Friday, September 30, 2016

History Notes in and around Eugene Sunday Streets

The close-in, gridded streetcar-era neighborhoods that are optimized for walking and biking also possess the best stock of older single-family houses, many of them lovely but ordinary, some of them grand or especially historic.

Change threatens real loss. The tension between historic preservation and infill redevelopment can be mitigated, but it is real. To make neighborhoods more walkable, to minimize the carbon footprint of neighborhoods, and increase the supply of affordable housing means necessarily that the texture of intact single-family residential neighborhoods cannot remain unaltered. Here in Salem we have seen how our Historic Districts have been created with withstand "encroachment," but it is increasingly clear that some elements of encroachment will ultimately be necessary.

Still, it is unseemly for a stranger to walk around town cheering upzoning without also thinking about why some might not welcome it. So even as it was interesting to consider upzoning in Eugene's close-in neighborhoods, it was also meaningful to consider what might be lost - and what already has been lost. Eugene has a rich history and, with the help of a terrific guide, it was by turns delightful and sad to think about it while walking and biking.

Gothic Revival Mims House on High Street
In a different historic district from the one on Blair Boulevard, just a few months ago a commemorative stele and plaque was erected at the two Mims Houses on High Street.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Park Front "Flatiron" Office Building at Boise for Planning Commission October 18th

The City has posted the Public Hearing Notice for the Design and Site Plan Review of the proposed Park Front "Flatiron styled" building at the Boise Project. Like with the Nursing Home, they also posted some plans.

Here are two new views to go with an earlier concept view.

New view: Looking southwest from Ferry Street

New view: Looking west from midblock
Maybe you will have opinions about it, but I don't much. I like the double floor glazed entry on the corner with the parking lot and I like the contrasting band along the ground floor. Otherwise the rhythm of the windows isn't very exciting or particularly lovely. The building looks serviceable rather than very interesting. The earlier treatment showed brick or something going all the way up to the cornice and that seemed like a better nod to historical styles than the larger black band on the latest elevations. With the two-story glazed entry and the window treatments, that band looks a little suburban office park to me. Generally the design seems to have shifted a little from the earlier "Flatiron" homage. But does it matter very much, especially since Front here is never going to be a great street for walking?

The Hearing will be October 18th at the Planning Commission.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Eugene Sunday Streets and Other Impressions of the City

Over at the Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates, they've made a couple of field trips to Portland to learn more about infrastructure and to experience Portland Sunday Parkways. But Portland is a very different size and scale, and so much of Salem's self-identity seems to be constituted as "not-Portland" or "not-urban" that it remains an open question how strongly comparative appeals to Portland will actually engage the wider Salem citizenry, especially those who like to avoid Portland.

The glorious weekend was a terrific opportunity to check out Eugene's version of Sunday Streets. Salem also defines itself as more conservative than those wacky hippies in Eugene, but at least the cities are of directly comparable size, nearly identical in fact, and so in some ways it provides better examples, both positive and negative, for comparison and learning. Salem does have things to learn from Portland, but we also would do well to consider the examples of Corvallis and Eugene. While I long for the ambition of Portland's longer routes and greater frequency, it may be that more modest events provide a more realistic model.

If you visit Eugene often, little or none of this will be new or possibly even interesting, but perhaps some readers aren't often in Eugene, and maybe there will be something interesting here for you. Here anyway are a few observations. Sunday Streets was great fun, but it was other details that were actually more interesting.

Kesey Square, Sizzle Pie, Starbucks on the former Pedestrian Mall:
A Changing Eugene
If there was a single image and a place that encapsulated Eugene on the trip, it was the former Pedestrian Mall and changes in land use on it.

Same intersection, Willamette and Broadway, 1971
(University of Oregon)
There used to be a fountain at this intersection, and without the foot traffic associated with car passengers it had grown dead, dead, dead.

Now it is gentrifying, with a Sizzle Pie and Starbucks, and there a lively sidewalk and cafe life. In Kesey Square there were also food trucks, and just behind it is an outpost of Voodoo Donuts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Center St Bridge Seismic Study Looks to get Funding, other Notes: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our MPO meets today, and there's lots in the meeting packet and agenda. (They even warn "this meeting could last longer than usual"!) We'll go back-n-forth a little in time (off the meeting agenda even) in order to try to give the emphasis we want to things.

