Sunday, June 26, 2016

City Council, June 27th - First Phase of Portland Road Funding

Council meets on Monday, and they will lead with the Police Station and formal adoption of the annual Budget. There's nothing more to say on the Police Station here, though, and the real budget action happened at the last meeting.

So as the Urban Renewal Agency, City action on funding projects on Portland Road is probably the most interesting thing.

Portland Road

The Urban Renewal Agency has several items related to the Portland Road Study. After formally adopting the amendments to the North Gateway Urban Renewal Plan (see previous discussion here), they will allocate an initial tranche of $1,730,000 for four projects:
  • $700,000 for grant programs (additional amendments on these here)
  • $80,000 for a feasibility study of the Public Market, Food Hub and Incubator (the Mercado concept)
  • $500,000 to support development of Industrial Flex Space, Housing and Mixed Use
  • $450,000 to design Portland Road Streetscape Improvements north of Bill Frey Drive (phase 1)
The Bucket List

There is an update on the approach and priorities for the "code clean-up" project. Unsurprisingly housing will lead, and it is also interesting to see how the State Street Corridor project will be used as a template for simplifying the overlay zones. Hopefully the general needs for a template will not dilute any useful specificity for State Street.

Planning Salem is a long-range planning work program that will address policy issues that were identified during the Unified Development Code (UDC) project. The policy issues fell outside the scope of the UDC project, which was generally policy neutral, and were therefore placed in an imaginary “bucket ” to be reviewed later. The UDC was adopted in May 2014.

On July 28, 2014, the City Council held a work session on Planning Salem where staff presented its recommendation for addressing the outstanding policy issues. The City Council expressed general support for staff’s recommendation. The City Council also directed staff to conduct public outreach and provide staff’s analysis of each policy issue, which is included in Attachment 1.

With that work complete, staff has revised its plans and now intends to address the 51 outstanding policy issues through the following approach. The approach focuses on two top priorities - housing issues and overlay zones - and addresses them as part of the Planning Division’s overall long-range planning program that is being called Planning Salem. Staff has identified housing issues and overlay zones as high priorities because they advance City Council goals, have been identified by the public as a priority, and are related to other planning projects or recommendations.

1. Housing Issues: Staff plans to address the housing issues as part of the Salem Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) work plan (see Categories 7 and 8 in Attachment 1).
2. Overlay Zones: Staff plans to do a comprehensive review of overlay zones in Salem following the completion of the State Street Corridor Plan project (see Category 1 in Attachment 1).
3. Other Issues: The other policy issues identified during the UDC project have either already been addressed, are considered lower priorities based on public input and staff expertise, or should be addressed as part of a broader update to the Comprehensive Plan.
Fairview Park

Fairview Park
There's a new master plan for fairview park.
If approved, development of Fairview Park will proceed in at least two phases.

The first phase is planned for completion within one year after purchase of the property. This phase involves constructing soft trails and gravel parking areas, providing site facilities (tables, benches, etc.), and establishing an off-leash dog area.

A second phase is envisioned to be completed within five years of purchase and will include paved multiuse trails, playgrounds, the splash fountain, shelters, restrooms, paved parking, and the sports fields.

Total cost for all the amenities identified in the Fairview Park Master Plan ranges between approximately $6M and $9M. The upper end of this estimate is based on installing lighting and using artificial turf at the sports fields.
With this a third amendment to the purchase agreement, extending the closing date.

I wasn't aware how quickly they intended to start developing the park. (I wonder, though, if there are any equity issues that deserve more discussion - are there any underdeveloped parks that were jumped in the queue? How does this fit in the total City strategy for parks?)

SRETC - "Dumping Fertilizer on the Weeds"?

The SRETC might already be obsolete
The City's going to take out a loan for $2.2 million for work at the Salem Renewable Energy and Technology Center.
On-site improvements will likely include continuation of Gaia Street SE, from Panasonic's property line to Culver Drive SE; a possible east-west cul-de-sac to serve smaller lots; and possible frontage improvements on Culver Drive SE. Additional off-site improvements may include widening of Gaffin Road SE and improvements to the intersection of Gaffin Road SE and Cordon Road SE.

In November of 2015, the Council authorized the City Manager to apply for a loan in the amount of $2,200,000 from the Oregon Business Development Department’s Special Public Works Fund (SPWF) to fund infrastructure improvements for SRETC. Up to $500,000 of the loan may be forgiven if additional jobs are created within SRETC ($5,000 per job for up to 100 jobs).
This was in 2013
Despite $42 million in incentives, nearby Sanyo Solar has lost over 100 jobs. In May of 2013 they eliminated about 50 jobs, and in February 2016 they announced the elimination of about 50 more. From a high of about 200 employees, in February they had about 85.

