Thursday, February 22, 2018

Geer Park Benefit, Congestion Task Force Meet Friday; Also, Cherriots Notes

Tomorrow, Thursday the 23rd, there's an important benefit for the bike facility at Geer Park and a meeting of the Council Congestion Relief Task Force. Cherriots Board met last night and there might be a few things to note also.

Salem Area Trail Alliance Benefit

Green! Geer Bike Park in January - via SATA
If you've been following the bike park at all, you'll have noticed the earth moving last summer, the installation of irrigation equipment and landscaping, and now the beginnings of the transition from brown to green!

Brown: Aerial composite of Geer Bike Park last summer- via SATA
It's a donated facility, not something primarily funded by City capital or operating parks funds, and Salem Area Trails Alliance is holding a benefit tomorrow night. They'll be raffling off a nice new bike, among other things.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Access and Connectivity: Riverfront Park Open House 2 and Union St Bikeway at DAB

The Riverfront Park Plan has its second Open House and the Downtown Advisory Board meets tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd. Union Street figures in both of them, with the Riverfront process working with access across the railroad and Front Street, and with DAB considering funding and design for the second phase of the Union Street Bikeway.

Riverfront Park Plan Open House

The second Open House for the Riverfront Park planning process, "Community Meeting #2," is tomorrow at 6pm.

The City has published the summary from the first Open House, and it might be worth a few passing comments. First, though, from here anyway, there's a real contrast with the Downtown Streetscape project. Reading through the comments and tentative summary conclusions on the park report, everything seemed so reasonable. It seemed like the process was going to land on a reasonable compromise, one in which most people would find some things they liked, some things they didn't like so much, but something broadly very nice. Maybe not magnificent or visionary, but solid.

By contrast, the Streetscape project is already hamstrung, already hobbled and defective.

Maybe you know of some fatal compromise or defect already baked into the Riverfront Park process, and maybe the difference is merely a consequence of the fact that this is a transportation blog, not a parks blog, and so we're much more picky about sidewalks and streets than about parks. But on the whole, the Park process looks reasonable and promising.

Here are a few observations - including a few details to pick at! Most of them are about transportation and connections, naturally.

When will the path between Mirror Pond
and the Park be done?!
It was great to see that one of the most consistent questions and interests was "when will that darn path between Mirror Pond and the park be done?" That's a central matter for the City and for the Park, and it has been neglected in the sequencing and staging of the whole Boise project.
"Turn 3.8 acres into parking lot" but "don't overfill the park"
But in aggregate, people may not have a consistent sense for what they want in the park. There are reasons to worry a little about coherence:
  • At one station, "Most people visiting this station ranked attending a public event at the park as very important, while attending a private event was not important...most people were less than satisfied with existing event amenities and event space."
  • But at another station, "Perhaps the biggest area of agreement at the active recreation station focused on kayak launching and river access. Many participants were concerned with overcrowding of facilities in the park."
  • And on one comment card, a person wanted lots more parking, for the entire new Boise park parcel to be parking lot, but fretted about "overfilling" the park and asked that the band shell be removable for the view. Somehow the view of a vast parking lot was not objectionable, less so anyway than the architectural form of a band shell and stage.
The Parking and Access Station was of great interest. People applied colored dots to mark important sites or actions on the map. This confirmed the centrality of the State Street entry.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Take Sneckdown Pictures Tonight and Post to Social Media!

With the snowstorm coming, it's a great time to think about documenting "sneckdowns" around town.

As you're out and about (but not while driving!), or if you have a view from above, look for intersections and lanes with intact zones of snow that tires and car heat haven't driven off. Those are "sneckdowns," temporary curb extensions and lane narrowings caused by the snow. They are evidence of surplus lane width, and of other unused or unnecessary area in the roadway.

The zones with snow could become bike lanes, wider sidewalks, pedestrian medians or other road space reallocated for users other than those in cars. They are evidence for ways we have overengineered and overdesigned roadways for car travel and for too-high speeds.

Here are two from December 2016:

Court and High from Courthouse square - via Twitter

South Commercial just north of Madrona - SJ video clip
The Commercial-Vista Corridor study already plans buffered bike lanes and narrower auto travel lanes on this part of Commercial.

