Monday, November 24, 2014

Blind School Argument Scheduled at Land Use Board of Appeals

The Land Use Board of Appeals has published the dates for the oral arguments on the appeals on the Blind School property.

Both are scheduled for Thursday, December 4th.

Rushing v. City of Salem is at 9:00am, and South Central Association of Neighbors v. City of Salem is at 11:00am.

Recently there was an unexpected "opportunity" to contemplate the parking lot at the Hospital.

A huge proportion of the hospital campus is devoted to parking

Parking garage and lots from higher up
Aside from getting another view from inside and higher up, there wasn't much new: It was a lot of land devoted to cars and their storage. A very low form of land use, in truth, especially considering what had been there before.

Casual conversation and observation with staff was more interesting.

One thing that stands out is the number of healthcare providers who are strikingly overweight and who even are walking around with sodas or coffee drinks topped with a spray of whipped cream or something! This is not a new observation, of course - we've all seen the smokers outside of hospitals - but it speaks to the depth of the challenge in public health. There's a real system problem, and the medical sector's nowhere close to having it licked. It shouldn't surprise us that there's a problem with policies supporting walking and biking.

Conversation at one point turned incidentally to transportation - it wasn't forced; staff introduced the topic! - and a staff person who lived in West Salem mentioned that they used to live in Portland and knew of several staff who still commuted from Portland. It would be interesting to know how large is the proportion of hospital staff who commute from outside of Salem, and especially from Portland.

Because we don't price parking and build roads with property taxes and the whole set of petroleum subsidies, indirectly we subsidize long commutes and hydraulic autoism. Even with this, some staff have found the commute onerous, and the staff person mentioned some, presumably those who work consecutive 10- or 12-hour shifts, get apartments in Salem and use them as crash pads during the "work week" (however that is configured). So in the rent money, they are actually pricing the cost of the travel time and including the price of gas and maintenance and such in this.

There's also the matter of recruiting. You might recall a note a few years back about recruiting physicians:
Promoting the Salem area to incoming physicians can be challenging: The cost of living in Salem is comparable to other parts of the U.S.; reimbursements are lower in small-population states such as Oregon; and Salem's demographic size can be a tough sell to a new medical school graduate from Chicago, Seattle or New York.

"Salem looks very rural," [Dean Larsen, executive director of the Marion-Polk County Medical Society] said.
This probably cascades down to specialized nursing and other skilled staff.

So this is all anecdotal, and nothing for any firm conclusions, but it's interesting to catch glimpses of what things look like from the employee side. Even though it would be better for everyone not to drive so much, there's a powerful inertia in the system to support driving and long commutes.

In addition to the land use question - is it necessary to build so much parking? - there's also the internal question of changing employee culture to value being more active and to reduce autoism.

The hospital episode was also a chance to read Dorothy Sayer's mystery, Five Red Herrings. Bike and train transport are central to it, as is emergent car culture circa 1930.
...On his bike, as usual, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes, he's got his bicycle with him."

"I think there are more bicycles per head of the population in Kirkcudbright than in any town I ever struck," said [detective Lord Peter] Wimsey.

"That's because we're all so hardworking and poor."

"Just so. Nothing is so virtuous as a bicycle. You can't imagine a bicyclist committing a crime, can you?--except of course, murder or attempted murder."

"Why murder?"

"Well, the way they rush about in gangs on the wrong side of the road and never have any brakes or bells or lights. I call it murder, when they nearly have you into the ditch. Or suicide."
There you have it. The passage encapsulates many of the themes and memes we debate today, and it is interesting to see they'd also crystallized in Britain at this time.


Mike D said...

I saw in the SJ on the 21st that Salem's Cultural and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board is offering reimbursement grants of up to $2,000 for any Salem citizen with a plan for starting a city event or festival. I don't live in Salem so I can't apply but I thought that someone who does should apply for the grant with a tie in Howard Hall. i've thought that the building could be a Maker space where students and others can access equipment to design and build things that they can't on their own. Then this could develop into festivals and other tourism opportunities. It would also help develop new businesses in Salem while making the town seem less boring to outsiders.

Any takers?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Good idea!

Alas, there was a required pre-application meeting on the 19th, so it's too late now to start something for this funding cycle.

It'll be interesting to learn what projects arise out of the mini-grant process.