On the agenda is a report and motion to start purchasing property for Marine Drive in West Salem and bridgehead parcels in the Highland neighborhood on the east side of the Willamette River.
Back in the 2008 "Keep Salem Moving" bond measure (original project sheet here), $3.6 million was allocated for "strategic right-of-way purchases," but these have been delayed by the protracted process for the Salem River Crossing as well as concerns that work might illegally jump the queue in the Environmental Impact Statement process. These concerns seem to be resolved. The Salem Alternative alignment is sufficiently settled now, and work for the collector-sized Marine Drive as it already exists and is named in our Transportation System Plan would be independent formally of the EIS and therefore a proper thing to do now.
Several have argued that this work for Marine Drive would be essentially benign. Trail advocates argued that the right-of-way could be used for a soft trail that people on bike could use as an alternative to Wallace Road. No Third Bridge argued that the collector-sized version of Marine Drive would help alleviate congestion on Wallace Road and obviate any perceived need for the Third Bridge and perceived need to expand Marine Drive into a full OR-22 connector and expressway.
The position here has instead been that we should want to kill the bridge first, and then we can talk about a right-sized Marine Drive. To undertake Marine Drive now would be to initialize and arm a Trojan Horse that will be used to further the Salem River Crossing. It looks innocent, but just you wait.
Maybe that's alarmist hyperbole. Certainty is not possible.
But the fact that in this proposal the Marine Drive part is coupled with additional purchases on the east bank should at least prompt some additional hesitation and consideration by those who have though purchasing the Marine Drive right-of-way was by itself mainly harmless.
|Marine Drive south of Cameo St inside our UGB (detail)|
There is also no map showing proposed "opportunity" sites on the east side in the Highland neighborhood.
The map in the report, therefore, is largely silent on what is proposed in the report.
What it does talk about is the tie to Second Street and the passage under Wallace Road. It's a little bit like that's the sugar that makes the medicine go down.
It all just seems a little hinky, that's all.
|An impenetrable thicket|
- The possibility of a second Railroad Quiet Zone on the Portland & Western line along River Road and Front Street. It looks like the City hopes to undertake the project without actually having to do much construction. By "using the Quiet Zone Risk Index methodology rather than by constructing Supplemental Safety Measures" I think they mean there's so little rail traffic, it's moving so slowly, and the non-rail traffic across the tracks is so little, that the crossings already meet thresholds for designation as a "quiet zone."
- Council overturned the decision to deny the Pembrook apartments and added a couple of conditions, one of which looks to be a reduction in some buildings from three to two stories. (See previously here and here.)
- There's notice that the owners of the house at 1811 Chemeketa are appealing the decision and specific condition that the approval for a Bed and Breakfast cannot travel with the property and instead terminates upon a sale. The owners want to put the house into a trust, and the condition will not allow them to do so. That will be interesting to read more about when the full text of the appeal and the staff report in response is posted. There may be more to say. (See previously here.)
- The Legislative positions don't contain anything of real relevance here.
- Before the meeting proper, Council will hold a work session on the City Communications and Public Engagement study. The report is a little tepid, and I wonder if it is hampered by the fact that the subject of critique is also the client paying the bill. I wonder if a report commissioned by and presented to a third party, like the City Club or something, might be more incisive.
- Finally, there's the annual audit of the Urban Renewal Agency and an annual financial report. If you wanted a poster child for the problems with City communication and engagement, these might be excellent candidates. The audit document is completely opaque, a scan of a one-page report that gives the text of an unclickable url for a City webpage (you have to type it) that goes to a disclaimer and then requires another click, to a massive page of reports - and WTF was the report I was looking for? As I count it, that's six separate steps or layers. There is nothing, absolutely nothing user-friendly about getting to the audit. It's a briar patch of obfuscation! In fact, as I write this, I can't even find the audit. Here's a direct link to the annual report, which as I read the two staff reports, is distinct from the audit. It's not very user-friendly, either. The whole process here is confusing, a thicket of indirection and layers, seemingly designed to be impenetrable.
Whoops! Here's a substantial detail I missed. On the consent agenda - a bundle of actions regarded as unmproblematic and moved as a bundle so as not to get bogged down in discussion or introductions - is a proposed workplan and direction to staff to start implementing recommendations from the Housing Needs Analysis, which you might remember was part of the EOA-HNA, the Economic Opportunities Analsis and Housing Needs and Analysis. One of the very highest level conclusions was that we would need more multi-family housing in Salem.
|Outline of Proposed Workplan for amendments from HNA|
At the top of the list is making it possible to allow "granny flats," accessory dwelling units over your garage or in your back yard.
|Detail of the "middle"|
Another component envisions reducing required parking, which drives up the cost of housing.
This bundle will both address needs for a better supply of affordable housing and for needs to gently increase density as we transition to a lower-carbon city.
Each part runs over a year long, and will entail advisory committees and the usual public process bits.
Update, Monday the 8th
N3B has argued that the information sheet (the "original project sheet" linked above)
states unequivocally that bond funds would be used to purchase right of way for the 3rd Bridge ONLY after "a preferred alternative alignment is approved by the Federal Highway Administration."And therefore than any "opportunity" purchases are wholly premature and violate the terms of the bond.
In response to citizen testimony echoing this, staff have published a rejoinder in a Supplimental Staff Report, claiming "the bond measure language does not require FHWA approval or issuance of a ROD prior to right-of-way purchases."
|From the Supplimental Staff Report|