|From Commercial and Division|
high-crash corner from zooming on Front Street
buffered with landscaping (remember the chickens!)
|Two pods of bike parking proposed (red comments added)|
Detail from view from Liberty and Division shown below
Section 806.060(a) indicates that bicycle parking areas “shall be located within a convenient distance of, and shall be clearly visible from, the primary building entrance.” and that be located within “50 feet from the primary building entrance.” We are required to have 21 bicycle parking spaces and will be providing accommodations for 22 bicycles, 16 (public) will be located on the front or Division Street side of the building and 6 within the secure parking area on the north side of the building. It is not practical to locate all 16 public bicycle parking next to the main entry door; we are proposing that half (8) of these spaces be located near the main entry and the other half (8) will be centrally located within the public plaza. Placing bicycle parking at the entry and within the public plaza provides better balance for the building and the plaza users. It also allows for better circulation and accessibility at the public entry and in the plaza area. Both of these locations are easily accessed from the public right-of-way. We believe this design approach better meets the intent of the standard which is to locate bicycle parking so that it is convenient and visible to the destination which may be the plaza rather than the actual Police Station. Programming needs and design constraints within the secure parking area do not provide adequate space for the 6 bike parking spaces to be within 50 feet of the primary staff entrance; however, these spaces are located within 50 of a secondary building entrance and adjacent to the parking garage thereby having access that is convenient to bike parking.That seems totally reasonable and is a sensible reading on the "intent of the standard."
Blank Walls and Fencing
|This is a lot of blank wall along Commercial Street|
|Fence and future path at Liberty by creek bridge|
Comments added, detail from Liberty/Division view below
An adjustment to the opacity restrictions found in SRC 800.050(a)(1)(B)(i) for walls or fences more than 30 inches tall and within 10 feet of a street abutting property line is requested for the walls or fences and gates that surround the secure parking areas adjacent to Commercial and Liberty streets. The desire for secure parking for Police vehicles and staff was identified by the Salem Police Department, in order to achieve this solid fencing or walls up to 8 feet for surface parking areas is proposed in the design. The need for this level of screening conflicts with the above noted standard which states “Fences and walls within a front, side, or rear yard abutting a street shall not exceed a maximum height of eight feet when located within ten feet of a property line abutting a street; provided, however, any portion of the fence or wall above 30 inches in height shall be less than 25 percent opaque when viewed at any angle at a point 25 feet away from the fence or wall. However, this standard does not anticipate the needs of uses which require greater levels of privacy or security allowed in various zoning districts.
|From the Northwest along Commercial Street|
While the specific needs of the Police Station are a little different, it also seems like we are seeing more fencing downtown in response to homeless people camping, loitering, or begging. For a fairly direct comparison, there is a new fence behind SAIF along the creek path, and in some ways it makes the path feel less safe. It keeps people out at SAIF and gives them a feeling of greater safety, but it channelizes people on the path and reduces options for that one time evasive action might be necessary or prudent. There is also the cinderblock opaque fence along the sidewalk on the south side, the second phase, of South Block at the Boise project. It doesn't make the sidewalk here less safe, but it does kill the mood on the sidewalk.
|The opaque fencing at South Block deadens the sidewalk here|
|Non-opaque fencing at SAIF along Pringle Creek path - in April|
|Same fencing at SAIF, with gate and landscaping this month|
If there are times when activity needs to be concealed, maybe a victim needs concealment from an accused, the parking garage itself should offer enough hiddenness, and it does not seem necessary for the whole surface lot itself to be enclosed by an opaque fence.
Maybe there's a good reason for the opaque fencing, but that should get a greater airing and more public scrutiny. It should have to meet a higher test for the public good.
|From Liberty and Division - note backside fence along future path|
There are a few other elements in the plan review that require exceptions or adjustments, but they seem trivial. (It will be interesting to read criticism or comment that finds them non-trivial!)
The Hearing will be at the Planning Commission on Tuesday, August 14th.
Here's a "before" image of the SAIF courtyard without a fence. (See comments below for more.)
|Streetview from 2012 showing berm only, no fence|
Update, Monday August 6th
The SJ and Eugene Register-Guard both picked up an AP wire story on the the weekend's protests in Portland.
Just editorially, it is interesting to see the difference in imagery they each picked to illustrated the article: The SJ chose a phalanx of antifa counter-protesters, but the RG chose to show Police deploying in riot gear.
The story was not primarily about the danger of antifa groups, however.
The story was primarily about Police use of force, the possibility of excess force, and the possibility of asymmetric or biased application of force.
So I'm not sure the SJ chose the best image image to accompany that particular article.
|Contrasting photos in the SJ and RG|
To the extent that we give the Police a secret staging area in back of the new Police Station, we may be encouraging the over-militarization of Police.
That's why the proposal for opaque fencing should have a vigorous public debate.
Since we are the State Capital, it might turn out to be a necessary thing. But it's not something that should just happen incidentally without scrutiny, and advocates for the opaque fencing should have to make the argument in public.
Update, August 8th
The Staff Report is out for the site and design review on the new Police Station.
As we think about a new building, we still may not be thinking enough about programming, culture, and civilian oversight.
What kind of police force do we want in our new building?
For the most part the Staff Response seems routine and unexceptional, but the section on opacity remains opaque and in need of more discussion and analysis.
|From the application for opaque fencing|
|From the Staff Report recommending approval of opacity|
Nothing to see here, move along...
But what exactly are those anticipated security needs? Why isn't there more discussion of this?
So far, anyway, there is no public discussion of legitimate policing activities that require a secret back lot.
The rationale for the request is also opaque.
But based on trends towards the militarization of police forces, a back lot wholly screened from view offers a staging area for paramilitary operations. It's hard not to fear that this is at least part of what "security needs" really implies, and that we may regret not looking more closely at design elements and the programming all they imply.