Tuesday, June 27, 2017

City Council, June 26th - Part 2, a Little More on the CIP

Last night The Capital Improvement Plan for 2018-2022 was at Council. It is worthwhile to look at the totality of its transportation projects, but in the face of the gloriously, swelteringly sunny weekend, nothing seemed important enough to rush a post before Council was meeting. Crucially, there was no compelling reason to argue that the current one should be changed.

But there are reasons to think we might want to modify our approach for future ones. So the walk-through and comments here are aimed not so much at this one, but at procedures for the next one.

First off, as we argue and debate about the Salem River Crossing and the extent to which Autos First should be our priority, here's a place where the City should communicate more directly about the subsidies for driving. Most of the funding for road projects in the CIP does not come from car user fees, and instead represents transfers from things like home and property value. Locally, we don't fund very much road work at all by means of the gas tax, licensing and registration fees, or other fees directly associated with car use and driving. Other things and other activities instead support road work, and it would be helpful for the City to talk about this more. Drivers don't pay their way and therefore it is especially appropriate to talk about why and how much to subsidize driving.

Lots of property tax related funding here,
URA and SDC funding
A subset of that worth highlighting is the amount of road work funded by new or old development. Previously we had the $100 million road bond funded by property taxes. That's essentially done, and now we are tapping a lot of Urban Renewal Funds and various flavors of System Development Charges, including those at Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center. (SRETP on the chart.)

The gas tax contribution is very small
About specific projects maybe there are only things to say on two of them.

The TIGER program is still included as the primary source of funding for the big McGilchrist Street rebuild, and this seems doubtful still. It remains a wish and very hypothetical source of funding, especially as the current administration does not seem much inclined to support TIGER and its aims.

The $200,000 for two-way conversation of State Street downtown seems impossibly small, and its project description far too brief.

How are Projects Distributed?

Instead let's take a look at the way the totality of the projects break down.  Here's a chart compiled off of the CIP project list.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

City Council, June 26th - Part 1, Bike Share

Back in December, Council approved a $749,000 Opportunity Grant for the Park Front Building, a project that was already in progress, had tenants lined up, and did not necessarily need the funding.

Capitol City Cycleshare using the Bend system
On Monday, Council will consider a $3,000 grant, about 0.5% of the Park Front subsidy, for six bike share stations in downtown.

Capitol City Cycleshare* says they have raised about half of the $80,000 they want right now, and leveraging a bit of City seed money could help finish things. (They are crowd-funding a $10,000 chunk as well.) The grant is intended to cover five years. So the investment then is $600 a year.

This gleaming chunk of sheetmetal cost $25,000+
Another comparison to make is our investment in public art. The first art pedestal with "The Cube" cost at least $25,000. I think it's an inert failure. Two murals are going up this summer. "Waldo Stewards" looks like a win, but "Mirror Maze" looks like a candidate to be a backdrop for more interesting graffiti. In the public art program we are spending much more per installation, and yet we tolerate some risk and some duds. Heck, we're even paying the Willamette Queen $250,000 a year for not contesting the Minto Bridge. By these standards a $3,000 investment in bike share is very paltry. (Should we just call bike share "public art" and fund it that way? It's certainly more interactive!)

Relative to an office building that was already a sure thing, to our new public art program, and to paying off the river boat, bike share is a far more worthy risk! In broad terms, this small investment should be a no-brainer.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Traffic Jam Anger Tempts with Wrong Solution

This week over on Facebook, a commenter linked to a recent Transportation Research Board meta-analysis, "Closing the Induced Vehicle Travel Gap Between Research and Practice."
Several studies have rigorously documented the induced travel effect, in which added highway capacity leads to added vehicle travel. Despite the evidence, transportation planning practice does not fully account for this phenomenon, with the result that estimates of the potential congestion-reducing benefits of added highway capacity may be overstated and estimates of potential environmental impacts understated. [italics added]
Here we are. "Despite the evidence..."

The bibliography, that list of evidence, is not slender:
Duranton, G., and M. Turner. The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities. American Economic Review, Vol. 101, No. 6, 2011, pp. 2616–2652. http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/aer.101.6.2616.

Litman, T. Generated Traffic and Induced Travel: Implications for Transport Planning. ITE Journal, Vol. 71, No. 4, 2001, pp. 38–47.

Cervero, R. Road Expansion, Urban Growth, and Induced Travel: A Path Analysis. Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 69, No. 2, 2003, pp. 145–163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944360308976303.

Keenan, K. M. Highway to the Danger Zone: Utahns for Better Transportation v. United States Department of Transportation and Problems Associated with Highway Expansion. Villanova Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2005, pp. 61–87.

Handy, S., and M. G. Boarnet. Impact of Highway Capacity and Induced Travel on Passenger Vehicle Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Policy Brief. Air Resources Board, California Environmental Protection Agency, Sacramento, 2014.

Schiffer, R. G., M. W. Steinvorth, and R. T. Milam. Comparative Evaluations on the Elasticity of Travel Demand. Presented at 84th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 2005.

