Sunday, June 21, 2015

City Council, June 22nd

Council meets on Monday and it doesn't seem necessary to go very far into the agenda for our purposes.

Here's the City's press release, which captures most of the relevant items (links are added):
Salem City Council at its Monday, June 22 meeting will begin the process of filling two vacant seats on the planning commission.

Salem Planning Commission is a nine member advisory group to the city council, and it plays a pivotal role in growth and development issues. Seven candidates for the vacant positions have been recommended by the Council Board and Commission Committee.

The council on Monday will vote on moving forward with candidate interviews. If approved by the council, interviews would take place at the July 13 council meeting. Councilors would appoint the new planning commission members at that meeting.

Candidates recommended by the Council Board and Commission Committee include:
--Tyler Clark, a commercial real estate broker and contractor.
--Chane Griggs, regional director of the Oregon Community Foundation.
--Ian Levin, a licensed real estate agent and contractor.
--Nate Levin, a specialist in real estate property management, investment and redevelopment.
--Carol McCleeary, a retired person with a background in real estate, finance, management, title and escrow work.
--Kristi Neznanski, an associate project manager at Lenity Architecture.
--Reuben Worster, a business broker for a local property management and real estate company.
The Planning Commission matters seem to have been deferred from the May 11th meeting. (Salem Weekly has additional thoughts on the composition of the Planning Commission here and here.)
In other council business, smokers will have to wait a little longer to know if their habit will be banned from city parks.

At the request of Salem Mayor Anna Peterson, the second reading of an ordinance that would have prohibited smoking at city parks and natural areas has been delayed.

The mayor will be absent from Monday’s meeting. Peterson asked for the delay, which is allowed by council rules, so she may participate in council discussions at a future meeting.

On June 8, the council voted 5-4 to move the anti-smoking ordinance to a second reading. A second reading is required before an ordinance can be enacted.

Also on Monday, the council will hold a public hearing about proposed fee increases for land use related permits and applications.

Under a city proposal, fees charged by the city’s planning division would rise by 6.2 percent for fiscal year 2015-2016. The fee increase for a variety of permit applications, such as plan changes and design review, would help the planning division recover its cost.

In 2013, the city set the goal of recovering half the cost of processing permit applications through fee increases within five years. The planning division is currently recovering about 44 percent of the cost.

City staff has also recommended a 2.4 percent increase in fees for land use related actions handled by the city's public works department.
Other things...

There are a bunch of appointments to City Boards and Commissions (here and here), among them new appointments to CATC, the Citizens Advisory Traffic Commission. CATC is woefully underutilized, something of an appendix, and folks who look to it as a model for a Tree Commission should really consider whether it is robust enough actually to serve as a model. CATC meets rarely and doesn't set or guide policy. It seems like it serves more as political cover for adjudicating small neighborhood disputes over parking and stop sign installation.  The Mayor has apparently said that she thinks we have too many boards and commissions, and she's probably right: They don't have much actual power, it is a struggle to fill them, and they consume staff resources. We would probably be served better with fewer boards and commissions, but also reinvesting in those we keep to make them more robust and meaningful as expressions of participatory democracy.

Pastoral Capitalism:
on suburban
corporate landscapes
There's a note about the Mill Creek Corporate Center:
To date, the City of Salem, the City's Urban Renewal Agency, and the State of Oregon have invested over $20 million in transportation and utility improvements to render over 190 acres development ready....

The Development District imposes an infrastructure fee for new development within Mill Creek and serves a similar purpose to system development charges. System development charges are not applicable to Mill Creek property due to the state ownership and the statutory requirement that system development charges be assessed to address the impacts from "new development" and not to correct exiting deficiencies. In order to provide "just in time" infrastructure to serve development at Mill Creek, the Development District creates a fund through payment of infrastructure fees from developers to build necessary public infrastructure for the development. The Development District is implemented through an Infrastructure Agreement executed by the City and the State....

Specific changes to the Development District Order include the name change from the Mill Creek Industrial Park to the Mill Creek Corporate Center.
I don't really know what all this means, but it's interesting to register and file for later. One thing to note is that this thing is never going to pay for itself. Is there any way it's ever going to pay that $20 million back to the City in property taxes, for example? This sure looks like the Strong Towns "growth ponzi scheme" in action. Development on the edges of the City is extraordinarily inefficient. That is one important reason that redevelopment closer in at Fairview or at the State Hospital is important and we should not want to keep them simply as ornamental emptinesses.

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I might agree with you assessment of Mill Creek Corporate Center, but the idea is that Salem is now the only location in the Valley that is ready for a major company to come in, because every where else would have to either build in county or expand there UGB. But it might take a long time to lure someone here and it there is no guarantee they would stay. Not sure if you saw the work session last night before City Council on the EOA (economic opportunities analysis) but that is how it was explained.

The City is supposed to get its money back (not sure all $20 million) by charging the fees when a company moves in to the Mill Creek complex. Normally the City would charge and SDC, but the land was owned by the State so you can't collect them. This fee is a way around that issue.

As to the various board and commissions, I think you made a good point about needing to make them more productive. They could be very useful but over the years more and more of them have had their powers taken away by the Council. CATC as an example was very useful a decade ago, but now so much has been relegated to staff, i.e. public works director or development director. I think that this is to the detriment of not just the process, but the outcomes we see.

Until we get an elected body that trusts people who volunteer for board and commission, not many people will want to serve.

I have talked to several people who have been on various committees in recent years and they say 1) we don't do anything of meaning; 2) we are told what to think and so it is kind of a waste of my time. To be a rubber stamp of staff ideas, is not worth the time of a person with real skills.

There are so many intelligent, knowledgeable and talented people in Salem who could contribute much to the City, it is just a shame Council can't appreciate their value.

In the past I have served on and know others who have served on wonderful committees who did some fantastic work. They saved the City a lot of money with their expertise. We could return to that, if we had a more enlightened leadership.