Sunday, May 13, 2018

City Council, May 14th - UGM and Lone Oak Decisions

Council meets on Monday, and while the opportunity for Public Comment is closed, Council will deliberate on both the UGM Shelter expansion and Lone Oak Reimbursement District.

Vacation Lane SE:
Private Drive or Public Street? A little ambiguous!
Time and additional comment hasn't offered much additional clarity on them, and it may just be that these are difficult, ambiguous civic matters with no easy and obvious resolution. The outcomes will be imperfect compromises and there is no way out of that bind.

On both of them, however, the need to drill into, analyze, and discuss very specific conditions has meant that debate about homelessness and about the fiscal sustainability of development patterns here has been less theoretical and abstract and instead become concrete. This seems like a feature, not a bug! Instead of a task force and its generalities and cliches and baggy reports, Council has to interpret policy and code concretely, make a decision, and attach specific conditions as appropriate. In most ways, then, the appeals and resulting debate seem more positive than not.

So let's talk about other things.

It even looks like an appendix!
The most interesting thing from here is a proposal to vacate an odd little vestigial street, Vacation Lane SE.

On Commercial Street the sidewalk disappears;
walking and biking salmon are common - sometimes deer too!
This is a fascinating lot at a seam in development. It's on a small rise overlooking a fork of Pringle Creek and the Alderbrook Swale, as well as overlooking the junction with the 12th Street cutoff on Commercial Street. It's nearly 10 acres intact, and the age of the tax lot (and a couple adjoining) suggests there might be an old farm house inside! Together in size and in age it stands out from all the other development in south Salem. Between Winding Way and Idylwood Drive the sidewalks disappear on Commercial Street. The whole area of the intersection with the 12th Street cutoff has not been modernized, and feels like the result of mid-century ad-hoc solutions. (Going north, high-speed right-hooks onto the cutoff are a real danger for people biking here, and no attempt has been made to engineer a safe continuation of the bike lane.) The area along the creek is forested enough that deer apparently travel through here frequently enough for signs to be necessary to warn drivers.

The Assessor's office dates things from 1901
Map: City of Salem age of Tax lots
As the lot has been built up, it is somewhat manorial, with a tennis court, swimming pool, stables, and formal garden.

It's an estate!
All this well within the city.

There's probably interesting history here, maybe even something that should be a Local Landmark, and maybe at some point the owners will want to share more of it. The Historic Resources list from 2013 doesn't list any house here, but a century-old farm house, if intact, might be significant.

At the same time, this is a large interior lot, and given our need for housing, it would be a candidate for redevelopment, even if we might mourn the loss of a small kind of "forest."

It's just a funny, old thing, and maybe at some point the owners will want to share more history of it. It is interesting.

Downtown Parking

There is also a proposed agreement for downtown residential parking that would direct Staff to "develop a residential permit program for the four downtown parking structures for Council consideration":
The Unified Development Code (UDC) generally does not require dedicated off-street parking for uses within the Downtown Parking District. However, residential uses (both single family and multi-family) in the District are required to provide off-street parking for their residents.

If residential development in the downtown is unable to utilize the City’s parking structures to meet the UDC parking requirements, developers would be required to construct off-street parking within their development, or seek to rent spaces from other private parties. For existing buildings, construction of off-street parking is not feasible in most instances. For new residential development, construction of off-street parking would be expensive, could result in less residential units, and would discourage development.

Allowing new and existing residential development to reserve parking spaces in all four of the City’s downtown parking structures (Marion, Pringle, Chemeketa, and Liberty Parkades), subject to City approval and availability, encourages residential development in the City’s core.
An existing agreement from 2009 uses the Chemeketa and Liberty Parkades, and this would expand the agreement to the Marion and Pringle Parkades.

Generally we should want the City to max out the current parking garages before asking for any more parking on new development.

It's important to remember how much swiss cheese we have downtown. What we need are more buildings, not more surface parking lots and the "missing teeth" they represent.

Swiss cheese:
Downtown Surface Parking Lots in Red
Parking Garages in Solid Brick Red
On-street parking stalls not included

Other Items
And not at all on the Agenda...

The new Fred Meyer gas station on Commercial and Madrona, across the street from the main store, is near to opening, and what a low use of land it is.

The new Fred Meyer gas station off Madrona at Commercial
They demolished several houses and it looks like there will be a large field now. Clark Creek is culverted under all this, and it remains very surprising that our environmental regulations permit a gas station and the associated storage tanks to sit directly on top of a sensitive creek - which in floodtime fills the Gilmore Field detention basin and affects Bush Park farther downstream (see note above). This is just very strange. The driveway off Madrona for the gas station is directly in line with Hillview Drive, and it seems likely there will be some new queuing circuit involving Madrona, Hillview, and Ewald. The whole thing just seems ill-conceived and a real failure in our land use policies and regulations. (Previous notes on the gas station plan here and here.)


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see salmon that walk and bike!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon, not sure if you are serious or just going for the joke...

But here's NPR on salmoning -

It's a good description for wrong-way cycling, and also works for walking against traffic on the shoulder or the bike lane.

Maybe SBOB should have explained it - but google works too!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Shoot. At this point on a bike blog, it seemed like salmoning has been around long enough not to need to explain it. But I guess it is a little insider jargony. Sorry about that!

Here's part of the City's summary of Council:

"- A public hearing was held regarding a vacation of Vacation Lane SE. This was approved
- Council held deliberations on the formation of the Lone Oak Road Reimbursement District. Council made modifications to the district, and removed the east portion and few other properties, from the district.
- Council also deliberated regarding the an appeal to a land use application that will move the Union Gospel Mission’s men’s shelter to the 700/800 blocks of Commercial Street NE. Council affirmed the original decision with some additional conditions.
- Finally, the West Salem Zone Code Clean-up amendments were approved

Anonymous said...

Hinessight just posted a long take on the Reimbursement District -