Tuesday, May 29, 2018

City Council, May 29th - New All Roads Transportation Safety Grants

Council meets tonight, on Tuesday, because of the holiday, and a safety grant program and parking debate seem worth some comment.

Applications for All Roads Transportation Safety grants could be interesting, but there are no specific projects listed on the Council item.
As of the staff report’s writing, staff is working to complete a preliminary analysis of candidate projects that will best meet the program’s funding criteria. Prior to entering into project funding agreements with ODOT, staff will return to Council for approval to add selected projects into the Capital Improvement Plan and request budgetary approval for the required 7.78 percent local match in the appropriate fiscal year (FY 2021-2022 through FY 2023-2024). Likely sources of local match funds include Transportation System Development Charges for countermeasures that increase corridor capacity, or the City’s share of State Highway Fund revenues for other countermeasures, including those intended for pedestrian and bicycle safety. [italics added]
Previously, the ARTS program funded the forthcoming buffered bike lanes and enhanced crosswalks on middle Commercial arising from the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study, the 4/3 safety conversion on Broadway around Pine Street, and green bike lanes in the widening project on 12th Street between McGilchrist and Fairview. Data on crashes and deaths is supposed to drive the program - and it seems likely that, among other things, we will see proposals for enhanced crosswalks arising out of the "Pedestrian Safety" study and the State Street Study. Sections of the Winter-Maple Greenway near the Parkway and Cherry Avenue might be candidates also, but not probably any inner portions. The grant amounts will probably not be sufficiently large to make a dent in the funding for any over/undercrossing along Second St NW at Wallace. There's also that tension between "increase corridor capacity [for zoomy drive alone trips]" and "pedestrian and bicycle safety." So it'll be interesting to see the project list the City proposes. (See previous notes on ARTS here.)

A proposal for meters on a part of Church Street is being trimmed. Staff recommends: "Remove both sides of Church Street SE, between Mission Street SE and the south end of the Pringle Creek Bridge, from the adopted Capitol Mall Parking Technology Project, and cease the planned installation of the parking meters in this area."
In 2013, City Council adopted recommendations developed by the Parking Task Force that included expansion of the existing Capitol Mall Paid Parking Area; the expansion area was also updated in the Salem Transportation System Plan. The area of Church Street SE between the Pringle Creek Bridge and Mission Street SE was included in the 2013 Paid Parking Expansion Area (Attachment 1). Implementation of the Phase III on-street parking new technology project is currently underway, which includes outreach to those impacted or adjacent to any planned modifications to the on-street parking system. Due to the change on the east side of Church Street SE for 20 parking spaces from currently being free parking with no time regulations to paid parking, concerns were raised by residents on Church Street SE regarding potential impacts such changes would have to their neighborhood and on-street parking options....[see previous notes here]

In early 2017, neighbors asked staff to implement 3-hour free parking on the east side of Church Street SE. The existing unlimited free parking was being used as employee parking with no turn-over for visitors to the adjacent playground. At that time, installation of meters was not scheduled due to funding limitations. Staff began the notification process by getting recommendations from neighbors, SCAN, and the Salem Hospital. Prior to posting public notice on the Church Street SE, funding for the parking meters became available. The west side of Church Street SE is currently designated as a 90-minute Residential Parking District.

If Council approves the staff recommendation, staff will initiate the Citizen Advisory Traffic Commission (CATC) process to review and approve the proposed 3-hour time restrictions suggested by the neighbors. The CATC protocol for public notice includes posting the location. The neighborhood association and the adjacent property owners have already been notified of the time limit proposal and have expressed their support.
A Parking Benefit District might have generated more benefit here, and is something Salem should consider. Until we are willing to price parking, we are subsidizing parking and inducing more drive-alone trips by means of the subsidy. This length of Church Street is very small, it's true, but some time we need to start this conversation about parking subsidy and induced driving.

A similar mechanisim is in play out south. Council looks to confirm the Lone Oak Reimbursement District. Councilor-elect Leung would like yet another reconsideration, but it's hard to see the exact line of public interest in all this. There's lots of special pleading that's spun as "public interest," but much of it remains private interest.
  • Prosperous hillside home owners wish to preserve views, golf course amenities, and maximize home value while minimizing their own expense by shifting costs to the public for new road infrastructure.
  • The City has some interest in maintaining some part of the golf course (intact or reconfigured) for stormwater detention (though I suspect not all of the course is necessary for this)
  • The City screwed up in failing to ensure that road infrastructure was built by a developer when it was originally part of conditions for development
  • The City also may still have pending negotiations with the same developer for the path along Pringle Creek through the former Boise project from City Hall to Riverfront Park. Extracting concessions on one matter may hamper another.
There should be a real debate about subsidizing car-dependent development on the far edges of the city. Residents don't want to pay for parking, don't want to pay for decongestion pricing or tolling, don't want lot assessments to pay for new streets and bridges. Our autoist paradigm privatizes the benefit, and socializes the cost.

But this debate on funding autoist development is swamped by the other matters, and by strong feeling, and it's so very difficult to see an argument on the merits. (See the ongoing series at Hinessight for a different and more confident take.)

Bullets for the rest:


Jim Scheppke said...

Regarding the Church Street parking issue: right now we are subsidizing all day free parking, mostly by Salem Hospital employees I am told, on the east side of Church Street between Mission and Pringle Park. The neighbors in the Gaiety Hill neighborhood have been asking for a 90 minute restricted parking zone for years, as is the case on the west side. To put in parking meters on the east side is not the answer. People might still park there all day. There needs to be parking for families using the new playground. Meters will be a burden on young families that want to use the playground. The best solution is the 90 minute RP zone that Councilor Andersen and the neighbors are advocating. Once this is done more pressure needs to be put on Salem Hospital to quit subsidizing parking for their employees. They may be the only major hospital in the state that does this. A modest charge for patients too would be more in keeping with the norms at other hospitals.

Jim Scheppke said...

Correction: the RP zone request is for a 3-hour limit and not 90 minutes.