Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Climate Change in the News of 1921: Blurbing William Cooper at Glacier Bay

Sept. 22nd, 1921

It's not often that glimmers of climate change appear in print a century ago.

Here's a note about the recession of Muir Glacier from September 22nd, 1921. Probably the 19th century change is not entirely anthropogenic from fossil fuels but it's striking nonetheless.

And it turns out that William Cooper was engaged in a fascinating project that was revived just a few years ago.

See in National Geographic, "Century-Long Glacier Study May Help Us Crack Climate Change" and an interactive with some of the original field notes in "The Lost Study of Glacier Bay."

Started in 1916 by one of the countries leading ecologists, the study ran for over 75 years - but then was lost, as the original researchers died. In 2016, the plots were rediscovered through a combination of old sketch maps, compasses, notes, faded photographs, and wilderness exploring. It's a story reminiscent of John Muir crossed with Indiana Jones, where X marked the spot and old buried spikes were pursued like a needle in a Glacier Bay sized haystack. The expedition was successful, and the longest running study is all set for the next 100 years of monitoring.

The project turned out more to be about plant succession than about glacial recession, but it's interesting it was mentioned in the paper in any case. (Also interesting is the National Geographic headline, which may have a bit of false bonhomie and suggests Climate is a problem to be solved and mastered.)

via Twitter

Yesterday we hit another way to mark our warming climate. We've already smashed the record for days of 90 degree or greater heat in a year. And yesterday afternoon we hit a milestone for days of 80 degree or greater heat in a year.

And big trees have been in the news.

LA Times, September 18th

Even though the human costs of climate-intensified fire loss are more direct, the costs and losses to our oldest and biggest creatures are especially moving.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

JC Penney Building Sold, Odd Fellows Hotel Broke Ground in 1921, Mystery at Landmarks Commission - Bits

You probably saw the news that the former JC Penney building finally sold.

JC Penney listed for $4.7M, sold for $2.9M

It sounded like they had to agree to a discount, nearly 40% off the original offering price. The new owners are signalling they will divide the large shell into several smaller units, for retail, office space, housing, or a mixture. They intend to perforate the shell with more windows, which would be a good thing, both for any new tenants and their light, but also for passers-by and sidewalk life. The blank walls on the building as well as across the street on the Mall and former Nordstrom just deaden the sidewalks.

Hopefully the momentum to delete the skybridges continues, and there is new interest both in Liberty Plaza and in Belluschi crater. This is an important set of corners for downtown!

Previously on JC Penney:

A Mystery Hotel Project?

On Wednesday the 15th, via social media the Historic Landmarks Commission teased "a major historic design review of a proposed seven-story hotel" for their meeting on the 16th.

That's big news, and something nearly certain to be downtown in the Downtown Historic District.

But there was no Public Hearing Notice published to the City Notices page nor any agenda or Staff Report for a September 16th meeting.

Missing Agenda and Staff Reports

Was it a modification on the New Holman Hotel? A project for Belluschi Crater? Something else? If we find out more, we may update this - or it could merit a whole new post.

A Definite, Historical Hotel Project

100 years ago, the Odd Fellows announced plans for the Central Stage Terminal and Hotel building immediately south of the Grand Theater.

August 7th, 1921

The very first mention came on August 3rd, 1921. Just as trivia, the front page of the morning paper is terrific and broad. The main headline is on the Black Sox baseball gambling scandal of 1919. Around it is opera news, on the death of tenor Enrico Caruso. There are other bits on the labor tensions at the new hospital building site on Center Street and gossipy notes on visitors to the auto camp ground where Pringle Park is today. The range of interest on the front page is much greater. It's busier, of course, and harder to read, so it's not "better" by those measures. Just different, when the media ecosystem hadn't become so fragmented and niche.

Friday, September 17, 2021

City Council, September 20th - Climate Plan is a Dud

On Monday Council will hold a formal Work Session on the Climate Action Plan. But at the moment it's a dud, a sophisticated kind of climate delay discourse rather than a plan for reducing emissions.

The three main kinds of delay in our plan process
(comments added, "Discourses of Climate Delay")

If the plan is going to be at all serious, more than a Potemkin plan for show, it's clear that Council needs to stage an intervention and redirect the planning process to ensure the plan is reasonably likely to meet the goals.

Principals and an Enthusiasm Gap?

One of the biggest problems with the Climate Action Plan process has been demonstrated recently. The principal City planners don't appear to believe in it. When Staff have been given the opportunity to lean into the plan, they leaned away. They may say "climate matters," but their actions show they may not actually believe this.

