2020-07-14 Moab City Council meeting report

COVID-19 Update.  Brady Bradford, Health Director of SEUT Health Dept, reported on current state of affairs. Have protocols in place for seeking positives via contact tracing. There has been a bit of a surge, attributable to two clusters, one household and one “event”. So, it’s good that they know the sources, and it’s not just random community spread. Will take a few days to know whether this is a continuing trend, or will settle down. One thing that has changed is that emphasis on 14 day quarantine is slightly softer than during lockdown, especially if asymptomatic. Encourage people to get tested 5-7 days after contact, rather than immediately after learning of contact, since an immediate test may not show what will become a positive, and a negative can give a false sense of security. Testing rates in GC are relatively high compared to Utah as a whole. Over 2,000 tests administered in GC. Starting to see more non-resident positives. Almost all had left the county by the time the test results come back. Still working on how to report, and communicate via the website. Governor’s mandate for mask use by staff and students K-12, health order coming soon.

Staff reports: Parklets (Nora). “Parklets are public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into vibrant community spaces. Also known as street seats or curbside seating, parklets are the product of a partnership between the city and local businesses, residents, or neighborhood associations.” These were somewhat common in other mountain towns pre-pandemic. With limitations on indoor restaurant seating they are being more widely used to provide additional outdoor seating so restaurants can operate at closer to capacity/breakeven, and increase their likelihood of surviving COVID. The city has received a request from one restaurant on E Center to try out a seating parklet. Staff solicited council feedback. Opinions seemed to vary from cautiously willing to enthusiastically supportive. Key question: take the time to conduct robust public engagement and standard development first, or try a more limited (applicable area, day of week, permit expiring in late 2020) but less developed program. The former might avoid some relational missteps, the latter would be implementable before the fall season and may make a significant difference to businesses, and provide feedback to inform a longer term program. Seemed like council was willing to try quicker option, but with cautions about still engaging stakeholders especially other businesses. Some diversity of opinion on days of week; weekend, long weekend, majority favored all week. Some concern about equitable use of the city ROW by private parties. Jones and Duncan opined that parklets could be compatible with street designs being considered by Hotspot Downtown subcommittee, since those both increase parking stall count, and have significant landscaping and non-vehicle spaces. Staff will bring back more developed 2020 trial program.

Moab Community Garden at Anonymous ParkBegan with a presentation by Becky Mann and Makeda Barkley, in their roles as MoCom leadership, on the organization mission, and history and management of their other garden sites. Carly, staff lead on this, responded to Council members’ questions about a standardized process for considering new uses of city property. She said that Laurie (City Attorney) is working to develop a process policy for changes in City land use. The process will likely follow the one presented to Council regarding the MoCom request – the city would be approached with a proposal, which the administration would evaluate for preliminary feasibility. Part of that feasibility may involve initial site selection. The MoCom proposal is being brought to the Council now to (1) determine whether the Council has interest in the administration investing more time and resources in pursuing this project; (2) identify issues or opportunities with the initial site selection; and (3) get Council’s feedback on desired public engagement. All of these may help determine if and how MoCom and city staff work on this in the short term, whether MoCom volunteer staff invest more time trying to work with the city, as well as possibly inform the more general new uses of city property policy.

Different members of the Council expressed one or more of: general support for community gardens, a desire for fiscal contributions (part of the request from MoCom) to be processed via the Community Contributions program and/or MoCom to just pay for water use, a desire for the standardized process to be developed prior to considering new uses on city property, the importance of public engagement especially with neighbors. Questions about other city sites considered for MoCom, especially a space on Emma Blvd which had been previously identified for more intentional landscaping (community garden, bee garden, etc). Staff’s response was that the Emma area was among the sites evaluated but didn’t move past the screening process for a few reasons, including: the fact that it would significantly conflict with existing uses; it remains unclear what the council wishes to do with parking and transportation solutions in that area (author’s comment: I think Council is possibly supportive of some version of concept plans discussed at some length pre-pandemic, but awaiting more positivity from neighboring commercial owners); and the location at Anonymous is more convenient and proximate to the center of town. Motion to table until standardized process is developed passed 4-1 (Jones voting nay).

Discussion of a potential Pre-Annexation Agreement Request For 10.02 Acres located adjacent to the current City Limits in the vicinity of 500 West by KM Real Estate Enterprises LLC and M. Dean & Company, LLC (“Property Owner”) . This is the same property which applied for and was subsequently denied annexation in 2017. Primary point of pre-annexation agreement was to provide applicant some certainty about zoning if property were to be annexed. Their pre-annexation agreement draft proposed C-2 with additional unspecified vested (by virtue of historical use) commercial and industrial uses (2017 request was for combination of C-4 and R-4). Council unanimously said that they wanted the zoning and other terms of a potential annexation to be processed via the standard annexation process (which includes public notification and hearing requirements).

Discussion of potential Ordinance 2020-13 creating the rules and regulations pertaining to the administration of bicycle and scooter share permit program. Joel has drafted a very rough version of an ordinance, to be proactive in enforcement of these types of uses prior to a business wanting to bring this use to the City of Moab.  At this time the City has not received any request from a business to be permitted for this type of use. Council was generally supportive of having these sorts of micro-mobility solutions as long as the negative impacts other communities have experienced are managed for. Discussion about segregating more general e-bike issues from the specifics of business licensing, space limitations on some downtown streets for additional vehicle types and docked or dockless parking, ambiguity in state code about micro e-vehicle use on state highways (i.e. can they even cross Main). Staff will continue to develop the ordinance.