Sunday, March 19, 2017

In the Neighborhoods: Ex-Parte, Eclipse Mania, Effective Alleys

Several bits to note this week in the neighborhood associations, as well as the Open House for our road projects in the 2018-2023 local funding cycle. West Salem, CANDO, and NEN all have interesting agenda items.

West Salem

West Salem Projects in the TIP, including Wallace crosswalks
(Draft 2018-2023 Interactive TIP Map)
The TIP outreach continues, and at the West Salem Neighborhood Association meeting on Monday they'll get an introduction to our MPO and its draft 2018-2023 funding cycle and projects.

In addition to enhanced crosswalks on Wallace Road, significant projects include:
  • The first stub end of Marine Drive
  • The Doaks Ferry realignment and new intersection with Highway 22.
The City Attorney has been making the rounds to different boards and commissions to talk about the perils of "ex-parte" contact and the basic difference between judicial and legislative functions, and the ways each relate to ex-parte contact. As I understand it, in a judicial matter, when Council or another board is applying law or rules to a particular case, ex-parte contact is forbidden; in a legislative matter, when Council or another board is considering general policy matters or rules, ex-parte contact is not an issue.

This is an interesting thing. On the one hand, it is understandable that ex-parte contact should be forbidden in judicial matters as a check on back room deals or insider information. All the relevant testimony and information should be presented impartially with all deciders present, hearing the same exact thing. That seems reasonable.

On the other hand, we have created a kind of fetish for "public participation theatre," proceedings that give the illusion of public participation and impartiality as a way to neutralize dissent and to cover decisions that are already in the bag, and it is not always clear that forbidding ex-parte contact actually affords the most vigorous debate and best decision-making. Forbidding ex-parte contact also can tend to exclude information from those who may not be able to attend a public hearing because, for example, there is no real evening bus service in Salem. The administrative wrapping we have around forbidding ex-parte contact may hinder or even harm those who don't already have access to power.

This is a difficult and obscure matter, and it seems likely that there have been law journal articles and such about the new social media landscape and its implications for ex-parte doctrine.

Anyway, it doesn't seem possible to have a firm opinion at the moment, but it does seem like our notions about improper contact are increasingly out-dated and rooted in earlier 20th century modes of power and communication.

So the talk with the City Attorney might be especially interesting.

Wallace at Edgewater
In the minutes from the last meeting there was more about this notion for a footbridge over Wallace at Edgewater:
[A neighbord] presented his project for a bicycle/pedestrian bridge beside Highway 22 over Wallace Road NW at the Edgewater intersection to the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board on March 1. Co-Chair...attended the Grant NA meeting to ask for their support for the project.
It seems wrong-headed and autoist, but maybe when some details are published finally it will be possible to evaluate it more fairly.

It looks like the April 3rd meeting might have more detail on this, when Urban Renewal staff will more formally make a comparison of the current undercrossing plan with this overcrossing scheme.

Finally, there is a letter full contesting a Traffic Impact Analysis for a proposed "Whispering Heights" development, it looks like between Michigan City Lane and Rogers Lane just at the northern end of the city limits. That might be something to watch as it develops.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday the 20th at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW).


The downtown neighborhood association meets Tuesday.

Downtown Projects in the TIP, including 12th St Signal Timing
(Draft 2018-2023 Interactive TIP Map)

They'll also get an update on the TIP. The big project there is the Union Street Bikeway!

At the meeting there will also be updates on the Winter-Maple Bikeway and on a proposed Open Streets event for the summer that will use the bikeway's route.

But holy smokes! In the minutes for the last meeting was an observation that was just staggering.
the City was expecting an influx of as many as 50-60,000 for the August solar eclipse, that there are no more portable toilets available to rent for that event and the City may have to look elsewhere, maybe Idaho, to meet the need.
It has been impossible not to notice the hoopla around the eclipse. One of the best promotions is the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes EclipseFest, an event in the best tradition of goofy minor league baseball marketing. They're going to have a morning game and pause during the eclipse! It will be "the first ever 'eclipse delay' in baseball history." It got national attention and a contingent of baseball analysts, journalists, and nerds from around the country is going to attend.

But 50,000 or more people??? Salem will grow by a third??? Apparently the State Fair had about 27,000 average attendance last year. But that's a lot of local visitors. What's something that has that kind of attendance impact that draws the increase from a non-local population?

The toilet problem is non-trivial!

And are all these people going to have rental cars?

Anyway, the logistics of it all seems like something to think more about.

CAN-DO meets Tuesday the 21st, at 6:00 p.m. at First Christian Church on 685 Marion Street NE.


The Englewood and close-in northeast neighborhood association also meets Tuesday.

They'll also get an update on the proposed Open Street event for the Winter-Maple Bikeway route.

In last month's minutes there was an interesting discussion of alley paving and sidewalk maintenance:
Alley maintenance is funded from the garbage franchise fees who were interested in maintaining safe alleys. Started 1980s. Original alleys were for fire use.

City has been in the process of converting gravel alleys to pave to reduce silicosis, health issues and maintenance upkeep. [City staff] noted that he has converted to a better rock which reduces maintenance costs. For 20 feet of alley costs are $275 to grade it. To dig an alley up and relay rock bed is $1900. Paving an alley is $4,000. Every winter between March and April, the alleys will be inspected for winter damage. Paving is weather sensitive so in the NW climate it is done in July & Aug....

99 percent of road maintenance comes from the gas tax. The bond measures cover new construction. State collects gas tax and keeps ½. Counties get 1/3 and the remaining 20 percent is divided between the cities. Salem’s budget accounts for $10 million. Federal safety rules mandate spending. Local streets are on the bottom of priorities so they get the least funding. [A neighbor] conducted a poll on alley paving on Next Door and got 15 responses. Concerns were that alley paving would increase speeds and cars could not stop if a child was in the area....

It will take 40 years to repair the sidewalks....[Staff] discussed new rules for open gravel roads to reduce dust plumes. 3 to 5 years asphalt will become standard rule because of health issues associated with dust plumes . Get calls about city trucks speeding in alleys....

People drive at their comfortable level. Potholes force people to drive slower.... [A neighbor] noted that the alley between 15th & 16th has one of the oldest sewers in Salem.
The discussion of road design/conditions and the connection to driving speed was nice to see.

That's interesting about paving alleys, also, and maybe something to pay more attention to.

NEN meets Tuesday the 21st, at 6:30pm in the Salem First Church of the Nazarene, 1550 Market Street NE.

SKATS - TIP Open House

SKATS TIP brochure
Finally, there will be an Open House for the 2018-2023 funding cycle administered by our Metropolitan Planning Organization.

You can comment there, and SKATS will also accept comment through the Public Hearing on April 25th.
Look for the historic sign
next to the entry
The Open House is Wednesday the 22nd, from 4pm to 6pm.

SKATS is at 100 High St. SE, Suite 200, above Andaluz Kitchen and Table Five 08. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The link to the SKATS TIP interactive map shown in the post is You can also send comments by e-mail to

Mike Jaffe
Transportation Planning Director
Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments