Thursday, May 26, 2016

Parking Craters and the Buildings that Preceded Them

With that 1961 aerial in mind, here are 10 downtown buildings we have lost to demolition, often a loss from fire. They weren't rebuilt and are car parking now. (Just a sort of now-and-then photo essay for the moment.)

Downtown historic district with several
parking lot sites numbered
The Chemeketa Parkade
(Sites 1 and 2)

SE Corner of Chemeketa and Commercial, then and now
Then: Eldridge Block circa 1940, Salem Library
Inset, today: Chemeketa Parkade
(Click to enlarge)

Hotel Argo (Salem Library Historic Photos)

Same site today - streetview

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hot Take! City adds Epicycles to Accessing Council Agenda

On Social Media the City announced a new database and website for Council agenda.
To get City of Salem Council materials out to you earlier, we're using a new tool for sharing City Council agendas and meeting materials. Beginning with June 6 meeting, to access Council meeting materials, you'll still click on the "Meeting Agendas".

What you'll find is a list of upcoming meetings and links to meeting materials, audio, and video. Those upcoming public hearings, Council work sessions and future agenda items will be featured at the end of the agenda - instead of the beginning. And, you'll still be able to find materials from previous meetings in the old system while we're moving them over to the new.
The first impression is that this adds layers and makes it more difficult to find and access Staff Reports and other agenda items! It's a little like a Ptolemaic epicycle.

Internally it might be easier to load and publish Staff Reports - as a "content management system" it might seem to offer advantages, especially for internal city staff.

But as a move for better communications, as it faces outward to the public it looks clunky rather than elegant - an "improvement" only a software engineer would love. While it may be more organized in theory, in practice it is still looks labyrinthine.

There's a new url for the calendar and hopefully this will not complicate searching - or break old links.

You have to click through to the "meeting details" for a Council agenda.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New City Interactive Map shows 1961 Aerial, Parking Craters, Torn Urban Fabric

Well, the City's got some new narrative mapping toys from ESRI, and they've put together a feature on the redevelopment of the Riverfront.
For many years, the City of Salem and Salem's Urban Renewal Agency have been working to reconnect downtown Salem with the Willamette River. This work began in 1975 by establishing an Urban Renewal Area (URA) to provide a dedicated funding source, clear goals, and objectives. This work to create a connection continues today.
It's interesting, but at least from here seems like it is still too much oriented towards folks who already have an interest in urban renewal. If it is meant to be popular, it may not be written broadly enough for a general audience. But if it is meant for those who, say, are already active in neighborhood associations and some familiarity with City policy and policy-making, it's likely much more useful. 

It is also possible to draw different or even counter-narratives from it.

One of the most suggestive features is an overlay of a 1961 downtown aerial map with a circa 2014 (pre-Howard Hall demolition) aerial map.

(There doesn't seem to be a way to link to an internal chapter heading. So you'd navigate to it by the sixth button/chapter on the far right-hand scrolling set-up.)

From here it's much more interesting to look at the mostly intact urban fabric of 1961 - though there have already been some demolitions and surface parking - and to see the way fire and demolition have created our lattice of parking craters, the erosion of surface parking lots that suck the life of the city.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Vineyards and Climate Change, Scott Bike Rodeo, Slow Roll - Newsbits

Transitions in vineyard land might seem unimportant, especially on a bike blog, but they're really an indicator, and yesterday's front-page piece missed on an important element there as well.
It framed up the vineyard sales this way:
The rebound in the economy, combined with the rising profile of Oregon Pinot Noir around the world, has created a hot market for vineyard properties, wineries and vineyard-suitable land.
Later in the piece there was more about the challenge of succession- and estate-planning, passing businesses on to a next generation, unknown or unknown.

In many cases people or businesses from out of state are buying up the properties:
"Californians are again moving up into Oregon," said Pattie Bjornson, winemaker and co-owner at Björnson Vineyard. "Judy Jordan bought Eola Springs Vineyard, Larry Stone has a large planting and is building a winery on Lone Star Road NW/Hopewell Road NW, and we just sold 80 acres of our 245 acre property on Perrydale Road to a couple from California"...

According to SFgate.com in California, Jordan sold her Sonoma-based company J Vineyards and Winery to E & J Gallo and then purchased Chehalem Mountain Vineyard in the Willamette Valley.
There's an important reason for this, but it's not in the article!

Climate change.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Governor Talks past Salem for #BiketoWorkDay on Social Media

After a period when Salem seemed spurned as a home for the Governor, a year ago in March Governor Brown made a pleasant fuss about living in Mahonia Hall.

And it has seemed that, as much as is possible for a person with statewide duties, she has consistently acted as if Salem was actually a home. People routinely report seeing her in banal, ordinary hometown activity.

So it was interesting - though not really very surprising - that her remarks today on Bike to Work Day talked past Salem and instead seemed to address primarily a Portland audience.

via the Twitter
She tweeted out a link to bike counts on the Hawthorne Bridge and showed scenes from somewhere that is not Salem and seems certain to be in Portland. (Do you recognize the location or event?)

You can't really fault Governor Brown here. She's got an election coming up, and there are lots of reasons why a politician might want to speak to Portland more than to Salem. That's where the bikey audience really is, and where key voters are. But still...

City Council, May 23rd - Cherriots TGM Grant Application for Sidewalks

Council meets on Monday, and the first public announcement about one of this year's TGM grant applications leads the agenda here.

New Councilors-to-be Sally Cook and Cara Kaser
Join Councilor Tom Andersen with big smiles
(via Sally Cook for Council)
But first, we had an election! A second ratifying vote is necessary in November, and new Councilors won't be sworn in until January, but as you already know some significant change is on the horizon. As N3B and Councilor Andersen have already written, there is now a substantial bloc of 4 votes for a more rational and truly balanced transportation policy here, and it seems very possible that in that group Mayor-elect Bennett will find congenial company sometimes, perhaps even often, yielding some 5-4 votes (or better!) for more transportation options in Salem. This in turn may have upstream influence on how our MPO, SKATS, and our local area commission on transportation, MWACT, approach some topics and decisions and allocations of federal and state funding.

(At the same time, we may find ourselves with Mayor-elect Bennett acting like Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, where all argument is effectively tailored to him, and he alone becomes the main decider on 5-4 splits. Something to watch.)

And second, a housekeeping detail. We have a new format for Staff Reports!

Looks like it's generated from new software with automated fields or something. For us, it's more legible, and it will be interesting to see if it makes any additional improvements on the user/citizen experience.

So Cherriots wants the City's participation on a TGM grant application to support analysis of sidewalk gaps on and near key transit corridors.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Proposed Mitigation Plan for State Hospital Demolition at Historic Landmarks Commission

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets tonight, Thursday the 19th, and there's some awards, the new storefront for the Gray Block, as well as a discussion of the North Campus of the State Hospital.

A Digression

But first, a very pleasant historical digression!

1899 Bicycle Tax Register, Yamhill County (detail)
via State Archives
A couple of days ago, State Archives posted a picture of one of the pages in the Bicycle Tax register of Yamhill County from 1899.

This, Oregon's first Bicycle Bill, was supposed to fund a system of dedicated sidepaths along County roads.

It was a bust.

Marion County surveyed 10 routes, started construction on a few of them, but abandoned things quickly after payment, compliance, and collection all were problems. As with projects today, initial construction wasn't the hard part, but subsequent maintenance a great problem. The dirt and gravel paths deteriorated quickly.