Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Will it be Crickets for the Circuit Rider's 100th Anniversary on Friday the 19th?

100 years ago on April 19th, 1924, the city and state dedicated the Circuit Rider statue.

June 2023

It was a big deal, and got extensive front page coverage in the papers.

Afternoon: April 18th, 1924

Morning: April 20th, 1924

Today we might have more deeply mixed feelings about it.

From the caption for the afternoon paper of the 18th ("Dedicated to Pioneer Christians"):

This statue, presented to the people of Oregon by the Hon. Robert A. Booth of Eugene, in honor of his father, who was a pioneer circuit rider, is typical of the part that whose hardy and staunch old Christians played in making Oregon a part of the United States of America, and foremost among the state's [sic] in its percentage of pure-blooded American citizens.

April 17th, 1924

The day before the morning paper had said about it and the pioneers generally:

Salem should especially honor those heroes because they settled in Salem, founded the town, and from this base rescued the land from the savages and started it on the road to civilization and advancement.

The Circuit Rider represents an ideological project. It speaks no innocent, neutral history.

As far as I can tell, there are no official observances of the 100th anniversary. Willamette Heritage, Historic Landmarks Commission, Oregon Historical Society, Capitol Foundation are all silent. Maybe something will turn up. 

From here, observing the anniversary seems worthwhile, but also something that requires more context and critique than filiopietism allows.

In a couple of days, or over the weekend, there might be more to say about the ceremony itself.

Previously on the Circuit Rider see:

Monday, April 15, 2024

New "Better Homes" Sunday Section Joins Automotive Section in 1924

Back in 1924 the morning paper started a Sunday section titled "Better Homes." It promoted home ownership and advertised real estate and real estate firms, construction trades, home appliances, and home furniture and decoration.

An automobile section had already been going for a few years. The ad placements for the car trade had been considerable and it was clearly an important revenue stream.

To see the two sections developed and published in close proximity really underscores the connection of land use and transportation in the new autoism.

February 24th, 1924

February 24th, 1924

On February 24th of 1924 the "Better Homes section" started. (The page below from the May "homes week" reproduces the graphic more clearly on a single page.)

Friday, April 12, 2024

Final Cordon-Kuebler Plan Finally Published

About a month ago the County finally published the final report on the Cordon-Kuebler Corridor Plan. (Find it under "Transportation Plans" here.) The project website hadn't been updated since November 2022, then it was deleted from the web. Meeting notes suggested the plan had been finished early last fall. But here it is, with a February date. Maybe it needed some last-minute edits.

To supersize Kuebler Blvd and Turner Road
(Remember, a big housing project is just south of here!)

Finally out

Broadly speaking it seeks enlarge the road, and in some places to supersize it.

Alarming warming in our ocean (NY Times)

New record

Not only in the introductory "goals and purpose" section, but throughout the whole of the summary report, there are zero instances of the words "climate" or "emissions." It is wholly disconnected from the Salem Climate Action Plan. Since this is primarily a County document, and they had already telegraphed their intentions, this is not surprising, though it is still disappointing.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Parks & Rec Board to talk Baseball and More

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meets on Thursday the 11th, and there's a lot of interesting items on the agenda and in meeting materials.

Before the stadium seating  (note cars, too)
(Willamette University Archives)

The main one is the prospect of a summer college wood bat league and associated improvements to John Lewis Field and Spec Keene Stadium, an information and discussion item, not any action item, "Proposal Regarding Renovations and Improvements to the Willamette University Baseball Stadium and Tokyo International University of America Softball Stadium." (The softball component has not generated the same level of interest and critique.)

But first a digression, which seems actually to be a little related.

Fairview Park: 2016 (top), 2024 (bottom)

One of the items also in the meeting packet is an update on the Fairview Park Master Plan "revisit."  Sentiment on the park seems to have shifted quite a bit, and the change is easily visible a side-by-side with the adopted 2016 plan and one of the new concepts.

People want accessible paths to walk on, passive recreational amenities, and flexible spaces that can support a range of activities. There was also some interest in active recreation and sports facilities, as well as interest in preserving the park's natural resources, especially the existing mature trees, as a retreat for reflection and rest.

The reduction to "some interest in active recreation and sports facilities" is striking. People now want the "retreat for reflection and rest." Maybe the Pandemic has prompted a shift.

A dwindling interest in "sports facilities" and associated numbers of spectators and participants also seems to characterize a lot of the debate over baseball improvements at Bush Park.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Incoherence on Emissions, Congestion, and Safety: At the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 9th, and they should, but likely will not, face the incoherence in our dominant autoist paradigm.

Frames for less driving vs more driving

Right now the policy conversations on greenhouse gas emissions and on congestion relief are disconnected. They each happen in a vacuum as if the other was not happening.

Our need to reduce emissions from driving means less driving and slower driving so that non-auto transportation is safer and more comfortable.

But our wish for congestion relief means faster driving and more driving from induced demand.

We need to connect the two discourses and make congestion relief secondary to greenhouse gas reduction and to safety.

How seriously will they take this?

I am not sure at the moment that the technical details of picking a particular target measure are all that critical.

New Bike Parking at Bush Park looks Nice, but not to Code

The other day SCAN posted a nice note about some new bike parking at Bush Park right by the Barn and playground. The old parking had been an old set of "toast" racks that were not very secure and prone to wheel-bending.

New wave racks at Bush Park - via FB

But somehow, despite SCAN having a transportation subcommittee, and the City having new bike parking standards, a highly visible location where the nearby sculpture had been installed improperly, and various levels of review in the grant process, the installation used wave racks, which are not to code!

Wave racks not to code. SRC 806.060

The new wave racks are unambiguously an improvement on the older toast racks. It might seem unreasonable to complain about them. But we have a real problem with not following code on bike parking installations, and this was a public place where a model installation ought to have been attainable. Big sigh.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Housing Production Strategy is Chance to Think Deeper about Our Salem and Climate Friendly Areas

The City's announced the start of the Housing Production Strategy project.

Salem needs more housing. To help meet that need, the City is creating a Housing Production Strategy (HPS) to outline how Salem plans to encourage housing development. The HPS is expected to include tools, policies, and actions that promote the production of a variety of housing types.

The published information is mostly prelude and throat-clearing rather than anything substantive.

They did publish a schedule, however.

The schedule (notes on step 2 added)

And one of the elements for this summer, ranging from spring to fall, is to "evaluate feasibility of developing housing in mixed-use areas."

Here, an ongoing criticism of Our Salem has been that the new mixed-use zoning, MU-I, MU-II, and MU-III was deployed in unrealistic ways, mostly along the biggest of our arterial corridors.

Much of the proposed change was
for arterial corridors
Our Salem map (2021)

So I hope the project truly grapples with the realistic prospects for housing in the new areas zoned for mixed-uses.

Are the big box stores, strip malls large and small, and parking lots going to convert to housing any time soon? 

What will the market be for warehoused housing right on top of our traffic sewers? If built to the concept in Our Salem, will people really want to live there?

And what is a realistic rate of change to housing for the downtown areas proposed for Climate-Friendly Areas/Walkable Mixed-use Areas?

Catalogue plans for apartments! - former twitter

More generally, we've already eliminated parking mandates, and there will be other ways to reduce costs of building housing. Hopefully the project will also support faster implementation of single-access apartment blocks (without the long corridors with two exits), which offer greater flexibility on lots and maximize housing. There's real potential here.

I hope this planning study asks real questions and generates real answers, not hype and puffery, but sober analysis and realistic forecasts.