Center Street Bridge Seismic Study and other 2015-2018 Funding Adjustments

Center St Bridge Seismic Preapp Sheet
Some bonus money appeared from the new Federal Transportation bill, and SKATS has a plan for it:
During the project prioritization process by the TAC this August and September, four projects were identified by the TAC that would be ideal candidates to add to the current TIP. Three of the projects would add funds to an existing project in the FY 2015-2020 TIP. The fourth was a new project to study the cost and feasibility of a seismic retrofit for the Center Street Bridge and could start in early 2017. These projects were the top four in the initial ranking, would not require additional scoping by ODOT, and the requested funds would be programmed in FY 2017 or 2018.

None of the proposed construction projects would significantly affect roadway capacity, vehicle volumes, travel speeds, or would require a conformity determination. Planning studies are exempt from conformity determination requirements. Therefore, a 30-day public review would not be required in accordance with the TIP Management Process.

Therefore, based on their high ranking and need to complete critical projects, the TAC recommends modifying the FY 2015-2018 TIP for the following projects:
  • Delaney Road Project Supplemental Funding - $50,338 STBGP-U funds
  • Center Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit Study - $179,460 STBGP-U funds
  • 12th Street SE: Hoyt Street SE to Fairview Avenue SE - $623,000 STBGP-U funds
  • 45th Avenue: Silverton Road to Ward Drive East Side Urban Upgrade - Total request of $1,791,496 in a combination of TA-U and STBGP-U funds
So as I read it, that then leaves this list for the rest of the preliminary rankings generated by the TAC and which will continue to be evaluated and ranked for the 2018-2023 cycle, which will take a few more months yet:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

City Council, September 26th - Low Income Housing and Transportation Burden

Council meets Monday and there are some interesting things on the agenda - but just summary bullet points today. Next week I may return to back-fill with more extensive notes, but maybe not. The meeting agenda wasn't posted 'til Thursday, and the first weekend of fall promises what might just be a summery last hurrah. You've probably got better things, too! (And the week before the UGB hearing on the 12th will be a dispiriting slog in the civics mire.)

Low-income Housing

Totally car-dependent
City has leverage with the Hospital and should have used it on Howard Hall:
Other bits
Again, some of these might merit more comment with an update early next week. Know something about one or more of them, chime in with a comment!

But that's all for now. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Cherriots: Stockholm Syndrome on SRC, Boardings down 11%,

Tomorrow the 22nd the Cherriots Board meets for a light agenda, mostly of reports.

One of them is on the Salem River Crossing Board Subcommittee, who met last month. It is dispiriting to pick on Cherriots, who have already suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but these minutes on the SRC suggest a neutralized Board, insufficiently critical and engaged on the costly, risky SRC and what would be the biggest infrastructure project in a generation.
President Krebs shared the Board’s concerns that the Alternative Modes Study needs to be implemented with the transit alternatives as well. One bus can take 40 people to a destination. It is not a huge infrastructure cost. Clover leafs at the end of the bridge might be a problem for the buses.

Mr. Pollock advised that the Board as a matter of record was supportive of the “Salem Alternative” as the preferred alternative but prepared a statement that was to be included in the SRC Environmental Impact Statement in order to avoid additional costs and design conflicts, advising that bus stop locations and construction should be coordinated with the District; and other supportive amenities such as park and ride lots, transit centers, bus queue jump lanes and transit signal priority were also to be considered as part of the design of the overall project.
Cherriots support for SRC
Letter from July 15th, 2013
Reprinted in Board Packet, December 9th, 2013
Wait, does GM Pollock work for the Board, or does the Board work for him?

In all seriousness, what is in the SRC for Cherriots? What benefit does Cherriots derive from the SRC and its Preferred Alternative?

Maybe you will read this differently, but if there were benefits to Cherriots, it seems like they would emerge clearly and easily in discussion. Instead, it seems obvious that nearly all of the consequences for Cherriots will be negative ones. It's the costs, not benefits, that are highlighted.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Salem Falls again in Bicycling Magazine Rankings, from 38th to 47th

The good news is Bicycling Magazine still ranks Salem in the top 50 cities for bicycling. The bad news is we continue to fall in the rankings relative to other cities. This year we are 47th.

