Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Art Commission, Downtown Advisory Board, Streets and Bridges, Planning Commission

Whether it's because of spring break coming up or just a general spring fecundity in projects, there's a flurry of meetings this week.

A commenter pointed out yesterday that we totally missed the Planning Commission's look at the proposed TSP amendments on the 18th.  Today at noon the Public Art Commission meets to look at the Minto Bridge and a few other public art projects.  Tonight Council meets to update Council Goals, a discussion postponed from the 10th.

And tomorrow the Downtown Advisory Board meets to look at the Boise Project in a meeting postponed from last week, and the Council Bridges and Bond Subcomittee meets.

(Buried at the end is a longer discussion of the TSP amendments at the Planning Commission.)

Public Art Commission

Where would the art go?
Via City of Salem and Greenworks
City staff will be talking about the nature and scope of the public art that is part of the Minto Brown Bridge project. I believe this is a 1% for art kind of thing, but I'm still working on getting information. Nope, see comment below. The Public Art Commission does not have a meeting packet for this meeting, and they are still getting settled as a public entity. (May update this post.)

There will also be talk about a sculpture project downtown (see discussion here from last month at Council) and a mural.

The Public Art Commission meets today, March 19th, from noon - 2pm in Council Chambers, Salem Civic Center (City Hall), 555 Liberty St. SE.

Council Goals - postponed

Council Goals on Transportation (January 2014)
click to enlarge
City Council meets tonight postponed again to talk about and update Council Goals. It's a high-level policy document that narrows the scope of short-term priorities for Council and City Staff.  The meeting was going to have taken place on the 10th, but was postponed to today.

See the post on Gil Penalosa for one idea on transportation in Council Goals.

The meeting will be at Center 50+, 2615 Portland Road NE, Wednesday, March 19, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Downtown Advisory Board

Proposed Marquis Care Facility on Boise Site
Last week's Downtown Advisory Board meeting on the project bond for the nursing home at the Boise project was postponed. (See the full discussion here. A new meeting packet has been posted, but I don't think it is materially different.)

The board meets Thursday the 20th from noon to 1:30pm in the offices of  CB|Two Architects, at Waterplace, 500 Liberty Street SE, Ste 100.

Council Streets and Bridges Subcommittee

Proposed bike park with Marine Drive (on left) and bridge alignment
The main item will be a staff presentation on the Marine Drive project in West Salem.  With money from the bond, the City proposes to purchase right-of-way for Marine Drive, a somewhat curvy road that essentially parallels Wallace Road as a by-pass and would connect with OR-22 and a Third Bridge. It would also go through several new housing developments and run through parts of Wallace Marine Park.

The committee meets Thursday, March 20, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. in the Public Works Conference Room 555 Liberty Street SE, Room 325.

Other Meetings

The Oregon Transportation Commission and Historic Landmarks Commission also meet Thursday the 20th (links go to discussions from earlier this week).

Planning Commission

Yesterday the Planning Commission met to talk about the proposed amendments to the Transportation System Plan, and we just totally missed that.

As far as the substance of the amendments go, they have been circulating for a while, and so there are no high-level surprises there, and some of them, like the findings of the Downtown Mobility Study, are unambiguously good moves in the right direction.  (Adoption will also require a hearing at Council, so there will be another opportunity for comment.)

Overview of TSP amendments
But there are some interesting matters of what we might say is style.

Here, for example, buried way at the end of hundreds of pages of documentation (there are seven separate documents!), is the analysis of the way these amendments meet Statewide Planning Goals:

Proposed amendments meet Statewide Planning Goal 6
This is generic, non-specific boilerplate that addresses the goal in abstract, but says little meaningfully specific. So sure,
The provision of enhanced bicycle and pedestrian facilities, such as the path connection between Bill Frey Drive NE and Hyacinth Street NE and increased access via new sidewalk and bike facilities, supports trips using modes of travel other than the automobile.
But "supports" here is something of a weasel word.  Does the path connection meaningfully "improve" things?  Not without a better connection across the parkway! There's plenty of window dressing that "supports" non-auto travel, but they are often more ornamental than substantive. They don't really "aim" at reducing energy consumption.  They're options, not guides - and there's no assessment loop to ensure our "aim" gets closer to its goal.  This is an "aim" only in the sense that when I shoot an arrow into the sky, I have "aimed" at the heavens.

Statewide Planning Goal 13
The findings collectively are an example of the way that we have policy language that is appropriate for transforming the way we plan transportation, energy, and land use - but politically insist on the weakest interpretations of that language.

If we just did what our plans say we should do, we would be making much better progress. This is why celebrating plan language is too often an empty gesture.

There's also some new policy language about redundancy and natural disaster.

New Policy Language on Redundancy and Disaster
The language here is ambiguous:  Are the chokepoints things like our smaller bridges leading to the Hospital?  Or is this a way to smuggle in support for a Third Bridge?  Will it help with better bridge maintenance and preservation?  Or is this to support expansion?

New Language on "Critical Routes"
Besides additions, there's also some deletions.

Deleting Language on Vacating Right-of-Way
Maybe it shouldn't be, but it's a little alarming that all of the language for evaluating the vacation of right-of-way is being struck without specifying the new language.  I don't understand at all why it has to be struck in this round and can't be struck instead concurrent with the adoption of the new language.  Behind this I'm inclined to see the problem with the cemetery alley vacation, and the way the City failed to interpret the plain meaning of the language.

This is an issue to watch.

Again, there are seven long documents in the staff report and there will certainly be other things to comment on. There's no way to review the materials briefly before a meeting.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Council Goals postponed again.

Will have another update on public art later this evening.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Re: the public art, City Staff clarify:

"The project is exempt from the ordinance applying to City buildings that requires funding be set aside specifically for public art. Any funding for an art project will need to be raised separately....We are working with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde to incorporate cultural and interpretive elements along the new trail on Minto Island."