The snow lines show why these were not only possible but were good ideas.

Many other streets might be good candidates also, and imagery from snowy periods could be presented to City Council in support of requests for reallocating carspace to support safety and to create more usable space for people walking and biking.

UGM Shelter Site, Parking at CANDO; 20 is Plenty at NEN


The downtown neighborhood association, CANDO, meets tonight and they've got a couple of interesting items on the agenda.

For context, from the minutes of the meeting last month:
Business owners...expressed concerns about the size (300 beds, 54,000 SF) and potential negative impact of the shelter that UGM is proposing to build at Division and Commercial on community liveability and underutilized Riverfront property values. They said that with four shelters [UGM (men’s), HOST (transitional age youth), HOME (day, minors) HOAP (day, adult) and ARCHES (day, adult, currently not open)], CANDO has “more than its share” of homeless residents already, and suggested the board should take a position. The matter was deferred to the February meeting to allow notice and time to gather more information. (Note: The current site of the UGM Men’s Mission at Center and Commercial formerly had overflow capacity to about 300, but in 2016, the Fire Marshal cut capacity to about 185, where it has been since.)
City Traffic Engineer Kevin Hottman said he had been asked to convert the 12 or so on-street parking spaces on the west side of Cottage in front of the Willamette Valley Communication Center (595 Cottage St) into employee-only parking spaces, and wanted to know if CANDO had any objection. SPD Communications Director Mark Bucholtz explained that the Center has sufficient employee parking, that generally the spaces under discussion were empty (except Sunday mornings), and that it was for security reasons only that SPD was making the request. The matter was deferred to the February agenda to allow notice.
On this month's agenda in direct response, two motions:
  • "Move that CANDO take a position opposing the request to convert the twelve or so spaces on-street parking spaces on the west side of Cottage in front of the Willamette Valley Communication Center (595 Cottage St) into employee-only parking spaces?"
  • "Move that CANDO take a position opposing the Union Gospel Mission's application for a Conditional Use Permit to allow the relocation of the Men's Mission (Non-Profit Shelter) with expanded capacity to serve approximately 300 persons to the 700 to 800 blockof Commercial Street NE?"
CANDO meets Tuesday the 20th, at 6:00 p.m. at First Christian Church on 685 Marion Street NE.


The Englewood area neighborhood assocation, NEN, also meets. There is no item on the agenda of great interest here, but in the minutes from last month is a very nice note about increasing traction for a partial "twenty is plenty" campaign! From the "Pedestrian Safety Report":
  1.  [T]o email Peter Fernandez to ask why zone Speed on 17th south State St. is 25 where there are multiple lanes and on 17th North of Market which is narrower the speed zone is 30 mph.
  2. Look at the 20 is Plenty campaign. Report that Salem was taken out of the legislation that allows Portland to implement this rule.
  3. Sidewalks are not ADA compliant. There is an issue of people walking in the street due to the dangerous conditions . Go to Budget Hearing Meetings. City is obligated to fix sidewalks. Advocate for funds. Use a group of people with a strategy to testify. Make front and center.
  4. Enforcement of Cross walk violations is only done when city gets grant money. They will monitor school zones but not crosswalks. Work on changing this perception .
This is all good stuff!

Council has opposed a limited "20 is plenty" since at least 2011
A caveat, however: Back in 2011, which I think was the first attempt by Portland to pass a "twenty is plenty" for local neighborhood streets, the City formally opposed it, and with each iteration at the Legislature Salem did not alter its position. It's not that Salem was somehow "left out" or "taken out" in an accidental omission. Salem never wanted in.

This past session a bill was finally passed and signed into law for Portland, and it is great to see rumblings now in Salem about a change of heart and getting on board with it. Staff may still not favor it, but if neighborhoods lobby for it, and enough Councilors see merit, a top-down and bottom-up pincer movement will overwhelm staff's resistance.

The law doesn't change road design, just signage and enforcement possibilities. But it's a message and hopefully it spurs the start of shifting cultural norms for urban speeds.

