Monday, January 22, 2018

Brown Road Completion Funds and Start on McGilchrist ROW at the MPO

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow the 23rd, and it looks like they are ready to send out a formal proposal on the $5M in bonus funds from changes to the Congestion Management and Air Quality program.

Recommendation: Top 4 get full funding, next 3 partial
The Technical Advisory Committee landed on a recommendation, and the Policy Committee can endorse it unchanged or make changes. (It will be interesting to see if it happens that the PC and TAC are out of step on this.)

Once the recommendation is ratified by the committee at the meeting, it'll go out for a 30 day Public Comment period, and then next month they'll make formal adoption of it.

Under this recommendation, the top four get full funding:
1. Brown Road NE Sidewalk and Bike Lane
2. Center St: Lancaster to 45th Pl NE Upgrade
3. SAMTD Transit ITS Project
4. McGilchrist Complete Street Project ‐ Right‐of‐Way

The next three get partial funding:
5. Connecticut Av: Macleay to Rickey West Side Bike/Ped
6. Wheatland Road Multimodal Corridor Plan and Conceptual Design
7. Turner Road Downtown Urban Upgrade

Orchard Heights is out of luck:
8. Orchard Heights Road NW Pedestrian Improvements and Pavement Preservation

At the point, the main question seems to be whether the Center Street project is sufficiently up-to-date with best practices for car travel speed and lane width, as well as its deployment of bike lanes and sidewalks. (Some previous discussion here.)

As far as the disposition of funding goes, given the actual projects that were submitted (which is to say, we might wish that local governments had submitted juicier projects for congestion relief and air quality), it's hard to argue with the way it shook out. It might be nicer to see the Connecticut Avenue project get full funding, as it is so near a school - I'd swap out the Center Street project for more design refinement - but Center Street is an important corridor and connection to Lancaster. Orchard Heights indeed seemed like a low-priority and odd project to try to slip into the funding process. Altogether the recommendation easily meets the test of "reasonable people can disagree."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

City Council, January 22nd - Lone Oak Road and Subsidies

Council meets on Monday, and they'll be considering a proposal for a "Reimbursement District" near the Creekside Golf Course to fund extensions on Lone Oak Road.

Lone Oak Road in 2014, looking north
at Deadend to North Extension - Streetview
Proposed Reimbursement District
Going back to decisions made in 1990, and with elements reappearing in several since then, it's all very complicated and and confusing. Here we won't be able to trace out all the implications or come to anything close to a full understanding. (If you see an error, say so!)

A year ago over at SCV there was a note and video about one of the elements in the debate. A little before that LUBA remanded a case involving approvals for a four-lot subdivision at the golf course itself.

LUBA said:
[The second approval from 2003] UD03-1 contemplated that its phases would be ultimately connected by an extension of Lone Oak Road, which includes a bridge crossing over Jory Creek (Lone Oak extension). PUD03-1 included Condition 4.d, which required construction of Lone Oak Road, but provided no particular schedule or timing for construction. Instead Condition 4.d provided that “construction may be staged to support phasing of the development.”

[...]

Petitioner [the developer] argued that development of the four lots created by his application would generate only minimal traffic, and the traffic impacts would not be proportional to the million-plus dollars it will cost to construct the Lone Oak extension, not including the cost of the bridge, as required by Condition 3 [of the current matter in dispute].
As I read this, basically by not building out all the lots at once, the developer hopes to evade the requirement to build the road and bridge. It's death by a thousand cuts strategy or a kind of Zeno's paradox: Taken singly and in isolation, no single four-lot unit will ever create enough traffic impacts to warrant the Lone Oak extension and bridge. And if there is no provision to assess things by cumulative impacts, no future four-lot unit will ever trigger the requirement. And by the end, when every four-lot unit is built out, the extension and bridge will still not be built.

The proposed District at Council now includes a fee of $9,212 per lot at Creekside itself, and it may be that the proposal for the District is a partial response to this problem of cutting up that development into four-lot bits in order to evade the requirements conditioned on the traffic impacts. (It's all complicated, and much of the Staff Report seems to require an understanding of a subtext that seems like it cannot be spelled out explicitly for one reason or another. It's also interesting that the bridge across Jory Creek is also a condition of a different development. Has something shifted? So tangled!)