Cervero, R. Are Induced-Travel Studies Inducing Bad Investments? Access, Transportation Research at the University of California. No. 22, Spring 2003, pp. 22–27. http://www.accessmagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2015/06/access22.pdf.

Noland, R. B., and L. L. Lem. A Review of the Evidence for Induced Travel and Changes in Transportation and Environmental Policy in the US and the UK. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2002, pp. 1–26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1361-9209(01)00009-8.

Naess, P. A., M. S. Nicolaisen, and A. Strand. Traffic Forecasts Ignoring Induced Demand: A Shaky Foundation for Cost-Benefit Analysis. European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2012, pp. 291–309.

Hansen, M., and Y. Huang. Road Supply and Traffic in California Urban Areas. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Vol. 31, No. 3, 1997, pp. 205–218. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0965-8564(96)00019-5.
You may remember this post from 2011 about one of the principal works, maybe the principal work, the one at the very top of the bibliography.

The American Economic Review publishes peer-reviewed papers and is one of the most highly regarded economics journals. It's no publisher of hippie bike kumbaya. It comes at the question from a professional discipline other than traffic engineering and planning. It's a purveyor of cool dollars-and-cents analysis.

Two University of Toronto economists found evidence for induced demand (an effect that had sometimes seemed more anecdotal - or skeptics insisted it was anecdotal as a way to dismiss the effect - than statistically verified) and that we had plenty of roads. As economists, if they thought that road expansion was economically useful, they would say so!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Equivocating on the word Implement: Our Double-Standard

One of the things that has been striking about national politics is how important norms and institutional culture have proven to be in the interpretation of what otherwise had seemed to be unambiguous traditions and laws, even with regard to the Constitution.

Here, it has been striking how our norms in favor of autoism allow us routinely to ignore what otherwise would be the plain meaning of policy to curb that autoism.

A few nights ago N3B and others reported that the West Salem Neighborhood Association voted 302 to 49 to support a new resolution in favor of the Salem River Crossing.

This should not be surprising. For even if tolls are unpopular, tolling is a second-order assessment of the Third Bridge, and the first order assessment "golly, I hate being stuck in traffic and we really need a new bridge" is widely popular. Hydraulic autoism is not merely the engineering and planning paradigm, it is popular culture and norm. Even the City of Portland, with its bike culture, Trimet, and Climate Change Plan, is behind the Legislature's highway expansion projects.

Current norms enable flouting these
In that context, norms and even statutory interpretation flouting the plain English meaning of policies like "decrease reliance on the SOV" (single-occupant vehicle) and "implementation of transportation system and demand management measures, enhanced transit service, and provision for bicycle and pedestrian facilities shall be pursued as a first choice for accommodating travel demand and relieving congestion" have been banal and customary for a long time. We wink and nod at them, but make sure our actions are only token gestures, enough to give a legal fig leaf for compliance and give the illusion of actually doing something. Our efforts are at best piece-meal, and never systemic. Other mobility is dismissed as "not realistic."

Our prevailing interpretation is as if we wanted to "decrease reliance on eating meat" and primarily sought to accomplish this by adding extra parsley to decorate our plate of prime rib. Parsley! Green! We treat other mobility like garnishes on the main dish of autoism. We are not interested in doing the actual recipe development and cooking for tasty and satisfying meals that don't involve meat or have meat at the center, meals that would be appetizing to people who don't already identify as "vegetarian." (Marinated tofu only gets you so far.)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

100 Years Ago: Debate over Curbside Parking

Here's a moment 100 years ago when public space we call a "street" was a still a multi-modal jumble and our current mode of temporary car storage, as well as its direct and indirect subsidy, had not yet become convention and norm. Public space was being contested, and one of the elements in that contest appears to be a might-makes-right take-over of curb-side space by autos and their owners.

Note the requirement for back-in parking, as well as the fact that there are still horses and carts being used. Though bikes have largely passed out of the news at this time, almost wholly surpassed by the scale of money and the number of technological advances in the car trade, they are still important transport for many.

June 20th, 1917
HAVE AUTOS RIGHT TO LINE THE CURBS?
Level Headed Farmer Asks Pertinent Question - Have Bikes Any Rights?

Complaints have been made to Chief of Police Cooper about automobiles, when being parked, backing into bicycles standing at the curb. Who is to blame? he asks.
Back-in parking at the Reed Opera House,
a few years later in 1920s
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
The city ordinance, he points out, requires automobile owners to back their machines against the curbing when they wish to park them, and when they do that and strike a bicycle are they liable for damages?

The bicycle owner is prohibited by ordinance from leaning his bicycle against a building, so should his wheel not have the protection of the law when it is left standing at the curbing?

These are questions which are agitating the chief of police.

On the other hand a farmer, who has not advanced to the automobile class yet, asked Chief Cooper what would the police do if he came to town with his team and wagon before the automobiles had occupied all the available room along tho street, and backed his wagon to the curb, unhitched, and left his wagon standing there all day.

"I couldn't arrest him," said the chief, "but it might open the eyes of some of the automobile owners who leave their machines standing in front of business houses all day.

