File #: 2015-1356   
Type: Regular Agenda Item
Body: City Council
On agenda: 3/10/2015
Title: Housing and Transportation Workshop: Presentation on Recommended Approach to Citywide Transportation Plan. (City Manager 2110)
Attachments: 1. Exhibit 1 - Presentation on Transportation Implementation Effort, 2. Exhibit 2 - City of Alameda Transportation Element
Housing and Transportation Workshop: Presentation on Recommended Approach to Citywide Transportation Plan. (City Manager 2110)
To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council
From: John A. Russo, City Manager
Re: Housing and Transportation Workshop: Presentation on Recommended Approach to Citywide Transportation Effort
On January 21, 2015, the City Council directed staff to prepare an approach to a comprehensive Citywide transportation planning and implementation effort in response to a Council referral from Councilmember Daysog (Citywide Transportation Effort).  As part of the direction provided that evening, the City Council also expressed the importance of the City Council taking the lead in directing the work effort and of engaging relevant boards and commissions like the Transportation Commission and Planning Board in preparing the approach.  On February 25, 2015, City staff presented its initial thoughts on an approach to the Citywide Transportation Delivery Strategy at the joint Transportation Commission and Planning Board meeting.  The feedback from the joint Transportation Commission and Planning Board meeting will be provided to the City Council verbally at this evening's meeting.
Previous discussions on the topic have concluded that the City has exceptional planning documents that provide a solid framework for enhancing the City's mobility and that more attention must be paid to implementing capital projects and transportation demand management programs.  Of greatest importance with regard to implementation are Citywide improvements, especially transit, bicycle and pedestrian.
Tonight's workshop on the Citywide Transportation Effort will be coupled with a presentation on housing and density bonus policies and issues as requested by the City Council on January 6, 2015.  Staff believes that the housing and transportation issues being raised by the City Council and the community are intrinsically related and should be discussed together at the same public meeting.  
The potential impacts of new housing development on local traffic congestion and quality of life is arguably the single most debated issue within the City due primarily to the fact that the City is an island with limited crossings to the mainland. Significant concerns have been expressed about new housing development planned for the City adding to the delays and congestion at the crossings and undermining the Alameda community's quality of life.  These concerns about traffic and impacts to quality of life are not new.  They have been discussed and debated for decades.  The City's Transportation Element (the transportation chapter of the City's General Plan) approved in 2009 contains detailed policies about how to address traffic issues and encourage the use of alternative modes of transportation.  Housing projects and major mixed-use developments in the City over many years have been studied including their potential traffic impacts on the City and region.   These projects included detailed analysis of citywide traffic, and in compliance with the Transportation Element, many of these project approvals include a transportation strategies and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to demonstrate how they will pay for enhanced transit services and multi-modal facilities, monitor the effectiveness of their plans, and ultimately, be accountable for reducing their traffic impacts.
Of equal importance is implementing programs and projects that will entice more existing residents and employees to use HOV, transit, bicycling and walking for their commutes, since they represent a much larger market for trip reductions than new development.
Trends in transportation and real estate development in Alameda and the region are, and will always be, dynamic.  The City will never stop needing to manage and monitor transportation issues and, on occasion, update its transportation strategies and efforts to respond to changing policy, real estate, technological, demographic and socio-economic conditions. New development offers the opportunity to financially support the latest transportation innovations and facilities, to provide the riders needed to support new and expanded transit service, and just as importantly, to provide actual real-time data on what works and does not work so that the City can continue to effectively enhance and improve its efforts. New development will not stop occurring and transportation issues in the City will never be completely resolved; the City will always be in the business of managing transportation issues.
As a result, the City Council direction provided on January 21st offers an opportunity to step back and assess what has been accomplished so far, and what still needs to be done in light of the latest local and regional trends.  This staff report, along with the presentation attached to this report (Attachment 1), provides this assessment, and outlines a path forward on the proposed Citywide Transportation Effort.
City staff carefully reviewed the referral documents and existing transportation policy and planning documents to determine a recommended approach to the Citywide Transportation Effort.  Tonight's presentation addresses a number of key topics, which helps provide a detailed context for making any policy decisions on next steps.  The following section summarizes the key topics being addressed as part of the presentation and a brief summary of staff's responses to those topics.  The attached presentation provides additional information, including numerous maps (Attachment 1).
1.      Goals of the Citywide Transportation Effort
Based on the referral documents, comments made by the City Council on January 21st, feedback provided by the Planning Board and Transportation Commission on February 25th, and staff's own experience discussing traffic issues at numerous public hearings and community meetings over many years, staff recommends that the overarching goals of the Citywide Transportation Effort be to minimize net new single occupant vehicle (automobile) trips at the crossings with special attention paid to  the peak hours (am northbound and pm southbound); and (2) to enhance multi-modal mobility with the City.
