Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bits on Teddy Roosevelt's Visit in 1903

Watched the Roosevelt series at all?

President Theodore Roosevelt at the Capitol, May 21st, 1903
detail of Salem Library Historic Photo
You might not know Theodore visited Salem briefly on May 21st, 1903.

Hoopla the day before
The city was in a tizzy.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What Hath the Studies Wrought? TGM's Example

Even though planners often appeal to the analysis developed by Jane Jacobs, one of her high level conclusions is to be suspicious of big plans. If Robert Moses was a classic Hedgehog, she positioned herself as the canny Fox, and suggested we should as a matter of habit prefer Fox-style thinking and solutions to the Hedgehogian dominion of the Master Plan.

I don't know if this is actually a contradiction in city planning, but it is certainly a tension. But it is no great insight to point out that there's a sweet spot somewhere in the middle between chaos and rigid plan.

2013 Report
During the life of this blog since 2008, we've followed a few studies funded by grants from the joint project between ODOT and DLCD, the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management project.

These include:

Bike and Walk Salem
North Broadway Parking Study
Middle Commercial Refinement Plan - forthcoming
State Street Mixed Use Study - forthcoming

Talk about Portland Road turned up the 1999 SINALACS project, also a TGM funded study.

Since the phenomenon of "shelf studies," planning studies that are released with great hoopla, but quickly gather dust on the shelf from inactivity, is a definite "thing," it was natural to ask:
  • Just how many TGM-funded studies are there in town? 
  • And what generally becomes of them?
  • Do we have any way of - or indeed interest in - assessing their success or failure?

Friday, September 26, 2014

City Council, September 29th - Portland Road

On Monday, Council will hold a brief meeting, mostly closed-door "executive sessions" on "labor negotiations," and then with the Urban Renewal Agency will hold a work session on the North Gateway and Portland Road project.

There's some house-keeping matters, but probably the big public item on the Council agenda is the continuation of the rights-of-way vacation. The City Attorney thinks it's not important to wait for the LUBA appeals to be resolved. (See end of packet. For previous discussion of ROW see here and here.)

Portland Road

SINALACS transportation map
In 15 years only one piece is done
So let's think about Portland Road, shall we? The City's timeline on Portland Road goes back to 1990, but it really begins in 1999. That year the TGM grant funded "Salem Industrial/Northgate Area Local Access and Circulation Study" was adopted.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mission Mill Magazine Features History of a Parking Lot

Willamette Valley Voices, vol. III, No 1
The resurrected Mission Mill/Historical Society journal, Willamette Valley Voices, has an article on the history of a parking lot at the corner of Ferry and 14th, right where the Mill Race deflects from Ferry Street and starts the brief descent to power the woolen mill.

1350 Ferry circled in red
The site went through several iterations in development and business:
  •  An "old warehouse"
  • The Salem Soap & Chemical Works
  • Capital Soap Works 
  • The Angora Rug & Fur Company
  • Lachelle’s Furs 
  • The Parking Lot
 Ending finally in the nothingness we see today:
A diversion of water from the millrace to the fountains of Pringle Park caused the old waterway to become narrower. The millrace which had previously flowed swiftly through the Ferry Street property began to move slowly. The sound of rushing water at that location went silent.

It was in the context of these developments and in response to the growing demand for parking that the Fur Shop was demolished. Chris Lachele’s solid-looking “little house” was also torn down. The weeping willow beside the millrace became firewood. The yard with its tulip tree, rosebushes, dahlias, and other flowering plants was paved over. In 1980 the property became a parking lot.
And change will likely continue in the future. The NEN-SESNA project has identified this area as an "opportunity site" (#8 in map below) and hopefully the parking lot will revert to something more productive and interesting.

Looking Forward SESNA Opportunity Sites
While the article is more sanguine about the role of parking lots than we are here, it's great to have a history of a parking lot that is outside the core downtown and to have a better sense for the loss it represents.

Go check it out (big pdf).

(This is an interesting area. The first location of the blind school was a block away, and a strange sanitarium for dope and liquor addicts was next door. There's probably lots of other interesting history nearby, too!)

Economic Opportunities and Housing Needs Analysis Meets Today

The EOA-HNA meets today and earlier in the summer it seemed like it was going to ignore transportation.