In any case, here we are with a different development and different developer, and the extension and bridge still need to be finished.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Influenza Warnings Today Recall those of 1918

Asahel Bush, Estelle Bush Thayer, Eugenia Thayer, circa 1910
Eugenia died in 1918 from the flu
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
A century ago during the winter and spring of 1918, coverage of the flu was intermittent, but it picked up in mid-September with nearly daily articles about flu overseas, here in major metropolitan areas, particularly in Boston, as well in as military camps. By mid-October, it was a local story. Portland's first cases had been identified and the city of Portland had instituted early closing hours and quarantine regulations on October 10th.

Today
As the exact 100th anniversary approaches later this year, we'll return to this, as it will be interesting to learn more specifically how the epidemic affected Salemites. From its earlier anniversary, we already know McKinley School was temporarily used as a hospital. Though she contracted the flu in Berkeley, a member of the extended Bush family, Eugenia Thayer, died on October 18th and was one of the earliest fatal cases with ties to Salem. Between World War I and the flu, it was an anxious time.

(Here are some additional notes on Portland and on Eugene.)

October 16th, 1918

October 21st, 1918

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Will Smart Growth and the Salem Model Really Lead to Success?

Over at SCV there's some cautious optimism about our new Community Development Director and his endorsement at Monday's Council Work Session of the policies and actions of "Smart Growth."

It is interesting that Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns has criticized the approach:
I really dislike being called a Smart Growth advocate....It feels designed to be inoffensive to everyone in a kind of disingenuous way.
One particular problem is that Smart Growth still may have a bias for new greenfield development - though it is "new and improved" with better urban form. Crucially, this kind of development is still autoist and still invokes the life cycle problem: What will fund infrastructure replacement in the second and third life cycle? A Smart Growth paradigm may not give sufficient weight to the values of redevelopment and of incremental development in already built-up neighborhoods.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Ice Rink Success, a Dam Proposal, Eugene Parking Meters - Newsbits

There's a positive assessment of the ice rink project on the front page today.

With the Riverfront Park planning process, some have argued against adding more things to the park and keeping open "green space."

But in off-season moments, the park is very often empty. There are plenty of slack moments in the spring and summer, also. The park's value is in actual use, not in holding it empty, in reserve, for potential use.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

City Council, January 16th - Strategic Plan Work Session

On Monday Tuesday! Council meets for a formal Work Session on the Strategic Planning Process.

The Plan really is still in early stages, and it may not be very useful to criticize or to praise it too closely yet.  So I'm not sure what is the right amount of comment. You will see other angles for comment. There's a lot of information to try to coordinate, and the Staff Reports still are mostly written as discrete pieces, not always or necessarily placed in the context of the whole. Council will need to come to some kind of synoptic view, but for the process to be most successful, that holisim will need filter down and inform basic reporting and analysis more fully. There may be some internal culture changes and anti-siloing that needs to happen farther down in the org chart. (It would be interesting to learn more about any internal debate or criticism of the process. Does Staff fully embrace the concept?)

Planning Trade-offs?

Because of our interests here, maybe you will say this is cherry-picking, but it is interesting to note that the updates that involve transportation and Public Works are among the least detailed.

This is an empty update!
It is possible that, for example, the choice to continue work and staff time on the SRC means that the City is slighting work for the Public Transit Committee. The Public Transit update is utterly empty. Anything meaningful is deferred to a future presentation to Council.

So is this an indirect result of continuing work on the SRC? Hard to say, but it's certainly possible.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Travel Feature on Salem in Popular Mechanics for January 1918

Maybe policy at the MPO's not so interesting for you. How about this lengthy piece in Popular Mechanics from 1918? Apparently they had a regular travel feature, and in January they wrote about Salem.

They seemed to be drawn, not surprisingly, to details on street construction and the role of forests, wood, and wood products. So it's not a comprehensive look, nor is it really very touristy. But it is interesting nonetheless.

The Capital Journal noted some errors and misunderstandings, and this response is at the end of the post.