This would be achieved by mitigating impacts of new development, but perhaps more importantly, by shifting existing residents to more efficient forms of commuting including HOV, transit, bicycling and walking.  Put another way, the recommended focus going forward would be on managing the available capacity at the crossings and throughout the City by increasing the number of people choosing HOV, transit, bicycling or walking. These are staff's two recommended overarching goals, but the Effort would ultimately expand on the goals and develop more detailed objectives and work tasks for achieving these goals once a transportation consultant is selected.  The process of defining more detailed objectives and tasks to meet these goals should be part of the subsequent effort not a focus of tonight's discussion.
It is important that these  overall goals be confirmed by the City Council at tonight's meeting so there is no misunderstanding about the ultimate purpose of the Effort.  As stated above, how exactly the goals are expressed, expanded upon and measured will be an important first step of the consultant contract to prepare the Citywide Transportation Effort.  The refinement of the wording, detailed objectives, and measurement of these goals is likely to require additional data and case studies that the selected transportation consultant will be best equipped to provide.  
2.      Citywide Transportation Planning
While not an exhaustive list, the attached presentation  highlights the significant traffic and transportation policies, studies and plans that have been prepared previously and briefly discuss the important contributions of each. In determining what other efforts need to be made, it is important to understand what has already been accomplished so that resources are expended efficiently.
3.      Summary of Transportation Element
The recently approved Transportation Element of the General Plan is comprised of the City's goals, objectives and policies related to transportation, some of which are quantitative and very specific (Attachment 2).  These overarching transportation goals will guide and provide the policy context for this proposed effort and will be summarized in this evening's presentation.
4.      Current City Efforts to Address Traffic Issues
There is a tremendous amount of inter-departmental work being accomplished on traffic-related tasks almost on a daily basis in the City.  While staff is intimately involved in these efforts, it could do a better job clearly and comprehensively explaining these efforts to policymakers and the community. The presentation this evening is a first step in this direction and will describe in detail what is currently being done to address traffic issues in the City.  A description of these efforts is broken down by the following four categories:
·      Requiring compliance with the Transportation Element for development projects;
·      Obtaining funding for operations and capital improvements;
·      Actively coordinating new and improved services with transit agencies; and
·      Implementing multi-modal street and facilities improvements.
5.      Underlying Concept behind Citywide Transportation Efforts
It is important not to lose sight of the "how" behind all of the City's efforts. For example, how do multi-modal streets and TDM reduce traffic? As a result, the presentation this evening  discusses how the City's current efforts are intended to minimize traffic delays and congestion related to existing and new development.
6.      Latest Transportation-Related Trends
As described above, transportation-related trends are dynamic and will influence the approach taken on any significant City transportation effort.  The presentation tonight highlights some of the latest trends in transportation, such as demographic shifts in car usage and new technologies.
7.      Forward-Thinking Citywide Transportation Efforts
The presentation  touches upon briefly the policies and programs that the City is already implementing that are forward-thinking and innovative, especially within the Bay Area.
8.      Enhancements to Citywide Transportation Efforts
There are ways the City could enhance its planning efforts to address the potential traffic impacts from new development and the latest local and regional trends in transportation.  Based on staff's assessment, the following is a list of certain aspects of the City's plans and policies that could be enhanced:
·      The City adopted a Transportation Systems Management Ordinance that focuses on Citywide policies for reduction in vehicle trips generated by new commercial development. The City also needs Citywide policies and strategic planning related to residential uses that generate vehicle trips during the more congested northbound am and southbound pm peak hours.  
·      The City has been forward-thinking about requiring new developments to adopt TDM and monitoring plans and integrate them with other projects within a larger geographic area in the City (i.e., West End TDM program and Northern Waterfront TDM program), and to create dedicated funding mechanisms for implementing them.  That said, there may be important strategic reasons to integrate these efforts at a Citywide level and possibly centralize certain aspects of them.
·      While the City has recently approved a Pedestrian Master Plan, and is in the process of updating the Bicycle Master Plan, the City's Long-Range Transit Plan from 2000 is outdated.  An updated Transit Master Plan would allow the City to integrate the City's private TDM/transit plans being provided by individual development projects (i.e., shuttle services) with strategic and service planning efforts being implemented by public transit agencies.
·      The City has done extensive planning for key major projects that would increase the number of existing residents using HOV, transit, bicycle and pedestrian modes.  The next step is to accelerate the implementation of those projects by appropriately staffing and resourcing their continued development towards implementation.
9.      Recommended Approach to Citywide Transportation Effort
Based on staff's assessment summarized in this staff report and attached presentation, staff recommends that the City Council move forward with developing a Citywide Transportation Effort that recommends next steps to minimize net  new trips at the crossings and to enhance multi-modal mobility within the City by taking a holistic and integrative Citywide approach to:
·      TDM for both residential and commercial development projects;
·      Monitoring the effectiveness of TDM;
·      Updating public and private transit plans;
·      Developing ongoing systems for responding to the latest trends and data in mitigating traffic; and
·      Clearly informing policymakers and the Alameda community about traffic congestion at the crossings and the ongoing effectiveness of the City's traffic mitigation efforts.
