Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Open Houses on Unified Development Code and West Salem Business District Wednesday - Updated

Two open houses on Wednesday the 12th are worth your consideration!

Unified Development Code

The Unified Development Code "Clean-up" project was ostensibly "policy-neutral" and introduced no changes in zoning, code, or other stuff. It was purely for efficiency, rationality, and simplicity.


They're moving on to the next phase, which does embrace policy changes.
[S]o major policy issues that fell outside the scope of the project were set aside in a "bucket list" to be reviewed later. Now that the UDC has been adopted, we are considering how to best address the outstanding policy issues....

Attached is the list of outstanding policy issues. Please review the list and pass it along to others. At the Nov. 12 open house, community members will get the opportunity to weigh in on the issues and vote for their top priorities! We will also ask the community if there are other policy issues that should be added to the list.

Your input will help City staff prioritize the policy issues and make recommendations to City Council on how to best proceed. We hope to see you at the open house.
The open house is Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Pringle Hall (606 Church Street SE).

Here's an amusing parallel - though fans of Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek may go "yeah, yeah."

Some of you might know the work of Robert Darnton, an historian and librarian working mostly in 18th century France. His most recent book, The Censors at Work, looks at censorship in 18th century France, 19th century British rule in India, and 20th century East Germany.

It's getting good reviews and in the New York Times, a reviewer points to this observation about East Germany:
Darnton was able to meet censors in person: a man and a woman who worked for the state and had never before met an American. They disliked the word “censorship.” What they did, they explained, was “planning,” since in a socialist system literature was “planned” like everything else.
Isn't "censorship" in a way what our planning codes are designed to accomplish?

Developers have get their plans past the censors, right?! The censors delete things or add conditions.

So why, if we have so many codes and so much zoning and such a rigorous planning and development review process - why do we still get so much crap?

One the one hand, the planning and codes are designed to ensure that we don't have cheap, unsafe, dirty, ugly roads and buildings.

They ensure we don't have cheap fire-traps for buildings, don't have to worry that a noisy and polluting factory will pop up suddenly next door.

But they also ensure we have vast surface parking lots and strip malls along busy arterials. They aren't enough of an ugly filter. They also ensure low-density development that is too boring and empty to keep people strolling and shopping and talking and ensure vast tracts of single-purpose, single-family housing that gets hoovered out every morning by car.

The censorship of planning ensures dullness, monotony, inefficiency, and listlessness.

The metaphor isn't perfect, of course, because no matter how artistically thrilling a cheap fire-trap might be, it's a good thing we have fire codes now. Triangle Factory isn't that remote. So a laissez-faire free-for-all isn't the right answer, either.

Livability Fact Sheet from AARP
But even the AARP is looking to have more conversation about the benefits of "form based code."

They say
Communities chose to address the problem by separating incompatible uses and limiting residential density. That's why we now have commercial and office buildings in one part of town, houses in another, retail and restaurants in a specific area and a lot of high-speed (though often congested) vehicle roadways as the sole way for people to travel from one location to another....

Because traditional zoning rules often promote low-density development and limited “one-size-fits-all” housing choices, the policies encourage excessive land consumption and automobile dependency.

Such zoning can stand in the way of communities seeking to create vibrant, walkable neighborhoods that give residents the option of walking to a store, park or work. Some zoning ordinances can even interfere with a person working from home or operating a home-based business.
On the current version of the bucket list are things like
  • Consider establishing different development standards for older residential neighborhoods to make additions and remodeling to existing older properties easier. Current code standards are suited to new patterns of development rather than traditional development patterns found in older neighborhoods.
  • Consider establishing development standards for multiple family development on small lots. Within the City, there are many smaller properties that have been zoned multiple family, but because the existing multiple family development standards are more tailored to larger multiple family developments, applying the standards to multiple family development on small lots can be difficult.
Plus lots of other stuff. Since there's so much tree- and even branch-level detail, it's really hard to see the forest.

One thing missing? The improved bike parking requirements from Bike and Walk Salem!

The open house is Wednesday, Nov. 12 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Pringle Hall (606 Church Street SE).

West Salem Business District Action Plan

Announcement from Winter Urban Development Newsletter
There's also an open house for the West Salem Business District Action Plan, but the City still hasn't posted any new materials on it, so there's also nothing new to say yet.

(A couple of previous notes on the kick-off here and the first round of preliminary memos here.)

The open house will be Wednesday the 12th, at Roth’s, West Salem, from 4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

West Salem Update - Wednesday afternoon

The poster boards are out, and one of the pieces is a bit of a surprise:

Make a car-walk-bike connection along the RR line - 2nd Street
It's not surprising that a recommendation might be to create a connection along the old Salem, Falls City & Western line, part of which the Union Street Railroad Bridge path system uses - what's surprising is that the concept is a full street that would include car traffic.

Have to think about that more!

I don't think I hate it, though, interestingly enough.

Anyway, there's more than a little to chew on. Check it out.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

updated with West Salem poster clip and clink to full poster boards.