Sunday, April 11, 2021

History Piece on Safeway Buildings Tells more about Local Store Origins

It was great to see more on Safeway history in the paper today!

Safeway history in the Sunday paper

By accident or intent, today's history column builds on a couple of previous pieces here:

I had looked at the movement out south along Commercial Street, and this new take adds some additional information. In particular I had missed their origin locally in the Skaggs United Chain.

June 3rd, 1921

Skagg's had opened a new store here in 1921 and five years later Skaggs and Safeway merged.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

City Council, April 12th - Biden Rescue Plan and Speed Limits

Council convenes on Monday and they will initiate planning for the $33 million from the Biden American Rescue Plan.

Salem will have $33 million

The first two tranches are mostly back-filling the gaps caused by the Pandemic. (The City's subdivided the two Federal tranches further, it looks like.)

But the third tranche looks very interesting and a real opportunity for vision and creativity. It's supposed to be something new.

Hello, Climate!

Projects funded here have to be shovel-ready or the equivalent, with funds able to be spent by the end of 2024.

It would be nice to see the City choose something legitimately "catalytic" and selecting one or more climate initiatives to jump start might be the best choice.

Three headlines all in Friday's paper

Friday, April 9, 2021

Reactionary Politics in the April Clean-Up of 1921

You may recall that Chinatown was condemned back in 1903. Not quite a generation later, there was another episode of "cleaning," again keyed to the "buildings of Chinese." 

This time, at least in the press, its motivation and its organization are more modern. It may not be possible to situate it exactly, but we can see how it was related to the post-WWI culture more generally. It is adjacent or related to the militarism and patriotism associated with the war, to increasing nativism and white supremacy, to social hygiene and eugenics, to  the growing surveillance state, and to new tendencies to sort-and-separate in zoning ordinances. All of it is oriented to new ideas of scientific management. It's also aligned with the reactionary, right-wing politics of the American Legion. There are all kinds of subtext and context here.

April 5th, 1921

April 5th, 1921

It's hard to say whether the American Legion had been agitating behind the scenes, but once it was public, they took the lead. It is no coincidence that the front page of the morning paper on April 6th featured them in two pieces, one with a military metaphor for the clean-up project, the other about "prohibiting orientals from holding land." The "dirt" was in no small part organized along racial boundaries.

City Manager Tidbits on McGilchrist, new Website, Portland Loo

The City Manager's update has been silent for a while, nearly a couple of months, but they recently published three of them for February and March.

The most recent one for March 29th contains several tidbits of interest.

The City continues to work on the McGilchrist project, now with new anticipation of a Federal transportation bill, especially with a new kind of earmarks program. Maybe we will see some design refinements that will improve it for walking and biking safety, past the vintage bike lane treatments of more than a generation ago, and also see slower design speeds for motor vehicles.

Things looking up for Federal funding on McGilchrist

For previous notes on the saga of the McGilchrist project see here.

Back in 2017 the City rolled a new website. Apparently they feel we all need a new one.

Time for another new website?

One thing to watch is that even if the website design itself is improved, the City also grasped the "opportunity" to reduce the amount of information publicly and freely available and to make necessary more frequent formal requests for public records. So in some ways there is a loss of accessibility also.

A new website could be good, but it may not have had a life even of five years.

Finally, "the Portland Loo bathroom project" is a little vague, and it's not something we've followed here. But it's interesting to note that it's linked to the parking fund. 

Mania for free parking hinders new Portland Loo

This is another example of the kinds of useful things that our mania for free parking hinders.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Climate Survey Results show Risks of Prioritizing Popularity

In advance of Wednesday's Climate Task Force meeting, the City's published the results of the March survey on potential climate actions.

In rough terms, it shows the risks of the popularity contest: Many of the most effective concepts at reducing emissions are also the least popular. On the broader objectives there is sometimes also a disconnect between the Task Force votes and the survey response. Our mania for free parking, and for driving generally, is an excellent example.

Salemites love driving and the free parking

Sidewalk repair and more open/green space were the most popular in the survey.

Broadly speaking the survey suggests that if we tailor a plan to what is popular, it will be ineffective and mainly symbolic. If we tailor a plan that actually accomplishes reductions in emissions, what we want it to accomplish, there will be opposition from some quarters.

It just seems like a good Plan has to be more top-down, data-driven, even a little technocratic. A bottom-up popularity contest won't be nearly effective.

On some planning horizons, it would be ok to have a middling plan and say we will revisit it in five or 10 years. But the planning horizon on this particular project is far more urgent, if we take seriously the goal of a 50% reduction by 2035 and much more by 2050.

The Task Force and City leadership will likely have to choose: Effective or popular.

For an Elected that might look like a bad dilemma, but of course it's also opportunity for outstanding leadership.

It will be interesting to see how the Task Force assesses and filters all this, and there will be more to say when the project team and City publish a more focused set of recommendations for further refinement.


Addendum, Thursday

Here's a clip and comment via FB from Wedenesday's meeting.

Trees and gardens rather than fossil fuel

The popular ideas aren't enough about reducing fossil fuels and carbon pollution. Especially on the "community" side, they are more about aesthetics than function.

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Bike Bill by Strengthening It

The Street Trust and coalition partners are hosting a zoomy celebration of the Bike Bill and trying to build more support for a proposed expansion in SB 395.

via the Street Trust

After a March 4th Hearing the bill, SB 395, remains stalled in the Joint Transportation Committee. Here, Cherriots has indicated support and the City of Salem indicated qualified support.

Monday, April 5, 2021

We Should Think more about Weaponized Autoism at Protests

At both the US Capitol and our State Capitol, there are now Jersey-type barriers and other heavy barricades. Our new Police Station is recessed from the roadway, and the landscaping interposes barriers between the street and building. In the years after 9/11 we all have learned the vocabulary of anti-terrorist design on the street and building setback zone, and at least some of these features are now just background noise, banal elements not to be noticed any more.

Weaponizing cars successfully (April 3rd)

We still haven't fully considered the ways our autoism has been weaponized, however.

This driver had sped up and nearly hit people:
Weaponizing the truck for intimidation
(via Twitter)

At the protest a little over a week ago, a motorcade from out of town with big trucks (and quite likely big guns also) had assembled and was driving to Salem to intimidate. By design the trucks constituted something of a light armor division. Their targets were not buildings, but were people.