Sunday, October 21, 2012

City Council, October 22nd - Pioneer Alley Ordinance

The ordinance language that will enact the alley vacation just north of the cemetery is out and, perhaps as is consistent with the nature of an ad hoc compromise, it seems on the surface a little incoherent. Pragmatically this may not matter, but as an instance of policy it makes me a little queasy.

According to the ordinance, the reason for the Oct 8th hearing was not to consider the matters identified by LUBA in the remand order, but was
reopened for the limited purpose of recieivng evidence and tesimony addressed to the content of ex parte contacts....The City Councilors disclosed on the record ex parte contacts, including a site visit after the June 25th hearing, and e-mails to the City Council regarding the proposed vacation, not previously disclosed, were introduced into the record of the hearing....the City Council was advised not to consider testimony that was not responsive to the ex parte contacts.
Perhaps those closer to the matter will know more about this, but making ex parte contacts the primary reason to reopen the hearing might seem disingenuous.  Certainly that could be a part of the reason, but the primary reason is because of the LUBA remand, isn't it?

Further, it is painfully clear that the City is preserving access under duress - and fencing things with legal language so it is a limited decision - rather than voluntarily finding this a wonderful opportunity to create connections for non-auto travel and establishing precedent for future connectivity needs:
The City Council, upon consideration of the evidence and testimony...finds...There are no approved or adopted plans in the Salem TSP, or any other planning document adopted by City Council, for use of this section of alley right-of-way for public vehicle, bicycle or pedestrian access...The section of right of way proposed for vacation is not part of, or near, a planned transportation improvement. However, the right-of-way does have the potential to be used as a pedestrian connection between the neighborhoods abutting Pioneer and City Vew Cemetery. Council finds that limited pedestrian access...may be appropriate, but that access for bicycles and other modes of transportation is not appropriate due to the solemn character of the Cemetery....The easement should be limited to pedestrians only and not other modes of transportation."
Again, as a pragmatic compromise, it is reasonable to say to people that if you are going so fast on your bike you can't dismount here, then you belong on Commercial or High streets for higher speed bike travel.  But as a matter of policy, it belittles people on bikes and bike transportation by ascribing to them an exuberance incompatible with the solemn character of a cemetery. This is what incompatible exuberance looks like, and I don't think they're on bike:
For comparison, it is interesting to see the City purchase a parcel near Pringle Creek for stream restoration. As part of the Watershed Protection and Preservation Grant program, the City intends to buy 2 acres of land
zoned Single Family Residential (RS)...[and] used for wetland mitigation for the subdivision. The property owner has no use for the property and is agreeable to selling it to the City. The City has an interest in acquiring the property and to secure access and control for the future.
Here, apparently the City has a more agreeable partner in the prospective seller, but the policy goals and actions appear on the surface pretty clear, and the language seems direct and unambiguous.

There is an interesting snafu on the collection of downtown parking permits.
Inadvertently, elimination of the discount for the purchase of parking permits in bulk was not implemented on April1, 2012, and twelve (12) downtown businesses continued to receive the bulk discount in their monthly permit costs....This loss of revenue from April1, 2012, through September 30, 2012, would be $17,979.90.
And the minutes from the Oct 15th meeting show the discussion of downtown urban renewal funds for the Minto Bridge and Path was removed from the agenda. It feels like there's some maneuvering and politicking going on.

(John Shunk Zieber was U. S. Surveyor General for the State of Oregon, worked for Asahel Bush, and as Eugenia Zieber Bush's father was Asahel's father-in-law.)

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