Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hops are More Important than you Might Think!

Have you seen today's long front-page article on hops?

It's hop harvest time
It's glorious to see more mainstream attention to hops in culture, in history, and in our agricultural economy.

The article's focus is more on the development and late 20th century influence of the Cascade hop, developed at OSU and featured in what some have said is the most influential modern beer: Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale first released in the late 70s, a few years before Oregon's pioneering brewers were starting in the mid-80s.

The pre-history before the Cascade doesn't get much ink, though:
Early Oregon farmers rarely grew hops for beer.

In the 1800s, before Goschies began growing hops, fresh cones were stuffed into pillowcases to lull children to sleep, used as an antibacterial agent in soap, and served as a homegrown antidepressant.

But as beer popularized, so did hops, and harvests became larger and larger. The Goschie family started growing hops commercially in 1904. By then, brewers were the customers.
That understates the local significance of hops and the scope of hop ranching and hop harvests!

It was featured on the now-demolished First National Bank as for a reason.

Hop Harvest on the now-demolished Belluschi Bank,
relief by Frederic Littman

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Debate on I-5 Rose Quarter Project

You might have noticed that there's a new debate over freeway widening in Portland.

Probably the best summary of it is at the Portland Mercury: "Oregon's $450 Million Plan to Widen I-5 Has Portlanders Preparing for War: But Can Activists Kill Another Highway Megaproject?"

Portland Mercury
BikePortland gets into the weeds with the most comprehensive coverage:
The coalition opposing it has a project site, No More Freeway Expansions.

The Street Trust, formerly Bicycle Transportation Alliance, has distanced themselves and seems to be trying to have it both ways: "The Future of the Rose Quarter."

Via the AP, the local presentation at the SJ
Almost certainly the single most important takeaway is the concept of trying out decongestion pricing first. See how that does or does not tame the traffic. And then consider other measures if it fails. But try pricing first.

This story we probably won't follow closely here, but may update this post for reference and to keep a running tally on it as it develops.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bike commuting Flat in 2016

There are some new census numbers on commuting coming out, and in our era of cheap gas, they are not good.

At 1.3%, Salem's at the top of p.2
Several cities actually show declines. As far as I can tell, Salem's rate remains unchanged, fluttering historically around that 1% to 1.5% level, within the error bars for any assessment.

For bigger cities there is more hand-wringing:
Here the lesson surely is that if we want to see fewer drive-alone trips, we are going to have to dig in more and make more of an effort. Mostly we're adding doilies and trinkets and bikey bric-a-brac on the margins, not making determined structural and systemic efforts to make walking, biking, and busing more convenient and more attractive and less costly than drive-alone trips, especially for short trips.

Our Metropolitan Planning Organization has said
The SKATS MPO -- along with our local jurisdictions and ODOT -- invests in a balance of travel modes: auto, transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects.
And 1.3% is the resulting "balance."

That's not balance. That's tokenism.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Jazz first comes to Salem in 1917

August 8th, 1917
One of the interesting things to come out of reading about Riverside Dip was the fact that once the summer bathing season was over, it also had a "dancing pavilion." And even more interesting than the mere existence of the pavilion was the sudden appearance of "jazz" in Salem.*
Have you heard of the Jazz band and the jazz music and the new jazz dance? While very few of the up-to-date dancers are dancing the jazz dance, never the less the jazz band and jazz music is with us and will make its first appearance next Saturday evening at the dancing pavilion of of Riverside Dip. Lyle Bartholomew, who has charge of the Dip during the afternoons will probably also superintend the dancing pavilion. A jazz band to be a real jazz band must include a piano, xylophone, drums and either banjo or saxophone. All the musical instruments must be of the loud kind in order to make more noise than the walking feet of the dancers. The jazz dance is coming.
The word doesn't seem to have appeared in the paper before 1916. In 1916 it first appears.** The context is baseball, though, not music.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

