Friday, February 8, 2019

City Council, February 11th - Showdown on the SRC

Well, here we go. Maybe this is it. On Monday Council meets and it is possible that they will take definitive and final action on the misguided and wildly expensive Salem River Crossing project.

There are also a couple of other interesting and important matters, but the SRC swamps them all.

Council should adopt a resolution embracing a No Build Record of Decision.

One of two possible letters on the SRC
(Comments in red added)
If you already "know" we "need" a bridge, if a new bridge is already one of your priors, then of course none of this makes sense. You will read criticism and opposition merely as wrong-headed, retrograde obstruction. (But this position also is usually mystified as a posteriori, arising from a reading of the analysis and facts, when it in fact is wholly a priori, a previous commitment prior to any of the arguments! The case for the bridge really boils down to a tautology: We need a bridge because we need a bridge.)

But if you did not come to the debate and analysis already with a commitment to a new bridge, it's impossible to read the evidence in a way that suggests a new bridge is anything close to the best solution to the range of problems.

There's a lot of badness here!
(from the Jan 30th presentation, notes added)
Apologists for the SRC have twisted a very weak case into a set of claims that are certainly very doubtful and in many cases almost surely false. There are also virtually no claims for it that are unambiguously positive or unambiguously probable.

If the SRC was such a good idea, the case for it would have much more certainty and probability, and much less ambiguity and doubt. It would be easy to make a good case! But it's not easy. It's labored and tortuous, and requires great slight-of-hand.

The bogeyman here is mostly a straw man
Here is previous discussion of documents published as part of the January 30th Work Session:
Over on facebook several clips from the Works Session have been posted. (Clip 1, clip 2, clip 3, clip 4.) These highlight some of the incoherence and difficulty in the arguments and process for the SRC.
via Facebook
SEDCOR, like the Chambers and the consortium of small-town Mayors, thinks Salem should absorb the costs.

Part of SEDCOR pressure
(public comment, note added)
But if they are so sure the region, all of "Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties," needs it, then a different location that more equitably spreads the burden would be better. (But better road pricing almost certainly solves all the problems for freight access anyway.)

(Ian Lockwood, via Public Square)
It remains interesting that SEDCOR isn't talking more about the current locations of Buena Vista and Wheatland Ferries, places where there is already existing demand for crossing, which therefore are logical sites for a new increment in crossing intensity and traffic, and which might better serve those "traded sector industries" than a project focused on "downtown congestion." A Wheatland Ferry site would also better serve that intermodal transfer facility, "The Port of Willamette," backers are trying to secure for the Brooks area. (Though it looks now like the Millersburg site is scoring higher and more likely.)

Backers of the SRC are sure to be applying hard pressure, even outright bullying or dirty tricks, trying to pick off two Councilors in what had seemed a prospective 6-3 decision for the No Build.

We will see...

Other Matters

In the update on prospective State legislation, the City's stance on ending the exclusionary ban on small-scale missing middle housing is to oppose it. They don't like the loss of local control, and they highlight a potential hitch in collecting SDCs. But ending the ban helps with transportation, helps with transit, helps with housing supply and affordability. The City should want to engage the proposal more positively and constructively.

Currently the City's not very excited about HB 2001

There's also notes on a couple of bills to make UGB expansion easier. I don't know if these will become chits in the negotiation over HB 2001, or if they are legit stand-alone concepts. The City opposes these attempts to open the UGB. But they might be worth watching more. There's also what looks like a squabble over parking stalls and parking revenue near the Capitol. Folks with other interests will find other bills to watch.

In her first action, Councilor Leung called up for Council review the approvals on a 111-unit apartment complex on Wiltsey Road. The main issue seems to be the effective clear-cut of 320 trees with one "significant" tree retained. Maybe requirements to decide appeals in a timely way mean this could not be deferred, but who will have brain power and emotional reserves left after slogging through the SRC battle? Probably a better design could accommodate more trees, but is this the right time to contest this? It's hard to see Council giving both this and the SRC a full measure of attention and care. It'll be interesting to see what Council decides. (Update: Pulled and postponed to later this month on the meeting of the 25th.)
Ornamental Emptiness:
The Probe and and Empty Plaza
Remember, the first remodel broke it!
There are notes on the Library renovation. The decision to feature The Probe and an empty Peace Plaza is interesting. I would like to think they will give attention and budget to reconnecting the Library with the plaza. But this doesn't seem likely, as rightly the seismic matters are primary.

Save Our Books and Salem Reporter have information on ways the Libary has for years been overcounting the book collection and overstating the need for weeding. That could be useful data for the Library Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday the 13th.

Finally, news on the enhanced crosswalk at 13th & Marion by Safeway and the schools! (Notes from 2013 and on the funding in 2015.) There's the agreement with ODOT and a schedule with construction for 2020.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with the pull on the Wiltsey Road apartments.

Council voted 6-3 for the No Build alternative, effectively ending the SRC project.