Thursday, October 29, 2015

City Sends out Survey on City Communications

As part of the  City's new Strategic Communications Plan, the City is circulating a survey on how you get information from the City.

Details on the project are somewhat scant, unfortunately.

If you search for "Strategic Communications Plan" on the City website, the only meaningful information is this cost estimate from May.

Budget Committee Meeting
As a line item buried in the budget, it also appears a couple of times in materials presented at Council, and improving City communications has long been an item in Council Goals, with additional development in the SCI program's Civic Engagement Strategy unit. An RFP seems to have been scrubbed from the City site. A contract or other formal announcement to proceed hasn't been shared.

Unlike many other City studies or planning processes, it doesn't yet have its own web page or additional materials.

A Pacific Northwest firm with offices in Boise, Seattle, and Portland, Enviroissues, has been engaged, and they are conducting preliminary interviews with the proverbial key stakeholders now. The survey comes a couple of weeks after these started.

Maybe it's a good time for it - communications seems to be in the air.

Over at SCV there's some consternation because the City is not doing a very good job, perhaps even in violate of our Open Meeting laws, of notifying people about the Police Station project.

And at Council on Monday there was some interesting public tension about the management of information and communication with Councilors themselves.

Apart from the usual problems of a citizenry that too often is not able to distinguish between the roles and funding of the School District, the City of Salem, and the Transit District, it seems like there are deeper ways that the flow of information is problematic right now.

And it seems possible to read the study either in a charitable or a cynical way.

So this is an interesting study. Will it result in more openness and transparency, and a more involved citizenry? Or will it result in more tightly controlled spin and management of information and framing?

Take the survey and let the City know what you think.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Local Metropolitan Planning Organization to get Update on Greenhouse Gas Modeling

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 27th, and the items of interest are mainly information rather than votes or actions.

At the head of the list is the on-going slog of greenhouse gas modeling. (Full agenda and packet here.)

Back in 2011, the Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted targets for 2035 on greenhouse gases for our largest cities. Now that a few rounds of modeling have been done, a couple more cities added to the list of those involved, and a few years have passed, there's an opportunity for a second iteration of rules and modeling refinements for 2040.

So SKATS will get an update and appoint a representative to the Advisory Committee overseeing the process.

That little bold, indented snippet? The MPO wants to emphasize to the Policy Committee that doing any greenhouse gas modeling remains voluntary. In the main the Committee has resisted greenhouse gas modeling, one member even saying it would be "detrimental" to the MPO.

From the May, 2015 minutes (in the July full packet)
One thing that has come out since that expression of skepticism in May, in which Chair Clark said she thought "current local plans would accomplish the targets if there was money to fund the projects included, [but] unfunded, in those plans." As we have seen from the Corvallis Strategic Assessment (shorter slide deck here), under the model in use right now, the current local plans only achieve a 2.1% reduction, nowhere near the 21% called for. Salem's target is 17% I think (I mean, we should just say 20% across the board, since it seems impossible the error bars in the modeling exercise allow for 1% precision). Chair Clark's assertion is therefore almost certainly false, and hopefully staff will begin to push back against this fantastical line of thinking.

But it seems that the main reason to keep things voluntary is that a top-down, compulsory process threatens at this moment to end in revolt more than in commitment and success.

So, maybe keeping things voluntary is the best. I don't think it's possible to be certain here. It is disappointing to see the painfully slow slog, though. Time is running out.

Yet there is some good news.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

City Council, October 26th - Portland Road Study Work Session

City Council meets on Monday and at the top of the agenda at 5:30pm in the Andersen Room of the Library is a work session on the Portland Road Study and Urban Renewal project with the Urban Renewal Agency. Otherwise it's thin for transportation issues.

The project concepts seem to be organized in thirds
The study conducted a focus group on projects for walking and biking, and the list of project ideas is the usual suspects.

(This is a better pdf from the Oct 1 NGRAB meeting)
But things are still in the brainstorming phase, so it's probably premature to drill into too much detail or analysis as if they were a formal slate of proposals.