City Council, September 11th - Bridge Seismic Retrofit

Center Street at Commercial, one-way at present - streetview
Council meets on Monday and they will consider an intergovernmental agreement on the Center Street Bridge Seismic Retrofit.
An Intergovernmental Agreement has been prepared to identify the roles and responsibilities for the seismic upgrade study. Highlights of the agreement are as follows:
  • The cost estimate for the seismic study is $200,000. MWVCOG will provide $179,460 of federal funds; ODOT will provide $15,405 of local match funds; and the City will provide $5,135 of local match funds.
  • ODOT will select a consultant to perform the study and be responsible for overall management of the work.
  • City staff will assist ODOT with the consultant selection process and provide input on key decisions and the final report.
  • The study is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
Additionally, the State of Oregon recently received Legislative approval through the Transportation Funding Package for an estimated $60 million dollars to complete seismic upgrades to the Center Street Bridge. The City will continue to coordinate with ODOT after the seismic upgrade study is complete to facilitate the design and construction of the final improvements.
The proposed IGA is limited, however, and Council may want to consider holding off a little and expanding it.
the Parties agree to cooperate in the preparation of a seismic retrofit study of the Center Street Bridge and connected structures that will produce a plan and cost estimate for completion of seismic retrofit measures for the identified vulnerable elements based on a full (Phase 1 and Phase 2) seismic retrofit approach such that the bridge and connected structures would survive a major seismic event and continue to provide a functioning crossing of the Willamette River...
The plan right now does not appear to give sufficient consideration to movement, to mobility, beyond the structural engineering necessary to make the structure survive a quake. After a quake, presumably the Marion Street Bridge will be toast, and two-way functioning across the remaining bridge will be necessary, at least until the Marion Bridge is repaired or replaced. This is, then, both an immediate problem after quake, and a medium-term one in the aftermath. So there's a case that the formal Plan for Seismic Retrofit should embrace both structural engineering and traffic engineering.

1917 History of Bridges Talks about Funding and Costs

Planked westside approach to first bridge of 1886, detail
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
This is the most comprehensive history I have seen of our first three bridges across the river, the bridges of 1886, 1891, and 1918.

September 8th, 1917
Sometimes a history suggests a comment on the present, but I'm not sure this one does. Conditions are different enough with funding, population, and transportation technology that I don't think there are really any direct and transferable lessons for our current bridge debate. Even with a little bit of Kingwood Park gridded with streets, West Salem was effectively totally rural. This article, then, is more for reference, a curiosity and footnote, than part of any argument we regularly make here against the Salem River Crossing. Maybe you will discern something or read it differently.

West Salem in 1917: Gridded a little, but not built up
Brush College, Chapman Corner, Eola are all rural places
(USGS historic maps)
The headline is about funding. Since the first bridge lasted only 4 years, and the second was hardly 25 years old, it's not so surprising they might not have been fully paid off. (Parallels here might be more like Courthouse Square.) As far as structures go, the Union Street Railroad Bridge of 1912 has been the enduring one.

Indirectly it is also interesting that Polk county opposed paying for a bridge. Note Asahel Bush's role in "bridge" financing! Perhaps if the very first bridge had been a toll bridge, development in West Salem would have been different and we would be having different conversations about "induced demand." In any case, the first bridge was free, and by a great margin, people continue to expect a "free" bridge.

(There are no illustrations with the article, and I have interpolated the map, several photos, and a traffic count that are not themselves part of the article.)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

We all got Eclipse Glasses, Why not a Carbon Tax and Climate Plan?

Most everybody got eclipse glasses, right? Scientific modeling said it would pass over the Salem area and that totality would occur a little after 10:15.

The immediacy of totality in Salem - via Twitter
It arrived on-time, as predicted.

Astronomy has a longer track record, it's true, but scientific modeling also predicts increasing levels of carbon dioxide and consequent climate disruption.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Streetcar Struggles Prompt Protectionist Jitney Licensing in 1917

September 5th, 1917
Here's a story that it might be possible to develop over some time. The decline of the streetcar system in Salem is understood in general terms, and of course it mirrors the decline nationally of streetcar systems. It is also generally assimilated into the story of autoist triumphalism, something like "Cars were of course superior, they were in demand, and so it cannot surprise us the streetcar died out, etc." But there are probably local actions and details, twists and turns, that might be a little interesting, and maybe would even revise some of our understanding.

