Monday, February 20, 2017

Legislative Update - Week 4

I don't know there's a whole lot to say yet on the Legislature. Here's a list of bills that have seemed interesting or relevant, along with a few more notes and events.

The design, circa 1936
(State Capitol 75th anniversary site)
  • SB 2 - Sen. Courtney's bill on enhanced penalties for cel phone use and distracted driving.
  • SB 35 - On raising the DMV reporting threshold for crash damage, from $1,500 to $3,000. (Many bikes are worth less than $1,500, and this would make it harder to enter crashes into the system for reporting and insurance purposes. This is an autoist bias.)
  • SB 38 - Looks like a generic funding bill for ODOT. The current project list in it is old and will almost certainly be replaced. Maybe this will be the "transportation package" eventually.
  • SB 426 - Repeals low-carbon fuel standard 
  • SB 493 - Creates new crime, "assault in the fourth degree" on a vulnerable road user.
  • SB 556 - Creates offense of driving with dog in driver's lap. 
  • SB 557 and HB 2135 - New statewide greenhouse gas emissions goals
  • SB 5530 - an ODOT budget
  • HB 2102 - Looks like it relaxes some of the penalties for DUI convictions
  • HB 2288 - Funding for ConnectOregon
  • HB 2355 - On collecting data on traffic stops and racial profiling.
  • HB 2440 - An attempt to remove HOV lanes on I-5
  • HB 2532 - A proposal for a quantitative scoring system for the STIP, including a requirement for "least-cost planning" (this one looks a little interesting)
  • HB 2667 - A proposal for a Vision Zero Task Force. BikePortland covered the first committee hearing on it. Unsurprisingly ODOT is opposed, and prefers their weak "safety" plan.
  • HB 2682 - A proposal to make it easier for cities to set speed zones and remove the need for ODOT approval (Portland is driving this and BikePortland has an extensive discussion)
The paper notes there's an informational hearing and possible work session on carbon today, Monday the 20th (no bills are on the agenda):
Learn about proposals to reduce carbon emissions in Oregon at a joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and the House Committee on Energy and Environment.

The committees will hear invited testimony about the impacts of a cap-and-trade program and a clean air tax or fee. They’ll also get a recap of the latest Oregon Climate Assessment Report, which shows that Oregon is not reducing its greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to meet its goals.

3 p.m. Monday in Hearing Room D. [report link added]
It's never too late or too early to start contacting your Legislators about supporting rational transportation for greenhouse gas reduction, for safety, and for livability. As the session continues, a more specific ask and slate of bills to support may emerge, as well as ways to frame messaging for Rs and Ds.

Both the Vision Zero and Local Speed Zone Setting bills already seem to have some momentum behind them, so they might deserve specific mention.

Also, March 6th is a Lobby Day for Safe Routes to School efforts. More detail on that later - it's a day before the bikeway Open House on March 7th!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Executive Order 9066 Signed 75 Years Ago Today

Last Fall Willamette tweeted out a picture of the prettiest cherry tree in town. Even on an overcast day it was resplendent.

In the Fall - via WU Twitter

In the Spring (2013) - soon again
But it is not merely beautiful or a symbol of transience. It is also cautionary.

It is part of a memorial to those Japanese-American students forced to leave Willamette in 1942 and sent to internment camps.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

City Council, February 21st - More Police Station

Council meets on Monday Tuesday! for a combo Work Session and Special Meeting on the planning for a new Police Station.

Others will have plenty to say about the prospective bond proposals themselves.

A Pulitzer for a piece on the Cascadia Quake
(via Twitter)
Let's look instead at some of the support materials. More than anything, the analytical lens still seems too small. The overwhelming scope of catastrophe in the big earthquake, as well as the scope of all the other needs we need to consider and fund, all still seem elusive.

What has the City done about earthquake?
One of the support documents is a set of answers to questions Council posed to Staff on February 6th and 13th.

The one on earthquake is very interesting:

Friday, February 17, 2017

In the Neighborhoods next Week: West Salem and Downtown

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets on Monday, and they have several items of interest on the agenda.

A little worrisome is a potential 2017 goal:
  • The pedestrian / bicycle path over Wallace road NW as a way to help traffic flow along Wallace Road
A bridge over Wallace Road sounds great, right, so why is it worrisome?

Wallace at Edgewater
Because of a new location and the way it is framed up as "a way to help traffic flow."