From #19 in 2010 to #38 in 2014
Salem's ranking has traced a steady downward arc, going from #19 in 2010, to #22 in 2012, to #38 in 2014.

It's also a little hard to square a top 50 ranking with "miles of bike lanes in Salem...woefully inadequate."

Your mileage may vary - but the high level observation remains true: By national standards Salem is pretty good, but by absolute or international standards, Salem still rates poorly.

The LAB renewal will come out soon - Keizer you may have heard submitted an application! - and it will be interesting to see how our "bronze" fares in that round of evaluation.

Both Eugene and Portland ranked higher than Salem on the Bicycling Magazine ratings - but not Corvallis, Ashland, Beaverton, or Bend, each of which is rated "silver" or "gold" by the LAB. Those are interesting omissions, though they may have missed a cut based on population size.

Also interesting in the piece:
In addition to its work on a greenway network, in 2016, Salem will strip its first buffered bike lanes on two downtown streets, and launch a bike share system in 2017.
Bike share in Salem next year? Hmmm....

Also not quite sure about the geographic accuracy here:
On the 132-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway you’ll pedal alongside the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, through the Cubanisimo Vineyard, which produces some of the best Pinot Noir in the country, and amidst the refreshing fragrances of pink and purple wildflowers. Make a pit stop in Salem, about 30 miles into the Bikeway, for shortcake topped with local berries at the E.Z. Orchards Farm Market.
These are puff pieces, and maybe it is unrealistic to expect close-to-the-ground detail.

But even if you still want to celebrate Salem's top 50 standing, it is also important to note that we are losing ground relative to other cities, who seem more eager to give bike transport and bike recreation a bigger portion of the transportation mix.

West Salem NA on Salem River Crossing and 2nd Street/Marine Drive Plan

Earlier this month, SCAN voted for a resolution recommending
the Salem City Council stop all work planning for a third bridge in Salem and turn attention to 1) locating fund to retrofit the existing bridges so they are operational after a major earthquake, 2) review remaining recommendations from the 1998 SKATS [...] to improve traffic flow and safety of the existing bridges, and 3) finding low-cost and no-cost ways to reduce single occupancy vehicle commuting during peak hours.
SCAN resolution against SRC
via N3B
The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets tonight, and they could have an opportunity to do the same.

From the agenda:
[4] Old Business
  • UGB Expansion and Upcoming October 12th Salem Alternative Crossing Public Hearing;
  • 2nd Street Feasibility Study Follow-up – Tory Banford – City of Salem;
  • Salem Planning Commission Hearing Re: Development on Glen Creek and 9th Street update;
  • Park and Grant Ideas – Linda Bierly;
A few years back, WSNA had opposed the Salem River Crossing, but the vote was close, and it has seemed like the current board and active members of the Neighborhood Association are more in favor of the Salem River Crossing and the associated Land Use actions coming up next month.

But if folks packed the meeting, it might be possible to turn the tide!

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets at 7pm at Roth’s West, Mezzanine level, at 1130 Wallace Rd NW, tonight, Monday the 19th.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Rally, Public Hearing Thursday at Capitol Opportunity to Talk Transportation and Safety

On Thursday, September 22nd at 5pm, the Joint Interim Committee on Transportation Preservation and Modernization will hold a Public Hearing at the Capitol.

Our own Senator Jackie Winters is a committee member.

This is the final stop on a statewide tour of hearings and listening sessions. Previously they made stops in:
  • Portland
  • Ontario
  • Hermiston
  • Eugene
  • Bend
  • Medford
  • Newport
  • Hillsboro
At least theoretically, all this is to prepare for a large "transportation package" at the Legislature in next year's session.

New Downtown Housing Proposed for Corner of Front and Court

Here we go, there's no drive-through coffee shack for this corner!

Old Safeway at 245 Court - time for redevelopment!
Last month at CANDO there was talk about a new downtown housing project proposed for the corner of Front and Court downtown. Application for design review was just filed with the City this week, and the Downtown Advisory Board meets next week and will consider a grant application for $740,000 Urban Renewal funds to support the project. They're moving fast!

