Wednesday, August 31, 2016

New Land Use Memo for Salem River Crossing shows how Deeply Unserious We Are

As the Salem River Crossing team gears up for the Land Use approvals and proposed expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in West Salem, they way they are managing public information is at the very least a little sneaky and underhanded. There's nothing like a commitment to sharing, full disclosure, and public-minded debate.

Fortunately, over at N3B critics have pried some information out of the team.

One of the reports is the Land Use Final Technical Report Addendum. In draft or final form it has not been published to the SRC website
In it is outlined the case for the Urban Growth Boundary expansion.

It's a real blizzard of information, and in order for the public to be able to engage it at the level of fact and interpretation of fact, it should be more widely shared with reasonable lead-time for non-specialists to be able to consider and digest it. It should be shared with reasonable lead-time for City Councilors and other Elected to consider and digest it. If the process is structured so that even City Councilors don't have enough time to read all of it, then the process is probably structured wrongly.

More generally even if, in withholding the memo, the SRC team has still been fulfilling the minimum of legal requirements for disclosure prior to a Public Hearing, as a statement of public-minded interest, it is a sham and a sign of disrespect. It is totally reflective of commitments to a pre-determined conclusion and to "public participation theatre."

Since there's so much to consider in it, we'll start with something small and, in the big scheme of things, a relatively minor detail: Bikes and mobility by means other than drive-alone trips. But we need a point of entry. I suspect there will be more to say in additional posts, and a logical second item is to look at its assessment of Alternative 2A, the concept to widen the existing bridges.

Section 4.3.4 on Bikes

From the Land Use Final Technical Report Addendum, on the next page immediately following table 4.3-4 just above:

100 Years Ago: Twenty mph is Plenty; Whitlocks by George Post; Hops better than Paving

Twenty is Plenty: August 29th, 1916
At the moment I don't have more context for this - like how many people were dying, how fast autos could actually go, etc. - but it is interesting to note that speeding was already a problem in 1916 and an urban limit of 20mph seemed prudent and reasonable.
via Placemakers
Now we tolerate speeds well above 20mph and try to shift the burden for safety from drivers to people on foot: Be cautious, wear bright clothing, and stay out of the way when walking.

The pernicious spirit of demands for high-viz safety gear

Whitlock Vacuum is by George Post

D'Arcy Building from 1916 (September 2nd, 1916)
Designed by George Post
A few details may need to be confirmed to button this up 100%, but this citation from 1916 suggest the entry in the downtown Historic District Nomination for one half of Whitlock's Vacuum needs some revision.

Here's what they said in 2001:
The D'Arcy Building was constructed around 1909 and conveys a clear sense of evolving historical development in the Salem commercial district between the early 1900s and 1950. The D'Arcy Building's upper facade was altered early on, when the building's use changed from a one- and one half-story movie theater to a two-story retail store.
D'Arcy Building on right half of Whitlock's (from 2012 streetview)
Stylistic kinship with the McGilchrist Block
The newspaper piece suggests the building is new construction from 1916, not a remodel of the Wexford Theater or other building from 1909. It is also significant that it was designed by George Post, a fact the Historic District Nomination is ignorant of. Post designed the Carnegie Library, McKinley School, the McGilchrist Building - and maybe others we don't know about. His architectural legacy in Salem is mostly lost and hidden at the moment.

Road Crew Deserts to Pick Hops

September 6th, 1916
There's lots of hop picking ads and news in the papers in late summer 1916, but this note stands out. "The lure of the hop fields called four laborers of the paving crew working on the fair grounds road yesterday."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Key Bike Boulevard Crossings Stays in Line for State Funding

Our local Area Commission on Transportation meets Thursday the 1st, and the final recommendations in Region 2 for State funding in the 2018-2021 "Fix-it" and "Enhance" program cycles are on the agenda.

Five Crossing Safety Projects
Project estimate is now at $566,220
The Salem proposal for several enhanced crossings, including two for the Winter-Maple Bike Boulevard route, one of them for an intersection where Caroline Storm was killed last year, made the final cut as part of the 100% recommended list for funding.