The project, proposed as an alternative to the Second Street undercrossing, may be an answer to the question, "how can we get people on bike and on foot out of the way?" and not an answer to the question, "what do people on foot and on bike need in order to bike and walk more?" The proposal looks to be a pedestrian displacement system more than anything else. [clarification added]

In the notes to the previous meeting they said
[A neighbor] is working on the design for a bicycle/pedestrian bridge beside Highway 22 over Wallace Road NW at the Edgewater intersection. The bridge would provide a connection between the existing bike/pedestrian path from the Marion and Center Street bridges to the path along the south side of Edgewater Street. The Land Use Committee will meet with ODOT representative Sheila Lyons and Ward 1 City Councilor Kara Kaser February 16 and 17 to discuss ways to move this project forward.
The problems here:
  1. The connection across Wallace Road should link to the Union Street Railroad Bridge primarily, and not to the Center Street Bridge.
  2. The Path along OR-22, tucked in behind the buildings along Edgewater, is isolated and doesn't offer direct connections to any businesses. It's a nice line on a map, but it's not as useful as it could be. A route along Second Street offers much better visibility and connectivity.
  3. Facilities for people on foot and on bike should not be developed out of what is most helpful for travelers in cars; they should instead develop out of the needs of people on foot and on bike.
  4. (A footbridge in this location would probably also conflict with the SRC's path, including the OR-22/Marine Drive connection. But that's a different matter.)
The idea's genesis here seems more than a little autoist and therefore unhelpful.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Trio of Classical Revival Houses and the Pineconian Order

A while back on a trip to Eugene, there was a magnificent discovery: A terrific guide knew of a settlement-era house that pre-dated Statehood and was still on its original site.

You might recognize the type:

Phillips House of 1853 - Vacant since 2002 and in danger

Conser House of 1854, in Jefferson, now used as Library
 - via Library of Congress

Masterson House of 1857, in Eugene
Updated and somewhat remodeled
More in Lane County Historian, February 1959
The Masterson House of 1857 has been remodeled some, but the basic form of the original Classical Revival house is visible and intact. It's hardly even a slant-rhyme compared to those other houses - it's a complete rhyme.

Friday, February 10, 2017

City Council, February 13th - Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan

Council meets on Monday, and while it may not seem like a very important thing, a routine and dull thing in fact, the update to our Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan could actually be a powerful thing, and it seems like it is currently neglected.

Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan
The City will engage University of Oregon to update its Salem Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. It's updated every five years, and the current one, from 2012, is due. When it came out last time, it seemed like it did not give sufficient attention to earthquake preparedness, and dwelled more on flood. Flood of course is more frequent and predictable, but the big earthquake will be more catastrophic. Our risk-assessment does not seem to have captured this adequately.

Focusing more on earthquake and what institutional and municipal investments we should be making in advance of "the big one," as distinct from small-scale privatized and personal "duck and cover" efforts, seems like it should be much more important that it currently is. Maybe this iteration of the plan can highlight this.

Traffic Things

There are several traffic items also to note. 

Council will apply to renew a $9,000 grant to perform crosswalk education and enforcement activities.
This grant covers $73.26 per hour for overtime enforcement for Pedestrian Safety enforcement and other traffic safety violations. The Salem Police Department has been awarded this grant in years past allowing for extra enforcement related to pedestrian safety enforcement.
It's nice the funding is available, but it's increasingly clear that the way this is framed up, it is an amenity, an extra, something outside the core mission of public safety. There's probably nothing to be done at the moment, but it is a sign of our priorities.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

1880s Image Shows Ruralish Neighborhood at 14th and Marion

It's Black History Month, and yesterday the Oregon Encyclopedia tweeted out a link to a locally relevant article, "Salem's Colored School and Little Central."

via Twitter
The story is little known and it's not possible at this point to retell it often enough.

So check it out!

(And while you're at it, consider more generally reading about post-Civil War Reconstruction and its shameful counterpoint and sequel in Redemption. Some historians and social critics have argued persuasively that we are entering a second phase of "Redemption," a reaction to the Civil Rights and Obama eras, and it will take hard work to baffle it.)

Supporting the OE article are some photos.

And the caption to one of them - which doesn't actually seem to have very much to do at all with supporting any point in the article! - solves a mystery in the Salem Library Historic Photos collection.

This is from East School looking east down Marion St
14th Street is the first intersection
(Oregon Historical Society, 0170G051)
A different print of this same photo is in the Salem collection and it has been identified as "View down 12th Street in Salem, Oregon, from roof of old East School, 1886." This description was very difficult to square with the image, as there is no street in the photo that really looks like 12th, but the OHS caption identifying it as looking down Marion Street makes perfect sense.