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:

At the May 1st meeting there were about 16 people. This has seemed like a normal count for a neighborhood association meeting. It is a weakness of our neighborhood association system that there seem to be groups of 10-15 regulars, most of whom are also on the boards of the neighborhood associations, who decide the official positions of the associations. They aren't actually all that representative. But has been difficult to generate broader levels of interest.

At the May 15th meeting, which had an update on the lead abatement project on Patterson Street, about 32 people attended.

At the June 5th meeting which was advertised by the SRC advocacy group Salem Bridge Solutions as a call to action, nearly 80 people attended.

The group is advertising Monday's meeting strongly also.

It certainly looks like transportation in West Salem is going to be contested loudly, maybe even bitterly, this summer and into the fall and winter.

Mischaracterizing a proposal for the Marine Drive ROW
As we saw, the group misconstrued the neighborhood association's proposal on Marine Drive. WSNA's proposal is pretty clear about building a street not a bike trail, on a more northern section of the Marine Drive alignment:
Amend the City of Salem budget to remove $3,542,920 of funding from the Project No. 711503 to construct Marine Drive from Glen Creek Road to Cameo Street and redirect the funding to Project No. 61463 to purchase right-of-way and begin construction of Marine Drive from 5th Avenue to Harritt Drive.
There is lots of other misunderstanding and ignorance about the SRC out there. So at the meetings, there could be an opportunity to dig into policy, dig into the SRC's process and analysis, and explain why building a giant bridge and highway is:
  1. Bad for emissions and the environment
  2. Bad for livable, walkable neighborhoods
  3. Bad for health
  4. Fiscally unsustainable
But that means also developing a critique of autoism, and one of the hallmarks of the debate so far, and something we definitely see at the City, is an unwillingness to go this far. At the City we have a lukewarm interest in more biking and transit, but we don't also take then next step and say, "we must drive less" and enact corresponding policy. Instead we pursue widening and expansion projects that make it easier to drive. City actions are not coherent.

We just pretty much ignore these
(or satisfy them procedurally rather than substantively)
If the question at WSNA is resolved principally through a new up-or-down vote, the SRC will surely win at WSNA, and it remains true that in the abstract, the idea of a new bridge is much more broadly popular than the status quo or other solutions, which are generally more complicated than "a new bridge." It seems likely that the official position of WSNA on the SRC is going to change soon. This is an instance where "the will of the people" is wrong. Popular things aren't always good things.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday the 19th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW). 

3 comments:

Jim Scheppke said...

So one of 18 NA's will be officially in favor of the 3rd Bridge. Good luck on getting the other 17 to vote in favor of the 3rd Bridge. The last five City Council elections have featured a candidate in favor of the 3rd Bridge and a candidate opposed to the 3rd Bridge. And guess what happened? The anti-3rd Bridge Councilor won every time. Maybe West Salem should secede from the rest of Salem and go back to being a separate city like it was before 1949. As an eastsider, I would be all in favor of that. I'm tired of seeing my tax dollars flow across the river. West Salem is nothing but a big money pit for the rest of the city. Now they want us to build them a billion dollar bridge because their commute sucks. Well too bad! Move over here if you don't like it. Or secede and deal with your own problems for a change.

Walker said...

Well, regardless of the direction of the vote by WSNA, we have seen that the City officials care nothing about resolutions passed by neighborhood associations or this enormous boondoggle would have stopped bleeding a torrent of money many moons ago.

If any pro-gas-tax-hike, pro-toll, pro-car-registration-fee-hike and pro-property-tax-hike council members dare to cite a new WSNA opinion in favor of the 3rd bridge as a reason to hike all those taxes, then we can have a discussion about why only overwhelmingly white and affluent neighborhood associations opinions' matter.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

On one level I wish that Neighborhood Association's opinions mattered. But after being involved for 30 years, I know that they only matter if they are in agreement with what the majority of Council wants. In the current case the Council is not going to change their minds because at one or two meetings people come out to overwhelm a vote.

The issue deserves a good discussion in the counties and cities that would bear the burden of the bridge. That has not happened and I am not sure it will happen.

Emotion is ruling the current bridge proponents and not facts or logic.

I presume that before this is all over rational thinking will come forward. That is to say, when you wish for something that is all it is, wishing. What is needed is the ability to pay and that has not been identified yet.

Anyone who has been caught in traffic on Lancaster Drive or Kuebler or South Commercial is not going to want to pay for a West Salem "problem."

Can you imagine how the citizens of Woodburn would vote on a higher tax to help West Salem commuters?

There is a quote I like, "sound and fury, signifying nothing." It fits here.

I wish that these advocates would move on to discussing and supporting realistic solutions like in the Bridgehead Study. Work on more alternatives to single car- single passenger trips.