Sunday, April 13, 2014

City Council, April 14th - Boise Project Grant

Monday at Council doesn't really bring any transportation issues, but there are some interesting bits anyway.  The main items of interest are some additional information about the Boise project and the adoption of the Morningside Neighborhood Plan. There's also a note about an upcoming work session on the Civic Center and Police Station concepts.

Don't miss the camas!
There are additional details on the nursing home proposed for the Boise site. None of them seem like big, meaningful changes - just tweaks and details. In the staff report is a note about how the project grant would be funded:
A RDURA Project Grant is paid solely from the tax increment revenues generated from the new construction of the Development...

Because a Project Grant is paid from the tax increment revenues of a single project, it will not be paid if the project isn't completed, or if the project is completed but later proves unsuccessful, is abandoned, or destroyed.
Proposed Marquis Care Facility on Boise Site
So it looks like the grant will just recycle some or all of the tax increment and will not draw on the tax increment from other properties.

There's a slightly amended purchase amendment for the park parcel at Boise.  Previously we highlighted the way the project bond/grant provided an out, but it's also striking that difficulty in negotiating the pathway connection could provide an out (which was discussed in the paper a little):
6.4 Pedestrian Connectivity. The Seller's agreement to sell the Premises is expressly conditioned on the parties' execution of a binding agreement setting forth the extent and scope of the pedestrian connectivity work, and the necessary cost sharing for this element on the redevelopment of the Remainder property. If the Parties are unable to reach agreement on the extent, scope and cost sharing on terms deemed adequate by Seller, then Seller may, on written notice to Purchaser terminate this Agreement and it shall be null and void for all purposes
Note that the cost sharing arrangement talks about the seller rather than the City making the call.  Considering the City is making a number of concessions through tax abatements and other subsidies, it seems like the City ought to be able to ask of the seller a fair bit, and I worry that the seller will not invest adequately in this quasi-public space. Hopefully this is just a formality in the contract terms.

As far as changes from the first agreement go, in addition to the ones called out in the amendment, which concerns the shift from "project bond" to "project grant," I see two more that don't seem to be called out:  The non-refundable earnest money goes up from $200K to $400K, and the temporary construction easement goes up to two years from one year.  I believe the construction easement has already been discussed at Council (but I can't find that link at the moment), but I don't remember seeing anything about the change in the earnest money amount. Just something perhaps to file away. I didn't read the whole contract closely, though, and maybe you will see other items of interest.

The City also published the site/design review for the first phase apartments at Boise on the south block. (Earlier notes on it here.)

Also on the agenda is adoption of the Morningside Neighborhood Plan. (See here for some thoughts on an earlier draft.)

Other Stuff

Behind the Park and Ride lot at Wallace and Brush College, the Tom Moyer Theaters LLC wants to donate a land ort left over from other development. The report calls it an extension of an existing riparian zone, and the City will use it as undeveloped park land it looks like - perhaps for stormwater filtering. There's not much in the staff report about how or why this makes good sense.

There's stuff about annexation policy.  I really don't get annexation, so maybe readers can chime in?  Some people say annexation is almost always bad and that the cost to extend services is almost always greater than the incoming property tax generated by the parcels annexed. But how is it that urban and suburban development on unicorporated county land is paying its way anyway?  How does all that unincorporated county land on the east side around Lancaster, how does all that work, since it's virtually indistinguishable from city land? It has seemed to me that the problem is less with annexation and more with how much development we permit on unincorporated land in the first place, before annexation becomes a relevant possibility.

Finally, Councilor Bennett asks for a review of lighting policies and dark sky guidelines.
I am not asking for any limit on commercial lighting or street lighting. I am particularly concerned about developing a set of standards for residential area lighting similar to our ordinances on noise in our neighborhoods. As we have worked toward greater and greater density in our inner city neighborhoods, we also have to recognize that issues like noise and lighting can have real impacts on people's quality of life, particularly when they become intrusive.
Eek, we live in a big town with other people! It will be interesting to see what comes of this - and what are the real problems.  Is this about inappropriate and unwanted 24/7 grow lights or something? What's going on here?  I worry this could be or become a screen for attempts to keep Salem low-density with car-dependent development, less about dark sky than about expanses of dark space between buildings. "Intrusive" should not be code for "not suburban."

The Urban Renewal Agency lists administrative purchases, and in it are "Consultant of Record" contracts, by which work on the Civic Center/Police Station project was likely farmed out.  The architectural firms are: Arbuckle Costic, Carlson/Veit, CB|Two, DLR Group, Pivot, and Studio 3.  (There are several traffic engineering firms as well, of course.)

Work Sessions and Budget Committee

WORK SESSIONS – Held in the Library Anderson Rooms unless otherwise noted
  • Joint Work Session with Salem Public Art Commission  (CD) ~ Monday, May 12, 5:30 p.m.
  • Police Facility / Civic Center Concept: Next Steps ~ Wednesday, May 21, 5:30 p.m.
BUDGET COMMITTEE MEETINGS - Held in the Council Chambers
  • Budget Committee Review of FY 2014-15 Budget ~ Wednesday, April 16, 23, and 30, 6:00 p.m.
  • Budget Committee Recommends FY 2014-15 Budget to City Council ~ Wednesday, May 7, 6:00 p.m.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

I really appreciate your posts about upcoming City Council meetings.

One comment on the land donation. I am pretty sure that the donation is made because the land can't be used and it does require some upkeep if it is a riparian area. Donating it to the City probably gains a tax deduction. I have seen this done before. All good!

Also, the issue with annexation is more about making sure that the infrastructure standards within the UGB are the same as within the City limits. Right now the area east of Lancaster is mostly below our current city standards. The tax revenue would not come close to bringing this area up to standards.

It has been a long-standing issue and some work has been done in the last decade to try to get the County and City standards to be the same, but there is so much old stuff there.

An example is the water lines. Did you know that there is no way to get water to Cordon Road area. It would require putting in a main line all the way from I-5 and bring it down either State or Center Street. And much of the infrastructure that is in between is substandard. We are talking about $20 to $40 million of work in that part alone!

Of course this is true of a lot of large annexations in the past. There are areas of South Salem annexed in the 1960's that never got their sewer/water lines upgraded either. Some are still waiting for sidewalks!

Jeff Schumacher said...

Thanks for posting all the updates!

Regarding Councilor Bennett's request for a review of lighting policies, I guess I don't see anything there that is code for decreased density. Rather, by having better lighting and dark sky policies, it would seem to encourage density.

As someone who lives just off Commercial St., I can attest to the problems from commercial lighting that isn't directional, is too bright, or is just plain unnecessary. There are few things more annoying that having a bedroom window bathed in fluorescent ambient light because some neighbor has no regard for when or how his property is illuminated.

It seems to me that anyone who values downtown living or higher neighborhood density would value a set of City ordinances that prohibit nuisance lighting.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Speaking of dark skies, totally missed the opportunity to plug the lunar eclipse, and hopefully the clouds won't obscure it!

Thanks for the thoughts about the thoughts on "nuisance lighting"!

Also thanks for the thoughts on annexation and county land!

Perhaps I should have included the six policy guidelines: Approve the following...for the processing of annexations in 2014: (1) include all adjacent right-of-way in the annexation territory; (2) include adjacent properties and potential enclave properties in an annexation territory only when the property owner and the petitioner agree to it; (3) require the petitioner to include the entire lot or parcel of record in an annexation territory; (4) initiate annexation of all eligible enclaves; (5) allow petitioner to retain their farm-use tax deferral status; and (6) allow annexation to be scheduled for the next general election regardless of a scheduled special election being available sooner.

Any comments on any of these?