"Personally, I am in favor of passing on ordinance requiring the parking of automobiles in the middle of the street. That would leave room for farmers and others who have business at the stores to get in and out. I would also like to see an ordinance passed defining the rights of a man with a bicycle."
For context, Marion County had 2,873 and Polk County had 895 cars registered at the end of May 1917. Multnomah County had the bulk of them, and the statewide total was 38, 230.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Film about Walking to School Shows Tuesday, CANDO on Union and Commercial

September 2013
Tuesday night at Salem Cinema there's a screening of a film about walking to school. While it's a benefit for local Safe Routes to School programming, it might also be a way to open space for some conversation with skeptics about ways our car-centric development and mobility paradigm exacts other costs.

From the Press Release:
Marion County Health Department and Salem Cinema present a Reel Change For Our Community documentary screening of THE SLOW WAY HOME to benefit local biking and walking efforts in our region! The screening is being held in partnership with The Northwest Hub, Cherriots Trip Choice, OSU Extension Service, Salem Bicycle Club, Safe Routes To School and Oregon Department of Transportation.

Tuesday, June 20th at 7:30PM

All seats $12 in advance or $15 the day of the event
Tickets available now at the Salem Cinema box office or online at
www.boxofficetickets.com

About the Film: The way children travel to school structures daily life for families around the world-- but the means differs dramatically. In Japan 98 percent of children walk to school every day, unaccompanied by a parent. In the United States just 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, and most are driven to school by a parent. The Slow Way Home explores this divergence, examining how American families have largely given up on keeping our streets and public spaces safe enough for children, while Japanese communities have mobilized to keep their streets safe and walkable, not only for children but for everyone in society. Seen through both a historical and contemporary framing, The Slow Way Home is an uplifting examination of differences in culture that provides both insight into a distressing trend in American society and simultaneously offers hope for change.
You can view the trailer here (it can't be embedded).

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Change at WSNA on the SRC Likely

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets on Monday night, and it looks like its meetings are going to become the most active public site of contest on the Salem River Crossing for the moment.

On the agenda for Monday are two directly related items:
  • Update on Marine Drive and next steps
  • Neighborhood Workgroup—Update/Revise/Align West Salem Neighborhood Plan starting with Traffic & Transportation
Other items touch on the SRC less directly:
  • Update on West Salem Business District Zoning Code Clean-Up Project
  • Update on the Over-Crossing Study (2nd Street)
Approximate attendance counts probably tell a story of an important shift in the works:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Then and Now: 15mph vs 60mph Head-on Collisions on Silverton Road

Today's news about the sentencing of a driver in a fatal crash on Silverton Road should remind us of the role of speed.

Here's a counter-example from a century ago. In large part because slow speeds were involved, everyone survived.
Autos Meet Head On
On Silverton Road
No Serious Injuries
June 15th, 1917
Blinded by the glare from their own headlights, two automobiles crashed together last night about 10 o'clock on the Salem-Silverton road just the other side of the state fair grounds with the result that Crystal Yates, daughter of Bert Yates, of this city, received cuts on the face from flying glass and others of the party were severely shaken up and bruised. The cars were badly shattered.

S. Krapps, of Salem, was driving his Maxwell home from Silverton and Peter Herr, of Silverton, was driving a Chevrolet toward Silverton when the accident occurred. It is stated that the cars were both going at a rate of from 12 to 15 miles an hour.

In the car with Peter Herr were Mrs. Elvin Herr, Mrs. George Cusiter, Crystal Yates and Mrs. Peter Herr. In the car with Mr. Krapps were Miss Ethel Jones, Miss Merle Tracy, teachers in the Salem high school, and Miss Marjorie Cave and Miss Esther Gremmels.

Crystal Yates was taken to the Willamette Sanatorium where her wounds were dressed by Dr. E. E. Fisher. Miss Cave was severely but not seriously shaken up.
In a much higher speed crash crash last year, everybody did not survive.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Belluschi Legacy in Danger: YWCA Building Deserves Attention

Just a periodic reminder that our stock of buildings designed by Oregon's leading modernist architect, Pietro Belluschi, and probably Oregon's greatest and most important architect period, is very seriously dwindling.

Front page today: Beginning the Demolition on
First National Bank (1947)

Medical Office on Center Street (1948)

Breitenbush Hall at the State Hospital (1950)
Entry in the HLC "This Place Matters" Contest
Here's the list of buildings recently standing and their status:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State Bike Committee to Focus Thursday on Salem; More on Legislature at SKATS

In addition to the talk at SCAN on Asahel Bush and the Salem Clique (that's a band name for sure!), there are a couple of other meetings this week. But really, they can't compete! Here's another blurb on the "Oregon Style":
The 1850s and 1860s were tumultuous decades for Oregon politics, with rival newspapers indulging in unrestrained attacks on their competitors and opponents. The most notorious practitioners of what became known as Oregon-style journalism were Asahel Bush of the Salem Statesman, Thomas Jefferson Dryer of the Portland Oregonian, and William Lysander Adams of the Oregon Argus (Oregon City). Bush, the “Ass of Hell” to his enemies, served the interests of the Democratic Party; Dryer spoke for the Whig/Republican Party; and Adams spoke for the fading Whigs.