The "life cycle" abstracts mobility out of the picture!
Transportation and access to goods/services is invisible
(this clip occurs in several docs)
The latest materials from the project were just posted yesterday (whether this is by accident or by design, it sure gives the impression that they aren't interested in folks actually reading and responding thoughtfully to the study and its draft materials), and they've got lots of transportation talk!

(Since the lead-time is so compressed, I want to stress these are nearly totally random bits, the result of quickly skimming, not the result of any meaningful consideration.)

The first two clips are from the draft Employment Implementation Strategy:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Proposed Union Gospel Mission Shelter Could Change Division Street Neighborhood

Well, the Union Gospel Mission has a picture for the proposed new shelter!

Proposed new UGM center
(Note stop bar and median on street,
also a sidewalk stub where there is no crosswalk)
It is said to be north of Division and South of D Street on Commercial.

The stop bar and median suggests it is right at the corner of Division and Commercial.

Can't quite get the angle right in the google, but
the rendering appears to show this section
 of Commercial at Division.
Earlier, a letter from March suggested the whole half block, but the architectural rendering here suggests about a quarter block instead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Proposed Vacation of Rights-of-Way at Blind School Held Open for Comment

Weed of course got the headlines, but last night at Council a neighbor in SCAN successfully requested Council to keep the record open for additional comment on the proposed vacation of four remnant rights-of-way at the Blind School property the Hospital plans to make into a parking lot ornamented by a couple of buildings and a garden/playground.

Two alleys and two street stubs proposed to be vacated
This had seemed like a matter unimportant relative to the two LUBA appeals, on on the demolition, and one on the trees, street improvements, and parking stall allowance; but perhaps this is an underestimate.

On the one hand the City says,
the rights-of-way proposed for vacation have not been used by the public for several decades, and the parties had assumed the area had previously been vacated.
But on the other hand, there's the copious balderdash:
The proposed Outpatient Rehabilitation Center project creates a unique opportunity to provide improvements that would strengthen the pedestrian connection between two important City resources, Bush's Pasture Park and Pringle Park, as well as serve the proposed Salem Hospital Commemorative Garden and Adaptive Playground for disabled children.
The Hospital's proposal is actually anti-unique! They propose to demolish the resource, Howard Hall, that is in fact unique, and then replace it with generic parking lot and a playground that could be sited any number of other places. Further, the improvements for walking are not very great in magnitude or in quality, and also fail to be unique in any sense other than hyperbole.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

City Council, September 22

Council meets Monday, and mostly it's old items that have been mentioned before, and from the perspective here aren't all that interesting at the moment. Not that they are trivial, as indeed a couple of them are far from trivial, but that there's nothing new to say, and it does not seem important or interesting to dwell on them. Maybe you will disagree, but today's rallies about Climate Change seem so much more important.

Check out the Earth Fair this afternoon at Riverfront Park from 2pm to 6pm. A Kidical Mass ride meets at the Capitol Fountain at 1:30pm.

Scale: Too much toilet paper, not enough bridge collapse
(Did you see yesterday's "disaster fair"? It's interesting that "multiple agencies" might be gathered, but the scale still is all wrong: At the park in the shadow of our two critical bridges likely to collapse in the big earthquake, it's still all about making sure you have a flashlight, batteries, and toilet paper. It's all about disaster on a private, personal, and household scale, but not about regional, national, or global disaster and risk-management, things so big they are inherently scaled for governments rather than households. It might be too much for a fossil fuel company to care about carbon, but they could still talk about the scale of a big earthquake or flood and our aging infrastructure.)

McGilchrist Block in better times, circa early 1950s
Salem Library Historic Photos
One item on Council agenda is a little interesting, a small form of public subsidy or what is sometimes criticized as "corporate welfare" or "sweetheart deals."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Happy Pedestrians Show Absurdity on Proposed Third Bridge

Folks who were able to attend the Oversight Team meeting on Thursday pointed out that the agenda item "design refinements for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities" was dropped at the last minute.

This is a long bridge
They did decide on a style and basic structure, though, and the renderings were interesting for that dropped agenda item, if indirectly.

More than twice as along as our existing bridges

It's a highway bridge, for high speeds

But, look! It's a family out for a Sunday stroll

Friday, September 19, 2014

Center Street Bridge Collapse in 1890 Should Remind us to Preserve and Maintain First

Did you see the historic picture of the Center Street bridge collapse in the paper yesterday?