Our area's 150% list, with 100% recommendation in green
Significantly, after formal scoping by ODOT, the project's estimate was raised once again, having already gone from $250,000 to $380,000. This time its estimate sits at $566,220.

The other recommended project is on Hayesville Drive NE for sidewalks and bike lanes, and outside of Salem proper in unincorporated Marion County.

Monday, August 29, 2016

DAS Ad for North Campus of State Hospital is Interesting

Well, this interesting. While reading some of the paper online over the weekend, this ad for the north campus of the State Hospital popped up. (Have you seen it?)

Ad running online at, 27 August 2016
I had not seen this zoning concept before. It's not something the City or State is doing much to share or publicize, it seems.

The concept is identified in the current RFP as "Highest and Best Uses per Appraisal – NOT a proposed development plan." So it's something buried inside the appraisal, a further development off the Leland study. (The appraisal doc is 473pp, but it has a bunch of other documents appended to it, including the "Framework Master Plan" from 2005.)

It suggests that the City has given up on acquiring the northwest corner for a park, and instead demarcates a smaller center portion on D Street for park land (brown). The northwest and southeast corners are both designated for commercial-office space.

Breitenbush Hall area is marked for mixed-use, and the main area of demolition with Santiam, McKenzie, and Eola Halls, for RM2, high density residential.

The northeast corner is marked for RM1, medium-density residential.

It seems to me that this may miss on the value of the corners, which ought to be the mixed-use zones. The appraisal doesn't appear directly to engage its reasoning for dealing with the corners as it does, so this might be more arbitrary than not. At the same time, if 25th is brought up to current standards for a public street with sidewalks and such, there will be real corners on it. But 25th will still be an interior street, without direct continuation north and south. The corners on 23rd and Park will be more lively, and these seem like they merit greater thought and attention. These corners will be the cornerstone for the project.

As a mixed-use scheme, then, this concept plan still seems more autoist than walkable, an inferior expression of a mixed-use master plan.

The ad redirects to this sales page, and several other reports are linked from that.

The appraisal, for example, also lists other infrastructure requirements:
  • Upgrading frontage roads - $750,000
  • Intersection improvements - $1,000,000
  • Water lines may need to be replaced
  • Onsite wells may need backflow devices and/or other improvements
  • Storm and sanitary sewer needs work, including a new sewer main - $600,000
  • A storm water study is necessary - $25,000
The RFP to my eye reads pretty reasonably. It includes a final section on "Considerations":
Please take these community interests into account when exploring uses for the property.
  • Relationship to context. Development to the north and east of the site is primarily single-family residential. To the west and south are large scale, densely developed medical uses.
  • Multifamily. The City of Salem lacks multifamily land, has historically-low vacancy, and is experiencing rising rents (15% year-over-year increase).
  • Need for open space. Appraiser recommends approximately 5 acres of contiguous park space, fronting on D Street. Others have suggested more.
  • Impact to D Street. Neighbors like the low-traffic nature of D Street; directing most traffic to Center, Park, and 23rd will be better received than driveways on D Street.
  • Employment. Jobs are always welcome.
  • Neighborhood-Scale Retail. Despite the major employer across the street, the vicinity is essentially devoid of restaurant/retail options and lacks commercial-use land.
While these "considerations" don't appear to be binding at all, and if you are inclined to a cynical reading, they could be just empty lip-service; at the same time, if a developer took them seriously, they would be a good and fair-minded guide.

Otherwise I don't know there's anything much here to argue at the moment.

Early plats show small orchard/farm land clearly;
We've planted trees here and cut them down before.
(Heritage and Identity presentation on Lansing-NESCA)
The tree-removal and demolition plan seems defensible, and while some do not agree with it, the criticism of it has seemed overwrought and insufficiently sensitive to the actual challenges of the site, the old buildings set on a mid-century campus away from the sidewalks, and of Salem's housing and development needs. That criticism has seemed to occupy an idealized world too far removed from what actually is. (Other criticism about the lack of public process and master planning has more merit, however.)