In one case, when City Staff had a direct opportunity to coordinate and integrate climate planning with other formal planning activities, they not only passed on that, they acted as if climate didn't matter and even hindered other, more important activities.

Primary frame: Emissions or Parking demand?

One of the principal City planners on the Climate Action Plan also led the Geer Park Master Plan update, and given every opportunity to advocate for climate action, they showed they may just be going through the motions only and did not believe in the climate action plan. By their actions, they seemed to disparage the Climate Action Plan

Is there still this lack of clarity about emissions?

Separately, in a Salem Reporter article on climate, the other principal City planner had every opportunity to say, "here are the most important things we can do to reduce emissions," and instead they said we "need to build more resiliency." We need to endure and adapt to the climate emergency, not prevent its worst excesses, they appear to think. From the piece:

The city of Salem started working on a climate action plan in Aug. 2020 and is close to completing it. There’s a work session with the Salem City Council on Monday, Sept. 20.

Patricia Farrell, Salem’s parks and natural resources planning manager, said not many of the people the climate task force has talked to commented pessimistically, “though the subject is daunting.”

“Instead, people are more inclined towards the urgency of doing something. People want to know what they, as individuals, can do and how their choices matter,” she said in an email.

She said the results of the survey show the need to build more resiliency in the community, which is part of the Climate Action Plan.

With the Geer Park plan and in comments to media, City Staff in charge of the Climate Action Plan have chosen not to advocate for climate, not to advocate for reducing emissions, not to advocate for the plan.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hit and Runs are More than Merely Rude, Drive-thrus and Emissions: Mystifying the Autoism

Yesterday the paper churned a press release from an auto insurer into a whimsical piece on rudeness. Probably it just maintains the jocular tone of the press release, but it also maintains our unseriousness about driving.

Politeness? or Hazardous? - via Twitter

From the SJ:

A national auto insurance comparison website has decided Salem has the rudest drivers in Oregon....

Insurify, a website to compare auto insurance rates, based its ranking on analysis of about four million car insurance applications. The applications require drivers to disclose their city of residence and any prior driving violations. The analysis looked specifically at failure to yield violations, failure to stop violations, improper backing, passing where prohibited, tailgating, street racing and hit-and-runs.

But are we really talking about rudeness? Or are we talking about kinds of dangerous driving with potentially lethal outcomes?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cherriots Switches up Consultant for Long-Range Plan: At the MPO

At the meeting of SKATS' technical committee today, Tuesday the 14th, Cherriots will give an overview of the forthcoming Long Range Plan process.

Announcement intro

The most striking thing is that they switched up the contractor.

Jarrett Walker + Associates had written the Comprehensive Service Analysis in 2014, guided much of the service expansion, and I believe they just wrapped up the Salem to Albany Corridor Feasibility Study Project. They may have completed other studies in between.

For some combination of reasons - and we don't know if Walker even bid on the project, since the presentation to SKATS doesn't touch on any elements of the bid selection process - Cherriots engaged a new contractor. Maybe they wanted a fresh perspective.  

They feature a big highway project in Sydney

But when you google "jacobs + engineering + transit" you get a picture of a giant highway project. Rail, it seems, is their "transit" focus, light rail and heavy commuter rail. They are an engineering firm and do megaprojects. In the overview they don't talk about bus service, and the word "bus" appears only once in many paragraphs of text.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Bewhiskered Bus Drivers and Walking all the Streets: Bits in the Sunday Paper

In addition to the hard news, the Sunday paper has a couple of interesting bon bons on transportation.

Walking all the streets

Bus drivers in 1940

We'll probably return to the story about walking all the streets of Salem, as in addition to it being a neat story about a Pandemic Project, it is also interesting for its choice of detail, what is and is not mentioned, and the way some things are framed. The story genre is feature, but of course there is much underlying policy and politics.

There is much more to say about walking in Salem!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

City Council, September 13th - Make an Un-Hooverville!

Council convenes on Monday the 13th. Because of Delta and the fourth wave of infection, they have returned to videoconferencing only.

We've already mentioned cueing up some materials for the Work Session on the Climate Action Plan.

That was the most important thing here.

Early image of State Insurance Building
NW corner Commercial and Chemeketa
Oregon State Library

Also interesting are finally some details on the proposed redevelopment of the former UGM/Saffron Hardware block.

Corner proposed for affordable housing

The northwest corner of the intersection of Commercial and Chemeketa (or the southeast corner of the block) is occupied by a heavily modified, but nonetheless remnant first floor of the State Insurance Building (at top). They just whacked off the top two floors and disguised the bottom floor. But if you look at the window frames and mouldings, some original detailing is still there.