Subsidies are not always bad - but it remains very unclear that we should be subsidizing infrastructure and greenfield suburban style development on the edge of the city instead of helping businesses grow or originate nearer the interior of the city where infrastructure already exists. One national critic has described subsidies on the far edges of a city or region as like "dumping fertilizer on the weeds." Why don't we concentrate our fertilizer on our central, already productive or previously productive, areas? (Like Portland Road!)

In a related matter
The City has submitted a pre-application to the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS) Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for grant funding to interconnect traffic signals on Cordon Road SE and Kuebler Boulevard SE from MacLeay Road SE to the planned signal at Mill Creek Corporate Center. Staff plans to bring a report to Council in July seeking approval to apply for this and other transportation projects.

However, SKATS has previously allocated grant funding to Marion County to interconnect several traffic signals within the SKATS MPO boundary. Using these and additional county funds, Marion County will be installing fiber interconnect along Cordon Road SE from Silverton Road NE to MacLeay Road SE in 2017. If the City submits a request, SKATS may be able to allocate additional funds to extend the Marion County project south to either the signal at Aumsville Highway SE or to connect to the planned signal for the Mill Creek Corporate Center (see attached vicinity map).

Marion County staff has expressed willingness to deliver the portion of their project within city limits, subject to availability of funds and approval by the governing bodies of each entity. Extending Marion County’s interconnect along Cordon Road SE would be more cost effective than developing a standalone City project. SKATS Policy Committee would need to approve additional fund by early July to not delay the county’s project development timeline.

Accordingly, staff is asking Council to endorse a request to SKATS for additional funding to be added to the existing Marion County project. These additional funds will be used through the Marion County project to accomplish the interconnections on behalf of the City. If funds are approved by SKATS, staff will return to Council requesting approval to allocate matching funds (approximately 11 percent of $300,000) and authorization to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Marion County for project delivery. If funds are not approved by SKATS, staff will return to Council for approval to apply for SKATS funds to complete this interconnect as a standalone City project.

In order for the work to be added to the existing Marion County project, the request for federal funds had to be expedited. If Council endorses the City request, the SKATS Policy Committee will be considering this request at their meeting on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
Appeal of Landscaping at the Red Lot

Does this need 15% landscaping?
I don't know how important it is to drill into the details, but one of the neighborhood's claims is that "There is no code provision for proportionality in determining an adjustment" and the Staff Report summary interestingly utterly fails to engage this, assuming it as a given rather than something to be proved, and says blithely
As previously stated, the amount of landscaping required to meet the 15% landscaping requirement is not proportional to the proposed development and is inapplicable to the small development proposal under review [about 1% of the surface area in size]. Therefore, the decision requires landscaping that is proportional to the proposal and satisfies the intent of the landscaping requirements.
It'll be interesting to see what Council decides.

1 comment:

Susann Kaltwasser said...

Thank you once again for you very helpful and insightful comments on the work of the City Council and SKATS!

I wish the Council would read your comments as I think they might gain important insights.As it is, I think they do not have the necessary skills or knowledge to even read the staff reports. Too often the just defer to the staff as the experts.

I am surprised that the Council is taking the long way round on the housing issues. We need more affordable housing right now. At least 200 more acres of apartment housing. I am not a big fan of apartments, but it is a viable option of way too many people. Rent is sky high in Salem because of the lack of units.

Going through the long process of looking at ADUs is a waste of precious time in addressing this housing need. Too many people think it might lead to 'tiny houses' or granny flats. But truth is that it is more likely to lead to garage conversions...this admitted by staff...and will even then only result in a few dozen units a year. And it will take at least a year to even get a code adopted by Council.

Zone changes would be much quicker and more likely to address the need. Developers should be clamoring for this to happen right away. We could have 50 acres of land re-zones in a matter of a few months. Now it is likely to have to wait until the ADU process is completed to even get started. This is poor planning!

Overlay zones do need a good review, but I fear that the City staff and some neighbors are so unaware of why they were put in place originally that they may decide to get rid of them and then regret it.

Back in the 1990s when overlay zones were all the rage, it was in part because citizens wanted to preserve the character of their neighborhoods, such as Commercial and Market Street overlay zones. But others were because the Council was unwilling to wage into the political issues surrounding actually making zone changes. This is going to be interesting.

The Market Street overlay was done to preserve existing homes. However it created such uncertainty in the property owners that many did not keep up their houses for fear that the investment would be undone by an apartment complex being built next door. Now because of that neglect, the area is ripe for redevelopment. I fear that the character of the neighborhood will soon be lost as we see commercial and multifamily creeping in from Evergreen to Broadway. Gone will be those lovely houses near Grant School. Then we will call that 'progress'.