It's important also to remember the Dome Building and Yaquina Hall are being saved; the plan truly occupies a central place in the debate about which reasonable people can disagree.

Once a buyer is identified and begins to articulate plans - well, then there might be more to argue!

(For all notes on the North Campus project, see here.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Forget Horses, Bikes way more Useful in Catastrophe

It's great the paper published a reminder about earthquake after the catastrophe in Italy this past week.

But to say "it is not an exaggeration to say that transportation by horse will once again be essential" is to miss the actually useful technology that requires a whole lot less care and feeding, and that performs even better than horse.

In Japan after a 2011 earthquake
After Typhoon Haiyan - via the Oregonian
(AP/Aaron Favila)
The paper's even written about them before.

From 2012
While this may not be a primary reason to invest in bike lanes and a culture of biking today, it's certainly a strong secondary reason. The more we bike now, the easier it will be to get around when catastrophe strikes.

Friday, August 26, 2016

ITE to FHWA: In the City, your Hydraulic Autoism is Obsolete!

News of the Institute of Transportation Engineers' critique of the Federal Highway Administration's proposed rules on measuring congestion has been making the rounds this afternoon. That's a pleasant thought to take into the weekend.

About measuring congestion and performance by vehicle delay in urban environments they write:
There is significant concern that by focusing on delay minimization for vehicle travel, the vast majority of which involves SOVs, other modes of travel may suffer. This is especially true of pedestrians and bicycles, which are often accommodated within developed urban areas by reducing the amount of available infrastructure (and thus, the capacity) for SOVs. Even transit-based modes, such as buses, may cause minor to moderate additional delay for SOVs as their usage increases, given the unique operating characteristics of these vehicles. While few would argue that the expansion of these non-SOV modes of travel do not bring with them significant benefits to public health and community livability, these benefits are marginalized by distilling the congestion performance of a roadway down to the sole ability of SOVs to move quickly through the corridor. Such a measure harkens back to the previous 50 years of SOV-centric policy development, and has the potential to reduce (or even reverse) the investment in multimodal transportation infrastructure, for the sake of meeting this performance target. [italics added]
More at People for Bikes, Transportation for America, and Streetsblog.

(For more on hydraulic autoism see here.)


From SKATS' "Comments on the Proposed Rules for 23 CFR Part 490 - National Performance Management Measures":
Subpart E – National Performance Management Measures to Assess Performance of the National Highway System

Our comments on this subpart are focused on the proposed measure for the non-Interstate NHS, section 490.507(a)(2), Percent of the non-Interstate NHS providing Reliable Travel Times. The non-Interstate NHS includes facilities with a wider variety of physical characteristics than Interstates. Interstates are built, for the most part, to a particular standard: Lane width is regulated, medians are present and access is controlled. The non-Interstate NHS, especially as defined after October 1, 2012, encompasses a wide variety of roads that are considered principal arterials. Some are limited access, multi-lane facilities that are designed and operate similarly to Interstates. However, the majority of non-Interstate NHS facilities defined within the SKATS boundary, and likely in most MPOs in the country, provide for the movement of traffic within an urban area including the distribution to lower-order roads. Often these roads have sidewalks and bike lanes and serve adjacent land uses, both residential and commercial/industrial uses, via driveways and other curb cuts. Some roads will have lanes dedicated for the movement of transit vehicles. These roads may be undivided, divided by barriers, or have center-turn lanes. The movements on them are controlled by signals that are spaced according to the functional class of the intersecting facility. Some have speed restrictions during part of the day due to the proximity to a school.

A performance measure that focuses solely on the reliability of vehicular travel time in such a setting is potentially directing investment that could damage the urban fabric of the area and diminish the livability along the corridor. A more nuanced measure is necessary in such situations.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Craftsman-Bungalow Podiatrist Office Proposed for Corner of Liberty and Mission

Things look to be heating up for fall, and there's a bunch of Hearings announced for the Historic Landmarks Commission next month.

