Holy Smokes! With Commissioner Gallagher absent, it looked like things might be set for another postponement. Even worse, as the meeting opened, it seemed Commissioners and staff might be tired of the matter, and I had an overwhelming sense of DOOM.
But in a very pleasant surprise indeed, last night the Planning Commission voted 5-0 to accept the current round of revisions and staff clarifications and to send the Plan to Council with a recommendation to adopt!
This time around there was no outright opposition and most of the critique came from people who wanted to strengthen the plan. 15 people by my count offered testimony, and almost all of it was encouraging.
So the plan might have even gathered a little bit of momentum!
And we can't stop now.
At Council it may be possible to strengthen it, and we should certainly ask Council to move aggressively to implement parts of it. So talk it up to your friends, and let's plan on packing Council!
Current events seemed to help prepare the way.
No one remarked on this directly, but the departure of Holiday Retirement seemed to be in the back of people's minds as they talked about making Salem attractive to people who might wish to move here. People and business we might like to recruit are interested in walking and biking, of course!
It also seemed relevant that gas prices were already creeping up - walking and biking are cheap mobility, and it's just incomprehensible that we wouldn't want leverage that as much as we can.
In their testimony several people also circled back to objections and comments from January and returned with answers. Jeff talked about the decline in licensed drivers among younger people.
From the West Salem Neighborhood Association Nick encouraged the City to think more about workforce and "captive" riders, those for whom riding bikes was not a discretionary choice. The association also recommended more stress on traffic calming and prioritizing bike and foot traffic over car traffic in some places. They also emphasized crossing treatments at busy roads.
Angela, a self-identified "interested and concerned" Mom, asked for more separated facilities and with a strong personal appeal underscored that while she's ready to ride more, she's not yet comfortable riding more. She wants to feel safe.
Jeremy talked about terrible twos: the problems dual-turn lanes pose for people in crosswalks on busy roads like Commercial and Lancaster, and about the inconvenience of two-phase crossing cycles on Front Street. He also asked for more consideration for operation and maintenance.
Myles talked about going to school and independence.
Melody and Jim talked about having moved to Salem from Corvallis three weeks ago and wanting to be able to bike more.
With few questions and little debate, Commissioner Levin moved to accept amendments and recommend passage to Council. Commissioner Goss seconded.
So as it turned out, the Chicken Littles (among whom I must count myself!) were wrong and it's on to the next step!