The City's history of the streetcar system cites Ben Maxwell from mid-century, and quickly summarizes a generation's worth of developments:
In 1905 a contract was signed for construction of a carline from the South Commercial Street terminal to Liberty. Service was promised after January 1, 1906. Early in 1910, Portland, Eugene & Eastern had extended their carline over six blocks on Center and Summer streets. This line was projected to the Fairgrounds but dead-ended in a field before reaching that destination.

A newspaper story published on May 19, 1921 credits T. L. Billingsley, superintendent of Salem's streetcar system, with telling the Marion County Realtors' Association that "the city's street railways have not paid in 30 years." He went on to say that he had been associated with the city's carlines since 1912 and that since that time the Company had not received even operating expenses. He pointed out that the investment in Salem's street rail transportation was $458,000 and that total loss to the operating company in 1920 was $43,000.

Street buses replaced carline service on the Seventeenth Street extension on November 24, 1924. On July 29, 1927, Salem newspapers told of busses operating on State Street. On August 4, 1927, Superintendent Billingsley reported that there had been no hitch at all in Salem's complete switch-over from streetcars to buses.
But it is almost certainly true that the story is more complicated and more interesting, and that there was government action involved in addition to whatever market forces were operating. There were policy and regulatory decisions in addition to market developments.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Before Wallace Marine Park, Riverside Dip

Part of, or just north of, "Riverside Dip"
Wallace Marine Park has been in the news this summer. There has been the tragedy of drownings and the consequent effort to make life jackets available. There has also been the question of how much impact the Salem River Crossing and Marine Drive would have on the park.

In a history of Wallace Marine Park posted to the old City website, the City dates the park to the 1950s:
In 1956, Paul Black Wallace left 24 acres of prime riverfront land known as Wallace Marine Park to the citizens of Salem. Subsequent purchases and gifts have increased the size of the park to 68 acres. As specified in his will, Wallace's two daughters placed a white marble memorial stone at the park entrance in his memory and that of his life-long friend Joseph Albert. Formal dedication of the memorial was made in 1972.

Basic development of the park took place in the late 50's, soon after the Wallace gift.
While public ownership itself dates only to this period, there was activity here more than a generation before the park was established.

It turns out we have seemingly lost the history of an antecedent, an introductory chapter to the modern park.

A bathing beach at the base of the Center Street Bridge on the Polk County side was known as "Riverside Dip" during the late 19-teens.

July 31st, 1916

Monday, September 4, 2017

Few Wobblies in Salem, but the IWW made Big Headlines

100 years ago there didn't seem to be much "wobblie" presence here in Salem, but the Industrial Workers of the World was big news, often on par with World War I for the headlines. This was convenient, too, as the war mobilization effort offered an opening to crush dissent and define a treasonous "other."

These are headlines all from the front page during the summer of 1917.

August 1st, 1917

August 2nd, 1917

August 18th, 1917

September 6th, 1917

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

New Warehouse Jobs Avoid City Center

Are these really innovative?
The big news this week is the announcement about a thousand "innovative" warehouse picking jobs at a new giant facility on the edge of town. In an "Enterprise Zone, it is estimated that
the new $90 million building would be eligible for a $1,235,800 per year tax abatement for three years. After that, the tax bill for the building will be about $1.2 million.
Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

In the excitement it is perhaps not easy for City Staff and other leaders to be critical about how this fits into the big picture for Salem.

At best, it seems like a deeply mixed bag.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Eclipse and a Delightful Fullness in Downtown

The energy downtown was great!
Did you make it downtown for any part of the eclipse? The energy was terrific, with lots of sidewalk life!

On the lunch hour sidewalk seating at the restaurants was busy, but not uncomfortably crowded, and it was so great to see and feel the activity downtown.

At least in the informal aggregate assessment of the total bump in business done by the paper, it sounds like Friday and Saturday were mostly a bust, however; Sunday was better, and the post-eclipse crowd on Monday the best.

It's hard to say off-hand how it compares to other events, though, like an especially good First Wednesday, On Your Feet Friday, or the Hoopla. This would be nice context also to have. In absolute terms, it sounds like a disappointment and really undershot projections.

Monday was best
In any case, walking around downtown after the eclipse was wonderful, and the sidewalk life, with many tourists and residents, jazzed with vibrant energy. It was stimulating.