Three of the things seem more-or-less routine, but one of them is not.

View from Liberty

View from Mission: Long and Low
At the corner of Liberty and Mission, in an effort to create something compatible with the Historic District, there's a huge Craftsman-Bungalow styled podiatrist office proposed.

Typical proportions are closer to square
The Houses of Grant Neighborhood
It's hard to tell from the elevation sketches, but here's a hot take: Once built, it will be out of proportion, so much so that it may even be a grotesque enlargement of a typical Craftsman-Bungalow form - It looks way too long, and not tall enough for the length, flattened like a pancake.

My gut is that we would actually be better served in this particular place by a building form that is not trying to mimic - and even camouflage itself in - an historic style in order to be "compatible" with the Historic District.

Our Historic Preservation Code, however, tends to the opposite conclusion. SRC 230.035(b)(1)(C) requires that
The design reflects, but does not replicate, the architectural style of historic contributing buildings in the district.
So there's that. But it seems to lead here to an aesthetic misfire.

You might have a different opinion, and it would be interesting to hear from folks who think the vintage 1920s look is actually the best approach.

The site itself has been contested. In 2007 Salem Weekly wrote about the "demolition by neglect" that was underway, and in 2010 the SHINE historical digest covered the demolition itself.

But here we are with an empty lot on a changing Mission Street. There is no reason not to allow a podiatrist office here.

But is trying to ape a Craftsman Bungalow actually the best design solution?

What do you think?

Other items on the agenda, which at least from here do not seem controversial:
Once the Staff Reports come out there might be more to say, especially on the podiatrists office.

The Public Hearing will be Thursday, September 15th.

A Postscript

Statesman, September 27th, 1925
This is nice! A reader sent in a note about another bungalow court (see discussion in comments below). This one is a little hidden, on the south side of Miller Street right at the path connection with River Road. Back then it was "at the corner of John and Miller Streets," but John doesn't go through now (or perhaps never did).

Update, September 14th

The Commission meets tomorrow and you know what? This is faint praise, but it's true, it doesn't suck!

Looking NE from Liberty

Looking SE through intersection of Liberty and Mission
Given all the constraints and competing interests here, on the whole it seems alright.

If these elevations are accurate, it's not as out of balance as I feared it might be. It's still inelegant, but it's not grotesque. Maybe there's some refinements or adjustments the HLC might request - the facade on Mission St might be articulated more to break up the facade, and it could use another entry. It doesn't really relate organically to the Mission St sidewalk. You can nitpick at it if you like, and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. But the big picture seems decent enough.

The Staff Report recommends approval, and as far as these things go, there doesn't seem much reason to contest it.

It looks like the written record will be held open for another 7 days in case SCAN wants to bring more criticism, and maybe it will have to get voted on next month. Maybe, too, the zoning change Hearing on the 20th will complicate things. In the meantime, it seems neither catastrophic nor terrible.

Update 2, September 19th

Here's the Staff Report on the zoning change, which recommends approval.

This discussion of encroachment seems nuanced and reasonable, and interestingly seems to lean in the direction of a form-based code type interpretation:
Neither the classification of historic districts or resources as "Residential" or "Commercial," nor the design standards which implement tham take the place of the zoning code in establishing permitted land uses. The predominantly residential Gaiety Hill/Bush's Pasture Park Historic District includes some non-residential uses, just as the "Commercial" Salem downtown Historic District includes some residential uses. In summary, the Residential Historic District designation is implemented by standards limiting incompatible design, materials, scale, and intensity of development - but not the specific uses allowed on the subject property....

