Thursday, February 15, 2018

Council Legislative Committee to Consider Clean Energy Jobs Bill; DAB Next Budget

Council's Legislative Committee meets on Friday the 16th, and they'll be talking about the Clean Energy Jobs bills! They passed out of committee yesterday, and it looks like there's some momentum behind them. It would be great for the City formally to add their support to that. (Mayor Bennett, Councilors Andersen, McCoid, and Nanke sit on the committee.)

Strong endorsement this year by the paper
They also look to be talking about using photo radar for speed enforcement and about changing the way Cherriots' Board is selected.

Agenda and short packet
The Downtown Advisory Board meets today, Thursday the 15th, and they'll be talking about the 2018-2019 Urban Renewal budget.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Safe Routes to School Hire Announced for Salem and Eugene

Today the Safe Routes to School National Partnership announced the new Policy Manager for the Salem and Eugene area.

It is interesting that they didn't hire someone who currently lives in Eugene or in Salem, the primary cities in the area of responsibility. That's not necessarily a problem of course. The announcement notes that Becky Gilliam worked at the Legislature, and counts as something of an insider, ready for the lobbying side of things. (Also likely related to former State Legislator Vic Gilliam of Silverton, so maybe more than a little bit of an insider.)

But there might be local knowledge about the schools, neighborhoods, and politics of Salem and Eugene she will need to learn. Still, those are just details. The big picture is that there will be a consistent presence here now advocating and organizing for children and better ways to walk, bike, and roll to school.

From the announcement:
Becky serves as a Pacific Northwest Regional Policy Manager, working to strengthen the regional network in the Pacific Northwest, with a particular focus in Salem-Keizer and Central Lane areas. In this role, she works to increase funding and improve policies that result in improved infrastructure and programs to support safe walking and bicycling for children and families, with focused work and technical assistance in lower-income communities.

Prior to joining the National Partnership, Becky worked for over 4 years in Oregon's State Capitol. As senior legislative staff, she conducted policy research and coordinated introduction of new legislation relating to elder abuse prevention, increased protections for immigrants, and other issues. Becky also has experience lobbying in Salem, where she advocated for client interests in both the legislative and regulatory arenas. Through her time spent working with the Oregon Legislature and state agencies, Becky has established lasting relationships with key decision-makers.

Becky received her BA in Applied Linguistics, as well as Certification in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from Portland State University. During her time at PSU, she designed and implemented community-based ESL programs for refugee and immigrant populations in Portland.

Becky lives in Silverton, where she and her husband recently completed a DIY home building project, which they now happily call home. Becky enjoys growing food and flowers, traveling, and going on adventures with her hound dog.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

At the MPO: Starting Work on the next Regional Transportation System Plan

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets early this afternoon today. There is no important action item on the agenda, but some things to note in passing are a little interesting. Work on the SRC continues despite Council's lack of interest, and there's a new cycle for the Regional Transportation System Plan just kicking off.

In the minutes from last month there is this on the work plan and SRC:
Bob Cortright was present, provided a handout, and spoke re: the River Crossing EIS being ‘on hold’ due to land use appeal and the 2018 deliverable of a Final EIS is not possible at this time. He asked that the language in the UPWP [the work plan] accurately reflect the status of the Salem River Crossing with regard to the land use appeal, and the unlikely completion of the EIS. He also mentioned that the city Salem appointed a task force to consider alternatives to bridge congestion. TAC discussion included how/if the task force should it be reflected in the UPWP and the status and anticipated completion of the EIS. Julie Warncke explained that the task force has started and probably will be done during Summer 2018. It is probably okay to include info re: task force as background, but it will be finished by start of UPWP. The RTSP will likely reflect suggestions that come from the task force work as part of the regional transportation solutions. Angela Carnahan suggested adding language to include mention of the appeal and its possible affect on the schedule – and that its not under the control of SKATS. Dan Fricke indicated that ODOT is working on the EIS but technically not able to publish it until the land use issues are decided. Mike will update the language regarding the deliverables in the UPWP. [italics added]
Here's some latest draft of language from the Work Plan:

Still saying the SRC final EIS will be done this year
I guess on a technicality it says "work...should be concluded in 2018" and does not say the final EIS will be published in 2018. This still seems dodgy and disingenuous.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Downtown Streetscape and Cherriots both hold Open Houses Tomorrow

The second Open House for the Downtown Streetscape project starts tomorrow, Tuesday the 13th, at 5:30pm.

The project team hasn't published any new materials, so there's not much to say yet - other than to continue to push the City for changes to carspace. Until we grapple with the disproportion and zoominess of carspace downtown, our fiddling with the sidewalks will be cosmetic, principally rearranging the deck chairs. This may yield incremental improvement, but it will not yield the enduring, structural change we need.

(See previous notes on the first Open House here and here.)

The Open House will be in the Senator Hearing Room/Courthouse Square, 555 Court St. NE from 5:30pm to 7pm.

Cherriots Service Expansion

At the same time, in a nice bit of concurrent scheduling, Cherriots has scheduled their first Open House for what they are calling "A Better Cherriots." They'll be next door at the Downtown Transit Center in the Customer Service area from 6pm to 8pm on Tuesday the 13th. That's just around the corner at 220 High Street NE. It makes great sense to double-up and hit both of them. (Facebook event here.)

They've got a series of other Open Houses and less formal tabling scheduled all around the city through the rest of the month in into March. You can see the full list here.

