Friday, October 9, 2015

Yes for Cherriots Rally Tonight

Yes for Cherriots is holding a rally this evening at the Carousel!*

Folks for transit are gathering from 5pm to 7pm on Friday the 9th at the Riverfront Park Carousel.

They'll probably also be organizing for canvassing on Saturday and Sunday.

Something to consider for folks who think a property tax would be more equitable?

In addition to problems with "compression," there is the fact that the three biggest opponents of the payroll tax wouldn't pay property taxes either! (You can find the full list here at OreStar, the Secretary of State's database.)

The Hospital ($50,000) is a non-profit and Garmin ($35,000) and Norpac ($25,000) are enrolled in Enterprise Zones and have been receiving on-going property tax abatements for several years. Norpac is also getting a $6 million widening project at Madrona & 25th for truck traffic, and it will be paid for out of property taxes with the 2008 road bond. These firms already enjoy very favorable tax treatment!

Enterprise Zone Property Tax Abatements
URA Economic Activity Development 2012-13
Property taxes would not be a fairer way to fund transit.

Finally, there's the "other" set of taxes the Chamber wants Salemites to bear.

Our debate about funding transit with $5 million a year
should also include this about nearly $50 million a year

* I suppose it assumes you'll not be taking transit, though? There's not a route that serves Riverfront Park!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Exit Real World's Closure Could Point to our Underinvestment in Transit

In a comment the other day, a reader pointed out that Exit Real World, which was located adjacent to the transit mall at the corner of High and Chemeketa, a year ago closed in Salem but stayed open in Portland.

The correlation with payroll taxes and transit is interesting: They paid zero in payroll tax for transit in Salem, and continue to pay a much higher rate on payroll in Portland.

And, again, the Portland store (206 NW 23rd) remained open when they closed the Salem store.

Back in 2012, Holiday Retirement also moved corporate offices from Salem to Lake Oswego, which collects the payroll tax for transit as well.

So that is evidence, n=2 anecdotal evidence anyway, that paying more payroll tax for better transit could be related to business prosperity. And that "free" payroll tax in Salem for not-very-good transit could be a factor in business struggle and even failure.

That old bromide of "you get what you pay for" and all?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Planning Newsbits: SAIF, middle Commercial Survey, Minto Park Plan

Well this is interesting. Over at CANDO, they've got a note about an open house for a renovation of "the campus" at SAIF, and if SAIF thinks this through, there's an opportunity to activate what is currently a very inert, ornamental emptiness rooted in the 70s Pringle Creek urban renewal project and the associated semi-brutalist architecture.

Early Ornamental Empitness and SAIF, 1974
Salem Library Historic Photos
Out in back is a magnificent oak and stonehengian post-and-lintel metal sculpture, but it's separated by a berm for flood-control from the creek-side path, and it's a void outside of business hours.

The front is equally empty, too much parking lot and path, all of it fronted by the zoomery of OR-22.

This block, bounded by High, OR-22/Trade, Church, and the invisible alignment of Mill is greenspace and parking lot, seemingly like a park, but deadly dull and empty after 5pm and on weekends.

The project will be interesting to watch - though it could very well just be a set of landscape cosmetics, lifts, and tucks.

(See here for more on ornamental emptiness and the old urban renewal area. And as a late PS - the project could also include multi-modal improvements on Church Street as a family-friendly bikeway and greenway.)

More Dying Black Walnuts at OSH

Dying Black Walnut to be removed
Earlier this year 14 Black Walnuts were cut down at the State Hospital because of Thousand Canker disease. And now there's more.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Third Bridge Debt Service Would Cost nearly 10x Proposed New Cherriots Revenue

This has come up a couple of times in comments on the blog and in casual conversation elsewhere. Proponents for transit should be highlighting the contrast with the Chamber's position on the Third Bridge.

The transit package aims to raise $5 million per year, and the Third Bridge package aims to raise more than $45 million per year.*

Maybe you're a design wiz
and can come up with a better infographic?
If you view transit as involving "jobs-killing taxes," at the very least, the taxes involved in funding a third bridge deserve higher scrutiny. You should be able to make a strong case that these taxes will be much less harmful to the local economy than the taxes necessary for a functional transit system.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Consider the Penalty of Free Parking as Employer Tax

Cherriots' proposal to fund evening and weekend service has roused, it seems, tremendous attention seemingly out of proportion to the the measure's actual impact qua tax. Its effect as an "employer tax," with the heavy implication that it's "jobs-killing" and "anti-business" is front-and-center.

Instead of arguing against that, let's simply take that claim at face value, and then let's look at a different "employer tax," one whose magnitude I suspect dwarfs that of the proposed payroll tax.

This will be a crappy first-order approximation, do note! I don't know the best way to make this analysis and argument, and I hope that you will be able help. Others must have made similar arguments before in other cities - Shoupistas? - and there must be at least the rudiments of a better analytical procedure out there. So if you know of a better way to run the numbers, please chime in! Maybe we can refine this with another iteration or two.

One important factor that hampers our ability to talk about funding transit is that the system of auto subsidy is invisible.

Here's a lot.

Lots of parking lottage!
You might recognize it. If you do, you'll know why it is the example. If you don't recognize it, that's fine. We are not going to argue here about any particular business owners stance or activities on the Cherriots measure. (So please keep comments on the analytical procedure, not on naming the owner or speculating/commenting on any personal motives. Policy, not people!)

One thing that is striking: About 3/4 of the land is devoted to free car temporary storage. In a different market the stalls might generate hourly revenue, or there might be fewer stalls and more building, with more room for the business or for a different business. The opportunity cost of not using land for something other than parking is non-zero.

Subsidizing free parking is a hidden tax on business.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

APBP on Bike Parking; ODOT on State Bike Plan - New Publications and Drafts

Looks like the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has a new publication on bike parking. It's not on their website here, but it was circulating some on social media. You can download it here. (At least for a little while, anyway!)

Don't spec these!

Helpful info on clearance and spacing

State Bike and Walk Plan

The State Bike Plan project meets on Monday, and the latest draft plan contains some new pieces. One that was particularly interesting is Appendix F on the "legal context."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Baggage Depot Restoration looks to get Moving Again

Yesterday was a terrible day for news. Here's something more pleasant.

After some delays, the City is saying that the baggage depot project is getting going again.

Baggage Depot, looking north, 2000
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
HABS OR-184-16
According to a Daily Journal of Commerce article,
After two years of delay, the Salem railroad baggage depot, built in 1889 and salvaged from a fire in 1917, will be given a new life as a Greyhound station when construction begins in December.
The station is just a block south of Mission Mill and of course an important reason the mill is sited there is because of the access to rail. Both water and rail were key infrastructure, power and transportation for it.

1905 Birdseye map, Library of Congress
Thos. Kay Woolen Mill, Depot, Yew School (L to R)
And it happens in a wonderful coincidence that the wife of the new Executive Director for the Mill is also the lead architect on the baggage depot project. In addition to seeing them biking around town, you may also have seen their photos in the paper yesterday. That's great they get to put their positive imprint on this little historic quarter of Salem.

Bob Reinhardt (C) and Leah McMillan (R)