Reminder: Transit meeting
Central Omaha Transit Alternatives Analysis from HDR PI Omaha on Vimeo.
Omaha’s transit authority will hold a meeting Wednesday to reveal the priorities of its ongoing study to upgrade downtown and central Omaha’s mass transit system.
The most likely preferred routes for a potential streetcar system — and a new or improved bus system — are to be discussed as part of Metro’s 18-month study.
When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Presentation begins at 5:30 p.m., with a period of discussion and comments to follow.
Where: Paxton Ballroom, 1403 Farnam St.
One building permit, hold the taco
City Hall to Go from Kris Carter on Vimeo.
Economic development, crime, labor contracts with the city’s public safety unions and Omaha’s finances ranked among the hottest topics at a mayoral forum on Monday.
There was also brief mention of a taco truck.
A slightly-less-orthodox proposal came from State Sen. Brad Ashford, partly in response to a moderator’s question about the city’s Planning Department and building code inspectors (discussion had turned to the customer-friendliness of city departments.)
One program sends a refurbished taco truck into neighborhoods to allow citizens to pay parking tickets or file building permit applications, Ashford said.
How the streets got their names
We published a a neat explainer of how a set of Omaha streets got their names this week. If you’re a bit of a history buff and policy wonk, it’s a fun way to spend a few minutes.
Mildred Brown (pictured), was a civil rights activist and founder of the Omaha Star newspaper. Omaha’s Brown Street is named after her.
>> Dahlman Avenue: James “Cowboy Jim” Dahlman served as Omaha’s mayor from 1906 to 1930, except for three years. He fled from Texas to Nebraska because of problems with the law, but later became sheriff of Dawes County.
>> Capitol Avenue: This route led from the Missouri River to the second Nebraska territorial capitol, located on top of a hill near 20th and Dodge Streets. That building was replaced by Omaha High School in 1872, then by the school’s second building, which was completed in 1912. OHS is now known as Omaha Central High School.
In snow emergencies, city will tow
Let’s say it starts to feel a little more like winter and we get a serious dumping of snow.
The city declares a snow emergency — requiring cars parked east of 72nd Street to be moved to one side or another, depending on the day — and you forget to move your car. Once the storm’s over, you come outside, ice scraper in hand, and the car is nowhere to be found.
Chances are, it’s been moved down the street.
Under plans approved by the City Council this week, Public Works crews can step up their efforts during snow emergencies. Cars left on the wrong side of city streets could be towed to a safe spot nearby, while those abandoned on major roadways will likely be towed to an impound lot.
Council members said they were supportive of efforts to get snow plows through neighborhoods more quickly.
City’s new parking manager is on the job
The city has a new employee in charge of its parking garages, parking meters and anything and everything else parking-related.
He’s Ken Smith, who spent more than a decade doing the same kind of work in Lincoln. Now, in his first week on the job in Omaha, Smith is beginning to sort out the long list of upgrades officials want to make to this city’s parking plan. A few changes are already in the works, including a shift to back-in angle parking in part of the Old Market and the introduction of meters that can be operated with credit and debit cards.
Smith said some of his initial efforts will probably involve adjusting rates at garages and meters, though it’s not clear yet where those changes will happen first and how prices will go up and down. Following on the recommendations of a parking study released earlier this year, officials have talked about upping rates at some high-traffic meter spots and possibly lowering rates in garages.
No change needed for some new meters
The latest in a series of parking-related upgrades downtown: Card-reading meters, likely coming early next year.
The city is taking proposals from meter companies through this week and will make a selection soon after. The new meters will take both cards and coins and will show up first at the spots that get particularly high use. (The city says some meters, notably the 10-hour types around downtown, might not be replaced.)
The decisions about where and when to install the meters will be made in part by the city’s new parking manager, who starts on the job this week. He’ll also be leading other parking changes, sparked by recommendations from a parking consultant hired by the city. Those could include changes to rates and enforcement hours.
Signal. Stop. Reverse. Pandemonium?
A new style of parking has come to parts of downtown Omaha. Some believe this is insane.
It’s called “back-in” angle parking, and as signs posted at a handful of city locations suggest, it requires drivers to back into a stall instead of nosing into it.
This concept is being tested along a portion of Leavenworth Street near 16th and 15th Streets, along a portion of Park Avenue and in a couple other spots around town.
The area around Patrick’s Market and Police Headquarters is the city’s latest showcase for the concept. Howard Street now runs two ways between 14th and 16th Streets, and new back-in spots are a featured element. The idea could extend elsewhere in the near future (think Midtown Crossing or other parts of Farnam Street)
Planners basically want a safer parking option in areas where pedestrians, cars and bicycles tend to mingle.
Roundabout battle ends
A proposal to plant a roundabout in the heart of Dundee is finished.
On Tuesday, a group of city officials brought a quick end to a neighborhood controversy that reached the highest levels of local government.
A forthcoming, multimillion dollar Dundee facelift included three traffic control options at the 50th Street and Underwood Avenue intersection: a four-way stop sign, the current traffic light configuration or a circular roadway known as a roundabout.
That idea did not enjoy much vocal support from district merchants and power brokers.
In a meeting Tuesday, Mayor Jim Suttle, public works officials and City Council members Pete Festersen and Chris Jerram agreed to a plan that will keep traffic lights in a revamped intersection at 50th Street and Underwood Avenue.
Bus shelters on 16th street to be scrapped
When they were installed in the 1980s, the bus shelters on 16th Street were part of a bigger effort to turn the downtown street into a hub of shopping and social activity.
Instead, they became one of the most visible signs of the area’s decline.
Frequently tagged with graffiti and damaged by vandals, the shelters have been a headache for the city’s parks department, which has tried to keep them in good shape. But now, in a first step of yet another rehab project, the shelters are disappearing.
$90k in wheel tax refunds in the mail
Our pal Paul Hammel reports more than a thousand suburban Omaha residents are set to get a wheel tax refund check from the city.
The City of Omaha had been wrongly charging the $50-a-year wheel tax on some people living outside the city’s three-mile zoning jurisdiction, Hammel reports, a problem pointed out by State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha.
Deputy City Attorney Tom Mumgaard said refunds should be issued by by mid- to late October. Some taxpayers will get checks for two years’ worth of wheel taxes.
Mumgaard said that preliminary estimates are that $90,000 in refunds will be sent out.