At least from here the whole thing has seemed a little strange. If Council authorized it, we all missed it. If Council didn't authorize it, it's being funded by some secret slush fund! It probably originates in the City Manager's office rather than from Council. That doesn't mean it's a bad thing, but it's just a little odd. Usually these kinds of things go before Council first.
Significantly, notes from the November SCAN meeting appear to confirm its origin in the City Manager's office:
Councilor Andersen commented on three items of interest 1) City Manager Steve Powers has launched a strategic planning initiative for the City...So why is it such a secret?
The project's description, too, has seemed murky, with a lesser instance of word salad:
The City of Salem is undertaking a strategic plan to articulate the mission, vision, values, and goals for the organization to help the City sustain delivery of core services as the community and the organization grow and change.Anyway, they've conducted some of the proverbial "stakeholder interviews" and also a phone survey. (SCV has some video here from earlier in the process.)
A reader sent along a copy of the phone survey results, and there are some interesting findings in it.
Unfortunately, the City has created no project website or document library for it. (When this is remedied, this post will be updated with links as appropriate. Update: Here it is!)
|Community Priorities Telephone Survey (and throughout)|
While in aggregate, transportation-related things rank high, the Salem River Crossing itself is not very important, it turns out! (Though of course it is a little dispiriting to see "public transportation" ranked equally as "most important.") "Homelessness" and "housing" are both more important. Elsewhere, "maintenance" seemed clearly to be more important than new roads like the Salem River Crossing. ("Fix it first!")
Euclidean Zoning scheme for sort-and-separate uses.
Car use is not inevitable! It is the result of policy and funding that encourages car use - things like "free parking," levels of service analysis that dictate road and intersection widening, and zoning that makes things distant and creates car-dependent neighborhoods. We heavily incent car use. There is nothing "natural" or "inevitable" about our patterns of driving. Survey language like this hides this system and all the direct and indirect effort that goes into maintaining it.
But when we want to talk about transportation use, because there is a huge and hidden subsidy for driving, and there insufficient direct pricing for driving and road use, we are not able to have a good conversation about road capacity and accurately matching supply of roads with demand for road capacity.
With a better correspondence between pricing and road use, we might have different conclusions about expanding road capacity. Fix-it First would be even more obvious. Tolling and priced parking could also be part of this, but currently people insist on the subsidies. Raising the gas tax is very unpopular.
We also don't think sufficiently about the cost differential to service a household in newly developed low-density land on the edge of the city compared to the cost to service a household in a close-in built up area. This graphic is Canadian, and the values wouldn't be exact for Salem, of course, but the idea about a difference between edge and center is clear.
|Via Brent Toderian and Sustainable Prosperity|
While it is good for the City to get information on these general values, the observations and feelings are all untethered from budgetary realities, and may operate more as sentiment and slogan than as actionable priorities for a city government. Hopefully they will be developed in more detail and linked to the city budget process where we all have to grapple with the realities of efficiency and trade-offs. If this is but a preliminary stage for more refinement, then it could be very useful.
Maybe more will be clear at the Open House later this month.
Before the Open House there will also be a charrette by invitation only for those "stakeholders." Again, the public statement about it is minor word salad:
This work will chart a course, in a transition plan, for the City moving forward based on findings from an assessment of current conditions in our community, impacts of anticipated change in the region, and perspectives of residents, community leaders and elected officials.Hopefully the Plan will in the end result in real action, not merely a lovely shelf study that "charts a course in a transition plan for the city moving forward."
Save the Date: The Open House is January 31, 5-6:30 p.m., Broadway Commons, Grant Room, 1300 Broadway St NE.