In the midst of their incessant and noisome editorial invective, the three newspapers battled over many issues, including the location of the territorial and state capitals, political appointments, statehood, and slavery. In an age without libel laws and few restraints on journalist haranguing, Oregon newspapers indulged in a series of “take no prisoners” colloquies, with Bush indicting Dryer for engaging in “the grossest personal abuse, the most foul mouthed slander, grovelling, scurrility, falsehood and ribald blackguardism.” Such exchanges moderated in the 1870s with the adoption of a libel law and the formation of a state press association with a professional code of ethics.
What is both more entertaining and more relevant locally than this "incessant and noisome editorial invective" and "foulmouthed slander" at the moment of origin for our state and city? As much as we sometimes lament the intemperate tone of current debates and partisanship, they pale in the shadow of that past invective!

So hit up that SCAN meeting tomorrow night.

Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee

Back to more pedestrian matters, the official State advisory committee for walking and biking, OBPAC, has a two-day extravaganza scheduled for Salem on the 14th and 15th.

The agenda for Thursday
On day 2, Thursday the 15th, they'll have a special Salem focus, including a ride of the proposed Winter-Maple Family-friendly Bikeway route.

City of Salem Staff as well as Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates will talk as well.

Monday, June 12, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: Ass-a-Hell Bush and the Salem Clique!

Have you seen the newish signs at Bush Park?

One of the newish historical and interpretive signs at Bush Park
History's in the air.

This week at SCAN, Barbara Mahoney, author of the forthcoming The Salem Clique: Oregon’s Founding Brothers, and probably our greatest current expert on Asahel Bush, will talk about Bush and his political gang.

About the Clique, advance press for her book says,
Led by Asahel Bush, editor of the Oregon Statesman, the Salem Clique was accused of dictatorship, corruption, and the intention of imposing slavery on the Territory. The Clique, critics maintained, even conspired to establish a government separate from the United States, conceivably a “bigamous Mormon republic"....many historians have concluded that its members were vicious and unscrupulous men who were able, because of their command of the Democratic Party, to impose their hegemony on the Oregon Territory’s inhabitants.
Bush is the most significant influence on Salem, right? Who else has a greater claim to shaping the city and its culture? He's got to be it. Even though we might look to others during the pre-statehood settlement era, Bush's influence lasted through the second half of the 19th century and into the 20th. He scores major points on longevity.

But it's not an unambiguously positive influence, and we should be talking about it more! One of his nicknames was "Ass-a-Hell," after all.*

So this presentation could be an opportunity to learn more and to think more critically about the ways Bush was great for Salem - legacy things like Bush's Pasture Park - and maybe ways he and his legacy weren't so great.

South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, August June 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the Pringle Community Hall, 606 Church St SE.

* See Mahoney's Oregon Encyclopedia article and her "Asahel Bush, Slavery, and the Statehood Debate," in Oregon Historical Quarterly for more. The Oregonian just published a review of the book, though it's more of an overview and summary than a critical appraisal.

First Draft of Lansing-NESCA Plan at Tuesday Open House

The first complete draft of the Lansing-NESCA Neighborhood Plan is out, and they'll be having an Open House on it tomorrow the 13th.

Draft Lansing-NESCA Plan
The first thing that comes to mind, though, is Why? Why do we write them?

The introduction says in part:
This Plan is intended to be used by all those who have interest in the character, livability and future development of NESCA and Lansing, including local officials, neighborhood and community groups, developers, property owners, public agencies and others. Specifically, the Plan will serve as a basis for NESCA and Lansing’s recommendations to any City board, commission or agency. Likewise, City boards, commissions and agencies will consider this neighborhood plan when making decisions or recommendations that would affect the neighborhoods. The City Council may also consider this neighborhood plan before making any final decision about the acquisition, construction or improvement of public facilities in the two neighborhoods....

Goals and policies contained in this Plan are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and statewide land use planning goals. They, along with the goals, shall be the basis for NESCA and Lansing’s recommendations to any City board, commission or agency. Likewise, they shall be considered by City boards, commissions and agency staff in making any decision or recommendation which would affect the neighborhoods of NESCA and Lansing....

Recommended actions are adopted as support documents to the Comprehensive Plan and serve as policy guides. They are not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. The listing of recommended actions in this Plan does not obligate the City to accomplish them. The City, property owners and applicants for development, however, are encouraged to consider and incorporate recommended actions into projects in or adjacent to NESCA and Lansing. Some recommended actions call for changes citywide.
All of the language here is couched in advisory terms: "recommendations," "consider," "may consider," "encouraged to consider." "The listing of recommended actions in this Plan does not obligate the City to accomplish them."

There is nothing binding or very strong in all this.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

City Council, June 12th - Parks and ADUs

Council meets on Monday, and mostly they look to be things to note in passing.

Maybe the most interesting thing is news on parks.

Proposed park parcel at the State Hospital Site
in magenta (serifed comments added)
After quite a bit of discussion and negotiation, the City looks to finalize the swap with the School District on some ambiguous park lots on school sites as well as arrange for the purchase of the northwest corner of the North Campus at the State Hospital for a park. Unless somebody comes up with a real shocker, it seems like these have been fully vetted now. It's nice to see the resolution.

