Monday, March 12, 2018

Special West Salem Meeting on SRC, SCAN talks Housing - In the Neighborhoods

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets Monday night for a special, even "emergency," meeting.

At the center of the agenda is:
[4] Presentations: Salem Bridge Solutions – Salem Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) – “West Salem, you’re on your own!”
[5] New Business: Discussion of presentation regarding deficiencies of SEMP and demand for immediate action
So there will be loud and determined voices probably.

But of course lots of areas will be on their own. It's not yet clear that we have an adequate plan for the small bridges that surround the Hospital, our own Civic Center, and even State offices on the Mall.

Downtown bridges over Pringle Creek and Shelton Ditch
The owners and residents of unreinforced masonry buildings are also "on their own" right now. (See the 2012 Restore Oregon report, and Steve Duin's recent column.)

And apart from a one-time natural disaster, we have an ongoing distaster in everyday living: Certainly our de facto housing policy is "you're on you're own." We are struggling to help an additional 100 people with housing, and the need is at least an entire order of magnitude more.

If we suddenly came into a lottery ticket for hundreds of millions, should be be spending hundreds of millions for drive-alone trips to West Salem? Or should we allocate those resources towards more affordable housing? What is the best use of limited resources?

(Ian Lockwood, via Public Square)
There's just no sense of trade-offs and of citywide priorities here on the SRC.

The West Salem Neighborhood Association meets tonight, Monday the 12th, at 7:00 P.M. in Roth’s West, Mezzanine (1130 Wallace Rd NW).


The Bush Park neighborhood association, SCAN, meets on Wednesday, and they'll be talking about the City's Housing Needs Analysis.

Among the questions they have drafted to discuss, at the top is:
Given the projected shortage of 207 acres of land zoned for multi-family housing, why isn’t the City making rezoning of land to multi-family a priority, instead of delaying the rezoning effort to last in the 3-phase implementation plan? Salem must address this shortage to comply with State Housing Goal 10, so why not make the rezone effort part of phase 1?
This is a great question and an interesting topic especially because both SCAN and NEN near Englewood are close-in, gridded streetcar neighborhoods that are among the City's most walkable areas. They also have historic districts and groups of neighbors who value current exclusionary zoning and the historic districts as a way to keep out additional housing. (See notes here on the rhetoric of "intrusion" and intact boundaries in our historic districts.)

via Twitter
There are real values in conflict here. Some of the best candidate areas for low-car living and even for upzoning are in these older, established neighborhoods, whose current residents are not often themselves interested in change to the neighborhood. Even incremental kinds of development like ADUs have been resisted. You might remember testimony like this:
If the intent is to encourage ADUs as a housing choice, they should be allowed only in new residential developments where all buyers know what they are buying into.
So this might be an interesting evening of conversation and even debate. Norm Wright, Community Development Director and Lisa Anderson-Ogilvie, Deputy Community Development Director will present and answer questions.

The South Central Association of Neighbors meets Wednesday the 14th at 6:30 p.m. in the South Salem High School Library, 1910 Church St SE.

Addendum, March 28th

Op-Ed criticizing the current WSNA fear-mongering

Aforementioned fear-mongering - from the WSNA presentation
From today's paper:
The executive committee's approach was to develop a false narrative that West Salem was “on their own"....

But they went on to decry the damage by hypothetical illustrated examples designed to raise fears....

Of course the illustrated solution was a” third bridge.” The executive committee pointedly ignored and did not mention the funded project to upgrade the earthquake safety of the Center Street Bridge and to provide improved earthquake safety for crucial water lines that are attached to the bridge.
The slide of Capital Manor is an example. But it seems obvious that what that slide argues for is not a giant new bridge and highway, but is investment in seismic reinforcement on existing buildings. That's a huge unmet need right now.

Again, those opportunity costs.

If we invest in a giant bridge and highway, what other valuable projects will will have to leave unfunded and neglected?

The proposed bridge will cost at least ten Courthouse Squares


Jeff Schumacher said...

As the current chair of SCAN, I'm sure I'll come across as defensive on this issue but I guess I can live with it. People can argue about the details surrounding ADUs, and SCAN certainly has in the past - like asking that ADUs only be placed in new developments or asking for one off-street parking space per ADU. But at the end of the day, ADUs are a non-issue for solving this City's housing shortage. Sure, people can point to ADUs being one tool the City has in adding housing capacity but in truth ADUs might not even register as a drop in the bucket when measured against the impact medium density housing can have (vs. single family housing).

Many members of SCAN are interested in seeing increased density - but they want it done in a thoughtful way. Medium density housing can certainly fit into SCAN's existing housing stock without ruining the character or historical nature of the neighborhood. And we, as a neighborhood association, have an interest in being part of that conversation. But don't assume SCAN wouldn't be interested in thoughtful re-zoning just because we generally think ADUs are overvalued.

Evan said...

Thanks for weighing in, Jeff.

As a SCAN resident (who can't come to meetings), I'm all for high density. I'd love the boost in businesses and neighborhood amenities I could walk to -- businesses that come when more people live in the neighborhood.

I agree that ADUs are much ADU about nothing; only a handful will be built in the neighborhood given the current rental market (i.e. housing's not so expensive to help ADUs pencil out).

But yes, we need more cottage clusters, duplexes, triplexes, and apartments.

Though I own a home from 1928, I'm eager to have the character of our neighborhood not be stagnant, but to change into a walkable paradise.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added more on the WSNA meeting)