Saturday, February 9, 2013

City Council, February 11th

On the Council agenda for Monday is the announcement of the next Third Bridge work session. Council has moved the meeting to nearer the Highland neighborhood, and to an area and building that shows off the kernel of a walkable commercial district. This is streetcar logic!

And despite some concerns about this site, it may be a propitious location to think better about non-auto mobility. There's also a field trip scheduled for before the meeting. (More to come on that, surely.)

There probably won't be a grill
but hopefully more open-minded discussion
Interesting also is talk about a proposed fee for street lights.

Work Sessions

Salem River Crossing – To be held at Broadway Commons, 1300 Broadway Street NE, Magnolia Room #305 ~ Tuesday, February 19, Field Trip: 3:30 p.m. and Work Session 5:30 p.m.

Parking Task Force ~ Tentative: Monday, April 8, 5:30 p.m.

Proposed Fee for Transportation Funding – Street Light Fee
Monday, 5:30 p.m. – Library Anderson Rooms

Infrastructure and Funding

The Urban Renewal Agency has a report on Urban Renewal financial impacts.  This year the urban renewal districts in Salem will cost other entities like Chemeketa, the Salem-Keizer School District, Marion County, and Cherriots a total of $9,110,927.  It would be so very interesting to have an impartial review of the URAs.  As talk about closing the Pringle Creek URA suggests, it is not clear the urban renewal districts are actually adding value above and beyond inflation.  At the same time, the kinds of projects the agency is funding are very different from those projects in the 70s and 80s.

There's a project to add to the System Development Charges eligible list.  A third bridge should be added to it!  If the current developments in West Salem serve as a baseline for a bridge system that is still functional, if occasionally irritating, new development above and beyond this baseline should bear the cost of the bridge.  Isn't that the idea behind SDCs?  But our current system externalizes this cost. 

Proposed Front St Ramp and Parcel
Back in mid-January, No 3rd Bridge advocates argued at Council that parts of Riverfront Park should not be transferred from the Urban Renewal Agency to the City of Salem proper. 

The matter is back at Council.  Staff argue that
None of the Willamette River crossing alternatives being considered by the City Council envision using the subject Parcel.
The point of the No 3rd Bridge team is that a lower-build cluster of recommendations from the Bridgehead Study should be implemented first. These are, as the staff report dances around, not formally part of any build alternative being analyzed in the draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The staff report also says that bioswales are planned for this parcel. 

For people who bike, the proposal by No 3rd Bridge should occasion some pause. The free-flowing off-ramp to Front Street would eliminate the multi-use path on the Center Street Bridge, a separated facility that isn't very good, but yet provides the most direct access to Edgwater and points significantly west of Wallace Road. Even after the Union St. Railroad Bridge was opened, half of those who biked previously on the Center St. Bridge continued to do so, even with the much prettier railroad bridge connection.

Still, the big picture goal is to kill the big bridge, and until we have success there, this potential disagreement over detials is a nit.  If a free-flow off-ramp is a good idea or necessary, there might be ways to reconfigure biking connections to Edgewater that would represent an improvement on the current path.

There are two parking items.  Staff proposes to push out the reporting date for the Parking Task Force, and also proposes to adjust parking permit fees.  These look roughly to double, which would be consistent with the hourly increase from $.75 to $1.50. 

There's an update on an FAA airport grant and the first reading of the new Airport Master Plan

That tricky sewer easement issue in West Salem will be continued to February 25th and Council wants to reopen the hearing for new testimony

Finally, the City has a report on official legislative positions.   One interesting note is on HB 2276, which would increase the gas tax.  Within the city, the administrative/finance group opposes any increase of the gas tax.  Public Works, which depends on the gas tax for road repair and construction, is apparently silent on the matter.  There are also lots of land use bills, which indirectly would have consequences for transportation.  HB 2601 would broaden the use of photos from red light cameras gets support.  (There may be more to say on these bills in the next legislative update post.)

Other Stuff

There a new round of proposed annexations and a curious proposal to allow the City to perform the duties of the Economic Improvement District instead of contracting to a third party, which is currently the Salem Downtown Partnership. Makes you go hmm...


Anonymous said...


City of Salem Terminates Contract with Salem Downtown Partnership

Salem, Ore - The City of Salem has issued a termination notice to Salem Downtown Partnership for services related to the Salem Downtown Economic Improvement District. The agreement provides for economic improvements for downtown, including planning and promotion of activities in support of downtown businesses, marketing, beautification and other improvements, and has been in place since January 2012. The Salem Downtown Partnership also received a 30-day termination notice on the contract to manage funds under the Downtown Parking District.

City Manager Linda Norris met with Partnership representatives on Feb. 20 to inform them of the termination notice. This action follows concerns raised about the organization’s stability and past and future capacity to perform services, complete projects, and meet reporting requirements.

Salem’s downtown plays a vital role in community livability and job creation. Salem City Council adopted the ordinance creating the Salem Downtown Economic Improvement District in January 2008. The annual levy collects approximately $200,000 per year from property owners within the economic improvement district boundaries. Funds can be used for improvement activities, business recruitment, marketing and promotion, public events, cleaning, maintaining public spaces, safety, and other economic improvement activities.

Although the City found it necessary to provide this notice, City Council and staff remain committed to the success of the downtown and downtown businesses. “The City will assume interim responsibility for implementing important activities and services to support and promote Salem’s downtown,” City Manager Norris explained. In the very near future the City Manager will contact Downtown stakeholders to hear what services are the most critical to them and to develop a plan for moving forward.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Hmmm...indeed! Very interesting. Wonder if the SJ will do any independent reporting on it. It's funny they seem to have been caught by surprise. Surely there have been rumblings and murmurs...

Anonymous said...

More in today's paper:

"The Downtown Partnership’s 2013 executive board resigned Feb. 4, according to former SDP Executive Director Kathy Henderson, who was hired by SDP on Nov. 13, and fired by the new board on Feb. 11."

It's fascinating the mass resignation prompted no reporting!

Anonymous said...

On Council agenda is a note from Mayor Peterson:

"I move that the City Council remove Carole Smith from the Downtown Advisory Board
property owner/business owner position with a term expiring 12/31/2013."

This may very well be related to the termination of the Downtown Partnership.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for all the SDP links!