Friday, December 1, 2017

City Council, December 4th - Lansing-NESCA Plan

Council meets on Monday, and there's not much to note here.

The apartment complex on appeal last week at Council
met Policy 3.1, but apparently that didn't matter
to the neighborhood association.
The Lansing-NESCA Neighborhood Plan is starting the process for formal approval and adoption, but it is interesting to note that the apartment complex the Lansing Neighborhood Association appealed last week at Council had already satisfied policy language in the Plan!

So the Plan isn't legally binding, and when there is new development proposed consistent with the Plan, neighbors still complain.

Why bother? What is its real, effective function?

I just can't wrap my mind around what is the real role for these neighborhood plans. They don't have any real kind of power - they have neither persuasive power to shape opinion, nor legal power to shape development and City regulation.

Between the cemetery and Madrona by Croisan Scenic
Another development will be on appeal, and one reader last month suggested that there were some real issues with slope, drainage, and excavation. This one might have more merit and deserve closer attention. The area is too hilly and remote ever to be easily bikeable and walkable for all ages, so it will be essentially car-dependent and it doesn't seem worth fussing over on that account.

Unimproved "country" streets nearby
In the one published set of comments a neighbor protests that the nearby streets are effectively one-lane roads without sidewalks, and "lack safe routes to Nelson Park."

That's an interesting claim - but it may misunderstand the nature of a "safe route." I suppose it is possible that there's a pattern of speeding here, but that's not what the letter says. These narrow, constrained roads actually have a "design speed" that is slow, especially if there are ever parked cars along them! These unimproved roads with widths of the upper teens almost certainly have better traffic calming than a much wider "standard" cross-section with sidewalks and curbs. Be careful what you ask for!

At Croisan Creek Road, Madrona Ave S lacks sidewalks
The one problem that is real is the lack of sidewalks on Madrona, a much zoomier street, and neighbors are right to point out this lack. This is a genuine gap in any connection to Nelson Park.

So, again, if this is in or near your neighborhood, you might pay closer attention to it and find something for which to advocate.

Finally, there's a comprehensive set of changes to the Salem Revised Code that is too vast to consider. I guess you just have to trust the City that there's no substantive changes to it.


Anonymous said...

RE: "I just can't wrap my mind around what is the real role for these neighborhood plans. They don't have any real kind of power - they have neither persuasive power to shape opinion, nor legal power to shape development and City regulation."

In other places they have a real role and real legal authority. Here is just some general language on how neighborhood plans are typically integrated into the development code and given legal "teeth":

"In addition to the standards of the land use districts, all development, including land divisions, shall comply with the following applicable standards and requirements of the Community Plans, the Rural/Natural Resource Plan, and the Transportation Plan:

300-1.1 Community Plan provisions: A. General Design Elements; B. Subarea Provisions, and etc... "

There are other ways to do it but you get the idea. I don't know if Salem Planning intentionally excludes neighborhood plans from the development code (or transportation planning policies for that matter) because they don't want to be responsible for implementing them or if they just don't know how to legally implement them. Given the number of times they are taken to LUBA, I suspect they are intentionally excluding them, and don't want to be held responsible for implementing neighborhood plans. City of Salem lawyers and planners are experienced and smart, not ignorant.

Either way... I agree with you. What is the point? The outcomes are always the same... No matter the nieghborhood or what the plan says. Waste of time.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Also! From the City's facebook wrap on the meeting:

"Councilor Sally Cook, Ward 7, proposed a motion to direct staff to analyze the existing Transportation System Plan for its ability to protect access to the Croisan Creek Trail and identify potential traffic mitigation measures as needed to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the area. Council approved this motion."

It will be interesting to learn more about the Croisan Trail. I always thought it was a temporary thing and the ROW would eventually become a formal roadway. Maybe the trail is more permanent. There are Equity considerations, too. Less wealthy sections in the flats of East and North Salem probably offer better potential for biking and walking, so we should be careful about setting priorities in the full context of city needs. So that'll be an interesting bit of review on the TSP.