Accessory Dwelling Units

There's a Public Hearing on granny flats and other Accessory Dwelling Units. Over on Facebook folks linked to a study of ADUs and parking, and found that ADUs did not create parking problems on neighborhood streets. The site collects other data, studies, and observations about ADUs and looks like a good resource! As others have pointed out several times, ADUs by themselves will not create a large new supply of housing. But as a very gentle, incremental action, they are useful and should be embraced.

There is some resistance to this on other grounds also. One neighborhood in the older streetcar era grid, and interested in exuding them from our historic districts, writes in formal comment,
If the intent is to encourage ADUs as a housing choice, they should be allowed only in new residential developments where all buyers know what they are buying into.
But this is ahistorical nonsense.

245 15th NE (Ashby Coach House of 1892) - via Zillow and MLS
The Clara Patterson Durbin House at 245 15th Street NE smack dab in the Court-Chemeketa Historic District is a "garage conversion"! About it the District Nomination says:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Autoism Frames the Problem at Scott Elementary the Wrong Way


Ian Lockwood

It was great to see multiple discussions of the problem of safety for kids walking to and from school. Since it involves multiple cities, the school district, cherriots, and even the State of Oregon, effective solutions require coordination by multiple agencies.

At the same time, because we are so hung up on our autoist monoculture of driving as the mobility solution of first and only resort, and on allocating dollars for auto capacity expansion at the great expense of other forms of mobility and of safety, we land on feeble conclusions like "there is no funding available."

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Places for Bikes Network Analysis Shows Salem in a Bad Place

Places for Bikes (formerly People for Bikes) just rolled out their Bike Network Analysis, and even the Platinum don't always do very well!

This is something of a competing rating for the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle-Friendly Community assessment. As I understand it, a major industry funder of advocacy, Trek Bicycles, pulled funding from the LAB and instead allocated it to Places for Bikes. So there are industry politics in play here also. Finally, obviously it is a work in progress, a first iteration, and will certainly grow and be modified. There will be useful criticisms of it and refinements for it.

Still, the analysis is very interesting. And as it competes with, or is complementary to, the LAB's rating, it could shed light on important new factors in making for inviting and comfortable city bicycling.

Here's a brief note on method:
The Bike Network Analysis (BNA) score is an evolving project to measure how well bike networks connect people with the places they want to go. Because most people are interested in biking only when it's a low-stress option, our maps recognize only low-stress biking connections.

We compute the score over four steps: data collection, traffic stress, destination access, and score aggregation
So things to note about it:
  1. Focus is on inviting future or infrequent bicyclists, not serving those who are confident and already bike regularly. Historically the LAB has had a bias for "vehicular cycling," a philosophy that bike should act like cars and be in the regular flow of traffic with cars. This approach skews towards confident men and has shown to be of very limited appeal.
  2. Land use, short trips, and meaningful adjacencies count. Can you run your errands and commute easily by bike?
Because Salem's network is almost totally through bike lanes on busy streets, and we lack a low-stress network, we score very poorly. But so does Eugene, and Portland's low-stress network isn't as big as you might expect.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Angry Driver Hits and Seriously Injures Elementary School Student After School

Yesterday the Street Trust came to Salem and asked the Legislature to allocate better funding to Safe Routes to Schools programming.

Riders from Portland at the Legislature yesterday - via Street Trust
Oregon should spend more on transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and less on widening freeways, the architects of a proposed $8 billion transportation funding bill heard at a public hearing Tuesday night.

“At the exact time we should be working to ease congestion by making it easier and safer for people to walk and bike, we are doubling down on dirty fossil fuels at the expense of our communities and the planet,” Angel Falconer, Milwaukie city councilor, told the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization in submitted testimony.
As if to demonstrate the need in the worst way, on Monday a person driving a pickup truck struck and seriously injured an Elementary School student walking after school was out.

One reason funding has seemed difficult is that victim-blaming is normalized in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Senior Living Project for Riverfront at Mill Creek at Planning Commission

South building from Front Street at D Street
Buried a little in the post on the Truitt Bros. facility, you might have seen the brief note on a senior living and nursing home facility proposed for Front Street between D Street and Mill Creek.

Both buildings, from Front (top), from River (bottom)
It is at the Planning Commission this evening. (Agenda here, full Staff Report on the nursing home complex here.)

They will knock down the existing warehouse and replace it "with two buildings, a 48-unit memory care facility and a 69-unit assisted living facility."

There are a few interesting, and one or two even a little perplexing, matters raised in the Staff Report. It's hard to have a settled opinion on the nursing home complex - it's good in some ways, maybe not so good in others - but it seems worth registering the proposal with a little bit of comment, perhaps to come back to later.