Separately, in an announcement of upcoming Public Hearings, there's a note for November 9th: "Request by Stephanie Fry, Inc to initiate condemnation of real property interests located at 750 Valley River Drive, NW." That's just off Wallace Road near Hope Avenue where the proposed bridge runs through a bunch of houses and lots in the River Valley subdivision. Probably it's not related to the Third Bridge, but it's worth watching for anyway.

A Cluster of Council Rules 

Then Council proper, distinct from the Urban Renewal Agency (whose members are the same, though the entities are incorporated separately), shifts over and meets in Council Chambers at 6:30pm.

In what looks like it could be a small blow against free assembly and free speech, the City proposes to classify the atrium in City Hall in such a way as to make it easier to kick people out:
The proposed policy clarifies and memorializes the City management of the Civic Center atrium, the covered courtyard inside city hall, and the breezeways adjacent to city offices. The policy declares that the atrium is essentially an "outdoor meeting room" which has traditionally been used for official City ceremonial functions, and as a meeting place for City employees. While it is open to the public, in terms of visitors coming to the Civic Center Plaza for specific purposes, it is not intended to be used as a traditional public park or public square. Clarifies that the breezeways connecting City offices are for the purpose of allowing access to City offices, and are not public forums. Establishment of the policy will provide clarification for City staff and the public in use of these spaces.
At least that's how I read this, as a response to some demonstration activity there. Maybe you read it differently? It's a little odd, but perhaps there's backstory and context in which it all makes sense.

Narrowing the focus and activities of advisory boards is also back on the agenda, as well as changes to Council rules. Together these just don't seem very public-spirited, treating the public as distractions or problems rather than those whom staff and electeds serve. Though as commenters pointed out in a previous discussion here, there are also some important and seemingly obvious housekeeping details that are of obvious benefit. If you're interested in this side of things, the proposals are worth reading closely.

Other Things in Passing

The Legislative Priorities for 2016 are on the vague side, and there may not be yet much to say about them.

The SEDCOR Annual Report is interesting, but may not contain enough detail to be very useful - you know, it's BusinessCheer. Rah, Rah.

Friday, October 23, 2015

New Yorker and Former President of Metro Schools us on ODOT and State Funding

This is really good.

David Bragdon was President of METRO, the Portland-area Metropolitan Planning Organization. He left to work for Mayor Bloomberg on sustainability issues in New York, and now heads up Transit Center, a non-profit focusing on transit and urban mobility. He's in Portland right now, and he's published a version of a talk he gave, "Reform before revenue: how poor governance and management is holding Oregon back."

Bragdon was an outspoken critic of the insanity behind the Columbia River Crossing, wrote a column about taxi-driving very early in his career for Willamette Week, and is really smart and witty.

In 2009 he wrote to a British reporter at the Portland Mercury:
[Y]ou are probably the only practicing journalist in this town who knows the difference between a fen and a bog.

That is why of a Sunday morning I am willing to give you this scoop. You have earned it.

We bought a fen.

There you have it. The scoop. We bought a fen. It’s 13 acres. The rest of the media will learn this fact only on Monday or Tuesday, and they won’t know what to do with it. Being so fixated on stadia, they may think we bought Fenway Park, which as you would probably not know is a baseball stadium in Boston where the Red Sox play. The Red Sox are a baseball team, not to be confused with Rex, who is a Metro Councilor. So Boston has Fenway Park, we have Peach Cove Fen. Here is a picture suitable for framing....
About the CRC, in 2010 he said as part of public testimony:
After my nearly three years of involvement – again, three years which started with me as a vote in favor of the conditional LPA – my reluctant conclusion is that the current CRC proposal by the state highway divisions dramatically fails both of those basic tests: it has not been proven to be a cost‐effective solution to the many challenges in this corridor, and it has not been planned and developed in an innovative or inclusive manner. As a result of the state highway divisions resisting any scrutiny or suggestions which did not fit their pre‐determined approach, confidence in the project, including my own, has been eroding at a time when a successful project would need to be gaining credibility....We need Plan B, not more unending promotion and defense of a Plan A which has failed to pan out.
Back to 2015, here are some of his remarks. The whole thing is long, but totally worth reading. Even though this is a policy piece, you can still hear echoes of his humor.
Portland and Oregon are being left behind. Debate in Portland rages not about whether streets will be improved like in Seattle or Denver, but about whether or not a fee will be adopted simply to maintain streets to basic good condition, after years of neglect and critical audits. In the same month that the legislature in Olympia invested significantly in transportation, 175 miles to the south in Salem the Oregon legislature chose not to. Legislators’ reluctance was partly attributable to the revelation that management of the state Transportation Department was making claims about emissions that were proven to be wildly exaggerated.