From the Urban Renewal application:
The redevelopment proposal [currently estimated at $9 million total] comprises a 43,790 square foot mixed-use building with 40 residential apartments on four floors over parking, ancillary uses and commercial space. The retail building is designed as a one story building of approximately 2,180 square feet. Parking is provided in an open garage and a surface lot that is tucked behind the buildings...A landscaped plaza is planned for the open area between the two structures and will provide both private and public open space...
Corner of Court and Front
The project site, approximately the quarter block at the northeast corner of Front and Court, is a parking lot with the early 1940s Safeway, and it seems likely the old Safeway will be demolished. No matter. The lot is just outside the downtown historic district, so it's not protected by that, and new housing is an unambiguously higher use for the land than repurposing the old grocery store shell, which had been remodeled already for offices. It has been vacant for a while anyway, and didn't seem to be in very high demand. Housing will be great. The small plaza and disposition of the parking sound appropriately urban.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Nursing Home at Boise Finally to go Before Planning Commission

Hey look, it's details and a Hearing Notice on the proposed Nursing Home for the Boise Project!

The Nursing Home's a done deal, it is what is is, and so even though it has seemed a really suboptimal use of the parcel, we'll stop complaining (mostly).

And in fact, right off, procedurally there's something very nice to note about the Hearing Notice. It's not a scanned image of a print out! It's a native pdf, and even though people grouse about pdfs, at least you can select text and embed links.

And even better, in it is embedded a link to the drawings.

That right there is a meaningful improvement on the way the City shares and publishes information. Maybe it will stick! (The other recently published notice is old-style and bad.)

So. What do we have?

Well, a lot of parking lot it seems.

But note that the Nursing Home's footprint is the dark shadow in addition to the beige building, and a good bit of the parking will be open, ground-floor carport style (see elevation views below). The main axis of the building will parallel the creek and be oriented to that rather than to the streets or sidewalks. The north part of the parking lot looks to be shared with the forthcoming Triangle Building, so that's a mitigating factor. All that lot is not just for the nursing home, and the building mass is bigger than it maybe looks from just the plan view.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

At the Historic Landmarks Commission: A Footbridge, a Caboose, a Mid-Century Contractor

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets tonight, and the main course is the proposed clinic for the corner of Mission and Liberty. There's not much to add to the previous discussion. (There might be more to say on the zoning matter at the Planning Commission in a few days, however.)

So let's talk about the other stuff!

The new Court Street footbridge will have a different alignment
The new Court Street footbridge over Mill Creek will have a significantly different alignment, passing farther south of the old sidewalk and bridge, and with a little bit of swerve on the sidewalks. It's also going to be a little bit wider.

So that was interesting.

The bridge report table of contents!
But there's a crazy amount of engineering reportage that seemed to be required. Holy smokes that looks like a textbook instance of unnecessary red tape and administrative apparatus. It totally looks like something that should be simple made complicated. It's just a footbridge. Does it really require all that? Maybe it does, but wow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Downtown Historic Bike Route Fails Family

There was a nice piece in the paper today about a family bike ride downtown. But while the piece is very "half-full" in perspective, it very clearly shows the problem with trying to bike downtown, and the extent to which we are willing to overlook it and give a faux-cheery pass to inadequate conditions for families and non-expert bike users.

Revised Travel Salem Historic Downtown Bike Route (detail)
From the piece:
Travel Salem provided exactly what I was looking for: a downloadable "Historic Downtown Salem Cycling Route" map.

Before continuing, I'll confess that our tour was a combination of cycling and walking. This mom errs on the side of caution when it comes to bicycling with kids. I'm very thankful for the new bike lanes recently created in downtown Salem, but when the map took us on busy streets where bikes and cars travel together, we walked our bikes on the sidewalk. [italics added]
If you want more detail on the route itself, there's a previous discussion here. Court and State Streets, the bulk of the route, are largely inaccessible for biking! It's not just part of the route, it's the whole thing, really.

The author and her family made it into a pleasant adventure, but broadly speaking, as a bike route meant for bicycling the route fails prospective users.

MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Guide
A "historic bike route" for tourists should be accessible to all skill levels, not just those willing and skilled to tolerate downtown traffic and its stress levels.