On February 3rd, 1890, the first Center Street Bridge washed out and collapsed in the big flood.

Ruins and Aftermath:  Center Street Bridge Collapsed
in Flood on February 3rd, 1890
Photo, Salem Public Library
In The paper on February 5th they asked "What shall we do?"

"What shall we do?" about the bridge -  Front Page, 5 February 1890
While dams have significantly reduced the probability of a flood this big - we're talking about 15 feet higher than the 2012 flood, and 10 feet higher than the 1964 and 1996 floods - we do know that we are due for a tremendous earthquake.

We know this. It's totally expected. Its exact timing will be a surprise, but not that it happens at all.

And it's going to collapse our bridges just like the flood of 1890 collapsed that bridge.

Plain and Basic style
At the Salem Rivercrossing Oversight Team meeting yesterday, the team selected a bridge type for the final Environmental Impact Statement. The Segmental Precast Concrete Box Girder style is basically second cheapest option of those originally considered - though the Team already threw out the high and low, so this was the lowest price point of the remaining choices.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cherriots Hosts Webinar; Oversight Team Moots Third Bridge Design Today

Two interesting transportation meetings today: Cherriots has two webinars on their system redesign, and the Salem Rivercrossing Oversight Team meets.

Cherriots Moving For - Irrelevance? Self-Nullification in West Salem

Even our Transit Agency is infected by Bridge Madness. They're not "Moving Forward" as much as they are moving out.

One way of looking at the new routes and schedules is that the proposed service level entrenches drive-alone trips in West Salem.

It is convenient, but not very truthful, to treat the system reboot
and the Third Bridge as wholly separate matters
If we wanted to make sure that people living in West Salem feel like transit is not a useful option, and that drive-alone trips should be the preferred option, cutting routes in West Salem and boosting for a half-billion dollar bridge and highway might be a good strategy.

Cherriots proposed five-day coverage for West Salem
Both Wallace and Edgewater routes go downtown;
Edgewater is frequent service -
but lots of empty in the hills
And that's pretty much what they're doing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

High and Chemeketa, a Belluschi Mystery, the Royal Court Apartments: Building Bits

With the recent news that Exit Real World would be closing, the corner of High and Chemeketa has been top of mind.

It seems like that northeast corner should be a great spot. It's right by the transit mall.

But of course the transit mall doesn't fill the block.

Yeah, that giant slab of nothing.

On the northwest corner is a crazy building with all these arches in an arcade.

The style seems totally gratuitous, literally apropos of nothing.

But it turns out it's apropos of something very significant.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Bicycling Magazine Rankings: Salem Falls from 22 to 38

From #19 in 2010 to #38 in 2014
Though it's been discussed for a couple of weeks here and there, the new city ratings by Bicycling Magazine are finally posted to the web.

Salem has gone from #19 in 2010, to #22 in 2012, all the way down to #38 in 2014.

Portland's fretting because it fell from #1 to #4.

As objective ratings, I don't know how useful these are. By national standards it's true, Salem's a pretty good place to ride. I think our "bronze" LAB rating is a good way of thinking about things.

But there's so much more to be done. Very few would say it's "easy" to bike around Salem or that a parent could with confidence send their child anywhere in town by bike. With bike lanes on busy arterials, Salem functions in a basic way for "strong and fearless" types, but is woefully lacking for folks who bike occasionally and want low-stress routes.

So the fall, the relative change, down from #19 to #38 is meaningful.  Bike counts showed a plateauing of ridership, and even Portland now is showing signs of a plateau. The news of a decline at Portland State University is concerning.

Since the Union Street Railroad Bridge was opened in 2009, there has been no new major bike facility in Salem. Sure, we got a few sharrows, the road bond widened some roads and added sidewalks and bike lanes in addition to center turn lanes, but there's no new complete bikeway or downtown protected bike lane or other 21st century facility. It's all vintage 1980s style here!

Other cities have constructed innovative new facilities, and they're leap-frogging us.

Salem will continue to decline until we build better facilities, complete the gaps in our existing routes, and finally start to tame our excessive attachments to carspace by curbing things like free parking and high speed limits.

