Thursday, February 4, 2016

Salem as State Fief: Expectations for Free Parking at the Capitol

Yesterday on twitter there was a conversation about Portland-area Legislative staff and their expectations for free parking in Salem at the Capitol.

Even a staffer for Senate President Courtney expected free parking at Nordstrom, as well as the Capitol, and seemingly wasn't aware of the downtown Parking Tax subsidizing free parking at Nordstrom and the fact that the Salem Urban Renewal Agency has to backfill for an annual deficit in the Parking District that has averaged $700,000 a year.

August 2014 Report to City Council
As Senator Courtney works on the project for a seismic retrofit of the Capitol, managing the parking during construction and a temporary Capitol site will very important for Salem. Appropriately priced parking and more robust Transportation Demand Management for state employees, including better transit and off-setting start times, will make the disruption much easier for Salem, and will help transition to lower-carbon commuting. These things will also assist with better managing capacity on the Marion and Center Street bridges.

It's a little dismaying to see the disconnect in City of Salem, State, and environmental policy on Senator Courtney's staff. But that's also a sign of how deeply entrenched is our autoism.

And it's a structural misalignment in which the personal interests of Legislators and staff are largely opposite to the community interests of city and state (and globe). (That's why we need a carbon tax!)

On Saturday Cherriots will have a Planning Retreat, and on the agenda is revisiting the Salem River Crossing Alternate Modes Study.

A number of the recommendations in it are specific to transit, and in Cherriots' headlong rush to embrace the Salem Alternative, they have forgot about making these primary instead.

The River Crossing Alternate Modes Study and Transit:
Improve Transit Service, Increase Service Frequency
Additionally, RideShare's new Strategic Plan involves non-transit recommendations as well, and so it will be good for the board to review the whole document. A criticism of the Strategic Plan when it came out was that it omitted a discussion of the Alt Modes Study. Perhaps now the Board will want to integrate them better.

Dead space and "the People's Car Storage" in downtown Salem
(Department of Revenue, like a fortress, in background)
There are a lot of State workers in West Salem, and as a body, their commuting patterns represent some of the lowest-hanging fruit for managing capacity on the bridges.

Bringing conversation together about the Capitol Mall and about the Salem River Crossing is a great opportunity for meaningful progress, but hitherto has been largely ignored.

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