Friday, January 8, 2016

City Council, January 11th - Cueing up TSP Amendments and Police Station

Council meets on Monday, and we've already discussed the report on those struck and killed while walking. There's also a "future report" on proposed amendments to the Transportation System Plan for the 25th. Both it and the report on the Police Station for the work session on the 21st show planning and modeling that is escaping the bounds of known trends and best available information.

Unconstrained Modeling and Planning

The two matters of the Third Bridge and the Police Station appear to show a pattern: Modeling that is unconstrained by empirical data.

Interestingly, the draft amendments to the Transportation System Plan have been edited since they first came before the Planning Commission.

N3B pointed out that the Plan was being untethered from "anticipated revenue sources" and that the most likely reason for this was in order to smuggle into it the giant budget for the proposed Third Bridge and ancillary projects, which at present has no viable funding plan and does not constitute something with a reasonably anticipated revenue source or sources. It is unconstrained by reasonable expectations and empirical data.

December 2015 draft
This is being made more explicit in the latest draft.

January 2016 draft
So that's something to note.

Otherwise I don't think there's a whole more to add on the substance of the amendments than what was said when it came to the Planning Commission.

Not sure the interior shows this same modal balance!
But in general terms, if three of four photos on the cover of the TSP show people walking and biking, do the actual policies and priorities of the interior correspond in any meaningful way to that proportion? There's a mismatch here.
Report on crashes: Crosslands at #2
There's also a report on the Police Facility Council Subcommittee, and in it is a note about the projections:
The total square footage need for the new Police facility assumes a modest growth profile for the next 30 years of an average of 2.4 officers per year. The new facility is consistent with those recently constructed in the northwest but below staffing per 1,000 resident ratios of comparably sized communities....

...divisions within a police department will grow at different rates. This [2.4/year] is an average rate of growth for a 30 year planning horizon. To illustrate that police do not grow in symmetrical fashion, he pointed to annexation, which may require growth in patrol positions to provide the same level of service...
But apparently Salem's force hasn't been growing by 2.4 officers per year for quite some time, and there is little reason to suppose that Salem will suddenly conform to this model. According to the report, in 1972 there were 108 sworn officers and in 2015 there were 187. That's a linear growth rate of 1.8 officers per year, not 2.4.

(And of course there could be reasons to think that linear growth itself isn't a "best fit" either, just as we have seen driving plateau around 2005. Old 20th century assumptions may no longer be valid, reasonable, or "best available." The assumptions in modeling deserve more discussion.)

It would be interesting to see if sudden annexation of all the unincorporated county land between Lancaster and Cordon road, the whole Urban Growth Boundary even, would yield anything close to the larger growth rate.

So this looks like it could be an example of a model that doesn't correspond to any Salem reality, and maybe it would be more reasonable to model the needs for a growth rate of 1.8 officers per year and use that as the baseline in debate.

Indeed, on the surface this looks like over-aggressive modeling just like we see in our road planning, especially in the fictions wrought for the Third Bridge.

Other Stuff

There's a report on a "stream mitigation banking program" that looks like it creates a market for stream restoration. As it develops, credits could be sold to other private or public entities. Without thinking at all deeply on it, this sounds a little like a "cap and trade" concept," pricing something and doing with a market what burdensome regulations had been trying to accomplish.

Hopefully watershed folks will have more commentary, as this looks like it could be very interesting!

And Council will hear the appeal on the Pembrook apartments at the old Stayton Cannery site. This looks like a pretty straightforward case to reverse the Hearings Officer's decision, which seemed odd, and quite possibly based on an error or a misreading. (Previous notes here and here.)


Walker said...

Even more important than just using a more empirically correct 1.8/yr instead of 2.4 (an arbitrary 33% excess over the historic rate) would be to unpack the dependencies that would have to be in place to support a proper analysis:

1) Why only go back to 1972? Anything special that justifies truncating the analysis there? It's probably more accurate for planning purposes to go all the way to 1948, the real beginning of the post-war era, when the liftoff that lasted through the 60s was present. Since Salem seems so often to think it's still 1950 out there, it would be instructive to compare many factors all the way back.

2) Since crime keeps plummeting as the effects of lead poisoning recede since the end of leaded auto fuels, why would we think we need to expand police numbers at the rate that was deemed necessary during the 1960s and 1970s when crime was skyrocketing due to all that lead?

3) Planners should be able to use regression analysis software -- in addition to population, we should also be modeling the portion of the population that are in the high crime years -- (roughly fraction of males, 16-30). If your total population is going up, but the high crime cohort is a smaller share, you're likely to over estimate your need for police.

4) Given the massive spending on technology, why would we need the same ratio of population to police as when there weren't video cameras on every corner and watching every merchant's safe, and there was one whole hell of a lot more cash moving through society. Unless we're talking about hiring cyber sleuths to investigate white collar and computer crimes, we should be seeing a much bigger payoff for our technology investment. Used to be that nearly every merchant was a potential burglary target, and there was likely to be a lot of cash money in the till. Now, not so much.

This deserves a post of its own, but our failure to properly size police is similar to how we don't think rationally about firefighters. If you actually look at fire risk, and what we can do with technology, cheaply, we could do with a whole heck of a lot fewer firefighters, or at least firefighters only. What we need more is less militarized police and probably greater numbers overall of cross-trained ,responsive public safety professionals who are culturally aware and bilingual, especially women. We need to move away from the paramilitary model and more to a community service model (albeit armed). (Firefighters and the response time metric also contributes a huge amount to the carhead mentality that hurts us.)

Susann Kaltwasser said...

I find it disturbing that the Staff did not offer in any meaningful way to come out to NA and talk about the Transportation Plan.

They used to do this in the past. Bored us to tears, but it was an effort to get citizen input.

Question. Aren't the people living in the UGB already using Salem streets?

I assume that annexing land for residential development will change the population, but their models include potential population within the UGB based on current zoning. Unless they were thinking of changing some industrial land to residential, but even then you would not get a huge change in the numbers.

I hope that our City Councilors are going to be asking some deep and serious questions. Oh yeah....never mind...

I do not recall the Chicago-based consultant on the police facility using local crime data for their projections of need in the future.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Small edit: Added a second link to the Pembrook apartments note.