The CO (Commercial Office) zone is frequently found along buffers between single family residential areas and more intensive commercial uses...City records indicated that CO zoning has abutted RS zoning along the corridor since at least 1976, prior to the designation of the Gaiety Hill/Bush's Pasture Park Historic District.
Some critics want to freeze the district in its "period of significance" from 1878 to 1938, but of course that would be peak streetcar era, and critics may not also be willing to dethrone the personal automobile for residents. Our historicism is not always deeply considered, and the City here may actually situate the historic district in a stronger sense of unfolding and active history than do critics, who sometimes want something more static.

At any rate, I find the City's answers persuasive here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Transit Advocacy, Climbing Traffic Counts, ODOT Criticism, Trees and the State Hospital - Newsbits

Tree Removal at the State Hospital

Over at SCV there's criticism of the City's decision to allow removal of a bunch of trees in tandem with the demolition work for the North Campus of the State Hospital.

People really seem to think that more of the current buildings should be saved.

But the way they are deployed on the campus is fundamentally inimical to good urban form.

Even if we converted all of them to low-income housing, which seems like a virtuous thing, the concentration and lack of circulation or connectivity with the street grid and sidewalks would almost certainly lead us to resent them.

Pruitt-Igoe housing project - via Wikipedia
The form of the buildings in Pruitt-Igoe and other similar projects totally rhymes with Eola Hall! They all retreat from the sidewalk and fail to promote good circulation and connections with the street grid.

Eola Hall on north campus of State Hospital
(via University of Oregon)
The Dome Building and Yaquina Hall are being saved, and we should embrace the opportunity to create a vibrant mixed-use project on the resulting "shovel-ready" canvas.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

At Least Three Infill Developments have Alley Garages - Do You Know of More?

Thinking about the new alley garages at Fairview Addition made me wonder how many others are in Salem. I know of three infill developments that have them. Do you know of any others?

Broadway Estates behind Salem Cinema

Broadway Estates Townhomes at 4th and Belmont NE

Former West Salem Elementary School Site

At 3rd and McNary NW

Fairview Addition

At Fairview
Both the Broadway and West Salem developments are infill on older sites with grids that already had alleys. So the Fairview project is the only entirely new development that I know of whose alley concepts are also wholly new.

Are there any others in town?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Contrasting Approaches at Fairview Augur Well for Whole - New Houses at Fairview Addition

The weekend offered a chance to check in on the Fairview Addition. There were 10 houses in various states of completion, and several more lots were marked "sold," so hopefully its sales are proceeding at an acceptable pace.

The corner placement of the porch for one of the houses at the end of a cul-de-sac was striking. An alley segment intersected the bulb of the road end, and across the alley were "The Woods." Even on a cul-de-sac the porch worked the urban border of house and street and forest really nicely, and it felt active, not dead-end sleepy.

The porch borders the sidewalk,
an alley, and woods
Forest Alley off the Cul-de-sac
Here's the garage for the same house (at left, light blue below).

Friday, August 19, 2016

Salem Weekly on Urban Waterfalls would be Fun Visit by Bike

Here's a splendid idea for an appropriate urban jaunt this hotter-than-hades weekend.

Salem Weekly published a tour of our urban waterfalls. Maybe you will already know about them, but this first one behind Kettle was new to me.

Part of a Salem Weekly tour of our waterfalls
It's significant, too, that it was a WPA project - we can add it to the list of New Deal projects in Salem!

From the Salem Weekly piece:
From its beginnings, the city of Salem was built above and among waterways that originated in the foothills of the Cascades and flowed through town to the Willamette River. When they first enter city limits, these waters are still more than 200 feet about sea level; by the time they discharge into the Willamette River, they are less than 115 feet above sea level.

The story of Salem’s ‘waterfalls’ is the record of how human beings have channeled that approximately 90’ drop in elevation to manage flooding, allow commerce and create power.
Though it may not meet the strict definition of a falls, the drop and historic turbine at Misson Mill on the Mill Race surely belongs on this tour also.

(And are there others? So much of our creek land goes through private back yards and is not public. There could be more!)

And it makes you wonder - if on each of these falls we put a micro-generator, how much energy could we generate? In a lower-carbon world, is this a source of energy we have unwisely neglected?