NEN meets Tuesday the 20th, at 6:30pm in the Salem First Church of the Nazarene, 1550 Market Street NE

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Council Legislative Committee to Consider Clean Energy Jobs Bill; DAB Next Budget

Council's Legislative Committee meets on Friday the 16th, and they'll be talking about the Clean Energy Jobs bills! They passed out of committee yesterday, and it looks like there's some momentum behind them. It would be great for the City formally to add their support to that. (Mayor Bennett, Councilors Andersen, McCoid, and Nanke sit on the committee.)

Strong endorsement this year by the paper
They also look to be talking about using photo radar for speed enforcement and about changing the way Cherriots' Board is selected.

Agenda and short packet
The Downtown Advisory Board meets today, Thursday the 15th, and they'll be talking about the 2018-2019 Urban Renewal budget.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Safe Routes to School Hire Announced for Salem and Eugene

Today the Safe Routes to School National Partnership announced the new Policy Manager for the Salem and Eugene area.

It is interesting that they didn't hire someone who currently lives in Eugene or in Salem, the primary cities in the area of responsibility. That's not necessarily a problem of course. The announcement notes that Becky Gilliam worked at the Legislature, and counts as something of an insider, ready for the lobbying side of things. (Also likely related to former State Legislator Vic Gilliam of Silverton, so maybe more than a little bit of an insider.)

But there might be local knowledge about the schools, neighborhoods, and politics of Salem and Eugene she will need to learn. Still, those are just details. The big picture is that there will be a consistent presence here now advocating and organizing for children and better ways to walk, bike, and roll to school.

From the announcement:
Becky serves as a Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager, working to strengthen the regional network in the Pacific Northwest, with a particular focus in Salem-Keizer and Central Lane areas. In this role, she works to increase funding and improve policies that result in improved infrastructure and programs to support safe walking and bicycling for children and families, with focused work and technical assistance in lower-income communities.

Prior to joining the National Partnership, Becky worked for over 4 years in Oregon's State Capitol. As senior legislative staff, she conducted policy research and coordinated introduction of new legislation relating to elder abuse prevention, increased protections for immigrants, and other issues. Becky also has experience lobbying in Salem, where she advocated for client interests in both the legislative and regulatory arenas. Through her time spent working with the Oregon Legislature and state agencies, Becky has established lasting relationships with key decision-makers.

Becky received her BA in Applied Linguistics, as well as Certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from Portland State University. During her time at PSU, she designed and implemented community-based ESL programs for refugee and immigrant populations in Portland.

Becky lives in Silverton, where she and her husband recently completed a DIY home building project, which they now happily call home. Becky enjoys growing food and flowers, traveling, and going on adventures with her hound dog.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

At the MPO: Starting Work on the next Regional Transportation System Plan

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets early this afternoon today. There is no important action item on the agenda, but some things to note in passing are a little interesting. Work on the SRC continues despite Council's lack of interest, and there's a new cycle for the Regional Transportation System Plan just kicking off.

In the minutes from last month there is this on the work plan and SRC:
Bob Cortright was present, provided a handout, and spoke re: the River Crossing EIS being ‘on hold’ due to land use appeal and the 2018 deliverable of a Final EIS is not possible at this time. He asked that the language in the UPWP [the work plan] accurately reflect the status of the Salem River Crossing with regard to the land use appeal, and the unlikely completion of the EIS. He also mentioned that the city Salem appointed a task force to consider alternatives to bridge congestion. TAC discussion included how/if the task force should it be reflected in the UPWP and the status and anticipated completion of the EIS. Julie Warncke explained that the task force has started and probably will be done during Summer 2018. It is probably okay to include info re: task force as background, but it will be finished by start of UPWP. The RTSP will likely reflect suggestions that come from the task force work as part of the regional transportation solutions. Angela Carnahan suggested adding language to include mention of the appeal and its possible affect on the schedule – and that its not under the control of SKATS. Dan Fricke indicated that ODOT is working on the EIS but technically not able to publish it until the land use issues are decided. Mike will update the language regarding the deliverables in the UPWP. [italics added]
Here's some latest draft of language from the Work Plan:

Still saying the SRC final EIS will be done this year
I guess on a technicality it says "work...should be concluded in 2018" and does not say the final EIS will be published in 2018. This still seems dodgy and disingenuous.