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King City seeks public input for town center redesign

There will be several opportunities to participate in May


by: BARBARA SHERMAN - POPULAR PLACE - The post office inside McCann's is one of the most popular places in the King City Plaza, and its helpful and friendly postal workers include Nancy Norton (left) and Alice McNeill."Charrette" is the new buzzword in King City, and on April 16 city officials got a taste of what they will hear from the public when they host several charrettes or intensive planning sessions in May.

The charrettes are part of phase two of a project called the "King City Town Center Plan and Implementation Strategy" that is looking at how the city's business district might accommodate a greater range of uses and activities, be more pedestrian-friendly and provide better transit access.

The King City City Council and Planning Commission held a joint meeting April 16 when Keith Liden, the city's planning consultant, outlined the project and took questions, some of which had nothing to do with the King City business district.

"When this was developed in the mid-1960s, this was the only game in town," Liden said. "There were no Albertson's and other businesses."

But now there is a wide range of nearby businesses tempting King City residents right across 99W, but those can be difficult to reach.

"It's hard to get to the businesses on the other side of 99W," a man said. "Is there a chance of getting an underpass or overpass?" (Probably not due to the high cost.)

Liden pointed out that there are only four crosswalks across 99W between Beef Bend Road and Fischer Road, making them few and far between, but a woman said, "I think one really good crosswalk would be better than several."

Several people complained that the timing on the crosswalks is too short, but Liden pointed out that at 42 seconds, they are on the long side.

Would residences be added to town center?

"I don't think we'd introduce residences, but they could be located nearby," Liden said. "The current code doesn't allow residences in town center."

Another man said, "I came to this city because I like the way it is. I live at the back of town center, and I don't want it any bigger."

Later on, a woman complained about people smoking outside certain businesses in the King City Plaza, especially those close to the dance studio "where little girls go in and out," and added, "I don't see why they can't smoke out back."

To which the man replied, "Because I live out back!"

A woman asked, "Is a transit center coming here?" And after Liden replied no, she said, "I think that's why Metro is putting money in here," referring to the $75,000 grant from Metro that is funding the planning project.

In the meantime, a woman said, "There is nowhere to leave your car if you want to take the bus into Portland. You need to designate some long-term parking, but then the businesses would lose parking spaces."

Liden pointed out that upgrading the town center "keeps it a viable asset for the future" and that changes could be incremental.

A man said he would like the businesses to be more accessible without having to use a car and didn't want to see half the town center "bulldozed."

A woman said, "I think we need to be really positive. After I came here in '96, the grocery store closed, and then Grocery Outlet came in. It doesn't offer as many regular things, but you can find what you need. I've seen lots of 'outside' people coming into Grocery Outlet, but you've got to change the parking situation or we're going to have a real mess."

Someone else said that to run economically, Grocery Outlets need to operate "on the low side of rental prices," adding, "Grocery Outlet doesn't just serve King City - it is an anchor. If new development results in higher rents, we might lose them."

Liden pointed out that "if we make the Plaza more attractive, so many people won't need to cross 99W."

Near the end of the discussion City Councilor Suzan Turley said, "We're trying so hard to get input from the public. Yes, Metro is funding this (planning project) - thank goodness - but it is so important to recognize that this is our city. This is our opportunity to make the changes we want - not what other people want."

City Manager Dave Wells concluded, "Every action has a consequence. That's why we're doing these charrettes."

The town center planning area is roughly bordered by Pacific Highway to the east, Fischer Road to the south, the end of the housing area to the north and the area east of the residential area along Royalty Parkway.

It is primarily commercial with limited potential for expansion, although there are some 49 acres primarily located south of the Best Western Northwind.

The phase one study has shown that there is adequate water capacity for future development and sufficient sanitary sewer capacity under the current zoning. Two storm drainage areas, located south of Beef Bend Road and north of Fischer Road, have been identified, and Clean Water Services is preparing to upgrade the sites.

In general, local streets and sidewalks are adequate, but there are some sidewalk gaps along 99W at Royalty Parkway and Durham, Beef Bend and Fischer roads.

Planning also included market-area demographics, which to no one's surprise shows King City's population as older with a high percentage of non-family and non-working households. In addition, King City has 3,320 residents, with a combined 27,200 residents in the King City/Summerfield area, and the town center area is not even close to meeting Metro's density targets.

A real estate analysis showed that the market is reasonably well-served for day-to-day shopping needs, and the commercial space is older and commands below-average rents.

In the town center, there are 27 property ownerships in 37.5 acres that include 88 businesses (15 retail/dining and 73 service firms).

For more information, call 503-639-4082 or visit www.ci.king-city.or.us.

The following charrettes have been scheduled, although city officials have said that they are flexible and willing to set up additional times to accommodate everyone's schedules.

-- Wednesday, May 7, 7 to 9 p.m. at King City Clubhouse, 15245 S.W. 116th Ave.: a planning work session with the community to create plan alternatives;

-- Thursday, May 8, 7 to 9 p.m., King City Clubhouse: an open house to review and comment on draft King City Town Center Plan alternatives;

-- Friday, May 9, 3 to 6 p.m. at King City City Hall, 15300 S.W. 116th Ave.: an open house to review and comment on refined town center plan alternatives;

-- Thursday, May 15: A summary report of the charrette results, including a recommended King City Town Center Plan alternative, will be available for public review at King City City Hall and the King City website;

-- Wednesday, May 21, 4 to 6 p.m., King City City Hall: an open house to review and comment on draft plan alternatives;

-- Wednesday, May 21, 7 p.m., King City City Hall: A City Council/Planning Commission charrette report briefing.

-- June 2014 through January 2015: Comprehensive plan and community development code amendments to support the plan and implementation strategy.