Two PS21 Events Now on Video

“Seacoast Transportation – New Modes of Getting Around” (5/12/2015)

The moderator is Bill Lyons, a principal technical adviser in transportation planning at the Volpe Center, the U.S. National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge. Panelists are Rad Nichols, executive director of the COAST bus system; Steve Pesci, of COAST and UNH Wildcat Transit bus systems ; and Scott Bogle, senior transportation planner at the Rockingham Planning Commission.

“Street Smarts:  Managing Parking, Traffic, and the Pedestrian Experience in Portsmouth” (4/30/2015)

Rick Chellman is a consultant on street design, traffic planning and urban design with more than 30 years experience.

Parking Policies for a Successful Downtown

What’s the first thing a city should do if it has a parking shortage?

At a PS21 event on April 2, Michael Manville said the city should “play with the prices” to get people to change when and where they park.

“It’s probably the first ten things you try,” he told an audience of about 100 at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “If you’re still not getting the return you want, you would think about adding supply.”

The question was one of many parking policy questions Manville, assistant professor of City & Regional Planning at Cornell University,  addressed during a presentation “Parking and Downtown Vitality” at 3S Artspace. Manville studies studies  the relationships between transportation and land use, and local public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking.

The presentation was funded in part by the Geoffrey E. Clark and Martha Fuller Clark Donor Fund of the NH Charitable Foundation.

Over the course of an hour, Manville built the case that properly priced parking is crucial to the success of downtowns.

He began by reminding the audience of the purpose of parking — simply put, to assure drivers they will find a parking spot. That’s why cities aim for 85 percent parking occupancy, rather than 100 percent. With examples and evidence ranging from Tulsa to California to Portsmouth, Manville explored the relationship between parking and downtown economies and how cities try to strike a balance between parking that is easy to find, cheap, and a reliable source of revenue. (Hint: you can’t have all three).

WATCH THE VIDEO

The event was the first in a PS21 series this spring that will look at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.

The Coruway Film Institute, a series sponsor, recorded the presentation April 2 and Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.

(SAVE THE DATE: Tuesday, April 28. Rick Chellman, who consults nationally and internationally about street design, and lives in downtown Portsmouth, will discuss two-way streets, on-street parking and the pedestrian experience in Portsmouth. )

Islington Street Corridor Plan Debuts After Citizen Input

After several days of discussions with residents and official, Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative unveiled conceptual plan for the future of the West End/Islington Street Corridor (Feb. 23).

The plan looks far into the future and envisions a different, more cohesive and developed area. TPUDC will go away to polish the plan and then develop zoning guidelines down to the level of individual buildings. The new “character-based” zoning plan needs to be approved by the City Council before it can go into effect.

PS21 Hosts Virtual Walking Tour of Islington Corridor

More than 50 residents braved snow drifts and narrowed streets Tuesday evening (Feb. 10) for PS21’s ‘virtual walking tour’ of the Islington Street-West End neighborhood.

aerial view
Islingon Street Corridor

The photo tour, narrated by Joe Calderola, included aerial and street views, photos of historic homes, plans for the Islington Street Corridor, upcoming development, illustrations of the area’s character, and opportunities for the future.

The discussion afterward continued for an hour with participation from Portsmouth Planning Director Rick Taintor and  City Councilors Esther Kennedy and Stefany Shaheen. Karen Marzloff of PS21 moderated.

The tour presentation provided an overview of the area, which will be the subject of  a 4-day public workshop on ‘character-based’ zoning Friday thru Monday, Feb. 20-23.

The workshop will be at the Frank Jones Center, 400 Route One Bypass, Portsmouth, except the final, Monday, which is at City Hall.

During the ‘charrette,’ or design workshop, the public will be able to drop in at any time from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. Citizens can view maps and materials, talk with zoning consultants,  and leave comments.

In addition, a number of specific sessions are scheduled:

  • Friday, Feb. 20 – Introduction to the Process, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 21 – Roundtable Discussions
    10:00 a.m. – Business, Landowners and Developers
    12:30 p.m. – Building Scale & Design
    2:00 p.m. – Public Realm & Civic Spaces
    (The public is invited to all roundtables, including “Business, Landowners and Developers.”)
  • Sunday, Feb. 22 – Interim Conclusions Plus Review, 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 23 – Closing Presentation, 6 p.m., City Hall.