Downtown offers no good set of connections for families or causal cyclists. There's no different set of lines on a map that will solve this problem at the moment.

Instead, the problem calls for advocacy: Travel Salem needs to let Council know that Travel Salem can't undertake a tourism project they would like to do. Instead of going to Council and saying "things are great," please consider telling Council that things are difficult and you need help to make Salem bike-friendly for tourists.

The evidence is right here in print!

Open Houses: State Street on Wednesday, OR-22 and Mission Street on Thursday

The State Street study has an Open House on Wednesday the 14th. On Thursday is one for the Mission Street/OR-22 project.

The public meeting for the State Street plan will be Wednesday, September 14th at the Court Street Christian Church at 1699 Court Street NE, Salem. The meeting, which will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will focus on different land use and street design options for State Street. Notes from last month's Stakeholder meeting are here and comments on the land use and street redesign options here.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Car Violence and Preliminary Project Rankings at the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow the 13th, and they will continue early-stage draft ranking of projects for the Federal 2018-2023 funding cycle. They'll also be talking about yearly safety targets.

Detail from preliminary scores and ranking
In the meeting packet is a preliminary ranking of the 17 candidate projects for the Federal STBGP-U and TA-U funds for the FY 2018-2023 TIP. The ranking is "for discussion purposes only" so it's important to regard it as an early-stage draft, subject to revision and not something formal yet.

Nevertheless, there are some odd things about it.

A part of the ranking is pictured above, and you'll see that funding for the seismic study of the Center Street Bridge is #2, and some members of the TAC ranked it as low as 7th, 8th, 9th, even 15th.

The highest ranking project is for Delany Road in Turner!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Salem River Crossing at SCAN, 12th Street Open House

The South Central Association of Neighbors meets next week, and there are a few items of interest: On the agenda itself is a talk about transportation and the Salem River Crossing; in the minutes from last month, and preparatory to a Council meeting later this month, are thoughts on a proposed property exchange involving the park at McKinley Elementary School. (And a few other things as well.)

Staff Report may not be out until October 5th
Formal Notice on SRC land use matters
(Not part of the SCAN agenda)
From the agenda:
[6] Robert Cortright on Transportation Big Picture Considerations: Funding realities, aging Infrastructure, preparing for Cascadia and climate change, and the limitations of expanding road capacity to address congestion;
[7] Discussion on Third Bridge;
Bob's talk will be a good one! He knows lots of stuff!

If you are a regular reader here, you may know about some of these things. The important part is to expose your neighbors to them. So to the meeting, drag your neighbor who drives everywhere or thinks we need a bridge!

The timing on the Salem River Crossing land use actions, including an expansion to the UGB, may not be structured to allow neighborhood associations sufficient time to analyze, deliberate, and draft a formal comment. The Staff Report may not be out until October 5th, and the "final" hearing is assumed to be the "first" hearing. Everything is compressed to minimize actual deliberation - it's conceived as a done deal, clearly.

Friday, September 9, 2016

City Council, September 12th - Bike Racks for Parks

Council meets on Monday with a light agenda from our perspective here. What is of interest, though, is good news!

The City proposes to install bike racks at several parks, a fix-it station one of them, and to install an enhanced crosswalk on Pringle Road near WESD. 

Proposed locations for bike racks and a fix-it station
The first proposal is
to install a bicycle repair station at Geer Park, as well as bicycle racks at the following parks:
• Aldrich Park
• Grant School Park
• Highland Park
• Lee Park
• McKay School Park
• Royal Oaks Park
The bike racks and fix-it station (like at Riverfront Park and at Cherriots) would be funded by a grant from the HEAL project. This is a competitive statewide grant with a small total pot of only $35,000, so it's hard to say how much of a sure thing this is. Hopefully the City will continue to move forward with it even if Salem is not successful on this grant cycle.

The formal policy driving this comes from the recently completed NEN-SESNA Neighborhood Plan.
Policy 16.2 of the NEN-SESNA Neighborhood Plan calls for citywide installation of bicycle parking at all neighborhood parks to enable and encourage access by bicycles.
So it's nice to see that plan helping to drive this formal action.