The common theme to these Oregon stories? Credibility – or lack of it.

A familiar claim is, “Oregon has a transportation finance problem.” But it’s actually impossible to tell, because the system is so opaque. Oregon may or may not have a transportation finance problem. What Oregon really has is a transportation governance and management problem. It must fix its governance and management problem before it can fix its finance problem – if it even has one....

Other regions are significantly reforming their transportation governance. As a result they are able to spend more money wisely. By contrast, Oregon has stuck with a governance model of the past that is unaccountable and has lost the confidence of the legislature and public. Glowing danger signals like chronically flawed data forecasts, under-maintenance of core assets, and increasing debt despite past tax increases should alarm anyone concerned with Oregon’s competitiveness. Reform will happen only when bold leaders outside the existing transportation hierarchy recognize that the current non-system is underachieving, and that reform is the only way to increase and maximize the public’s investment. Other regions are making those changes and investing now. Portland and Oregon should too.
The piece is full of comparative examples, and is strong evidence that asserting Salem or Oregon is "unique" is a totally counter-productive move that shuts off the possibility of learning from other communities, of whatever size and organizational level.

If you are at all interested in the structural and institutional reasons we are having so much trouble with big things like the Third Bridge and small things like better bike lanes downtown, the piece provides some important context and analysis.

OPB is scheduled at 7pm tonight to broadcast Bragdon's talk at the Portland City Club.

Update, November 14th
Not sure this merits a post of its own, but it is interesting. Also interesting is that the other statewide media don't seem to have picked up the story. (It's in the East Oregonian.) It's hard to say how substantive the investigation may be. It could just be a reassuring pose for legislators. Could be more.

Apartments for old Cannery Site at Hearings Officer Next Week

There's another proposed apartment complex at the Hearings Officer next week, and while the apartments themselves doesn't appear to be anything special, the site it turns out is another old Salem cannery.

The Jory family was involved in the United Growers cannery
The disputed plaque at the Hospital's Everson House is also on the agenda, but there's not anything new to say there. The Staff Report for the City is very brief and finds little of substance for response. It will be surprising to see that decision altered, though the City did errantly close off the written record prematurely. (See previous discussion for more.)

Looking south on Liberty at Skyline in 1915 and 2015
Salem Library Historic Photo Collection and the Google
The apartments are much more interesting, not really in themselves, but because of the history of the site at Liberty, an old-time community south of town. That's Roy Ohmart's Liberty Store on the right side of the 1915 image.

The developer wants to put in a 93 unit apartment complex on four lots of land that is currently zoned for "Retail Commercial" just off of Liberty and Skyline. Apartments are allowed in this retail zone, but only as a conditional use, so that requires a "conditional use permit." There is also one lot that is zoned for "Neighborhood Commercial" and here the zoning needs to be changed to allow for apartments. (Update: This description isn't quite right. See comment below for a clarification from City Staff. It's a technical/legal detail rather than anything that affects the larger points here.)

Overall, the project seems blandly generic and customary, something in the meh-middle space between bad and good. If you see something really great or awful about it, chime in! But in the absence of that, there are some other incidental things to note. Let's wander a bit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Don't Forget the League of Women Voters Study on Cherriots

We're probably done with Cherriots here for this cycle. There doesn't seem to be anything new to say, and reading comments around the facebook and twitter suggests there's not much in the way of thoughtful conversation going on. Mostly it's confirmation bias and restatement of priors.

League of Women Voters on Cherriots
But, the League of Women Voters did a study on transit a few years back, and it might be a good resource for folks looking for facts themselves or for a reasonably unbiased reading of facts.

So if you find yourself with a transit or payroll tax doubter who isn't already settled as anti-transit or anti-tax, it might be a resource for a fact-based debate.

