|If State Street were fully built up, some winter shadows|
might fall on the south side of Court Street
Shadows on properties where the owner wishes to harness solar power to save monies on utilities could have a significant financial impact on the ability to save monies and/or make the decision to make a capital investment for solar equipment. Although there is no right to light statutory framework within Oregon, it seems that before something is going to reduce a property owner's ability to conserve electricity, an analysis should be made. Under the current zoning, such information could be weighed in by the Planning Commission in deciding whether or not to approve a proposed project and/or propose mitigation measure, but under the proposed zoning, an administrative approval could be issued and then the property owner would have secured rights to eclipse a neighbor's property risking disputes and potential claims and litigation....This is interesting because an important element in opposition to the Salem River Crossing has been stalling afforded by the requirements of process. So you might say "what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." But here the process is still unfolding, and the stalling on the SRC was necessary only because the process was so profoundly flawed. It was a tactic of last resort. Since the process is still unfolding here, and since the proposed changes are nowhere near as monumental as the SRC, this seems like a disproportionate response.
Since the proposed zoning changes will permit, by right, 55 foot tall buildings and potentially cast significant shadows into the National Register District located north of the State Street Corridor, causing a change in the character of the District's use or setting and introducing incompatible visual, atmospheric, or audible elements; we request that a Section 106 review be conducted. We further request that the City of Salem Historic Landmarks Commission be designated as the consulting party for the City of Salem and that neighbors directly affected or the North East Neighborhood Association (NEN) also be designated a consulting party.
In any case, this is a problem with historic districts generally: Too often they are used to hold other projects hostage and, by means of an ahistorical notion of neighborhood stasis, to thwart the reasonable development of a city. It cannot be said often enough: The Court-Chemeketa Historic District is itself the product of historical development, and it contains several layers. Some houses even were moved, and do not occupy the land on which they were originally built. The main period of relevance is 1860-1918, mostly pre-automobile, and cars, garages, and driveways, even paving, are all secondary "intrusions," and we have silently accommodated them. But they, more than bad remodels, have diminished the "integrity" of the District. Any such "integrity" is in important ways a fiction and sometimes it is used to hinder reasonable projects.
To the question of shadows, the City's formal response is that the current zoning condition is actually more permissive, and the proposed changes more restrictive:
The vast majority of these properties are currently zoned CO. In the CO zone, the maximum height allowed is 70 feet, with no additional setback based on height required....That means a 70-foot office building could be constructed in the CO zone on State Street today. Such a building could potentially cast a longer shadow on the adjacent historic district than a proposed 55- foot-tall building constructed under the proposed MU-I zone.That seems decisive.
On the Section 106 element, Staff says
Section 106 is intended to review brick and mortar projects that are federally funded. This planning project is a study and not a project to develop a property. A Section 106 review cannot be requested without a federal nexus within a development project. In addition, ODOT has a programmatic agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that specifically exempts planning studies/projects from Section 106 review.It was interesting to learn about this general exemption, which also seems decisive.
Another element of criticism focuses on traffic and those annoying "bicycle warriors." On social media on a Third Bridge booster page, bike lanes have really become the lightning rod:
[The downtown bike lanes on Church and High] is the dumbest change I’ve ever seen. The bicycle warriors are out of control. So glad I don’t work downtown anymore.There's a real messaging failure here. The City's rhetoric should have moved away from "road diet" by now and used something like a "4/3 safety conversion." The Austin report used "right-sizing," but that's awful Brave New World corporate-speak. At the moment, a "4/3 Safety Conversion" seems neutral and the most accurate - it says what it is and what its purpose is. The project is too concerned with congestion and levels of service, and not enough with safety.
Wait until you see what they are planning to do to State Street. They are bringing the "Road Diet" to Salem and taking out a car lane in each direction so we can have some big beautiful bike lanes! Doesn't that sound like a fantastic idea for one of our major east/west arterials?! Of course this is not an accident. The plan is to make it difficult to drive.
who approves this? High street across from the courthouse down to trade street is awful with the giant “bike highways” that are barely used. Backing out of parking spots is very dangerous, it’s difficult to turn. Why don’t we have a say in what is happening?
we need a bunch of people to come out and speak up for common sense. Unfortunately, too many of us sit at home while the activist who want to force us out of our cars get on the Planning Commission and City Council, hatch ridiculous plans and get them through while we go about our lives. We must be involved or they will do this stuff.
|We're not trying very hard to "decrease reliance on the SOV"|
It has become increasingly evident that we can no longer afford—in a variety of ways—to “build our way” out of our transportation problems. As transportation funding becomes more scarce and the cost of constructing new facilities spirals upward, we must seek more creative solutions to meet our future transportation needs. We must make more efficient use of existing facilities and increase their overall capacity to move people and goods, not merely vehicles.The Staff response to a separate public comment about traffic is a little weak:
The consultant team working on the State Street Plan conducted traffic analysis on the proposed street design, and it found that the intersections at 14th and 17th Streets would operate over capacity with delays and queuing during the peak period without mitigation. The consultants recommended mitigating these impacts by making intersection improvements at 14th and 17th streets (e.g., adding turn lanes). The City would improve both intersections to mitigate the impacts of the proposed street design. The detailed traffic analysis and results can be found online in the Tier 2 evaluation of street design alternatives. Staff recommended the “hybrid” alternative in part because staff does not expect it to significantly worsen traffic congestion or result in a lot of diversion to other major streets as could occur under the full “road diet” alternative.As long as we accept that no future projects can "worsen traffic congestion" for people who are making drive-alone trips, we are committed to projects that promote more free-flow for drive-alone trips, and we will continue to induce more traffic by this strategy. We are not actually reducing reliance on the SOV.
This is utterly self-defeating.
The proposed TSP changes also includes a commitment that the City will evaluate the lane reconfiguration west of 17th Street a year and a half after it is constructed. The evaluation will consider measures – travel time/queuing, neighborhood cut-through traffic, safety, and property improvements – to determine what changes should be made to the street design. The goal of the evaluation is to extend the “road diet” to 24th Street if the findings of the evaluation support such a change.Maybe this truly is the best we can do right now. But a problem with that is the benefits of the current proposal aren't so wonderful that very many seem likely to be very passionate about it. It will be interesting to see what kind of support builds behind it at the Planning Commission and at Council.
For more detailed comment on the State Street Study, see these main posts:
- "State Street Study Already Hamstrung by 20th Century Mobility Standards?"
- "Draft State Street Plan Disappoints"
- "Understanding Safety: Crash Rates vs Counts on State Street"
- "Prospects for State Street look a Little Dim"
The Planning Commission meets at 5:30pm on Tuesday the 3rd in Council Chambers at City Hall.