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.

Also on the agenda are a couple of items on the City Transit Committee. Council proposes to increase its maximum membership from nine to 17, and also proposes to add six new members. These new members look to add meaningful diversity to the initial slate.

In the on-going attempt to make the Mill Creek Corporate Center work, Council will consider executing an
Improvement Agreement with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to formalize responsibility for approximately 2,700 feet of Kuebler Boulevard SE improvements [at about $2 million] along the Mill Creek Corporate Center frontage and issue a Partial Release of Constructional Deferral Agreement to DAS and the future property owner, after closing on the sale of Site A of the Corporate Center
At least $42 million in subsidies
But it's just not at all clear how the Mill Creek Corporate Center will ever pay for itself. Maybe some of the analytical perspective offered by Joe Minicozzi can begin to inform our approach to this property.

In Eugene, by comparison, just off the Fern Ridge path in Eugene, the Greenhill Technology Park sits mostly vacant.

Greenhill Technology Park is largely vacant
Fern Ridge path in blue,
West 11th Ave/OR-126 borders on the south edge

Lots for Sale at Greenhill Technology Park
According to the Register-Guard,
[it] has struggled­ to attract companies since it was planned in the 1990s by former Eugene mayor and lumber executive Ed Cone.
It's got these wide tree-lined streets, almost a boulevard, with sidewalks, bike lanes, two auto through lanes, and a center turn pocket - though there are no driveways into which to turn. It's empty.

There is in the whole Willamette Valley, not just in Salem, a surplus of this kind of overdeveloped land that has been waiting for years.

Council will also receive a nothingburger update on the downtown Streetscape project:
On May 25, 2017, the Urban Development Department opened a solicitation for an RFP for a Downtown Salem Streetscape Plan. This solicitation closed on July 14th, and the next steps in the process will be to evaluate the proposals with the goal of selecting a consulting firm to engage the community and solicit input through public meetings and work with staff to develop a plan. The purpose of the Streetscape Plan is to be transformational for the downtown public realm and establish downtown Salem as a world-class urban environment.
It would have been more helpful to share something in detail about the evaluation process, or something other and more meaningful than puffery about hopes for "a world-class urban environment," which is almost certainly not going to happen.

In a small neighborhood matter, Council proposes to eliminate parking restrictions just above the Candalaria shopping center near Commercial Street. This has no city-wide significance, I don't think, but since it has to come to Council the process and history behind it is a little interesting:
Public Works has received requests by the affected residents on Candalaria Boulevard S to remove the existing parking restrictions that were implement by Council Resolution No. 79-104 (adopted May 7, 1979). The request to remove the parking restrictions has been approved by the neighborhood association. A petition has been circulated to the affected residents and the majority of signers approved removal of the parking restrictions. The Citizen Advisory Traffic Commission has approved removal of the parking restrictions. Because the existing parking restrictions were implemented by Council Resolution, this resolution must be rescinded before the Public Works Director can issue an administrative order regarding the parking restrictions.
And finally, two other items of related interest:


MikeSlater said...

I don't think your characterization of the community forest report as "not showing a great deal of progress" is accurate. The plan has just been in place for four years. In that time, the city set a tree canopy goal, created a tree ordinance (which i would like to see strengthened) and administrative rule, established an Urban Forester position, and created a shade tree and riparian zone planting programs that has installed 477 large diameter shade trees in neighborhoods and 2,018 small diameter trees in riparian zones. I think the program merits more dedicated funding so that the City can plant more shade trees in low canopy neighborhoods and conduct a tree survey to get a better understanding of what is needed were, and that the City Council needs to identify and enact effective regulations that will protect mature trees and promote tree planting on private land. We can't dismiss the work that's been done to date just because we wish it would have been more extensive; instead, we need to build on it.

Susann said...

"the next steps in the process will be to evaluate the proposals with the goal of selecting a consulting firm to engage the community and solicit input through public meetings and work with staff to develop a plan. "

There worry by some has been the vague words of staff on this issue of Downtown Streetscape. The opportunity to do something significant is hardly hopeful when the potential area is limited to side streets (not Commercial or Liberty) and limited to $3 million AND the Public Works Department has claimed that any street improvements must also include street and sewer upgrades. This means that it might just be some superficial changes.

That other part of my concern is the vague statement about 'engaging the community and solicit input.' So, in the past this has meant a designer shows off their ideas in an Open House and the public gets to comment. Salem needs some real engagement of both property owners as well as users of the Downtown. This would include presenting ideas, listening to suggestions and then incorporating them into the design in a meaningful way.

We shall see if this is a good process, but you can understand how based on things from the past experiences makes some of us a bit wary.