It's worth noting that since that was written back in 2012, Cherriots in 2014 discontinued the bus side advertising contract. It was worth $250,000 a year - about 5% of the proposed payroll tax revenue - and is not enough to fund a meaningful expansion of evening and weekend service.

A few other bits many have seen already - but worth checking out if you haven't:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fix that Amazing 19th Century Technology!

This is a little late, but it's certainly interesting to note even if it might too late to participate. As part of "National Campus Sustainability Month," Chemeketa Community College will host a "Repair Fair and Share" event tomorrow, Wednesday the 21st, from 5pm to 7pm.

April 20, 1901
From the event description:
Chemeketa will host local repair gurus during the Repair Fair and Share. Bring in your bike, small appliance, instrument or fabric item to learn how to troubleshoot basic repairs.
(click to enlarge)
It should not escape notice that a lot of this neat mechanical stuff that can be repaired DIY is essentially 19th century technology!

Friday, October 16, 2015

City Shares New Crosswalk Safety Material in Newsletter

Yesterday the City sent out the latest "Community Connection" newsletter, and it was great to see a section on crosswalk safety and walking.

Best part about it? It used the new "Every intersection is a crosswalk" graphic and underscored the asymmetry in power and vulnerability:
Pedestrians must obey traffic signals and walk safely. But, pedestrians are unprotected and vulnerable. Drivers can prevent a life-changing crash by being prepared to stop and yield no matter who has the right of way.
This is a meaningful shift away from the rhetoric of the traffic cone theory of defensive walking that calls for people on foot to wear bright clothing, blames those who wear "dark clothing," and implies or expects outright that they always defer to the greater speed, power, and priority of those in automobiles.

"Crosswalk safety" has too often meant the burden for safety devolved primarily onto the person on foot. This time "crosswalk safety" underscores the burden on the driver's side: "Drivers have specific duties to a pedestrian in a crosswalk."

Nicely done, City of Salem.

The next step will be to talk about stopping distance and speed. The mental state of "being prepared to stop" is not at all identical to the physics of being able to stop! 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

City Installs Four Radar Speed Signs

The streets here are all straight and zoomy, some with hills, and they could probably use some engineered traffic calming in addition to the signage. Traffic counts from the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study as well as ones on Church Street and Rural Street near South High show that 85th percentile speeds are routinely 10mph over posted speeds. That means 15% of drivers are speeding by more than 10mph over the limit! At these four sites the speeding may well be worse. It also wouldn't be surprising to find that the traffic lanes are too wide. (Remember the case for ten-foot traffic lanes instead of 12-foot lanes!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Urban Natural History: Two Geological Layers at Clark Creek Park

Tired of transit? Yeah. Here's something more quiet.

The other day some of the Parks sites shared a photo from Clark Creek Park. There's a tiny little falls and pool there that shows a distinct seam between two geological layers.

Clark Creek at Clark Creek Park - Rigo Macio
via City of Salem Parks Volunteers
Close up showing reddish Jory soil and chunky, basalty rock
One of them is the reddish Jory soil characteristic of many hills around here, many farther out from the city with vineyards, and the other is this basalty-looking chunky dark colored rock. It looks like a lava flow or something.

Does anyone know anything about this tidbit of local geology? Is that chunky rock the characteristic bedrock around here? Or is this an intrusion over some other more characteristic layer?

The New Minto Park Master Plan has a map of soils (detail)
Are there any other interesting geological features exposed by road cuts or creeks or escarpments you have noticed while walking and biking around town? Another I've noticed sometimes is that as you ascend hills, you can occasionally see a procession from a greyer soil lower down to the reddish Jory soil up higher on the hill. (I don't know what this greyer soil type is called.)

Ever so slightly related, the New York Review of Books has an amazing set of articles (and one interview) up right now. One is on Alexander von Humboldt, who definitely doesn't get enough attention these days, and may be a surprising resource as we think about the challenges of climate change.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Hospital at SCAN, Fred Meyer at Morningside: In the Neighborhoods this Week

SCAN meets on Wednesday the 14th, and the Hospital continues to make decisions that rub the neighborhood the wrong way.

