During the study session Council President Bill Kyle brought up an email sent by Heather Johnson of EM Design. While not on the agenda, Johnson did speak during the public comment section. EM Design used to have a sign on their Highway 62 property which commented on speed/safety issues within city limits. The sign did not violate city sign ordinances but the city had ODOT review the sign and it was found to be a safety hazard due to the amount of verbiage/time it took to read while driving. EM Design was required to take the sign down. .
Johnson read a statement noting EM Design feels the city violated ORS section 192 by not making the decision to have ODOT do a speed study in a public meeting and. by not allowing public voice in the matter of whether or not to appeal the results of the study in which ODOT denied the request for lower speed (time for appeal has lapsed. Johnson also noted the study did confirm folks speed in the 45 MPH zones at the ends of town, she seemed to feel this was a firm reason for an appeal. As the city is being accused of an ORS violation all Johnson’s documentation will go to the City Attorney Steve Rich. Administrator Danise Brakeman will also contact ODOT and advise them of the issue and discuss a possible extension while Rich reviews the documents. The matter may return during an April meeting.
Additionally Administrator Danise Brakeman advised the council did not make the request for the speed study/possible change. Brakeman made the request as an administrative decision and advised council of the results; thus felt the matter wasn’t one for a public meeting as there was no council vote.
Per ODOT’s website – Changing a Speed Zone section: “A major factor in establishing speed zones is consideration of the 85th percentile speed. This is the speed at or below which 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling. This is used as an indication of the speed most drivers feel is reasonable and safe.” What this means is; if “most drivers” feel the current 45/35 is safe – as evidenced by the fact they go at or above those speeds, that 85th percentile is what will keep the limits where they are.
The issue of legislative speed was discussed by guests Senator Doug Whitsett and Representative Mike McLane. They discussed a recent super charged bill passing session. Bills ranging from energy to education were discussed and debated, passed and failed. A big pain point in many that failed seemed to be the 32 day session time. Per both Whitsett and McLane many bills were just too “complex” for such an speedy time line. By the end of the session legislators were sometimes getting only one hour notice for sessions barely allowing those in the building time to attend and leaving no time for the public to speak their collective mind on some issues. Both were optimistic that some of the failed bills would return for consideration during future sessions. There was QA to the Senator and Representative during the meeting, but sadly only a Greek Oracle could have given true answers to citizen concerns like “How can we bring jobs back to the area?” and “Can we stop the closing of Elk Trail School?”
By Christy Pitto
Of The Independent