But it is possible that with all our attention directed towards the sun, we missed out partially on the full social dimension of the event.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

City Council, August 28th - Ice Rink and Amphitheater

Council meets on Monday, and they'll be thinking about two big ways to juice activity in Riverfront Park.

Amphitheater Concept 1 - CB|Two
There is an update on the Rotary Amphitheater project, including sheets on each concept.

Probably in part because of the lovely, moody lighting represented in this moon scene, I have kept returning for several weeks now to the first concept by CB|Two. Apart from the mood, I like its asymmetry, the graceful swoop of its lines, and especially the ramp and secondary level on the right side, towards the river and slough. There may be practical considerations that limit it as a performance space and municipal amenity, but as an instance of public architecture, it swells with the most possibility and energy it seems to me. Anderson Shirley's concept is plainer and draws less attention to itself, and that has merit too. The other CB|Two concept belongs at Pickathon! It doesn't seem right for here. And the AC+CO concept looks like a wind-mobile and weather station, all decked out with vanes and other ornament. It is too baroque and does not seem like it would age very well. (What are your favorites?)
Final concept renderings from architectural firms are due to the Design Committee in early September. The Design Committee will select a “Preferred Design” on September 21, 2017, which will be forwarded to Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and City Council for final approval in October.
There is also a proposal to pilot an ice rink in Riverfront Park during the winter. The group applying for it has operated one in Modesto with success apparently.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey, Catastrophe, Car- and Gas-dependence

Writing at Grist:
About one-third of U.S. refining capacity lies in the path of Harvey, and operators are starting to shutter operations in advance of the storm. Any sustained outages could cause a temporary nationwide surge in gasoline prices. Patrick DeHaan, an oil industry analyst, told Grist that catastrophic flooding could prevent refiners from getting back online quickly.
Deepwater Horizon
As Emily Atkin writes in the New Republic, the pollution consequences of the storm could be immense. Harvey’s floodwaters could seep into massive underground gasoline storage facilities, potentially dislodging and floating the tanks.
These are costs of our autoism, all exacerbated by the drive for cheap gas.

And another strong reason to stop digging in on more auto capacity, and to work instead on increasing mobility that doesn't depend on gasoline and drive-alone trips.
Presentation to Oversight Team in 2014

We should embrace these standards more passionately

Kmart Closure Chance to think more about 25th and Mission

That's a whole lotta nothin at 25th and Mission
You probably have already seen the news that the Kmart store at 25th and Mission is going to close.

That's a high traffic intersection, and you'd think that it would support more business, more activity, more something.

But it was already a void with too much parking lot, and it's emptying out even more.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse and Carmageddon Chance to Think Critically about Capacity

Maybe the gridlock will materialize, maybe not.

However it shakes out, the prospect of the eclipse of our current auto capacity today or on Monday is going to be a great time to think about the geometric limits of auto capacity.

Simply put: Cars are space hogs.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Windows into History at Moore Building of 1924

from 1948
The Historic Landmarks Commission meets this evening* and they will consider a proposal to replace windows on the Arthur Moore building. The Staff Report recommends approval, and it doesn't seem like there's anything important to say on that matter.

New Windows for Arthur H. Moore Building on High Street
However! Arthur Moore is of special interest here because he was an important early bike dealer. (He provides a "window" into transportation history!)

You can read more here and here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

State Street Study has Consensus on Zoning, but not on the Street

The meeting summary and presentation boards for the State Street Open House last month have been out for a little while. There are no real surprises, but it might be worth visiting a few points.

The summary of comments suggest there is the outline of a consensus on zoning, but not on a street redesign.

Consensus on zoning, but not on the street
But before we talk about substantive matters, there is one tiny comment, buried deep in the summary, whose tone is arresting and which leaves me with the sinking, queasy feeling that it is a more dominant sentiment on the project than our polite society is usually willing to say:
  • Preferred alternative should focus on excluding low-income, transient populations and ensuring a better class of shoppers, tenants, and homeowners
Is that really the key to a lot of other criticism of the plan's concepts?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

World War I Prompts Changes in Retail Transportation

Here's an interesting moment in transportation.

