet is planning to announce some service changes in June that may include adding Durham Road to its routes, according to Leiden.

As for the future of the King City Plaza, Leiden said, "It all depends on what the property owner wants to do and what TriMet wants to do. We'll take your comments from tonight and do the final charrette report."

The next step is updating the Comprehensive Plan, which will take place this summer and into the fall, when there also may be a revision of the Community Development Code to include changing zoning designations, Leiden said.

"We should be done with everything by January," he said.

Throughout the entire process, city officials have been struck by the lack of public attendance at the events, and Planning Commissioner Bonnie Babbitt wrote the following after the May 21 meeting:

“During the past few weeks I have been attending the King City Town Center Plan sessions to learn about the city-sponsored planning project to consider how the city's business district might better accommodate our use as well as those who visit here.

“The thing I missed most at these meetings was seeing all of the people who I have heard talking about what they either do not want to happen or do want to happen. I heard many wonderful ideas.

“The sessions began with information regarding the current conditions in our downtown area as to usage, transportation, infrastructure, services and marketing. The second session gave us the opportunity to set forth our needs and present new ideas for making better parking, sidewalk areas, safety issues and what we would like to see in our service centers and shopping facilities.

“Our King City Council is proceeding with a plan for such improvement so that they will be ready when those entities responsible for implementing change such as ODOT, Metro Planning, and TriMet begin planning projects that affect us. The council is working to see that all changes meet our needs.

“Please come to the next open houses and bring your ideas.”

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