Monday, September 8, 2014

Looking Forward Meets to Consider Draft Plan; Also, Council and SCAN

You will probably not recall much about the Planning Commission's review of Bike and Walk Salem, but the Hearings Officer's recent decision on the Blind School sheds an interesting light on a small moment in it.

From the January 2012 meeting at which the Commission delayed action and continued the hearing to March:
Commissioner Levin summed up an important part of the sentiment when he said that he wanted to see more "protection of private property rights." Representatives from the Home Builders Association, Americans for Prosperity, Willamette University, the Chamber of Commerce, and some individuals asked several times for "mandatory" or "mandating" language to be replaced by advisory, recommending, or encouraging language. In short, the focus for many seemed to be a hope for assurances that the plan remain aspirational and optional - not something that the City actually intends to do!
Here's part of the Blind School decision:

policies and objectives stated within the Transportation [System] Plan do not apply...because these standards have not been expressly incorporated within the Salem Revised Code

At the Planning Commission, City Staff could have said, "hey, you don't have to worry, nothing in this plan is going to be binding; it's all advisory and recommending no matter what language we put in."

But instead we went through the process as if language actually does matter. It was like another moment in "Public Participation Theatre." 

But in fact based on the Hearings Officer's analysis, everything about the plan is aspirational and optional!

With that in mind, as a commenter pointed out the other day, the NEN-SESNA "Looking Forward" process to write a new neighborhood plan is also looking increasingly like a polite fiction.

If these things can't actually shape development, what really are they good for?

Tuesday, September 9th at 6:30 PM, Looking Forward meets to review the draft plan. They will meet at the Court Street Christian Church (1699 Court St NE).


The next day, Wednesday the 10th, SCAN meets and will also talk about the Hearings Officer's decision on the Blind School development and what might be the next steps.

They'll also talk some about the "mitigation" activities for the new bridge over Shelton Ditch on Winter Street. (Down towards the bottom of this Council note is more on these mitigation actions.)

The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday, September 10th at 6:30 p.m. in the South Salem High School Library at 1910 Church Street SE.


Whoops! Council meets tonight and missed the Council agenda this weekend. Bullets with links to staff reports! (See the SJ piece, too. This post could be updated midday if something else comes to mind.)

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