For additional details about the design charrette, visit the City of Portsmouth web page about the character-based zoning.

Jeff Speck suggests ways to a more walkable Portsmouth

Jeff Speck Portsmouth NH
Walking Congress Street with Jeff Speck

Renowned urban planner Jeff Speck gave a provocative, idea-filled (and often funny) presentation and workshop in Portsmouth Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. Around 200 people came to the presentation 60 to the workshop. Speck talked about how cities work   and suggested ways  that Portsmouth can become more liveable and successful  through ‘walkability.’

Watch on YouTube:

Read about Jeff Speck’s ideas in The Sound.

Portsmouth Herald: ‘Councilors intrigued by planner’s vision for the city

speck_presentation
Before a full house at Seacoast Repertory Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 22

 

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Primary funding for this event was provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the City of Portsmouth, with additional support from Esther’s Marina, Piscataqua Savings Bank,  and PortsmouthNH.com.

Seacoast Local featured the event as a partner in their “Making the Connection” speaker series. Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.  Many local businesses and individuals also contributed.

North End Walk Draws 50; Charrette Begins

North End Walk
Around 50 people turned out in chill weather for a citizen-led walking tour of the North End hosted by PS21  (Portsmouth Smart 21st Century) on Saturday. Above, PS21’s Karen Marzloff addresses the crowd.

Participants discussed current and potential development in the neighborhood, and the character of the North End in anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s Nov. 10-13 charrette on ‘character-based’ zoning.

The charrette begins with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. Monday in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.  Above, Karen Marzloff of PS21 addresses participants. For more information on the charrette, see http://tinyurl.com/p3ggxs2.

Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

More than 30 people attended a PS21 event on Oct. 22, a workhop with the statewide nonprofit Plan New Hampshire. Plan NH’s Robin LeBlanc says the workshop aims to “shift” thinking about the future by examining assumptions about life here, conversations that are going on, and questions people have or might ask about the coming decades.

Below are notes on the wide-ranging discussion as recorded by PS21’s Jerry Zelin.

Robin LeBlanc leads Plan NH workshop with PS21A Workshop, “SHIFT,” led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH
7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22
Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium

Notes by Jerry Zelin

Doug Roberts: Announces a North End walk scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2014, 10 A.M., starting at on Maplewood AvenueCindy Ann Cleaners, to discuss possibilities for each lot in the North End.

Robin LeBlanc: She has lived in New Hampshire for 30 years, currently Exec. Dir. of Plan New Hampshire.

Audience: Attendees introduce themselves. Most live in Portsmouth. Some live in Eliot, Durham, etc.

Robin: Plan NH develops workshops like this, to trigger shifts in thinking about the future of towns and cities. Not Portsmouth-specific but for any community …

Audience at Plan NH workshop
Why did people move here?

Audience:
Vibrant downtown
Schools
Walkability
Near ocean
Historic character
Creative community
Socio-economic diversity when moved here

Robin: Those are our values. How would a real estate broker describe Portsmouth?
Continue reading Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

Bike-Ped Plan Adopted; Projects in the Pipeline

Portsmouth’s Planning Board has adopted a voluminous and detailed master plan for the city’s bicycle and pedestrian future. The long-term goal is to create a largely unbroken network of safe and useful bike paths and pedestrian walkways throughout the city.

The plan includes programs to be initiated (such as for bike safety), and more than 200 specific infrastructure changes (large PDF). Changes include revamped intersections, new bike paths, updated sidewalks and more.

Juliet Walker, city transportation planner, described some the first projects that will be undertaken.

Continue reading Bike-Ped Plan Adopted; Projects in the Pipeline

Portsmouth Deputy Police Chief re: ‘Traffic Inquiry’

“Our rough numbers run today show approximately 4,680 car stops in 2013 resulting in 2,080 tickets/written warnings and 2,600 verbal warnings.  As we discussed our goal is to impact the driver’s behavior.  If we can accomplish that with just a verbal warning, we are happy with that.  I suggest our traffic enforcement should be judged based on the number of car stops we make, not tickets written.