Recently in an administrative "Minor Historic Review," the City approved plans for the sidewalk on the east side of Church Street at the Blind School property from the corner of Mission Street to the Pringle Park driveway.

The sidewalk will be widened from five feet to eight, but the expansion will be to the west, and that will take a bite out of the curb strip with grass and trees. There are 14 sweet gum trees whose roots might be disturbed and the neighborhood's Land Use and Transportation Committee is concerned about this.

When the whole sidewalk and "greenway" compromise went down, it had seemed like any expansion of the walkways should be on the interior side of the sidewalk, on the east side facing the interior of the property. The expansion west into land that is already part of the public right-of-way doesn't seem like it honors the spirit of the agreement to enhance the walking connection along here. It seems cheap to use only City right-of-way. Maybe that's not how the participants understood things, but to an outsider this seemed like a concession and trade the Hospital was making with the neighborhood to enhance the walking conditions. And now the Hospital's not really making that trade and concession.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Local MPO to Look at Area Commission Rankings for Biking, Walking, and Transit

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow the 13th, and they'll be looking at the latest rankings for Federal and State "non-highway Enhance" funds for the 2018-2021 cycle.

On the first, you may recall, our area commission on transportation, MWACT, met and ranked the 15 area projects competing for these "non-highway Enhance" funds.

In that ranking there were four tiers. In the first:
  • Cherriots replacement buses for the Wilsonville route
  • Salem crossing projects, including two key Winter-Maple bikeway intersections
  • Hayesville sidewalks and bike lanes
  • A city of Carlton project for sidewalks and bike lanes
In the second:
  • A city of Independence project for sidewalks and bike lanes
  • Yamhill County replacement buses
In the third:
  • A city of Newberg project for sidewalks and bike lanes
  • East segment of the Family-friendly Bikeway on Union Street
And the rest  of them in a fourth tier that attracted no votes (click on the image at top for more detail).

You might also remember our local MPO's rankings.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

City Council, October 12th - Economic Opportunities Analysis

Council meets on Monday, and there's not much of great import on the agenda. At two different times, parts of the Economic Opportunities Analysis and Housing Needs Analysis will be discussed.

EOA-HNA draft Report - Jan 2015
(graph added from CO2 Now)
Before Council proper there will be a work session on the "Housing Needs Analysis."

At Council proper there will be a Public Hearing on the "Economic Needs Analysis." The Staff Recommendation is to advance it to a second reading for formal adoption as a "support" document to the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan.

(Both the EOA and HNA can be found here at the City's combined EOA-HNA site. And here are previous blog posts on the EOA-HNA process and memos.)

The great over-riding criticism of the plan is that it ignores greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. In a few years it seems clear that accelerating climate change and our regulatory environment will require a completely thorough revision of both documents. The City missed a great opportunity to begin to anticipate ways the plan will need to change and ways the City today could begin mitigating and reducing carbon, methane, and greenhouse gas emissions generally.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

SJ Says: Yes for Cherriots

Updated with the Print Verson

Transit as Charity: Cost-Burdened Households and Transportation

So let's talk about charity.  For the sake of argument, let's say transit is straight-up charity and social service, that no one uses transit who has a choice.

AAA: Your Driving Costs 2015
Owning and driving a car is expensive. Here's this year's estimate from AAA.

Even an old clunker still requires maintenance, licensing, fuel, and insurance. A useful transit system, not to speak of even a fareless system, that makes it easy not to own a car is practically like cash in your pocket, a big boost in a strapped household - or homeless family.

Car ownership and transportation is a huge drain on household budgets.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Yes for Cherriots Rally Tonight

Yes for Cherriots is holding a rally this evening at the Carousel!*

Folks for transit are gathering from 5pm to 7pm on Friday the 9th at the Riverfront Park Carousel.

They'll probably also be organizing for canvassing on Saturday and Sunday.

Something to consider for folks who think a property tax would be more equitable?

In addition to problems with "compression," there is the fact that the three biggest opponents of the payroll tax wouldn't pay property taxes either! (You can find the full list here at OreStar, the Secretary of State's database.)