World War I Propaganda
US Food Administration Poster
via National Archives
(But also: Immigrants!)
At the same time as Herbert Hoover* was building out a system of price controls and food rationing for the United States Food Administration in August of 1917, Salem merchants were advertising the shift from a delivery system with credit to a "cash and carry" system that required customers to transport goods from store to home, business, or field.

August 15th, 1917

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eugene Parklets Show Mixed Results; New Mill Race Path Skirts Industry

Thanks to an expert guide, beyond the desolate industrial park and the new bridges to EMX on the Fern Ridge path, there were a few other things to highlight from a recent visit to Eugene.

One of them was an opportunity to see the winning parklets installed on the street.

Three of the four winning parklets in Eugene
"Vivid Summer," on the left, is full; the other two are empty
Three of them were on Broadway just west of Willamette. This was an area that used to be fully closed to auto traffic and part of the downtown pedestrian mall. SW Oregon Architect has notes on the competition and plans and on a visit to the installations.

Though empty in this image, "Vivid Summer" was sometimes full
via Southwest Oregon Architect
On his visit he lamented that
during my quick stroll-by I found all to be unoccupied, despite plenty of passersby on a busy Saturday afternoon. They appeared forlorn and all too quickly forsaken.
This was not what I saw the weekend before, or what I heard about the weekend of Sunday Streets a week prior to that. I saw and heard that one of the parklets - but not all four of them - seemed to enjoy consistent visitors. That was the "Vivid Summer" project.

It may have offered better seating, better chances to mingle and socialize, and a more dynamic set of levels.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Headlines Erase Subject in Attack by Car

Yesterday a man in Charlottesville, Virginia drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one. The driver was later arrested and charged with "one count of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run with injury."

How it appeared in the Statesman, via USA Today
Most of the headlines, both locally and nationally, treated the car gramatically as the actor, the responsible agent and grammatical subject, in a probable crime.

Friday, August 11, 2017

City Council, August 14th - Commercial-Vista Plan

Council meets on Monday, and it's likely that the biggest matter will not be on the agenda - what to do about the do-over on the SRC required by the recent LUBA decision.

There are several other transportation matters of interest on the agenda.

Council will formally consider the Commercial-Vista Corridor Plan and whether to
accept the recommendations contained in the Commercial-Vista Corridor Plan project report and direct staff to seek funding to implement the recommendations and to incorporate the recommendations into the Salem Transportation System Plan at the next amendment opportunity.
Buffered bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks at Waldo Ave
Some of the project has been funded already, including:
  • Buffered bike lanes on Commercial Street SE from Oxford Street SE to Winding Way SE;
  • Pedestrian crossing islands on Commercial Street SE near Waldo Avenue SE and Triangle Drive SE; and
  • Bike signal on Commercial Street SE at the intersection with Liberty Road S, including adding protected left-turn phase from northbound Commercial Street SE to westbound Alice Street S.
This general approach is something we could consider extending farther south to the area on Commercial where a driver struck and killed Shatamera Pruden as she attempted to cross Commercial Street, where it is posted for 40mph, and 85th percentile speeds and design speed mean traffic routinely approaches full highway speed.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

LUBA Tepidly Remands SRC Decision back to City

By now you will have already heard that LUBA remanded the Salem River Crossing UGB expansion back to City Council.

The decision, however, is not a strong one, and it is interesting to see the autoist bias expressed in affirming procedural and technical details.

If the "spirit" of the law is to reduce drive-alone trips, LUBA makes no attempt to evaluate by the intent or spirit of the law, and instead finds that any fig leaf for compliance will do in order to protect autoist interests.

The matter that has seemed most interesting here is the question, "what does it mean to 'implement' something?"

LUBA finds that the need to implement things other than highway expansion first "is not as absolute as petitioners argue." They also find that as long as the benchmarks or standards are vague enough, there is nothing to challenge.

On "implement" and Policy 1G

On benchmarks
As a consequence, our advocacy task is to beef up our standards and benchmarks. For example, our milquetoast adopted standard is bike lane coverage on 70% of designated streets by 2030. Apparently a more solid appeal procedure would have pointed to a specific failure to meet this or other adopted standards.