"Racks to Avoid" - Don't spec these!
Essentials of Bike Parking
Association of Bicycle & Pedestrian Professionals
Just one wave racks!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Weather looks Great for the Peach Ride Sunday

The Salem Bicycle Club's Peach of a Century Ride is this weekend, and if you are looking for a fun, but long, ride through the rolling Waldo Hills, the weather looks perfect - 75 degrees and "mostly sunny." That's Goldilocks weather for a bike ride, not too hot, not too cold!

Day-of-Ride registration (for $45) starts at 7:30am on Sunday the 11th. (Full description and forms here.)
Each route starts and ends at Chemeketa Community College. The full century route is challenging with some steep hills. The 76-mile route also involves a significant amount climbing. The Metric Century route offers flat to rolling terrain with some moderate hills. (See the GPS tracks for more information about total elevation gain on the routes, but note the differences in the vertical scales when comparing the route profiles.) The routes follow low-volume roads past the farm fields of the Willamette Valley, through forested foothills and rural communities east of Salem....The 100-mile route goes through Jefferson, Scio, Stayton, Sublimity, and Silverton. The Metric Century route visits Jefferson and Stayton. The 76-mile route visits Jefferson, Scio, and Stayton.

There are three rest stops on the 100-mile route and two on the 66 and 76-mile routes. All rest stops have food, water, sports drink, restrooms and the friendly volunteers of the Capitol Kiwanis Club. All riders must finish by 6:00 p.m. A sag vehicle will sweep both courses at day's end.
But it has seemed like there is a slow but sure drift away from these kinds of rides.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Third Bridge at Parks and Recreation Board; Portland Road Crosswalks at NGRAB, Thursday

The North Gateway Redevelopment Advisory Board meets Thursday the 8th, and they'll be talking about the initial selection of candidates for enhanced crosswalks on Portland Road.

Some initial conversations with businesses on Portland Road has generated three candidates, at Stortz, Carleton, and one mid-block crossing further south.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fifth Area Person on Foot Struck and Killed This Year

From the Marion County Sheriff this morning:
Deputies with the Marion County Sheriff's Office are on scene and investigating a traffic crash that has left one person dead on Cordon Road NE near Carolina Avenue NE in Salem. From their initial investigation deputies believe a person was walking in the middle of Cordon Road NE when they were struck by an oncoming vehicle.

The person walking in the roadway was killed instantly, the driver of the only vehicle involved was not injured....

Cordon Road has reopened to regular traffic, the Sheriff's Office has concluded that an adult male, was walking in the middle of Cordon Road NE when he was struck by a north bound driver who as headed to work.

The Sheriff's Office has not been able to identify the deceased male as he had no identification and may have been homeless. The Sheriff's Office is withholding all of the names of the involved parties until proper identifications and notifications can be made, that time frame is not yet known.
Update, Wednesday the 7th

From the Sheriff:
Deputies have identified the deceased involved in Tuesday's fatal crash. Baxter Harrell, age 51 of Aumsville was walking down the center line of Cordon Road NE when he was struck by an on coming vehicle being driven by Josefina Cabrera, age 51, of Salem.

According to family Mr. Baxter left his residence earlier in the evening for a walk, it is unknown how he ended up so far from his residence or why he was walking in the middle of the road. Ms. Cabrera is cooperating with investigators and no citations have been issued.
This post will be updated.

Previously killed this year:

Monday, September 5, 2016

At the Planning Commission: The Uphill Climb for Walkable Neighborhoods

The Planning Commission meets on Tuesday the 6th, there are a few things to note about the ways we still struggle to make the land-use-health-transportation connections.

In one is news about a significant procedural change:
Previously, it was policy of the City of Salem Planning Commission to make the determination for approval of a comprehensive plan map amendment. However, in light of a recent decision by the Land Use Board of Appeals...the City of Salem has adjusted the policy to be consistent with State Law [that a comprehensive plan map amendment must be adopted by a local government's governing body].
So now we'll be seeing a whole bunch of this as boilerplate:
Approval of the zone change and site plan review decision shall be contingent on the City Council's decision on the Comprehensive Plan Map Change.
Every time the Planning Commission looks at a Comprehensive Map Plan Change in tandem with a zoning change, one of the Conditions of Approval will be this contingency.

So effectively that means there's an automatic appeal to Council every time.