Check out the article. And if you're in need of a watery bit of urban exploration for the weekend, a tour of the sites by bike might be just the ticket!

Other related bits about the Mill Race in Pringle Park and the Civic Center:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

City Council, August 22nd - Action on the Epping Property?

Council meets Monday, and there's some news about the "Epping property" on Portland Road.

Former Rose Gardens Motel on Portland Road
(See history of motel here)
Council will learn about a proposal
to construct 180 units of affordable multi-family housing on approximately eight acres of land located at 3350 Portland Road (Attachment 1), beginning in spring 2017.
On the one hand, this is great news. Included in the report is a chart from a different report, "Rough estimate of housing affordability" in the Salem area, and it identified a deficit of about 6,400 affordable homes for households that earn less than $25,000 annually.


This is a key parcel on Portland Road, and it will be good to see it redeveloped.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Lansing-NESCA on Design Language Embraces 90-Degree Turn; Keizer wins TGM Grant

Last week the Lansing-NESCA Neighborhood Plan project met to discuss Commercial development, and some of the findings seemed worth a note. (Presentation here, meeting notes here.)

Among the exercises, folks looked at and rated a grid of design elements for smaller-scaled neighborhood commercial and for arterial commercial-scaled businesses.

90-Degree Turn

Parking in front, parking in back, parking on the side
One of the findings was a preference for what we've called here the 90-degree turn, with parking on the side.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Creekside Water Rate Debate Omits Climate Change and Prospect of Drought

Yesterday the two articles about the dispute and dueling plans for the Creekside golf course and development generated lots of comment.

One key concept seems to have gone missing in the discussion, however: Climate Change.

The debate has been framed up in terms of
  • Loss of home and property value without an adjacent golf course
  • Loss of jobs if the golf course must close
  • Changing water usage patterns by large irrigators
  • Reducing water costs for large irrigators and compensating with increasing costs for residential users
November 2015

September 2015

Monday, August 15, 2016

Transportation in West Salem, Setbacks in CANDO and NEN - in the Neighborhoods

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets tonight and they have lots of transportation on the agenda, including some Third Bridgery.

CANDO and NEN also have interesting notes on building form, especially set backs and relation to the sidewalk.

West Salem

Lots of transportation items on the agenda. (The Second Street alternative could be interesting to learn about.)

[2] Police Report – Dutch Brothers & Traffic on Wallace Road;

[4] Old Business
  • Update on Parking Issue around West Salem High School;
  • Update from Transportation Subcommittee – Mr. Shaw’s proposed alternative to 2nd Street project;
[5] New Business
  • West Salem Transportation Update and Salem Transportation Plan – Julie Warncke (Transportation Planning Manager, City of Salem), Doaks Ferry Road Changes (Polk County);
  • Endorsement of a joint jurisdiction meeting regarding UGB expansion happening in West Salem
The West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting is at 7pm at Roth’s West, Mezzanine level, at 1130 Wallace Rd NW, tonight, Monday the 15th.


You've probably seen the photos and article about the demolition of the Barrick Funeral Home over the weekend.

From the last CANDO meeting, they've got a picture of the latest plan. It is still delayed because of a traffic study, but here are a couple of observations.

An early version used a driveway off Ferry, but that is being closed and looks like it will be a walkway only. Car access will be off Church Street and the alley only.

The building will not be flush with the sidewalk, and this seems like a mistake in our zoning requirements. When buildings go in downtown and replace older buildings, in order to preserve the requirements for a lively and interesting sidewalk, they should be flush with the sidewalk and not have the bark mulch setback characteristic of suburban style development. (Hopefully we can see an elevation with more detail at some point. Maybe the setback will be paved and become an extension of the sidewalk - so it's a little ambiguous also.)

While one driveway off Ferry is closed,
the building is pulled back from the sidewalk
Finally, the ratio of building area to carspace, including parking, is so tiny. It's nearly a full quarter block, and the building plate is so paltry. This development just empties out the space and creates more of a void in downtown.