The Hospital ($50,000) is a non-profit and Garmin ($35,000) and Norpac ($25,000) are enrolled in Enterprise Zones and have been receiving on-going property tax abatements for several years. Norpac is also getting a $6 million widening project at Madrona & 25th for truck traffic, and it will be paid for out of property taxes with the 2008 road bond. These firms already enjoy very favorable tax treatment!

Enterprise Zone Property Tax Abatements
URA Economic Activity Development 2012-13
Property taxes would not be a fairer way to fund transit.

Finally, there's the "other" set of taxes the Chamber wants Salemites to bear.

Our debate about funding transit with $5 million a year
should also include this about nearly $50 million a year

* I suppose it assumes you'll not be taking transit, though? There's not a route that serves Riverfront Park!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Exit Real World's Closure Could Point to our Underinvestment in Transit

In a comment the other day, a reader pointed out that Exit Real World, which was located adjacent to the transit mall at the corner of High and Chemeketa, a year ago closed in Salem but stayed open in Portland.

The correlation with payroll taxes and transit is interesting: They paid zero in payroll tax for transit in Salem, and continue to pay a much higher rate on payroll in Portland.

And, again, the Portland store (206 NW 23rd) remained open when they closed the Salem store.

Back in 2012, Holiday Retirement also moved corporate offices from Salem to Lake Oswego, which collects the payroll tax for transit as well.

So that is evidence, n=2 anecdotal evidence anyway, that paying more payroll tax for better transit could be related to business prosperity. And that "free" payroll tax in Salem for not-very-good transit could be a factor in business struggle and even failure.

That old bromide of "you get what you pay for" and all?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Planning Newsbits: SAIF, middle Commercial Survey, Minto Park Plan

Well this is interesting. Over at CANDO, they've got a note about an open house for a renovation of "the campus" at SAIF, and if SAIF thinks this through, there's an opportunity to activate what is currently a very inert, ornamental emptiness rooted in the 70s Pringle Creek urban renewal project and the associated semi-brutalist architecture.

Early Ornamental Empitness and SAIF, 1974
Salem Library Historic Photos
Out in back is a magnificent oak and stonehengian post-and-lintel metal sculpture, but it's separated by a berm for flood-control from the creek-side path, and it's a void outside of business hours.

The front is equally empty, too much parking lot and path, all of it fronted by the zoomery of OR-22.

This block, bounded by High, OR-22/Trade, Church, and the invisible alignment of Mill is greenspace and parking lot, seemingly like a park, but deadly dull and empty after 5pm and on weekends.

The project will be interesting to watch - though it could very well just be a set of landscape cosmetics, lifts, and tucks.

(See here for more on ornamental emptiness and the old urban renewal area. And as a late PS - the project could also include multi-modal improvements on Church Street as a family-friendly bikeway and greenway.)

More Dying Black Walnuts at OSH

Dying Black Walnut to be removed
Earlier this year 14 Black Walnuts were cut down at the State Hospital because of Thousand Canker disease. And now there's more.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Third Bridge Debt Service Would Cost nearly 10x Proposed New Cherriots Revenue

This has come up a couple of times in comments on the blog and in casual conversation elsewhere. Proponents for transit should be highlighting the contrast with the Chamber's position on the Third Bridge.

The transit package aims to raise $5 million per year, and the Third Bridge package aims to raise more than $45 million per year.*

Maybe you're a design wiz
and can come up with a better infographic?
If you view transit as involving "jobs-killing taxes," at the very least, the taxes involved in funding a third bridge deserve higher scrutiny. You should be able to make a strong case that these taxes will be much less harmful to the local economy than the taxes necessary for a functional transit system.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Consider the Penalty of Free Parking as Employer Tax

Cherriots' proposal to fund evening and weekend service has roused, it seems, tremendous attention seemingly out of proportion to the the measure's actual impact qua tax. Its effect as an "employer tax," with the heavy implication that it's "jobs-killing" and "anti-business" is front-and-center.

Instead of arguing against that, let's simply take that claim at face value, and then let's look at a different "employer tax," one whose magnitude I suspect dwarfs that of the proposed payroll tax.