Baggage Depot vs. Howard Hall: Two Takes on Preservation?

Over at LoveSalem, Walker draws a comparison between the preservation efforts expended on the 1889 Baggage Depot and the indifference so far on Howard Hall.

Baggage Depot, looking north, 2000
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
HABS OR-184-16
At SCV they pick it up and take it further, asking, "Why is the City all gung-ho to save the baggage depot?"

It's an interesting contrast, and worth some thought. I happen to think the depot, one of the last remaining ones from the 19th century in Oregon, is more significant than Walker does. Rail history is pretty central to the development of the American West. The depot looks super shabby today, but as a link to our 19th century rail history it helped shape Salem far more than the Blind School shaped Salem. Among our State institutions, the Blind School was small, and its significance is more for former students than for Salem as municipal entity and the historical development of Salem.

Still, Walker's right that lots of effort has gone into preserving the depot.

But the thing is, I'm not sure much, if any, has been City effort. It's hard to see the City as much more than a bystander.

Baggage Depot Enjoys Large ODOT Subsidy and Attention

First off, the depot received a private, angel donation of about $100,000 as a seed towards its preservation. Here, though, we don't know what role, if any, the City might have played behind the scenes. But it's clear that the initial funding source was private, not public, money.

The bulk of it, though, is being funded by an ODOT Transportation Enhancement grant of a bit over half a million. Greyhound's contributing a little, and there are a few other odds-n-ends, but it's mostly State funding. There is no City money involved.

Unlike the Hospital, ODOT did make much more than a cursory four- or six-week effort on a pro forma RFP to find a new user for the baggage depot. Historic preservation takes time, and the Hospital did not care to take the time to do it right. ODOT did care.

(You can see the expanded time-frame in the notes here.)

If there are heroes here, they're Steve Kenney, the private donor, and ODOT.

Based on publicly available evidence, it's a stretch to say the City is "gung-ho" on the depot in a way they are not on Howard Hall. There's no 6-0 Landmarks Commission vote against demolition of the depot, for example. In that regard, the City showed more formal concern for Howard Hall, even though other agents of the City later overruled the decision. On the depot, the HLC has been more passive (not in a bad way!), rubber-stamping the plans, not intervening for preservation.

The Bigger Picture?

What if we zoom out a bit, what are our recent wins and losses?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Early Grape Harvest Points to Climate Change; Rally next Sunday in Riverfront Park

Follow the vintage reports?

It's as much as a month early this year!

Oregon used to struggle to ripen Pinot Noir, and a few years in every decade yielded thin, watery, not-so-good wine from grapes that didn't ripen enough or got badly rained on. Vintage really mattered, and harvest was more often in October than September.

Nowadays, even when there's a remnant Typhoon, as there was last September, the grapes still ripened, and the problem was more from rot and dilution than with ripeness. Oregon doesn't really have bad, undrinkable vintages any more. Our Pinot Noirs are increasingly lush and rich, rather than taut or austere.

What we have are an increasing number of warm and early vintages. The harvest this year is so early it caught Jim Bernau of Willamette Valley Vineyards by surprise. He'd scheduled a trip to New York this month, sure he'd be back in time when the grapes started coming in.

The weather this fall and summer is not the same as climate, of course, but the fact is, the Willamette Valley is getting warmer and the pattern in date of grape harvest and in ripeness levels is a reliable indicator that we're seeing climate change here. NPR even had a story on this a couple of years ago.

And it's not just grapes. The ski operators notice it in snowpack levels.

And hikers notice it in changes in vegetation and the retreat of meadows.

We should all feel a little doomy.

Next Sunday the 21st, 350.org is sponsoring the People's Climate March in New York City.

There are rallies and marches all over the world. A lot of Salem folks are going to Portland for the rally there. But there's also a gathering here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bike Repair Station, On Your Feet Friday, Mission and Winter: Weekend Bits

Fresh concrete for bike repair station at Riverfront Park
You might recall a few scattered notes about the downtown neighborhood association, CAN-DO, and their application for a parks grant to install a bike repair stand and tire pump at Riverfront Park. The grant was approved late last spring, and installation is finally in progress! The station will be adjacent to the splash pad at the wye in the path system between Tom McCall and the dock.