Another Federal Judge Questions Over-Optimistic Traffic Projections

Well, you might remember the proposed highway in Wisconson where a Federal Judge found big questions on traffic projections.

Traffic projections didn't model reality very well
via N3B
Over at City Observatory they've got news about another problematic set of traffic projections and a Federal Judge who has questions.

The situation is a little different. This involves a Transit Authority and ridership numbers, not a State Highway Department and car trips. But it's traffic all the same.

Judge Richard J. Leon writes
"[A]n agency need not supplement an EIS every time new information comes to light'...but rather only when "new information provides a seriously different picture of the environmental landscape..."
This is to avoid "arbitrary and capricious" revisions of an EIS.

So a question was, did the new information about ridership rise above the "arbitrary and capricious" standard.

It did! And the Judge rejected the Record of Decision.

From Friends of Capitol Crescent Trail v. Federal Transit Administration and State of Maryland.
...defendants fails to engage in the requisite supplemental analysis with respect to important recent information that calls into question, at a minimum, whether nearly a billion dollars...should ultimately be committed to a project for which serious questions have been raised as to its future viability. While a temporary halt in the project is not ideal, it would make little sense and cause even more disruption if defendants were to proceed with the project while the SEIS was being completed...Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that the Record of Decision be vacated and remanded to the defendants for the preparation of an SEIS...Common sense requires no less.
The case is being appealed - so who knows. But perhaps there is an increasing and consistent body of case law that we cannot commit hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars on projects with badly outdated traffic projections based on assumptions we know are false at worst or very problematic at best. Though the decisions don't use these exact words, they seem to suggest that our colloquial sense of "best available information" needs to become our standard, that when a sufficiently large gap exists between old, outdated information and new information, we need to revised our analysis.

And the Salem River Crossing is nowhere near that standard of "best available."

OAR 660-024-0060(8) - via
As we consider the existing bridges and "The capacity of existing public facilities and services to serve areas already inside the UGB as well as areas proposed for addition to the UGB" (OAR 660-024-0060(8)(b)), even before we get to a Record of Decision, these Federal cases suggest that we need to revisit our traffic modeling and the assumptions behind it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Controversy over Cost of Downtown Bike Lanes is Unwarranted

A footnote meant for internal communication only was not edited out of a public message on the bike lanes for High and Church Street, and it doesn't look very good. Especially in light of the proposals to overbuild a new Police Station and overbuild a giant new highway and bridge across the Willamette River, it seems to feed a narrative of an out-of-control and secretive city.

The truth in this case is the opposite.

Construction costs might be higher than we like, but relative to industry norms, the City of Salem routinely brings in small road construction projects under budget. The costs from the 2008 road bond projects came in about 80% of budget and by adding a bunch of smaller projects, the City was able to add by count of projects another 50%. Sure, much of this was during the Great Recession, but the facts are that the City is not profligate on small and medium-sized road projects.

The project for bike lanes for Church and High is no different.

Budgeted for $600,000 in 2015 CIP
In the Capital Improvements Plan for 2015-2020 adopted over a year ago by City Council on page 41 the project is budgeted for $600,000.

There was no secrecy here.

State Street Study looks at Draft Zoning and Street Redesign Concepts

The State Street Study just published a new memo on land use and transportation. It looks to be preparatory to an Advisory Committee meeting next week, and then a full Open House next month.


Two mixed-use zoning concepts with the geography
further split at Mill Creek in different patterns
Two zoning approaches were examined to achieve the goal to create a new mixed-use zone. One considered modifying existing zones and the other focused on creating a new zone. Based on staff input, it was determined that a new zone would best effect the kind of change that is envisioned for the State Street corridor....