Staff recommends that the Citywide Transportation Effort would result in two deliverables: (1) a Citywide TDM Plan and (2) an updated Transit Plan (collectively, Plans).  Staff proposes one process for preparing these two inter-related documents.  The following is an overview of the proposed process for performing this proposed work:
1.      Project Initiation. After the consultant contract and scope of work are approved by the City Council, the consultant and staff team would hold a kick-off meeting and refine a schedule and process for executing the scope of work. (Month 1)
2.      Community and Stakeholder Outreach - Part 1.  The consultant and staff team will discuss the overall scope and intent of the Plans at individual meetings with key stakeholders, such as transit agencies, developers, property owners, and local and regional transportation organizations, etc.  (Months 1-2)
3.      Existing Conditions Review. The consultant team would review all of the relevant City transportation documents and efforts, as well as the feedback from Task 2, and summarize their thoughts, questions, and findings in a technical memorandum. (Months 1-3)
4.      Refinement of Wording and Measurement of Plans, Goals, and Objectives.  Based on Tasks 1-3 and relevant data and case study analysis, the consultant will propose draft wording for, and the methods for measuring, the overall goals of the Plans and detailed objectives for achieving goals (Month 1-4)
5.      Community and Stakeholder Outreach - Part 2. The consultant and staff team will present the results of Tasks 1-4 with a focus on the results of Task 4 to the City Council, Transportation Commission, and Planning Board, and in individual meetings with key stakeholders.  The City will also send notifications to its email lists and social media, run newspaper ads, and send press releases or community advisories, when appropriate. (Months 5-6)
6.      Preparation of Outline of Plans. Based on Tasks 1 thru 5, the consultant team will prepare a detailed outline of the strategy, including any key graphics or tables necessary to understand the content of the outline and proposed strategy. (Months 5-7)
7.      Community and Stakeholder Outreach - Part 3. The consultant and staff team will present the results of Task 6 to the City Council, Transportation Commission, and Planning Board, and at a community workshop, and in individual meetings with key stakeholders.  The City will also send notifications to its email lists and social media, run newspaper ads, and send press releases or community advisories, when appropriate. (Months 8-9)
8.      Preparation of Draft Plans. Based on Tasks 1 through 7, the consultant team will prepare a draft of the complete Plans, including any graphics, exhibits or attachments, such as draft ordinances, implementation tools or checklists. (Months 10-11)
9.      Community and Stakeholder Outreach - Part 4.  The consultant and staff team will present the results of Task 8 to the City Council, Transportation Commission, and Planning Board, and at individual meetings with key stakeholders.  The City will also send notifications to its email lists and social media, run newspaper ads, and send press releases or community advisories, when appropriate. (Months 12-13)
10.      Preparation of Final Plans. Based on feedback from Task 7, the consultant will revise the document and prepare final drafts of the Plans for approval by the Planning Board, Transportation Commission and City Council.  The consultant will make any final revisions to the Plans requested by the Planning Board, Transportation Commission and City Council after their approval and produce final Plans for dissemination by the City (Months 14-17).
Additionally, staff proposes recommendations regarding staffing and resourcing for transportation planning in the City. Due to the high level of upcoming transportation implementation work and potential for an increased city role in transit planning and Transportation Management Association oversight, staff recommends bringing on new staff dedicated to transportation planning and project delivery.  Three approaches could be considered to accomplish this work:
·      Hire a Consultant;
·      Hire a City employee;  and
·      Utilize Contract staff
Based on feedback provided by the City Council this evening, City staff will revise its approach, and prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) that includes the recommended goal, approach and process.  The RFP will ask that each consultant team prepare a detailed scope of work and budget that they believe meets the intent of what the City wants to achieve and incorporates the general process outlined above.  Staff does not recommend being too specific about the exact scope of work in the RFP.  There are transportation consultants that specialize in transportation and transit planning and TDM and have extensive knowledge about these subjects.  Staff does not want to limit their ability to provide creative and new ideas about how to achieve the City's goals.
City staff will include key stakeholders in the consultant selection process, potentially including members of the Transportation Commission, Planning Board, transit agencies, and members of local transportation groups.  Once a preferred consultant is selected, City staff will finalize the scope and budget and return to the City Council for approval of a consultant contract.  The RFP and selection process is likely to take approximately four to six months and the consultant contract is likely to take 12 to 18 months to complete.
It is difficult to estimate the amount of a consultant contract based on the work scope described above, but City staff estimates that the cost of preparing the strategy could range between $250,000 to $400,000, depending on the amount of community and stakeholder process and the extent of the ultimately agreed upon scope of work.  Staff has not yet identified the funding source for this effort and it will depend on the final scope of work and amount of the contract.
1)      Review and comment on the recommended approach to the Citywide Transportation Effort; and
2)      Direct staff to identify funding and issue an RFP based on the content and process outlined above.
Respectfully submitted,
John A. Russo, City Manager
Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point
Financial Impact section reviewed,
Juelle Ann Boyer
Interim Finance Director
1.      Presentation on Recommended Approach to Citywide Transportation Effort
2.      City of Alameda Transportation Element