Former City Councilor and chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, TJ Sullivan, said on Facebook:
The State Police Facility is a different animal and the cost per square foot is also less than police departments that have been built in other cities across Oregon. It has nothing to do with local architects or contractors, or the fact that it is a design build, or value engineered. It has to do with how the needs of city police department differ from the State Police and how that impacts the final cost.If the needs of a city police force are so different from those of the State Police, it should be easy to enumerate and prove these in a few paragraphs, or perhaps a short memo. But over and over the City cannot seem to do this, or refuses to do this.
Chief Moore is a very reasonable person and I have never known him to want anything that is extravagant. As I have talked through the new facility with him it is clear that his understanding of what the Salem Police Department needs now, and what they will need in the future is the best insight that we have. I would encourage you to trust his judgement as well...
My original point is that people knew that the State Police Facility differs in need and therefore design from the City's Police Facility and yet it was offered that the State Police Facility was built for a lot less and therefore the City's Facility could also be built for a lot less. What was inconveniently left out is that State Police Facility wouldn't meet the needs of the City. [italics added]
What is "left out" is proof that Salem cannot meet its need in less expensive ways. Over and over this is asserted, but over and over it has never been argued in a serious way, at least in public.
This is a consistent pattern with the City.
|The difference between ODOT's 2005 projections|
and the new FHWA 2014 projections
|The southside path along Pringle Creek|
at Commercial was closed to public.
A gate operates for residents now.
The City says it wants better communication, but when it has the opportunity to communicate in detail and with an actual argument, too often it refuses.
Over at SCV they'll doubtless have more discussion over the weekend. (If you want to discuss the general terms or other specific details of the police station proposal - head on over there; they will be a better place for it. Here I just want to talk about parking and transportation.)
Autoism as Unexamined Background Noise
Let's turn our attention to the way that the debate is so thoroughly blind to its own autoism.
The way we talk about parking in late 20th century terms is getting increasingly risible. Between three rapidly developing technologies:
- Ride-hailing services, the new alt-taxi sector
- Electric cars
- Robot, self-driving cars
While the face-to-face nature of policing, that human aspect, will stay more constant in the next few decades, transportation is in flux, and planning out even on just a 20 year horizon is fraught with uncertainty!
From the Staff Report for the June 1st work session (citation throughout in italics):
Parking Need. Following the April 4, 2016 Work Session, staff per formed a detailed study of current parking needs. The parking need is complex and varies dramatically throughout each day. The peak parking demand for employee and fleet parking occurs between 3:30 PM and 4:30 PM when eleven work shifts overlap. The addition of the 9-1-1 call center would increase the number of overlapping shifts to fourteen during peak demand.Framing it as "need" is overly restrictive. While Police commuting almost certainly has some differences from other commuting, with many police choosing for security reasons to live outside of the communities they serve, this pattern of long commutes also increases disconnection from the community, and this gives us more reason to talk about commuting patterns and investment in community. This also is a clear sign that there is a "Transportation Demand Management" opportunity with the Police for more transit, bicycling, and car-pooling.
Why don't we seek to reduce the amount of superfluous drive-alone trips rather than seek to accommodate more of them in a costly parking structure?
The need for parking is larger than might be expected due to the nature of the Police Department's shift work. For example, during a shift change for one patrol position, three parking spaces are needed: one for the employee on duty, one for the patrol vehicle when that employee returns at the end of the shift, and one for the employee reporting for duty. Planning for the new facility includes parking for many police vehicles currently parked elsewhere due to limitations at the Civic Center.An important reason for a downtown facility is to make it more accessible to transit! That should obviate at least some of the "need" for car parking.
The demand for public parking at the facility can also vary greatly. The Department hosts several events each month that bring 10-20 individuals to the Police Department, in addition to those parking spaces needed for public access to the Department for daily business. With the inclusion of a community meeting room in the new facility, the number of these types of events is likely to grow over time.
To meet the parking requirement on-site, a parking structure is required.
The recommended program concept includes a 163 space, one-level parking structure to meet the parking need of the building when it is initially constructed. The structure combined with onsite surface parking will provide a total of 378 parking spaces (40 public and 338 for fleet and staff), exceeding code requirements of 296 spaces and the current demand of 355 spaces.
The reduced program allows for a smaller 123 space parking structure, providing a total of 338 spaces onsite. Parking available on-site will exceed minimum code requirements and the current demand of 328 spaces, without the 9-1-1 call center. Other options, such as shared parking arrangements with neighboring properties or use of spaces at the Marion Parkade will have to be explored to meet the anticipated long-term parking demand as the community and its Police Department grow over time.
|Marion, Chemeketa, Pringle all operate ≤ 50% full|
Parking Alternatives. At the April 4, 2016 Work Session, there was discussion of allocating some of the parking spaces at the Marion Parkade for Police use. The Marion Parkade contains 1,063 parking spaces, which are included in Salem’s Downtown Parking District. Salem’s Downtown Parking District was established in 1976 in Salem Revised Code Chapter 102. Under the current framework, employers within the Parking District are assessed an annual fee, based on their total square footage and an estimate of traffic generated by type of use, to retain the free customer spaces. In the Marion Parkade, 628 of the spaces are designated for free customer parking. Employees in the downtown area are encouraged to purchase annual permits for spaces in the Parkades within the Parking District. Of the remaining spaces, 450 are designated for permit parking, leaving 45 spaces available.Since the garage operates at 40% peak occupancy, to say there are only "45 spaces available" is so highly misleading that it is close to an outright falsehood.
This last part that follows is interesting, and the City should unpack it in more detail - and ground it more empirically in actual data instead of asserting only as "anecdotally" - as it is relevant to many other subtopics in downtown redevelopment. We know structured parking is insanely expensive. But why are we letting that limit us? Shouldn't we adopt aggressive strategies that obviate the perceived "need" for parking? It seems like that's a clear-cut case for investing in better transit, walking, and biking. That's also an argument to revisit the notion, however unpopular it may be, of meters in the core downtown area that does experience 90% use during peak hours. Without pricing signals, there is no way to match supply and demand.
Finally, maybe the problem isn't that developers feel parking is necessary for their development - maybe the problem is the excess of parking the City requires in our development code.
Anecdotally, developers interested in downtown properties suggest the cost of building parking necessary to attract new development, such as grocery stores or residential units, does not pencil out in comparison to the market rate for rents. Several developers have viewed the capacity at the Marion Parkade as a possible method to defray the cost of building parking to serve their proposed developments.You might think that planning for a new Police Station wouldn't have much to do with our autoism, but it does. Thinking more critically and strategically about managing parking downtown will have cascading benefits on other projects.
Just as we saw at the Blind School redevelopment, our institutionalized mania for free and plentiful parking exacts other costs, and hinders our pursuit of more valuable goods.
Addedum and Footnote on a Side Matter (June 2nd)
See comment thread below for main discussion. The question is whether public access on the south side of Pringle Creek in the Boise redevelopment project has been formally envisioned.
In a March 2016 update to Council, it did not appear that public access on the south side had actually been arranged.
|March 2016 update from City appears to show|
intent for connection only on the north side