Overall, it's a bit of a bummer that for two prime riverfront parcels (at Boise being the other), a nursing home seems to be most viable. People of all ages, including seniors of limited mobility, deserve beauty. So it's not like this is wrong. But if the goal is for walkable mixed-use neighborhood here along the riverfront, nursing home facilities are not the most vibrant or active, and it will be necessary for other adjacent developments to be more active if the district is going to be fully vibrant. This nursing home thing is just very middling and ordinary.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Street Trust, Other Allies: Beef up and Restore Safe Routes to Schools Funding

The first full draft of the Transportation Bill at the Legislature, HB 2017, scales back Safe Routes to School programming. The Street Trust and other allies are asking for help to restore the funding and programming levels to those originally envisioned in HB 3230.
This is not the comprehensive Safe Routes to School program our coalition has been fighting for, and we need your help to fix it!
Folks are riding bikes from Portland on the 6th, and there are Hearings on the 6th and 7th:
Date: Tuesday and Wednesday, June 6th and 7th
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Oregon State Capitol, Hearing Room F
Here are the specifics of their ask:
House Bill 3230 builds Safe Routes to School, the Transportation Package does not.

We must ask our decision makers to:
  1. Remove the ten-year sunset on the program
  2. Expand street safety funding to $15M per year
  3. Fund in-classroom education with $6M per year
  4. Include Title 1 prioritization for street safety projects
  5. Create flexibility in local funding match requirements for Title 1 schools
  6. Expand the radius for eligible projects around schools to 1 mile
As actions they offer
Here’s what you can do to help:
  1. Tell your state representatives why Safe Routes to School street safety projects and education programs are important to you. They want to hear from you!
  2. RSVP to testify at a public hearing for the Transportation Package on June 6 or 7. If you can’t make it to Salem, submit written testimony.
  3. You can also join a bike #RideToSalem with the Street Trust to testify on June 6th.
Here's the list of committee members. Note especially our Sen. Winters!

Sen.LeeBeyer@state.or.us
Rep.CaddyMcKeown@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.BrianBoquist@oregonlegislature.gov
Rep.CliffBentz@state.or.us
Sen.FredGirod@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.BetsyJohnson@oregonlegislature.gov
Sen.RodMonroe@state.or.us
sen.kathleentaylor@state.or.us
Sen.JackieWinters@oregonlegislature.gov
Rep.JohnLively@oregonlegislature.gov
rep.susanmclain@state.or.us
Rep.AndyOlson@oregonlegislature.gov
rep.gregsmith@oregonlegislature.gov
Rep.BarbaraSmithWarner@oregonlegislature.gov

Collaged (with comments in red)
from the May 8th slide deck and presentation
This is great and all, but it's still arguing over table scraps. There remains a tremendous tension, even contradiction, between the acknowledgment that we can't build our way out of congestion and the paltry funding for mobility that does not depend on drive-alone trips. The actual fiscal priorities in the bill don't in fact enact its ostensible priorities or conclusions. There's still a good bit of Potemkin posturing and show, and it seems unlikely that any transportation package legislation this year will be anything other than a slight modification of "business as usual."

Additions...

Here's "Our analysis: Oregon ‘Transportation Package’ misses the crosswalk on Safe Routes to School funding" from Safe Routes to School Pacific Northwest.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Highland Market can be Ingredient in Walkable Neighborhood

Apparently the market at Hazel and Highland has been closed for several weeks.

The building's a little shabby and it has some deferred maintenance. It's not on a commercial strip or arterial road, Highland being rated a "collector" street, and as a kind of duplex with living quarters in back, it is almost certainty considered an "illegal" building by our current code and standards. The land's current zoning appears to be for a single-family residence, not for a market or anything commercial. Our current sort-and-separate approach in "Euclidean zoning" is expressly set up to exclude things like this. They are to be eliminated, not preserved or celebrated.

The lot looks like it is zoned for single-family residential
But as an actual corner store smack dab in a residential neighborhood, it should be a central part of what constitutes a real walkable neighborhood!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Open Street Event, Tell ODOT Urban Streets are not Stroads, Minto Bridge Closure

Here's a bit of a stealth project and some very pleasant news.

via Facebook
Though the genealogy from Salem Sunday Streets to Salem Greenway and now to Open Streets Salem is a little murky, it looks like there is a new official and City-sanctioned "open streets" event scheduled for the very beginning of fall, Saturday, September 23rd.

The Highland and Grant neighborhood associations look to be leading it, so it'll almost certainly involved the proposed Winter-Maple Family-friendly Bikeway.

Check out the facebook and follow. More is sure to come! (And they'll probably be needing volunteers to help out.)

ODOT Starts Urban Design Guide

ODOT's staring an "Urban Design Guide" and they need to hear that urban streets are not high-speed highways and stroads!

Take the survey!

Friday, June 2, 2017

SRC Land Use Case Scheduled for Oral Argument July 13th

Last month it came out the Third Bridge has a date for oral argument, June 15th July 13th.

June 15th July 13th it is! (See revision in comments)
The Responses and Answering Briefs from the City and their Portland attorneys have also been submitted, and in a broad and basic way, on several matters, the City appeals to procedural readings as well as consideration of the whole in preference to more specific readings of parts of a process and readings that use plain, ordinary English constructions. They restate and extend the logic of the "Findings" reports and don't seem to develop much in the way of new argument. I was expecting something less repetitive, I guess. Hopefully this repetition is a sign of weakness, not of strength!

