Sunday, September 9, 2012

City Council, September 10th - Bike Plan; Pretty Words, Pedestrian Deeds

The hearing on The bike plan is continued from August 13th. The current staff recommendation is not to approve the plan, but to ask Council whether to move forward. This new tentativeness should be alarming.

Not sure there's more to say than this:

Other Stuff

Minto Bridge and Path

A couple of updates on Minto Bridge and Path, an update on funding (or the lack thereof), and a note about a new grant opportunity from Oregon Parks and Recreation.

Via City of Salem and Greenworks
West Salem Redevelopment

There's an update on the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board and it includes a description of the Second Street project:
Second Street Reconstruction. The project will turn the unimproved street with a gravel median into a pedestrian friendly environment with parking facilities to support mixed use development on Second Street from Rosemont to Gerth Streets.
We say one thing, but do entirely another: It's a parking lot with sidewalks, not a pedestrian friendly environment with parking.

North Downtown Housing Study

Something new - shiny and interesting! - is a proposed study for the North Downtown area. You may recall the cluster of studies and proposals for the North Downtown and Waterfront area done by the students in the Sustainable Cities Iniative.
Concept view north, up Liberty at Union
Liberty Plaza SCI Concept
The City now proposes a study on north downtown housing and investment:
The Investment Strategy is designed to remove some of the perceived market risks associated with new housing by providing data that confirms the appropriate number and type of housing units, identifies key locations for housing and recommends zoning changes, infrastructure improvements, and other public actions needed to incent new investments in housing. The north downtown area is viewed as the area most likely to draw significant private investment in the near-term because of its large inventory of unconstrained property that can be re-developed.
As background, such a study was identified in the Downtown Strategic Action Plan.  (From Page A-10 of the appendices to the Downtown Strategic Action Plan):
The North Downtown Investment Strategy will: 1) identify the appropriate range and mix of housing types at varying affordability levels (through a market analysis), 2) identify access, circulation, and parking improvements necessary to serve the neighborhood for vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians, 3) identify locations for open space amenities such as small parks and trails, 4) identify catalyst development opportunity sites, 5) recommend zoning changes to encourage market-supportable development, and 6) develop an implementation strategy to guide public actions and to create incentives for development. Incentives may include the public funding of parks and open space, the construction of critical infrastructure (roads and utilities), policy tools (development fee structure, tax abatement, expedited permitting), and coordinated marketing.
In light of the difficulties with the Rivers, the Meridian (the website domain seems to have expired even!), and the apparent stalling of the Boise redevelopment project, you have to ask what another study will accomplish.

At the same time, as the rendering of Liberty above suggests, without seriously dealing with the messed up road system in downtown, one that currently devotes way too much public right-of-way to speeding cars and car storage, it will continue to be difficult to attract people to live downtown. But right now we are just playing with our food, pushing it around the plate.

People will want to live downtown because they can walk and bike, not because they want to drive everywhere downtown! This will require substantive change, not changes around the edges with prettier signs, a few bulb-outs, and other largely cosmetic alterations.

The Rest

Council will also see reports on an approved parking variance for the the warehouse on Front street at D (see here for more).

The big apartment development on 23rd Street has been withdrawn.

And more on ending the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal Plan.

Upcoming Hearings and Work Sessions:
  • Re-opened Hearing: City-Initiated Vacation of Right-of-Way for a Portion of Alley Located Along the North Property Line of Pioneer and City View Cemeteries ~ Monday, October 8
  • Salem River Crossing Hearing ~ Monday, November 26
  • North Broadway/High Street Parking Management Plan – Joint work session with Planning Commission ~ Tentative: Monday, October 8, 5:30 p.m.
  • Comprehensive Parks System Master Plan – Joint work session with Planning Commission ~ Tuesday, November 13, 5:30 p.m.
  • Salem River Crossing ~ Work session, Monday, November 26, 5:30 p.m.

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