(See previous notes on the Needs Analysis here.)

Systems Development Charges

Urban Growth Management (UGM) Plan - Background
City of Salem memo, 1990
Related to the Creekside and Lone Oak Reimbursement District conversations (see also Salem Weekly this issue), a reader sent in some material from old debates about paying for new growth. One of the memos is from 1990, background on an "Urban Growth Management (UGM) Plan" (this is not published to the City website as far as I know):

Sunday, February 11, 2018

City Makes Final Loss of Use Payment to Willamette Queen

Not for sale - yet
Buried in the front-page feature on the Willamette Queen is news that the City has made the final payment on the $250,000 "loss of use" agreement with the Willamette Queen over navigating the slough and the loss of use caused by the Minto Bridge.
The city of Salem worked with the Chesbroughs when construction of the Peter Courtney Minto Island Pedestrian Bridge restricted use of the Willamette Slough and put a crimp in business.

The city agreed to pay them $50,000 a year for five years to make up for lost revenue. The Chesbroughs, who pay $350 a month to the city for moorage at Riverfront Park, received the final payment in January.
That's good news, but the tone's not quite right. Here's what the Willamette Queen said in their letter of August 2011 supporting the agreement and the permit application process (here is the 2014 amended agreement):
This is a letter in support of the application by the Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Salem for a permit to construct a low-span bridge across the Minto Island Slough...Although the low-span bridge will limit access to the Willamette River Slough...we will be able to continue to operate...and understand the benefit the bridge will provide to the community....the bridge will provide an important link in Salem's bike and pedestrian trail system ...[and] will open up Salem's riverfront area, an underutilized amenity in Salem, making it more accessible to the public. We support the Agency's application, and urge you to approve it without delay.
It's not at all clear the bridge put a "crimp" on business. If anything, the bridge increases foot traffic by the boat and increases visibility for the boat. The "loss of use" payments were to compensate for any loss of use, and were fairly negotiated. Because of the framework of 19th century river navigation law, the Queen had enormous leverage over the City of Salem and its desire for the Minto Bridge. There is no reason to think the City underpaid for the loss of use, and there are instead many reasons to think that the City actually overpaid in order to secure an agreement and to be able to move forward in a timely way. An article that makes a claim about a "crimp" should document it, and not merely accept the statement uncritically.

More generally, instead of a feature the article could have been a more deeply researched news piece on how the Queen functions in the full context of the park and what its future might be.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

City Council, February 12th - Low-Income Housing

Council meets on Monday, and there's a cluster of items involving low-income housing.

But is Fisher Road Walkable Really?

The Urban Renewal Agency proposes to buy a building for low-income housing on Fisher Road. (They also propose to enlarge the nearby Urban Renewal Zone around Portland Road with an exquisite gerrymander in order to secure additional funding.)

4107 Fisher Road NE
From the Staff report it looks like the property's developer was distressed and unable to finance completion:
The Salem Housing Authority (SHA) has identified a 19,336 square foot multi-family building located at 4107 Fisher Road NE (constructed 2014) and adjacent 0.58 acre parcel of vacant land located at 4075 Fisher Road NE (Property) (Attachment 1) as an affordable site to acquire for housing using. Using a “housing first” model, the building will house and offer comprehensive services to residents....The building was built to house a senior citizen population in 19 suites on three floors in addition to a full commercial kitchen and first floor flex space, but was never occupied. The Property is within a mile of education, grocery, and medical facilities, and within walking distance to bus lines via walking and bicycle paths along major roadways.

The building is 80% complete, with the second and third floors in roughed-in condition and ready for finish work. The elevator shaft is in place, but requires installation of the elevator car and mechanicals. SHA plans to complete the finish work and convert the building to 38 single-room occupancy units with one restroom for every two units. SHA will seek resources from Oregon Housing and Community Services to finish the building and pursue a land banking tool for acquisition of the vacant land.
"walking paths"? - via Streetview

Give Margaret Jewett Bailey her #MeToo Moment: Ruth Rover and The Grains is Justified Rage

Original 1854 title page
via Wikipedia/Oregon Encyclopedia
(Stuff happens and sometimes it's necessary to revisit things.)

The headlines of this past week have brought back to mind that we have an account of harassment and abuse at Jason Lee's Methodist Mission and in early Oregon we still haven't properly honored and absorbed into our official histories, The Grains, or Passages in the Life of Ruth Rover with Occasional Pictures of Oregon.

Wednesday: Pervasive and enduring
Thursday: Defiant
Friday: Resigns, but still defiant
After her time at Jason Lee's Methodist Mission and other activity in the Oregon Territory, in 1854 Margaret Jewett Bailey published a hard-to-classify book, Ruth Rover. The blurb for OSU's modern edition is typical and subtly discounts it, stressing it as "a novel" and using the lightly condescending rhetoric of "unique and provocative":
This autobiographical novel, first published in 1854, is generally considered the first novel written and published in the Pacific Northwest. Bailey provides a unique and provocative view of many prominent figures in early Oregon history.
It's not just "unique and provocative" like she was stirring the pot and making trouble. That's how we dismiss claims by "difficult" women. The books' claims are likely very true. In this last year of #metoo, it is increasingly clear that we should look past the "fiction" tag of Ruth Rover and believe it as essentially true. The accent should be on autobiography and the default assumption should be that it is true. We should believe Margaret Jewett Bailey. It is unfair not to.