Sunday, November 27, 2022

City Council, November 28th

The front page today had a story I've been wanting all late summer and fall. Vegetable gardens seemed to be a real struggle this year, and I wondered how the professionals were handling the growing season.

Front page on the growing season and climate

The body of the article was great. It surveyed a broad range of farmers growing food, drink, and ornamental plants. 

The headline focused on the wet and cold, which is true, but perhaps did not place it in the correct context. It could be read as an ordinary vicissitude of farming. But the season was not altogether inexplicable. The body of the piece correctly centered climate disruption, which yields both flood and drought, and makes the swings between more wild.

No fact-checking

Farther in the paper, the piece on the community survey was a dud, soliciting the hate-clicks and rage-reads, without doing any fact-checking. Were the sentiments well-founded? You'd never know.

A different mood - via Twitter

But if the city is so terrible right now, so badly off track, the mood so sour, why did the holiday parade seem like a success? The real story about the city has to be more nuanced.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Pep Band Introduces Jazz at State Rivalry Game in 1922

As the hand-wringing over what to call today's great state rivalry football game continues, it is a little interesting to see how they handled the name in 1922. "State Championship" seemed to be the dominant name.

But much more interesting is that the Daily Emerald claimed the pep band played jazz for the first time around here at a sporting event.

"State Rivalry Game," Oregonian, Nov 19th, 1922

Nov. 17th, 1922

From the Emerald:

Jingling, jangling jazz, pep-inspiring selections of various kinds, and a whole repertoire of good music will be furnished by the University band to the students who flock to Corvallis Saturday to back the Oregon football team in its annual struggle with the Aggies....

The band will be composed of fifty or more pieces, making it one of the largest and best bands the University has seen for some time. Some special music of the jazz variety will be played Saturday for the first time. These selections are new to the college bands of the Northwest and are expected to rouse the Oregon rooters to the zenith of their enthusiasm.

I couldn't find any follow-up on how this new instance of jazz was received at the game. Five years after it was first in the news here, in 1922 there is still criticism of jazz as immoral or bad, but it is being assimilated and adopted, and the appearance of jazz may not have been very remarkable.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanks for Murals and More Art in Salem

Earlier this month on one of the decent days I got out to see the street painting at Belmont and Cottage.

Library, benches, and mural at Belmont & Cottage

No one was walking by or hanging out, no one drove by, and the lot kitty-corner from the sidewalk library and benches was still vacant. The paint seemed like it might have faded a little already. It didn't pop in the way the first photos posted on social media suggested. So the energy at the intersection was a little slack and inert. Maybe at other moments it's more vibrant, but at that moment it was not.

Still, as a kind of grace note it was great to see.

Hopefully in a broad range of expressions there is new energy for public art in Salem.

Problem of tanks specifically
and 3-D surfaces generally

At Council on Monday, Councilor Nishioka will offer a motion to adjust our mural code to accommodate some three-dimensional surfaces.

We found through the permit process of the Maraschino Cherry Mural that permanent three-dimensional objects are not allowed to be painted, only flat surfaces. The Maraschino Cherry Mural on Portland Rd NE is a mural on a flat wall with two silos that sit in front of the mural wall. The artist and Pacific Coast Producers had designed the mural to include the silos as an integral part of the mural. With the unpainted silos, the viewer cannot see the full mural as it is hidden by these permanent structures. If the silos had been included in the mural installation they would mirror the hidden sections of the mural. With the current code permanent three-dimensional structures such as silos and water towers are not included in the Salem Public Arts permit codes. I would like the City staff to prepare potential amendments to these types of murals for review by the Salem Public Art Commission.

That too would be great to see, and perhaps prompt even more creative kinds of murals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

One Quarter of our MPO files Suit to Halt new Climate Action

This week a group of 14 jurisdictions, including the City of Keizer and Marion County, two members of the eight that set transportation funding and policy at our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, filed suit against the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules the State adopted earlier this year.

Suit against the CFEC rule-making

See Willamette Week and OPB for more:

At the May meeting of SKATS earlier this year, Keizer Mayor Clark echoed several themes in the lawsuit, saying "Keizer can set their own priorities," a little bit of "don't tell me what to do" spirit.

May SKATS PC meeting

But what Keizer wants is for the MPO (and the State) to adopt its looser priorities and values so it can still get funding for bad projects. This penalizes Salem, however, and other jurisdictions that might want funding for good projects which do not conform to older autoist standards. (Not to mention the penalty to the commons, to all of us indirectly harmed by Keizer's recalcitrance.) Marion County has said similar things, with even more explicit climate denialism.

Latest Affordable Housing Projects Still Enforce Compulsory Autoism

Recently the Housing Authority entered into agreements for affordable housing projects on Battle Creek Road and 27th Avenue SE.

"Car-dependent" and "minimal transit"

Very "car-dependent" and "some transit"

Most of each project is aimed at households at or below 60% of the area median income and each project will have around 100 homes.

The Staff Report on the 27th Avenue project claimed:

This area of Salem is quickly developing with the addition of a new Costco off Kuebler Road to the south and numerous single-family neighborhoods being developed to the west and north. With close proximity to Kuebler Road, residents of the 27th Avenue Apartments will have convenient access to multiple bus lines provided by the local public transportation agency Cherriots. Numerous grocery stores and retailers are located within two miles of the site, including WinCo Foods, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Walgreens, and Safeway.

The Staff Report for the Battle Creek Road project makes no similar claim.

But the observation that WinCo and Trader Joe's is "within two miles" would require walking down Kuebler Boulvard for much of the connection. That is not walkable in any realistic and practical understanding of the term. Even once the developments near Costco are built out, crossing Kuebler will remain a formidable barrier. Who wants to be walking across it with a bag or cart of groceries?

The "convenient access" here is by car

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

City to Consider Proposals for new Fossil Fuel Infrastructure; They Show Gap in CAP

A couple of notices for proposals of new fossil fuel infrastructure suggest another gap in our Climate Action Plan.

Near Lancaster and Mission Street

Near Kuebler and Turner Road

The proposals for new gas stations will be subject to administrative approvals by the Planning Administrator, and not a full Public Hearing process.

The time is right (SF Chronicle, September)

As part of our climate action, we need to halt the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure, and shift incentives and development to electrification.

Addendum!

Whoops, I forgot the good news!

The South Salem Fred Meyer is proposing to install six EV chargers. That's more like it.

This is helpful EV mania

But maybe this kind of thing should be allowed by-right?

Monday, November 21, 2022

Placing the SRC in the MTP and Review of Cherriots Plan: At the MPO

Finally some reckoning for the failed Salem River Crossing. The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization will consider vestigial elements of the Salem River Crossing in revisions to Chapters five and nine of the forthcoming long-range 2023 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

Incorporating the SRC "No Build" decision in MTP

The changes generally shift the discussion from the relative definiteness of the "needs and gaps" chapter to the more speculative and uncertain nature of the "outstanding issues" chapter. On balance this is good! 

NY Times today

But there's still no real acknowledgement of the Climate Action Plan and our need to reduce driving and VMT. The passive fatalism of "It is expected that...trips traveling across the bridges will increase...." is a denial of our need to manage actively and positively to actual reductions in car trips across the bridges and everywhere in the Salem area.

We aren't yet managing to plan for reduced trips

I hadn't seen an updated chart of bridge traffic counts recently, so that was helpful.

Latest on bridge traffic counts

But we still treat the counts as if we are helpless to alter them, and cannot manage actively to reduce them. Traffic as a rising tide against which we are helpless. Well, that's not true.