Friday, April 20, 2018

City Council, April 23rd - Greenhouse Gas Resolution for Earth Day

Council meets Monday, and it is very nice to see a draft letter to our Metropolitan Planning Organization on a goal to reduce greenhouse gases in the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan.

That's a way to mark Earth Day.

Draft letter on Greenhouse Gases

GHG reduction more popular than SRC
In the tabulation from the survey the MPO conducted, it's clear that interest in reducing greenhouse gases was much stronger than interest in the Salem River Crossing.

Between the survey results and a strong statement by Council, this could be an important moment, a tipping point, in a course-correction at the MPO.

(The MPO will meet on Tuesday, and there will be more to say on that agenda. See previous notes here and here.)

Other Items 

Zoning proposal for close-in West Salem
The West Salem Code Clean-up will have a Public Hearing. Generally they seek a reversion to "main street" urban forms and include
design standards to promote walkable and attractive new development, such as a requirement to place new buildings up to the street with active storefronts at the sidewalk and parking areas located behind or beside the building.
They included a slight reduction in parking requirements, but did not move to a full "let the market decide." Revised street standards also seemed to be deleted.

The "craft industrial" segment in the area Oregon Fruit is vacating, and along the Second Street/RR right-of-way, might be the most interesting:
Craft Industrial uses are manufacturing businesses that include a retail front where customers can come and buy the goods that are made on site. These businesses tend to provide good manufacturing wage jobs, while also creating an interesting retail destination to activate the neighborhood. The proposed zoning allows up to 30 percent of the floor area of the buildings on a site to be used for retail. The 30 percent retail floor area could be the retail component of a craft industrial manufacturing use or it could be retail uses that are unrelated to the industrial uses on the site. The new zone also includes design standards requiring that any new buildings are built up to the street right-of-way to create a row of attractive building fronts along a revitalized Second Street corridor.
More might be done with these changes, but at the same time outreach seems to have been good, area businesses and property owners appear to be on board, and there seems to be more consensus on this project than on the State Street Corridor Plan. If there is broad assent, maybe these are pitched in the right place. Still, it's unclear how much redevelopment the revised standards will prompt, and how quickly it might happen. The time frame might be long.

At any rate, for the district it will be an incremental improvement, if not a reinvention.

(Some previous notes here.)

Council is also hearing the appeal on the proposed Union Gospel Mission Shelter. From the appeal:
As you know, UGM's "greatly expanded capacity" would be between 300 and 500 beds. What you may not know is that if UGM's shelter is approved, it would become the largest homeless shelter in Oregon.

From both a factual and legal standpoint, UGM's request is unprecedented. It is unprecedented because it would allow the construction of Oregon's largest homeless shelter, and because it would allow a super-size-shelter in the middle of the City's highly protected mixed use redevelopment area, namely North Downtown. It should be noted that UGM's proposed site is less than a block from the City's Riverfront High Density Residential Overlay Zone, and is only a few blocks from a large residential development was recently approved by the City. (See Case No. 17-104306-RP: involving a two building residential care facility with one 48 unit memory care facility, and one 69-unit assisted living facility, located at 901 Front Street NE) UGM's proposed super-shelter will severely impact planned residential and commercial developments in the North Downtown, and over time will damage and deter investment in the City's Riverfront High Density Residential Overlay Zone and the Central Business District Zone in this high priority redevelopment area, in a manner that is contrary to the City's zoning code and comprehensive plan. In short, a super-size-shelter is not so super in this high-priority, mixed-use, redevelopment area in North Downtown.

The likely adverse impacts of this super-shelter are well-documented in the record and will be discussed in more detail at the City Council hearing on April 23. It is important to note that the adverse impacts documented in the information previously submitted, have not be been rebutted. Moreover, as the hearings officer stated in his decision, these adverse impacts are "simply intolerable". These intolerable impacts include theft, vandalism, public urination, public defecation, public intimidation, public use of profanity, trespassing, public drug sales and usage, public alcohol sales and consumption, public camping and associated garbage
But what place is in fact better than across the street from the new Police Station? Seriously? What's the alternative? You don't have to think the project is "wonderful" in an absolute sense to think it is a worthwhile by many relative measures.