This is a non-lawyerly interpretation of things, of course, and tries to approach the "plain language" meaning of a text, which isn't always the legal or effective meaning of a text. From here the City's claims read as attempts to exploit loopholes rather than as good faith efforts to meet state and local policy goals. Mostly the City claims to meet policy language on technicalities rather than on things we would broadly agree meet the plain meaning and intent of the language. The focus is on weaselly words, and not deeds; talk, but not walk.

Even if it turns out that the City's arguments are legally effective, as they might indeed be, they are weak sauce.

We just pretty much ignore these
(or satisfy them procedurally rather than substantively)
More than anything, what we have seen at the Blind School in the appeal to LUBA, and again may very well see here, is that there are too many gaps between our high-level policy language and the statutes, codes, and rules by which we seek to enact that policy. We read policy statements and we might think that they mean something, but too often they don't really. We have a system of rules and policies that - maybe by design! - leaves plenty of room to exploit the gaps so we never have to do what it looks like we say we're going to do. When we do achieve results, they are more often symbolic than structural, more ornamental than transformative. The big results, the big actions, remain autoist and "business as usual," at odds with many of the goals and aspirations in our policies.

In addition to everything else, when we amend the TSP, when we amend the Comprehensive Plan, when we formulate high-level policy, we should also consider more strongly ways we might also need make corresponding changes to the Salem Revised Code so that our policy goals have actual, enforceable teeth in statute.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

We Have a Bill!

Yesterday afternoon as the 5:30pm deadline approached, Legislative twitter blew up as the first draft of an ominbus transportation bill was dropped, all 298 pages of it.

Writing on deadline for today, the first impressions of HB 2017 had to be pretty holistic and top-level. More will surely come out as people have a chance actually to read the thing in detail rather than skim it.
You know that the proposal includes increases to the gas tax and vehicle registration fees, so those are just details. But some of the other elements are more novel:
  • The dealer excise tax on car sales appears to have dropped to 0.75% and apply to both new and used cars
  • The bicycle excise tax went down a pinch, from 5% to 3% on the sales of new bikes costing more than $500. So far, anyway, Salem bike dealers seem silent on this, and it will be interesting to see if this galvanizes any new engagement in transportation funding and planning by the bike industry generally and statewide. Many have pointed out that the cost to administer this tax is likely to exceed the revenue generated by it!
  • ConnectOregon appears to have a cap of 7% of the total money to be allocated for bike/ped projects 
  • Requires Salem to salt key roads when there is more than 2 inches of snow
  • Establishes our MPO as the "Salem-Keizer Area Congestion Relief District" and allows a petition of 15% of voters to initiate a major project. The District then can levy additional fees and taxes to fund the project. "For the Salem-Keizer Area Congestion Relief District, the River Crossing Project" is specifically called out as eligible. For Albany it also calls out a project for lanes on I-5, and these, I believe extend north near the Salem border. This particular part of the bill will deserve extra attention.
There might be some other Easter Eggs hidden in the bill.

It has already been remarked that the transit tax is a payroll tax paid by employees, not employers, and that there is no tax on studded tires. So there are some political compromises that also compromise equity. It's not a coherent policy document, and it certainly does not adequately respond to climate change. Mostly it's about "congestion relief" and MOAR HIGHWAY. It is not yet a truly balanced approach to transportation statewide. It's more about the need, in a partisan environment, to pick up the necessary votes for a super-majority.

This post may be updated as others comment and more in-depth news articles and analysis are published.

Additions... 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Open House for Strategic Plan on Thursday the First

The City's second Open House for the Strategic Planning Process is tomorrow the 1st.

No sidewalks on this part of Commercial Street
5 auto lanes wide, with an 85% speed of 41 mph
The project website has some materials for the Council work group subcommittees, but they haven't wrapped things up with any introductory materials for this Open House, so it's not exactly clear what is its purpose and what will be presented.

On Facebook the City says:
Come provide input on Salem’s Strategic Plan goal priorities, make suggestions for actions the City should take, and tell us how you would measure success. At the Open House, you can learn about how Council and community input have informed the Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals in Salem's Strategic Plan....

How can you provide input into the strategic planning process?
  • Drop in anytime between 6-8 PM on June 1 (we’ll have a brief presentation at 6:30 PM)
  • Write in anytime to cbusch@cityofsalem.net
  • Participate in a City Council Work Group or Work Session (dates, times and topics are featured on Salem’s web page)
These shouldn't be ambiguous, but apparently they are
The Salem River Crossing may be a special matter of interest and debate.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Century Ago: Truitt Bros Building on Market and Front to Celebrate 100th

In the summer of 1917 the cannery on Front and Market Streets, now a Truitt Bros. facility, was constructed. For its age and role in a key Salem industry, it could be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or for other protection and notice under our historic preservation code. But it is also a working industrial building that has been remodeled, is not a high-style exemplar of anything, and is not something that needs to be "frozen in amber" with a fixation on any "historic integrity." As of 2013, it was not considered an "historic resource" in Salem.