On Your Feet Friday's Urban Gap

The 1889 Bush-Breyman Block, where Gallagher Fitness and Fox Blue is today, used to be more than twice as long.

Commercial Street, 1965
University of Oregon, Building Oregon Collection
On the north side of the central stair, marked by the little triangle, there used to be another set of nine windows.

Today, only the six on the south side remain.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weather Looks Great for the Peach Ride on Sunday; HUB Ride also on 27th

Early fall's a fickle time, and you never know what the weather will bring. But so far, the season's ending in fine fashion.

At the Peach 2010 - No Rain this Year!
The Salem Bicycle Club Peach of a Century is on Sunday and this year the weather report for the weekend says sun and temps in the 80s up to 90!

The routes, your choice from 100km to 100 miles, takes you through the rollers of Waldo Hills and the valley below. Day of ride registration opens at 7:30am.

Northwest Hub

Hopefully the weather will hold, because later in the month there's a new ride in town!

Northwest Hub is working on a project for Salem similar to Portland's Community Cycling Center. The Hub at Evergreen Church and the YMCA/Hillcrest Second Chance Recyclery are joining up and building out.

This is a fund-raiser for them as they seek to secure a storefront and workshop space.

The ride's on Saturday, September 27th at 8am. (The starting point of 400 Capitol St NE looks like the "Red Lot.")

You can register for the ride here. Day of ride registration will also be available starting at 7:30am.

(Look for more as the date approaches!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Statewide Bike Plan May not Help Much; Third Bridge Illustrates Problem

Yeah, yeah. ODOT's updating the Statewide Bike Plan. The process hasn't seemed all that relevant to Salem, so I haven't been following very closely.

But I'm not sure ODOT thinks Salem's that important, either!

The "Listening Meeting Workshops" were scheduled for: Bend, Medford, Eugene, LaGrande, Portland.

No Salem.

Here's BikePortland's earlier note about the "listening meetings" and many of the commenters are skeptical about the thing.

And the even earlier post on the breakfast blog about the kick-off, including a couple of observations about the initial stakeholder interviews.

Since there's not a physical meeting for Salemites, there is a seemingly web 1.0 "virtual meeting" you can click through and use to comment.

I just question how much this is geared towards a genuinely multi-modal approach to transportation or if it's mainly oriented towards something like "while maintaining a car-first priority, can we improve our bike facilities without inconveniencing car travel."

Classic 1995 DTP look
Is it incremental, or is it transformational? I am thinking it's the former, that it will not touch structural problems of autoism, and instead will focus on more modern bike lane design.

And if it's incremental, I would rather see existing policies - even ones from 1995! - implemented assertively and comprehensively than have aspirational policies implemented occasionally, barely, or weakly.

Have you checked it out? Maybe you will know more about it and have a different opinion.

SRC Oversight Team Agenda for Sept 18th
The Salem River Crossing Oversight Team meets next week on Thursday the 18th, and one of the topics will be a brief update on "design refinements for bicycle, pedestrian, and transit facilities."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Healthy Communities Talk October 8th

Wednesday, October 8th, James F. Sallis, Distinguished Professor of Family & Preventive Medicine at University of California, San Diego, will give a Healthy Communities talk, "Rx for Better Health: Walking, Biking, and Moving."

(click to enlarge)
Save the date and share the date!

From the poster:
62% of Oregon’s population is overweight or obese. Obesity related illnesses cost the state about $1.6 billion a year in health care costs. Join us on Wed., Oct. 8, to hear a national expert discuss how community design, land use, and transportation policies can enable us to be more physically active – and, in turn, healthier throughout our lives.
The Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association has more:
A national expert on active living will speak in Portland (10/7), Beaverton (10/7), Salem (10/8), Eugene (10/9), and Bend (10/10) to discuss how community design, land use, and transportation policies affect our ability to be more physically active - and, in turn, our ability to stay healthy throughout the lifespan...

While public health officials have long understood that toxins in air, water, and food can harm human health, many now recognize that the way communities are designed and laid out - and the extent to which transportation policies help or hinder options to move more through simply walking and bicycling - can have dramatic consequences on the level of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease that are seen in the population.

Sallis' presentation will be followed by an interactive exchange on specific steps that cities can take to improve conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other "active travelers."

