Monday, May 13, 2013

City Council Tonight on Third Bridge - Hearing Continued to June 24th (corrected)

Tonight's Public Hearing brought irony, unintended humor, a poem, and one more neighborhood association in opposition, to the bridge question.  It also brought a 45 day continuation to June 24th for more written testimony and time to review project alternatives. As Councilor Bennett said "This is not ready for prime time."

It did not start off auspiciously.  Mayor Peterson scolded the audience and forbid the showing of signs.

(If that's not a violation of the first amendment, it sure is an instance of being a heavy-weight and squelching dissent!)

Here's some slides from the Staff Report with brief response.

Misrepresentations in the "Salem Alternative"

The council proposal, 4D-lite, has got a brand identity, the "Salem Alternative."  It's pitched as something for the community, the whole community.

How is a five-laner a "minimization"?
Why are we building this path if we plan to obliterate it in a few years?
(click to enlarge)
The greenwash:  It's not bike-friendly

For people on bike the proposed bridge creates
more problems than it solves

Brief Observations on some Speakers

Through several speakers, it is interesting to contrast the brevity and vague generality of the pro-bridge speakers with the detail and specificity of bridge critics.  Too much of the support is "we need a bridge because we need a bridge."

However!  One argument that was new, at least here:  A realtor in favor of the bridge cited the example of Corvallis. Now, that's a new data point worth researching! He claimed people feared a by-pass and that once it was built, downtown Corvallis is thriving. Interesting, and possibly a real contribution to debate.  There are certainly things Salem can learn from Corvallis - whether it is directly an argument for a giant bridge and highway is doubtful, but its example might well enrich the debate and point in some fruitful directions.

(And in what may be a piece of stunning irony, someone I believe may be the president of US Bank talked about process and wanting to see process play out.  Can anyone confirm this?)

One bridge critic mentioned the google car. And while many are dubious about the car itself, the point is that we are on the cusp of pretty significant changes in transportation technology and transportation attitudes. Trying to guess now on a facility for two or three decades from now is quite possibly futile. There are going to be changes we can't imagine. We should be thinking about small, nimble projects, not big giant projects that are going to be hard to keep responsive to changes in transportation technology.  The google car, more than the fact that young people aren't driving so much, is maybe a better way to explain that things are changing, and the giant bridge and highway is a 20th century solution.  That was a good image.

Another person read a poem - protest and critique Dr. Seuss style! (And the Mayor allowed applause.)

The CAN-DO chair reported they took a vote on a resolution in favor of "no build."  That's eight neighborhood associations now!

400 ppm CO2!  That awful milestone was referenced - but how much does that register with Council?  Councilor Dickey asks about the car-dependent growth in north Salem near Kale, that that area has been growing, and not closer-in.  Not sure where she was going with it, though.

One of the final speakers from the pro-bridge group had meaningful observations about framing.  For many, the bridge = growth, flourishing.  I've seen this also in comments on the SJ.  "We need to take Salem into the 21st century."  Making the case that the streetcar-scaled development of 1875-1925 is actually a model we should pay a lot more attention to, that the way to the most prosperous future involves significant servings of the past, is complicated, and critics of the bridge have not been as successful in framing their vision of prosperity and vitality - so there's a job we all have in rhetoric and framing.

Another speaker points out that no one could come to Council who relies on the bus.  The buses don't run this late (just before 10pm).

And just before ten o'clock, it threatened to end inauspiciously   The Mayor moved for a 45 minute extension and the motion failed 4-4.  She thought it passed and the City Attorney had to correct her.  So there were heated words and a new motion for 30 minutes extended the meeting past 10pm and included a recess of 8 minutes or so.

A Hilarious Nit

And though it's trivial, I'm pretty sure City Staff ripped off one of the Breakfast Blog's images!  The cropping and framing is exactly the same!

City Staff Rip off Breakfast Blog!
From November
Now, it's a clip of the paper, in a sense in turn "ripped off" from the paper. So it's not like there's some element of intellectual property or original content to claim. The image is out there floating on the internets.  You can have it and use it.

But what is particularly amusing is that a pro-bridge party is appropriating material without attribution from a contra-bridge party. That's funny. Can't they come up with their own imagery!

Anyway, it's flattering that when the City needs an image - it's to the Breakfast Blog they turn!  Any time, any time.  Happy to help out.


Jim Scheppke said...

Great coverage SBOB. Wow, this was posted before I got home from the Council meeting. Justin Much from the S-J will probably miss the deadline for tomorrow's paper. Glad we can count on you.

However, there is one correction to your post. Councilor Bennett changed his motion to continue the hearing until the June 24th Council meeting, not 45 days.

Thanks for all your great posts on the 3rd bridge issue in recent days.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks! Updated with correction.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Thanks so much for the work you are doing with your blog to document this process, and in particular your work collecting the data that shows we do not need this bridge. Kudos to you for doing all this essential work.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't seen it, you might find yesterday's report release from USPIRG, which documents a continuing decline in driving among Americans, useful to your work!

Keep it up.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Already posted a note on the PIRG report this morning!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

I don't know that this merits a separate note, but according to the staff report for Monday,

"At this time, staff does not think that the proposed modifications to Alternative 4D will require preparation of a Supplimental Draft EIS."

I don't see how this would be possible, but that's what they think.