[I don't] want NEN to absorb more parking and driving problems. Many of the streets are so narrow...with parking on both sides. Large vehicles have a hard time driving through the neighborhood....The city center is compacted [and I am] concerned about the loss of green space.In this light, a couple of Public Hearing announcements are of minor interest. Both of them involve the relation between density and mobility. One of them is a traditional, car-oriented apartment block complex, the other is a Planned Unit Development more experimental in nature.
The two projects show some of the costs of pushing development out away from the city center out towards the edges of the urban growth boundary and the ways that our high-level goal in the Comprehensive Plan to "decrease reliance on the SOV as the dominant means of travel" is misaligned with our practices in the way we actually conduct development.
1500 Block of Cordon Road SE
at the Planning Commission there will be a
Class 3 Design Review, Conditional Use Permit, Class 3 Site Plan Review, and Class 2 Driveway Approach Permit to allow development of an 82-unit apartment complex...located in the 1500-1700 Block of Cordon Road SE....I believe this is for a second phase of a project, and you may remember some sidewalk requirements that had been debated during approvals for an earlier phase.
|Car-dependent, little transit|
If we want to reduce drive-alone trips, development here fails to meet that policy goal.
As you'd expect there's a ton of surface parking. From the application (in the Staff Report)
The development is for an 82 unit apartment complex. Code requires 1.5 vehicle parking spaces per every 1 dwelling unit. Therefore the applicant is required to provide 123 on-site vehicle parking spaces. However, as shown on the site plan, 164 on-site parking spaces are being provided...Code requires 0.1 bicycle parking space per dwelling unit. Nine bike parking spaces are required [and are being provided].There's also a new road that is proposed has these wide, radiused curves that will encourage speeding rather than calm driving.
|A new road proposed with sweeping, radiused curves|
|Bare land conditions, with old and new streets|
Still, when Public Works offers comment, at least in theory, they must consider how this development will knit into the future urban texture with other adjacent development.
In the Staff Report they suggest a few additional conditions of approval:
- Condition 1 - The childrens' play area shall be centrally located and relocated away from the public street.
- Condition 4 - Construct a pedestrian pathway...along Macleay Road SE, linking the subject property to the existing sidewalk near the intersection of Periwinkle Drive SE.
- Condition 9 - Construct Old Macleay Road SE as a minimum 27-foot-wide three-quarter boundary street improvement from Macleay Road SE to Gaffin Road Se...the portion of Old Macleay Raod SE east of the new internal street shall be abandoned. The driveway access at the Gaffin/Whitaker intersection shall be restricted to emergency vehicles only...Contstruct improvements at the Gaffin/Cordon Road SE intersection to provide a right-turn lane from southbound Cordon to westbound Gaffin, a left-turn lane from westbound Gaffin to southbound Cordon, and additional left-turn storage from northbound Cordon to westbound Gaffin.
- Condition 10 - Along the frontage of Macleay Road SE, the applicant shall construct a 23-foot-wide half-street improvement to minor arterial standards...
the Planning Commission will consider
A consolidated application to change the comprehensive plan designation and zoning of property located at 5721 and 5771 Liberty Road S to allow development of a 45-unit planned unit development (PUD)/subdivision consisting of 22 duplexes, a convenience service area with managers apartment unit, and common open space.This site is also very car-dependent and remote from most everything other than the middle school. At the same time, there are some interesting things going on in the plan.
|Car-dependent and no transit|
To the west of the subject property the lands are platted and improved RM-2 subdivisions, with roads, lots, and infrastructure all in place. South of the subject property are large tracts of RA uses. North of Davis Rd. is Crossler Middle School...East and across Liberty Rd. is a large single family subdivision...This area west of Liberty at Davis is therefore an appropriate "planning node" or "multifamily node" around the Davis/Liberty intersection area. This proposed medium density zoning of RM-1 provides a sensible transition between the high density multi-family developments to the west, and the single family development east of Liberty.From the Comprehensive Plan for comparison:
City long rang planning has indicated that this intersection of Davis and Liberty is indeed an appropriate location for a neighborhood center or node of activity.
The intent of Activity Nodes and Corridors is to encourage development to orient to the pedestrian, and provide accessibility to transit services, major roads, and connectivity with the surrounding neighborhood, while accommodating the use of the automobile.
Activity Nodes and Corridors are typically located on or near transit routes and arterial streets, providing for a variety of land uses. Activity Nodes and Corridors may be composed of continuous, narrow bands of denser development or concentrated development, typically located near major intersections, as shown on Map #1 (Page 52).
|The project site is not at an "activity node," however|
(City of Salem)
|Site plan - Duplexes on private drive|
with a focus on tree preservation.
Garages, though, face ring driveway
The existing residence is proposed to accommodate the Rental Office, and two small commercial spaces...This allows a small tea or coffee shop and a beauty shop.With the school and with the distance to Commercial St or to the Liberty/Skyline intersection, it could make sense to have a neighborhood-scaled commercial node here. So even though current zoning does not support this, it's an interesting and potentially fruitful direction.
Maybe a development like this could initiate rezoning some nearby land for a real neighborhood center with a corner store and the full deal. (Though it is not certain there actually exists nearby an appropriate block of undeveloped land that would be available even in theory.)
One problem with the proposal, though, is the form of the proposed duplexes. They're awfully snouty. They lead with the garage, which constitutes well over half of the front elevation.
|The duplexes lead with the driveway and garage - too snouty|
|Fairview Addition street plan, 2014|
There are many Oregon White Oaks on the property and the goal is to save as many as possible. Therefore the building and road layout is determined by the location of the existing trees.Additionally, there might not be room to deploy the housing with alley-oriented car access and center-facing porches on a path system and courtyard. Relocating the ring driveway farther out to the edges might reduce the amount of housing possible on the interior of the lot.
There's a balancing act with trade-offs going on, but even though this site at present is not very walkable in relation to external destinations, the proposed development internally still looks backwards to 20th century standards rather than forward to more walkable 21st century types.
It would be interesting to see if another round of design refinement could reduce the snoutiness of the duplexes and make it a little more walkable while also preserving a meaningful cluster of trees. Especially if the idea of a neighborhood center has traction, reshaping the duplexes in a more walkable configuration would orient them more fully to that center.
To return to the NEN meeting and concerns about absorbing parking and driving problems, if new density we add close-in is totally car-oriented, that could certainly be a problem. The key is that infill needs to be low- and no-car oriented for walk/bike/bus mobility. We can handle more people and more density if we use the smaller geometries of walking, biking, and busing. Better adjacencies with neighborhood-scaled businesses will also make it easier to subsitute walk/bike/bus trips for car trips. Both current and new residents will be able to make fewer car trips.
But if we push all of our density and growth out to the edges, it is certain to be excessively autoist, and the vicious, self-consuming cycle of parking and traffic will intensify.
Finally, two footnotes.
|Detail of the "missing middle" kinds of housing|
|Is there a name for this? Typical block at 1500 Cordon Rd|