At least two presentations are planned in each region-a technical discussion geared towards health professionals and professional planners, engineers, and urban designers (most planned during the day), and an evening event for the public.
Doors will open at 6pm, and the talk runs from 6:30 to 8:30pm. It will be at Willamette University Law Building, John C. Paulus Great Hall, 245 Winter St., S.E.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Transportation Punk by City of Pieces at Sunday Streets

At Sunday Streets the headlines were mostly about MarchFourth, and they were a delight. If you can't admire the acting and skill and strength of the stiltwalkers - you are not alive!

But a local connection was the highlight here.

City of Pieces - you may well recognize some of the faces! - offered ironic commentary on the Capitol steps. It was like an imaginary analogue, older and hopefully wiser, to the whole DC Dischord scene for a brief moment. That was pretty great.

City of Pieces at Salem Sunday Streets - SJ photo

"Blessed by the City of Salem"

Well I've been blessed by the city of Salem
She is the city of peace
She is the city of trees
Well I've been blessed with a bike rack -
A wheel-bender!
And I've been blessed with a sharrow
What's a sharrow?
I'll tell you
It is a bike with an arrow!

Well I've been blessed by the city of Salem
She is the city of peace
She is the city of trees
Well she got something to say
About the way I ride by bike
About the way I ride my skateboard
About the way I park my car
Well I got something to say
About her downtown policies
The way she cut down all my trees
Without asking my consent

[together] Well I've been blessed
Yeah I feel blessed

What was your favorite moment?

Looking Forward Meets to Consider Draft Plan; Also, Council and SCAN

You will probably not recall much about the Planning Commission's review of Bike and Walk Salem, but the Hearings Officer's recent decision on the Blind School sheds an interesting light on a small moment in it.

From the January 2012 meeting at which the Commission delayed action and continued the hearing to March:
Commissioner Levin summed up an important part of the sentiment when he said that he wanted to see more "protection of private property rights." Representatives from the Home Builders Association, Americans for Prosperity, Willamette University, the Chamber of Commerce, and some individuals asked several times for "mandatory" or "mandating" language to be replaced by advisory, recommending, or encouraging language. In short, the focus for many seemed to be a hope for assurances that the plan remain aspirational and optional - not something that the City actually intends to do!
Here's part of the Blind School decision:

policies and objectives stated within the Transportation [System] Plan do not apply...because these standards have not been expressly incorporated within the Salem Revised Code

At the Planning Commission, City Staff could have said, "hey, you don't have to worry, nothing in this plan is going to be binding; it's all advisory and recommending no matter what language we put in."

But instead we went through the process as if language actually does matter. It was like another moment in "Public Participation Theatre." 

But in fact based on the Hearings Officer's analysis, everything about the plan is aspirational and optional!

With that in mind, as a commenter pointed out the other day, the NEN-SESNA "Looking Forward" process to write a new neighborhood plan is also looking increasingly like a polite fiction.

If these things can't actually shape development, what really are they good for?

Tuesday, September 9th at 6:30 PM, Looking Forward meets to review the draft plan. They will meet at the Court Street Christian Church (1699 Court St NE).


The next day, Wednesday the 10th, SCAN meets and will also talk about the Hearings Officer's decision on the Blind School development and what might be the next steps.

They'll also talk some about the "mitigation" activities for the new bridge over Shelton Ditch on Winter Street. (Down towards the bottom of this Council note is more on these mitigation actions.)

The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, September 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the South Salem High School Library at 1910 Church Street SE.


Whoops! Council meets tonight and missed the Council agenda this weekend. Bullets with links to staff reports! (See the SJ piece, too. This post could be updated midday if something else comes to mind.)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

City as Character in Sunday Streets

Don't forget about Salem Sunday Streets today!

I will be thinking about these two ads, one from Apple, the other from Chrysler, and think about the way the city, its places and its people, really are the central character.

The city in both happens to be Detroit, and the auto ad literally enacts 20th century urban history and flight to the suburb, and shows the hollowing of the city.

The bike ad shows community and green shoots in the hollowed city.

They're a striking pair, both are lovely, and even though they are selling luxury consumer goods, they still say something about the value of the city. (And of course, the bike is more useful in creating value as distinct from wealth!)

Detroit's much bigger than Salem of course, but this way of experiencing the city is part of what I hope Sunday Streets can move towards.