“As promised I wanted to provide some of the reasons behind our current numbers.  In short we are in the midst of a transition brought about by years of budget cuts and reductions.  In the past few years we had to downsize, downgrade and reorganize the police department to cover the workload of over 10 staff lost (over 20,000+hrs of work annually) and that has been very challenging.  Essentially we were forced to go from a department that was extremely proactive to one that was largely reactive.  We lost not only officers on the street but also school resource officers and detectives.

“However, we are gaining more equilibrium with the implementation of each step of our short term plan.

“Downtown foot patrols are back for 16 hours a day utilizing 1 to 2 officers depending on the hour of day/day of week.

“The 2-officer traffic/back-up car, which covered a portion of 4 zones has been split.  Two 1-officer back-up cars now split the entirety of Portsmouth into North and South during the hours or 7pm and 3am.  This allows for greater officer safety and better response times to those in the community who are in need.  Additionally their patrol areas have them driving through different areas of the center of town over the course of their shifts.  This has resulted in an increased presence in the downtown, and we are getting positive feed-back on these changes.

“We revisited our school resource officers partnership with the school department. The SRO positions go a long way to combating law enforcement related juvenile issues.  It also allows us to develop positive relationships with the youth in our city, an investment that carries into adulthood.  We have restored the commitment of the middle school and elementary school SRO’s.

“We have put a strong emphasis on Community and Problem Oriented policing, but not in the traditional sense, as the old model was manpower intensive. Instead, we have designated a detective to head this initiative.  Detective Jacques will be working with all the neighborhood groups, downtown bars and restaurants, and with our own officers on community partnerships.  He will be looking at underlying issues to repetitive calls for service such as drunk and disorderly persons, graffiti, and other chronic problems. What makes these issues particularly challenging is that they are always morphing and always in flux.  The goal here is that by addressing underlying issues, we may be able to prevent the crimes from happening in the first place.

“We know our community expects its agency to assess, control and prevent crime; to this end, on the patrol side, we also needed to put new tools in the officer’s hands.   While nothing takes the place of feet on the ground, technology can assist and supplement this in truly amazing ways.  We want our officers to pair this technology with traditional policing to get the best of both worlds.  We are installing CrimeView dashboard, which will allow us to use data to drive our directed.  It puts significant data analysis at the fingertips of the officer on the street, as well as supervisors and command staff.

“2014 arrived with a significant up-tick in heroin use, overdoses and case activity.  We have focused a lot on combating this issue through specialized assignments as well as creative policing strategies like the Community Access to Recovery Day we lead in July.  We continue to be one of the communities with the highest liquor licenses per capita in the state and new bars and restaurants continue to open.

“We were just able to secure funding for a new officer from the current city council to replace one of the 10 that have been cut.  This officer will go to our patrol division, we are also currently down one officer due to a retirement.  We are in the process of screening candidates for those two positions.

“As we begin what sometimes feels like a slow journey from reactive policing back to our past of proactive policing I expect you will see the number of traffic stops increase.  Traffic enforcement is not only a key and vital role for a patrol officer to undertake, but it is also one of the leading ways of preventing crime and catching criminals.  Our officers have been recognized at the state level for “Looking Beyond the Traffic Ticket,” essentially discovering serious criminal activity during a “routine” traffic stop.  We are committed to improving our traffic enforcement and proactive efforts.”

— Portsmouth Deputy Police Chief Corey MacDonald, email of 8/25/2014 re: “Traffic Inquiry”

City Expands Parking Shuttle Service

Portsmouth’s downtown parking shuttle , which has operated Friday thru Sunday since May, has been enough of success so that the city is expanding its  hours of operation.

Beginning Aug. 7, the shuttle will operate on Thursdays, from 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. It will also starting operation earlier on Fridays, at noon on Friday instead of 4 p.m. The shuttle picks up passengers every 10 minutes at the Connect Community Church off Market Street near Exit 7 on I-95 and drops them off the the parking garage on Hanover Street.

According to a press release, during the 13 weeks of operation, the shuttle’s total daily ridership has increased from an average of 45 riders per day to just over 190 riders per day. The city attributes the increase to growing awareness of the shuttle service as well as increased demand with the arrival of the peak summer tourism season.

The shuttle will operate until Sunday, Aug. 31. For complete information, see the shuttle website at www.portsmouthparkingshuttle.com.