The recommended zoning framework is a “family” of two related, context sensitive, new mixed-use zones that would apply to portions of the entire corridor. At this time, there are a number of possible patterns for the two proposed zones, as described in the maps and evaluation criteria in the following sections. Each pattern or configuration provides a different response to the context and to community feedback, and performs differently against certain goals, objectives and criteria, according to the Evaluation.
  • MU-1 zone is the most urban and allows the highest intensity development. MU-1 is intended to result in buildings that are primarily multi-story mixed-use, with retail or office on the ground floor, and residential or office uses in upper floors.
  • MU-2 zone is a less intense mixed-use zone that is primarily multi-family housing and mixed-use buildings. Residential uses are permitted at the ground floor...Horizontal mixed-use buildings are permitted; standalone multi-family housing developments are permitted.
Several deployments of the two new zoning concepts are illustrated and scored. The highest scoring alternative is to rezone the full corridor with the new proposed mixed use designation. They do note, however, that "Alternatives with a focus on the west end of the corridor are more in line with a realistic path of development momentum, emanating from downtown’s higher value real estate."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What about the Macys Block?

We talk a lot here about the scourge of our appetite for free parking. A central claim about downtown is also that the number one thing it needs, at the very top of the list, is more downtown housing.

Following retail trends is not a matter of great interest here, but it has been impossible not to notice recent talk about Macy's selling stores and about the decline of classic 20th century department store brands. Just today the Oregonian has a note about 100 store closures and more speculation about the downtown store on Pioneer Square.

Locally, as Meier & Frank the store here was a mid-century icon; as Macy's it seems increasingly like an afterthought.

So is it time to think about what might come next?

Downtown Macy's (all images here via streetview)
The store has the only big privately owned downtown parking garage attached to it.

Four or Five levels of parking

Webinars, Seminars, and the New BTA - Newsbits

This webinar announcement from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership just came across the newswire the other day and it looks like it could be useful. Some families are already involved in the Salem Area Bike Boulevard Project, but in general terms the Safe Routes to School concept is undernourished here in Salem and it can always use more support and broader support.
Youth support for policy change, program development and community planning can be the catalyst to success: When kids speak up, adults listen.

Learn about youth engagement at the local, regional and state level, how kids of all ages are influencing their community in positive ways, and how your community can engage youth, participate in meaningful dialog, and share ideas with decision makers and community members to make a difference for safety in their community
It looks like it'll happen August 24th, 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern time - so that's 10am - 11am our time.

It's FREE and you can learn more and register for it here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Buffered Bike Lanes on Commercial, Other Green Lanes Lead ARTS Funding

There have been some delays, but earlier this summer ODOT finally came out with the final list for the "All Roads Transportation Safety" grants. Salem received several, including funding for the buffered bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks identified in the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study. A few other sites are identified for modern green colored urban bike lanes. There's also a road diet for Broadway around Pine Street. (The full list of projects is a spreadsheet here.)

Buffered bike lanes on Commercial
(yellow highlighting added)
This is a lightly edited excerpt, not wholly decoded or unpacked. If you see something particularly interesting, please say so, and maybe there will be reason to come back and look more closely at this or that project.

Some of the projects look like the piggy-back on others: The Fairview@12th, Marion@12th, Lancaster@Market for example look like they build off of planned or already complete projects.

Most of the projects are pretty autoist, but several have meaningful components for people who walk and bike.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

At the MPO: Second Pass at Applications for 2018-2023 Funding Cycle

The Technical Advisory Committee for our MPO, the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study, meets today, Tuesday the 9th, and they'll be taking a second look at applications for "the Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP-U) funds and Transportation Alternatives (TA-U) set aside funds for the FFY 2018-2023 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)."

After a pre-application phase, full applications were due on July 29th, and there has been a winnowing. TAC members will do a second scoring to "evaluate and prioritize the projects and provide the results by August 30, 2016."

Project locations (download here)
Here are the preliminary rankings on the full pre-application list from June. Projects with full applications submitted on them are linked to the application (you will need to download them as they will not open in a new browser window). Unlinked projects for whatever reasons did not have full applications submitted and are not going on to the next round. 17 out of 31 advanced. Here also is a map and a summary table.