While it's a building that deserves a certain deference, it is valuable mainly because it has remained useful. Hopefully can be adapted and readapted as each generation finds new uses. As our canning and food processing moves out onto the edges of the city, like the new Norpac complex at 25th and Madrona, and our riverfront property is gradually redeveloped with the concomitant demolitions, this is something to watch.

Concept drawing for Wittenburg-King Evaporating Plant
May 29th, 1917
From an announcement in May 1917:
Plans for the first unit of the big fruit and vegetable evaporating plant proposed by the Wittenburg-King company in Salem are being completed by Sutton & Whitney and construction on the unit will be commenced within a short time. The same architects have charge of the work on the branch plant for The Dalles. The plant in Salem will be an exceptionally large structure of its type when completed in all units. It will cover a total ground area 100 by 700 feet, fireproof construction in the first story and basement. The general structure will be one story and basement only, but there are two units, one for each end, to be 50 by 100 feet, which will be two stories and basement and more elaborate in their construction than the remainder of the plant. The first unit, which is now to go it, is one of these two-story portions planned for the general plant. The building will be at Market and Front streets, in Salem, and will serve as the headquarters and parent plant for the fruit and vegetable evaporating industry which the Wittenburg-King company is developing. The demands of the business are growing so steadily and rapidly that it was necessary in planning the plant to proved for quickly increasing calls for floor space and hence the expansive unit design that has been developed. The first unit, completed, will represent an outlay of approximately $30,000 and the entire plant when completed will represent between $150,000 and $200,000.
Wittenberg-King Ad, Better Fruit, vol 13, May 1919
Wittenberg-King was a Portland company, and was expanding in The Dalles and in Salem. It appears they were developing a cooler air dehydration in competition with hot canning and with hot dehydrating as a major industrial form of food preservation.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

More Details on Winter Maple Bikeway at Open House Wednesday

Tomorrow night, Wednesday the 24th, the second Open House for the Winter Maple Bikeway is at the Center 50+. There's also a community walk and presentation led by walking and biking advocate Dan Burden.

A key crossing: Pine Street along Maple
The project team has posted a draft of proposed treatments for the length of the Winter Maple Bikeway, and some of them might be worth comment. At the Open House there will be more information, and you'll be able to ask questions as well.

We'll go from south to north.

Buffered bike lanes and shift to parallel on-street parking
From Willson Park at State Street along the Capitol Mall north towards D Street, two main features stand out:
  • Buffered bike lanes
  • Change angled parking to parallel parking (including a reduction in number of stalls, many of which are currently metered)
(It would be interesting to know why a curb-side protected bike lane was not recommended. There might be more to say later.)
A roundabout for Winter and Union
At Union Street there's a traffic circle.

MPO's Legislative Priorities: SRC Number 1

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today the 23rd, and they've got a letter they want to send to the Legislature on the "transportation package."
Proposed letter to Legislature
From the text of the proposed letter (italics added):
Co-Chairs Beyer and McKeown and Members of the Committee:

The Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS MPO) is the regional metropolitan planning organization for the Salem, Keizer, Turner and surrounding urban areas, with an area population over 250,000 residents.

In April and May, the SKATS Policy Committee discussed the subject of proposed state-MPO taxing districts that is being considered by your committee’s transportation bill. SKATS members see the potential benefits of the district concept for cost-sharing large projects, but of course, have questions about the specifics of the proposal and look forward to seeing how these districts will be defined in the state transportation bill. They also raised a concern that all the non-Metro MPOs would have difficulty in matching state funds at a 50-50 level -- especially for high-cost projects -- and request that provision remain open for a subsequent discussion and decision by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC).

The Policy Committee also discussed major congestion and freight projects that might be funded through this proposal. The following is a list of six projects within the SKATS MPO boundary that would improve freight mobility and congestion on both the state and Salem-Keizer regional systems. Each project shows the county is it located in, along with its planning level cost estimate. The Salem River Crossing (Phase 1) bridge is our top priority along with these listed projects, all of which are significant to the sustainability of our transportation system. The remaining projects are listed in order of decreasing costs:
  • Salem River Crossing (Phase 1) [Polk County & Marion County]: $250 million
  • Chemawa Road @ I-5 Interchange Upgrades [Marion County]: $210 million
  • Salem Center Street Bridge Seismic [Polk County & Marion County]: $60 million
  • OR22 @ O51 Interchange & Frontage Roads [Polk County]: $55 million
  • Cordon Road Capacity Upgrades [Marion County]: $47 million
  • New interchange at OR22 @ Cordon Road [Polk County]: $36 million
The highest priority for the Salem is not "Salem River Crossing (Phase 1)." That project is currently being litigated at LUBA and there is considerable evidence that in its present form it is deeply, fatally flawed. There is also considerable community criticism and opposition. Even if you do not agree with that criticism, it is a fact that there is no local consensus around the SRC. In a 5-4 Council vote on an intergovernmental agreement with DLCD, the City of Salem recently sent a message in opposition to the SRC's current form. The SRC does not deserve any such "top priority." It deserves a high priority only if you already "know" it deserves a high priority. This is circular! An impartial planning process and impartial public participation process would not lead to this claim for #1 priority, and would recognize that there are important issues yet to settle.