Sunday, September 24, 2017

City Council, September 25th - Brown Road and Proclamations

Council meets on Monday and while the proposal for a Sit-Lie Ordinance rightly gets headlines, there are some other transportation matters on the agenda.

The City has assembled a trio of project applications for Federal funding:
SKATS is soliciting for transportation projects that will be ready for contract in fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021. The total federal funds available for this solicitation is $5 million....

[the three projects are] for Brown Road NE Complete Streets, McGilchrist Street SE Complete Streets, and Orchard Heights Road NW Pedestrian and Pavement Improvement.
I think this is a result of extra funding from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. From back in July at SKATS:
The addition of CMAQ funds for SKATS in FY 2019 to FY 2021 provides an opportunity to review projects in the FY 2018-2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and add projects using federal STBGP-U funds that were not programmed in the TIP. Approximately $5 million will be available for projects for obligation in FY 2019 through 2021. Staff and TAC members need to discuss the project identification and application process that should start this summer.
One of the projects was already funded and needs completion funding. It is identified as the highest priority.
The project will construct sidewalks and bike lanes on Brown Road NE between San Francisco Drive NE and Sunnyview Road NE and add a turn lane at the intersection with Sunnyview Road NE. Brown Road NE is a collector street that provides access to Scott Elementary School, is located on a bus route, and is adjacent to a future park site.

Additional costs were identified during project design. In particular, right-of-way costs are approximately three times greater than originally estimated and hazardous material has been identified that will require special disposal. Because this project already has federal funds, staff recommends that this be the City’s highest priority for additional federal funds. [italics added]
The other two are new:
  • [A project on Orchard Heights] will fill in two missing segments of sidewalk....The first segment is approximately 340 feet long and is adjacent to the Glen Creek Village Housing Authority Apartment Complex. The second segment is approximately 500 feet long and is along the frontage of a City water reservoir. The project will also construct a median at the entrance to the park opposite Parkway Drive to facilitate pedestrian access to the park.
  • In 2016, the City was awarded federal funds for right-of-way acquisition for the additional width needed along McGilchrist Street SE and at intersections, with the exception of the intersection at 22nd Street SE. The intersection of 22nd Street SE and McGilchrist Street SE is an off-set intersection that will be realigned as part of the project. The right-of-way for this intersection was not included in the previous application because of higher costs associated with the realignment. Staff recommends that the City apply for the additional right-of-way needed to realign 22nd Street SE at McGilchrist Street SE.
These are small, incremental projects, and two are explicitly small parts of larger projects. (The whole McGilchrist project at the moment is conceived as a much larger TIGER recipient, and the future of that Federal grant program remains in doubt.)

From the TSP with inset detail from Staff Report,
and added comment on tier 3 prioirty
Interestingly, the segment on Orchard Heights was identified in the "Bike and Walk Salem" update to the Transportation System Plan as only a "tier 3" priority. Maybe there are reasons it should have a higher priority. Adjacency to the public housing is certainly a worthy reason, and part of any argument. But the Staff Report should discuss this and develop the argument in more detail. On the surface it looks like a project that's sliding in above other more urgent needs. If we are serious about our Strategic Planning effort, it should be easy to see how we prioritize projects. Here it looks more like an ad hoc selection process; it is not in fact easy to see how we rank and prioritize these and how they fit into a larger vision of mobility for the city.


The Bike and Walk Proclamation
Along with these three projects, there's a group of resolutions that are nice to see - at least at the level of symbol:
Age-friendly? People crossing here still won't get a crosswalk
The proof will be in the pudding. Will they actually result in concerted action? Bike and Walk to School Day might be a good test. Historically only three or four schools have participated. As of Saturday, there were six registered. Will the Mayor's proclamation spur more to participate? Or elicit greater interest at the School District? How will it make things different?

The proclamations and resolutions and goals are important first steps, but it has been difficult to carry and grow them from tinkering on the fringes into systemic changes.

A popular proposal for a very large not-age-friendly thing
As long as our proclamations take place in the shadow of our much, much greater commitment to autoism, however, they risk being more words than deeds.


In this light, a proposal for a "Sit-Lie" ordinance is rather ironic. (Are we a friendly and inclusive city only when you have a job - or independent wealth - that yields sufficient income to house you off the streets and provide you with auto mobility?)

From the Commercial Vista Corridor study
It remains so ironic that we routinely tolerate speeding of 10mph or more above the speed limit. On every street, every day, hundreds and thousands of people exceed the official 85th percentile speed, at or above the posted speed. Those cars employ lethal force and will kill you. But hanging out, perhaps even begging or pestering passers-by, on the sidewalk? "Move along now."

Others have discussed the proposal in detail.

CANDO has been following it and their notes are very much worth reading.
Councilor Hoy has shared a public statement with very strong language:
This ordinance deeply troubles me. On one hand, I have great respect for Chief Moore and his staff who are simply trying to solve a problem the best way they see fit. And I am sympathetic to business owners who regularly have people sleeping in their doorways and defecating on the sidewalk in front of their businesses. On the other hand, I have rarely seen a positive outcome in my almost 29-year law enforcement career when we criminalize the human condition.

When your circumstance makes your existence a crime, there are no good outcomes. I know that the goal of this ordinance is not to arrest people. However, that will be the inevitable outcome. People will be arrested, they will often not appear in court, they will get arrested again and the cycle will repeat. Over and over and over.
It looks very much like the proposal needs serious work and amendment to approach anything actually useful. It is possible that it represents an approach so deeply flawed that it cannot be salvaged at all.

(Update: CANDO has a detailed summary on the public comment, debate, and Council's defeat of the proposal: "Salem's Deceased Sit-Lie Ordinance.")


And finally there's also an interesting notice for a preliminary planning decision for homes on 68 acres just south of Hillcrest and north of Keubler.

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