This will be a crappy first-order approximation, do note! I don't know the best way to make this analysis and argument, and I hope that you will be able help. Others must have made similar arguments before in other cities - Shoupistas? - and there must be at least the rudiments of a better analytical procedure out there. So if you know of a better way to run the numbers, please chime in! Maybe we can refine this with another iteration or two.

One important factor that hampers our ability to talk about funding transit is that the system of auto subsidy is invisible.

Here's a lot.

Lots of parking lottage!
You might recognize it. If you do, you'll know why it is the example. If you don't recognize it, that's fine. We are not going to argue here about any particular business owners stance or activities on the Cherriots measure. (So please keep comments on the analytical procedure, not on naming the owner or speculating/commenting on any personal motives. Policy, not people!)

One thing that is striking: About 3/4 of the land is devoted to free car temporary storage. In a different market the stalls might generate hourly revenue, or there might be fewer stalls and more building, with more room for the business or for a different business. The opportunity cost of not using land for something other than parking is non-zero.

Subsidizing free parking is a hidden tax on business.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

APBP on Bike Parking; ODOT on State Bike Plan - New Publications and Drafts

Looks like the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has a new publication on bike parking. It's not on their website here, but it was circulating some on social media. You can download it here. (At least for a little while, anyway!)

Don't spec these!

Helpful info on clearance and spacing

State Bike and Walk Plan

The State Bike Plan project meets on Monday, and the latest draft plan contains some new pieces. One that was particularly interesting is Appendix F on the "legal context."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Baggage Depot Restoration looks to get Moving Again

Yesterday was a terrible day for news. Here's something more pleasant.

After some delays, the City is saying that the baggage depot project is getting going again.

Baggage Depot, looking north, 2000
Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey
HABS OR-184-16
According to a Daily Journal of Commerce article,
After two years of delay, the Salem railroad baggage depot, built in 1889 and salvaged from a fire in 1917, will be given a new life as a Greyhound station when construction begins in December.
The station is just a block south of Mission Mill and of course an important reason the mill is sited there is because of the access to rail. Both water and rail were key infrastructure, power and transportation for it.

1905 Birdseye map, Library of Congress
Thos. Kay Woolen Mill, Depot, Yew School (L to R)
And it happens in a wonderful coincidence that the wife of the new Executive Director for the Mill is also the lead architect on the baggage depot project. In addition to seeing them biking around town, you may also have seen their photos in the paper yesterday. That's great they get to put their positive imprint on this little historic quarter of Salem.

Bob Reinhardt (C) and Leah McMillan (R)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kuebler Interchange Attracts Shopping Center Interest

You might already know about the Pactrust development at 27th and Boone Road. It's been in the works for a few years now. You will also remember the attempt to spec a diverging diamond interchange for Kuebler and I-5. There's lots going on here.

27th and Kuebler is attracting shopping center interest
(Pactrust already zoned CR - commercial retail,
map via City of Salem Zoning)
And just kitty-corner from the Pactrust project, there's a new shopping center development proposed on a parcel of land zoned for residential agriculture. It's also very near to the new State Police facility site.

Over at SCV and the Morningside Neighborhood Association they've been talking about it for a couple of days now.

Pactrust Center already in the works (red CR zone above)
via SCV and Morningside
New proposed center (currently zoned RA)
via SCV and Morningside
Do we need another of this kind of big-box, big-parking-lot, car-dependent shopping center?

Or would we be better served with neighborhood-scaled commercial centers more like what is envisioned for the Fairview projects or the old Pringle School?

And will any development here be required to improve the bike lanes and sidewalks on Kueber - full separation would be very useful here!

The unapproved project would be dependent on a zoning change, so there's at least some leverage there to reshape the project to be less hideously auto-oriented. Currently it's "residential agriculture" and would need to be changed to "commercial retail" or something like it.

But without a command-and-control type planning system - which we don't want - there's not much of a way to steer commercial development away from these green fields to the Fairview redevelopments or Pringle School project instead.

So with the way our zoning is currently configured, there's not a great deal of opportunity for walkable small-scale neighborhood commercial development. In the absence of that, big-box parking lots seem to be the primary alternative.

This will be something to watch.