Houses in Detroit
Adaptation of "Before I Die" it looks like

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Candidate Goss: Reduce the Amount of Bike Lanes

Commenting on political races isn't the thing here, but bikes apparently became a topic at Thursday's debate between Paul Evans and Kathy Goss, candidates to replace Vicki Berger in House District 20.

Several readers pointed this out yesterday, and it is relevant to note!

It doesn't seem like the debate question was directly on bikes, so apparently unsolicited Goss brought bikes up herself:
I would reduce the amount of bicycle lanes and the amount of trails we are taking care of...The state of Oregon is still in a recession. We don’t need the fringe things right now...
For a long time Goss was on the Statesman's editorial board, on Go Downtown Salem's board, and her husband was on the Planning Commission. In 2009 together they were honored as Salem's "First Citizens." (The citation on p. 12 of the Chamber newsletter has more on that.)

You can read more about Goss at her campaign site.

Here's Evan's site.

(Since there's no substantive policy matter here - over at the online version of the piece, OPBAC member Wayne Baum ably commented on the "fringe" portion - and this blog is not meant as the place to talk about why one is a better candidate than the other, comments are turned off.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bike and Walk Salem: Was it All for Nothing?

The Hearings Officer has issued his decision on SCAN's appeal at the Blind School, and in it is a striking comment on what is apparently deep naivete among those of us who want better transportation. (The decision doesn't seem to be posted to the City site, so hopefully we can update with it later.)

One of the findings in the decision against SCAN on the appeal of the Hospital's plan is that
policies and objectives stated within the Transportation [System] Plan do not apply...because these standards have not been expressly incorporated within the Salem Revised Code
Maybe this shouldn't be surprising, but it is. More than a little.

The TSP has seemed like a governing document, one that ought to be followed and which ought to guide and even control the way we interpret other documents.

The City's page for it introduces it as
the City's master plan to guide its actions and investments for the 21st century. The Plan is a comprehensive document containing goals, objectives, policies, projects, and programs needed to provide mobility for the next 25 years.
This is apparently wrong in key ways, however.

The policies and objectives in the TSP literally have no significance! Because they are not in the SRC, they hold no legal weight in assessing projects for compliance. They can be ignored at will. They guide nothing.

So, Bike and Salem, that two-year process to update to the walking and biking chapters of the TSP?

Other than its project list, it is empty. Just words. Of no consequence whatsoever. Just pretend.

Final committee meeting for Bike and Walk Salem
Seriously, was it just totally wasted effort?
Isn't that the conclusion you have to draw?

This is seriously demoralizing. Wow.

There might be more to say about the decision itself - or maybe not. At this point there may not be anything new to say. Over at SCV they've posted a video about the threatened trees and are starting an email campaign. The demolition approval (separate from this site plan decision) is being appealed to LUBA and there might be more to say once filings are completed. For all notes here on the Blind School, see here.

Sunday Streets: More on Portland, Eugene, and Consumption than Creativity and Mobility in Salem

Salem Sunday Streets is this weekend, and while it looks like it will be a lot of fun, it also occasions some deeply mixed feelings here.

If you want to know why, a good place to start might be the paper's weekend preview. The headline says "Downtown Streets Trade Cars for Fun," but the image is an interior one, probably the Crystal Ballroom in Portland.

It's nothing about streets or cars or Salem.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fairview Update Offers Interesting Details on Proposed Demolition

The Fairview update in the paper today has a couple interesting details new here.
Sustainable Fairview Associates, owner of a large chunk of Fairview, recently offered to sell 35 acres to the city for park.

[But] Salem City Council rejected the proposal in an executive session....

Peter Fernandez, the city's public works director, told the Morningside Neighborhood Association that city staff was in favor of buying the land for a community park, according to a July 31 email.

The property in question is known as "the crescent" and includes a group of long-vacant buildings along Strong Road SE....

Fernandez, in a recent interview, said the council had concerns about how the proposed park at "the crescent" would fit into the Fairview Master Plan's objectives. The original plan called for the area to become a "town center" for Fairview's mixed-use development, he said.
Here's the old (it's now revised) reuse/demolition plan showing the crescent:

Reuse Plan from Fairview Master Plan
(Click to enlarge, inset detail added)
This is a detail from the conceptual vision fully built out: