Sunday, June 10, 2012

City Council, June 11th - Second Street Lot and Downtown

Lots of things at Council on Monday. First off the date for the Bike and Walk Salem is back to August 13th.

Lots of downtown details on the agenda. (It's also sunny, and I have "third bridge fatigue."  So this will be a rather thin Council summary.)

Transportation Infrastructure

A proposed change, a reduction, to the required clearance of bridges over the 100 foot flood level. (Maybe an engineer can help out with the significance of this?) 

Right of way acquisition for the intersection widening at Rosemount and Edgewater, and more interestingly for Second Street NW.

You may recall that the City could have chosen to make Second Street a bike boulevard for moving people (remember there's an abandoned railroad in the middle of it and it would connect to the Union St. Railroad Bridge), but instead chose to make it a parking lot for car storage. It is infuriating that this now requires the acquisition of private property!

A rails-to-trails and bike boulevard concept would not require additional acquisition of private property and would not involve the city subsidizing private car storage.

This is far from the most important item on Council's agenda, but it's maybe the most telling.

Not transportation infrastructure, but interesting is a report about problems getting an easement for a sewer to serve a 100+ unit apartment complex. Is the City this zealous about non-auto connectivity to serve apartment housing, hmm???


Councilor Bennett will propose a special task force to study downtown parking in more detail. The downtown parking district budget ($2.7 million) and tax . And an announcement about a future ordinance bill to clarify promotional activities that are eligible for the downtown parking fund.

The annual assessment for the downtown Economic Improvement District. Also, since the Liberty Parkade has been vacant, and the welcome center concept died, the art association will use it temporarily for an art installation and "project space" this summer.

In his report DAB chair Jim Bauer notes the increase in vacancies downtown and make some suggestions. He notes "there is difficulty finding patience for waiting for studies to unfold" and expressed concerns that "increased building contributing to public perception of deterioration in the downtown core." (So how about we make it easier for people to get downtown and to move inside downtown?  You know, like how about some mobility choice - to walk, bike, bus, carpool?  Especially to walk!)

Budgets and Fees

The City's $486M budget for fiscal years 2012-13 and Planning/Development fee schedule.

Low-Income Housing

And perhaps a matter that deserves a more detailed look from someone interested in housings. The City's housing agency is looking to sell off some properties having a backlog of deferred maintenance. As part of the criteria for the selection, they are looking at commuting times and costs - presumably to retain more centrally located properties and to deaccession properties that are isolated or on the periphery. An independent look at these from a non-auto transportation perspective might be a useful check!

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