Sunday, January 4, 2015

LUBA: City Erred on Parking Lot and Tree Removal Approvals at Blind School

Here's some good news for the new year!

Way more parking lot than building
The effort led by former SCAN Land Use Chair Curt Fisher has prevailed at the Blind School in the appeal heard last month at the State Land Use Board of Appeals.

Appeal at the Blind School
The board decided for SCAN on two important counts: The City erroneously approved too much parking; and because of this, the tree removals need to be reassessed once a plan with less parking is approved. LUBA remanded the matter back to the City Hearing Officer. (Update - Final decision here.)

LUBA found that the City's math on aggregating lots for parking minima or maxima is wrong.
Nothing in the SRC chapter 133 parking provisions suggests that multiple developed lots in common ownership can be aggregated into a single "lot" or "site" for purposes of locating parking or calculating...parking...
The City doesn't get to "aggregate" lots into a giant parking lot
This could have implications going forward!

Consequently, the Hearing Officer will need to reevaluate the site plan for 264 stalls, and it seems likely the Hospital will need to develop a new plan with only 189 stalls.

189 stalls only looks likely
Since fewer stalls will likely be approved, fewer trees also are likely to be removed.

Tree removal based on faulty math
On some other matters, the decision may point to future homework by citizen advocates.

It seems clear that without writing additional ordinances adopted into Salem Revised Code, policy language and goals in the Transportation System Plan are advisory and aspirational only. We will need to think about getting more plan language into city ordinance.

SRC not TSP is binding
And in the early stages of submitting evidence at a hearing on a proposed development, some arguments may need more attention and documentation with a view towards potential future appeals.

More attention to establishing
"under improved" roads may be necessary
It's not clear how this all will effect Howard Hall. Probably this is at the discretion of the Hospital: They have legal grounds for the demolition, but since the are almost certain to have to rejigger the parking lot, it would be even easier for them to relocate the playground from Howard Hall's footprint.

Once LUBA posts the decision this week, we'll update the post with a link to it. As others weigh in on the decision there may be more to say, too. (Decision link added above.)

In the meantime, this is great way to start the year. Thanks to Curt, Jon, Timothy, and Tyler as well as the entire Board of SCAN!

Midday, Monday

Is this an "oopsie"? This is a little bit of Whiskey Tango Froxtrot!
From the resulting piece in the paper:
Although the hospital's tree removals — 17 on Dec. 22 and 15 on Monday — were legal, they came at a sensitive time when some neighborhood residents are trying to save the older white oaks on the property from being felled....

Salem Health spokeswoman Sherryll Hoar said Monday the trees that have been cut down were not the ones included in the LUBA petition. Legally, the hospital can remove 15 percent of trees on its property per calendar year, as long as they're not what the city calls "significant" or "heritage" trees.
Apparently the large firs, perhaps 250-300 years old, were not "significant."

Update, Wednesday evening
See also SCV and here, SCAN, On the Way, and Hinessight for more on the tree-cutting and protest. 


Susann Kaltwasser said...

I am pleased on a couple of levles. Of course it is good to prevail in your opinion, but it is also wonderful that the neighbors did not roll over and give up. Even though Salem Health is a major entity in Salem, they should not get a free pass. Too often people think that they can't fight large corporations. This action should give people hope that the little guy can win.

Special thanks needs to go to those individuals like Curt Fisher and Jon Christiansen and Victor Dodier and many others I do not know by name, who worked on this issue.

I hope that a better plan can be reached and that SH will work with the neighbors. But even if they don't it should be considered a victory and inspiration for more appeals when something is just not right!

Mike D said...

I'm in favor of the reduced parking but I think it should also be contained in one parking garbage. That would reduce the footprint even more.

This have been discussed earlier but how much bike parking will be available? It should be a lot more than the base recommendation. And the hospital should be charging staff to park at a rate that 1. subsidizes bus passes and discourages solo driving

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with several new bits.

As Mike says, paid parking solves the problems of misallocation and excess, and brings supply and demand into better alignment.

Hopefully the problem with parking won't get lost in the justifiable anger over the trees.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And! From the story about Rushing's notice to appeal the demolition decision:

"the city attorney has not attempted to persuade Rushing to drop the case or threatened to recover legal costs from her [as did the Hospital]. City Attorney Dan Atchison simply said that the city will respond to the appeal.

"I'd prefer that our decisions don't get appealed and that when the Land Use Board of Appeals agrees with our decision that the parties accept that move on, but that's not the case here and I understand that," he said.

So, presumably they will not appeal the tree and parking lot decision? I bet they come up with a new ordinance to permit the aggregation of lots.

Tree Removal NY said...

What a shame. Trees should only be cut down when necessary.