At the same time, the warehousing and concentration should make people cautious. The key will likely be not to cut down the UGM project, but to fill in the gaps in other areas so that it isn't carrying so much weight. If it's merely a piece in a comprehensive system, there won't be so much to mitigate. But if we starve all the other programs and ask it to be a heroic gesture, a finger in the dyke, failure is much more likely.

It'll be interesting to see what Council decides and whether the appellant keeps going if Council's decision doesn't go their way.

Addendum, Saturday

This is not at all on Council agenda, but it's background noise that's getting louder.

Two weeks ago Nordstrom closed their store in the mall - indeed, the mall was first called "Nordstrom Mall," and they were a namesake anchor - and now this.

Mall in trouble
While the brick walls look better than brutalist concrete, they still lack windows and any kind of connection with the sidewalk. It's an inert, even hostile urban form.

We should give serious consideration not merely to try to fill up the box again with new stuff, but to reconfigure the box itself. The mid-century department store and mall model is broken and we should revert to late 19th and early 20th century "main street" configurations. We should also consider replacing some of the retail with housing - and as more people again live downtown, this will spur more demand for commercial activity. The market should be local people on foot rather than more distant people who drive. Downtown should be a neighborhood in addition to being a center and drive-to destination.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added note about the mall

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

CANDO has not taken a position on the UGM matter, but in a recent blog post they have a nice reading of the legal question itself.

"SRC 240.005(d) lists 3 criteria for granting a [conditional use permit]. If the criteria are met, the City has to grant the permit....the Council will focus solely on (2) and (3) -- i.e., what conditions will allow them to reasonably conclude that the 'likely adverse impacts' are 'minimized' and whether the new Mission is 'reasonably compatible' with the livability and future development of the surrounding property."

Susann Kaltwasser said...

The new director of Community Development, Norm Wright, stated at the last Land Use Network meeting that he saw no grounds on which to not approve the decision on the Conditional Use Permit for the UGM.

The appeal is weak. If the City Council rejects the appeal, this likely to go to LUBA. If it goes to LUBA, the most that they can do is return the case back to the same City Council that made the decision. Net result will just be a delay in services to the homeless.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said... has a couple of notes with video (part 1, part 2) on the vote at Council:

"[That] it was put on the 'consent calendar' and adopted on a 7 to 2 vote without debate shows how far we have come in getting our City Council to get on board with climate action."

Councilors Lewis and Nanke were the NO votes. Lewis is our representative on SKATS, so he's taking a position at odds with the City's that he is charged to share at the MPO. (See more on that here.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

On the UGM, the appellant says "I support an overnight shelter of 100 beds." (Plus lots of other stuff!) They want a reduction in size, but not a cancellation of the move to the proposed site.

Additionally, this matter is helpful more generally because unlike the Homelessness Solutions Task Force, which may be able to get by talking in generalities, this is very specific and concrete, and it may be that in this debate, Council has part of the discussion about homelessness and what to do about it that it has not been able to do in all the committee meetings.

It may be that after this all shakes out, UGM will have a stronger plan and Council will have a better idea about what it should do and what it wants to do.

This looks more like "healthy debate" than NIMBYism. That's a half-full perspective for the moment!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

CANDO has a detailed recap and analysis of the Hearing at Council on the UGM shelter. Their reading is more half-empty, underlining the NIMBY urge, and noting tartly that it's "sad" the appellant

"ends up at the public hearing, telling the Council he supports moving the shelter to its proposed location -- he just has a problem with the size. It's even sadder that he based his concern on the mistaken belief the shelter was going to be 2 to 3 times its current capacity."