Does this mean the end of the Planning Commission as a meaningful quasi-judicial review board?

Will this add to a desire to simplify and even eliminate parts of our exclusionary zoning scheme that really hampers our ability to create walkable neighborhoods?

Change at the Tennis Club

The matter in which the new contingency and Condition of Approval appeared is a proposal to change the zoning for the Salem Tennis and Swim Club:
In 1962, the Marion County Planning Commission granted a variance to the Salem Tennis and Swim Club to construct buildings, tennis courts and swimming pools for use exclusively for community club purposes by a non-profit community club...the applciant is seeking to change the ownership and operation of the existing club facility from non-profit to for-profit ownership [which requires a zoning change].
There must be an interesting story here. In the applicant materials they say
Unfortunately, the Club needs to sell the property and facilities. Fortunately, for the current members of the Club, the Applicant is willing and able to step in and purchase the Subject Property and facilities and continue to tennis and swim operation...
The Kroc Center has struggled, the YMCA and YWCA have struggled - is the model of the fitness and recreation club undergoing some real demographic and structural change?

It seems like there are better ways to incorporate moderate exercise into daily routines and that the drive-to-exercise-indoors model may be decreasingly popular. (More on that down below.)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Preferred Alternative is an Expensive Damp Squib

So one of the things that stands out in the Traffic and Transportation Technical Report Addendum is the fact that the improvement the Preferred Alternative generates is not actually all that striking. It might be nothing, in fact.

Shouldn't there be more green???
In 2040 close-in the Bridge significantly helps 5 intersections
and makes 4 of them much worse during the morning rush.
Even when you accept the internal assumptions and traffic modeling of the SRC, the number of key intersections that operate with acceptable volume/capacity ratios isn't as big as you'd expect for a $500 million investment.

If there's any kind of scoring for cost/benefit or return on investment, the Preferred Alternative wouldn't actually score very well.

The Traffic Addendum shows four maps with a set of key intersections rated for "meeting mobility standards." (You'll notice the numbering of the maps is non-consecutive; I think they are ordered in a way that hinders apples-to-apples comparison.)

Flex Lanes or Contra-flow Lanes on Existing Bridges could Meet Transportation Need

Each time we have a crash or blockage on the Center or Marion Street Bridges, we go through a bunch of hand-wringing about "wouldn't it be nice to have a third bridge." Of course, relative to big-city congestion, even our crash-induced congestion rates short-lived and minor.

Detail from August crash (see below for more)
But each time we have these crashes and traffic gets backed up on one bridge, there are often aerial shots or other traffic camera shot that show easy free-flow traffic in the opposite direction.

These incidents illustrate ways we possess and misuse excess capacity on our existing bridges. The result feeds our false narrative that we need to build a super-duper expensive new bridge.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Can Widening the Existing Bridges Meet Need and Avoid UGB Expansion?

The new Land Use memo (see previous note for more on it) directly engages the question whether Alternative 2A, widening the existing bridges, can "reasonably accommodate the transportation need" and therefore obviate the need for a Urban Growth Boundary enlargement.

Detail of Alternative 2A, from the DEIS, Chapter 2
(N.B. not from the Land Use Addendum)
We read in the June 2014 letter from the DLCD to the SRC team that
The second major step [in the UGB expansion process] requires that Salem prove that the need cannot reasonably be accommodated (language in both Goal 14 and in 660-024 implementing rules) inside the existing Salem-Keizer UGB. This is probably the most important and difficult step in the analysis. For example, the findings will have to show that the alternatives that involve widening the existing bridges only, or adding a new bridge next to the existing bridges in the urban growth boundary, do not reasonably accommodate the need.
Section 4.4.2 of the Land Use Addendum is devoted to this question in general, and subsection "Can Alternative 2A Reasonably Accommodate the Transportation Need?" directly looks at it.

Finally untethered from all the expository material in the report, this is one of the principal analytical moments in the memo.

Its conclusion is negative, that
the evidence and findings for the UGB amendment will support the conclusion that Alternative 2A cannot reasonably accommodate the transportation need...
This is summarized in table 4.4-3.

There are seven claims or tests, and the analysis asserts that Alternative 2A fails to meet four of them unambiguously.