Saturday, March 30, 2019

Ladd & Bush Turns 150, Nearly Opened on April Fools Day 1869

Here's an anniversary that should be noticed more. Yesterday Ladd & Bush Bank turned 150. The building was completely rebuilt (and conventionally is dated to 1868, but we're talking about the business, not the building), supplemented by cast iron ornament from a different bank in Portland, and the business was swallowed up by a large out-of-state institution, so you can quibble on details of the anniversary. Whatever survives of that first business in the current instantiation has been diluted, and the relation is more notional than direct. But still! The building remains important, and even heavily remodeled and restored, it's very much part of the "there there" for Salem.

Very early Ladd & Bush,
showing the short 25-foot frontage on Commercial St.
It looks like the frontage on State has already been expanded.
The street trees are small.
(WHC 1999.013.0024)
A 70th anniversary pamphlet
(via this great post on the cast iron and
Ladd & Tilton bank at Cafe Unknown;
also in the Hugh Morrow pamphlet collection
at the Library)
100 years ago, in 1919 they published a history piece on the 50th anniversary of the bank in the paper. It interesting to think about a bank as a novel financial instrument or institution, and about building new mercantile practices to use the services of a bank. The Hartman jewelry store referenced in the piece was in the Gray block, the corner storefront on Liberty and State where the Brick used to be. The cashier, John Albert, is Myra Albert Wiggins' father; his wife, Mary Holman, was Salem's first automobile fatality. He was prominent and at the center of a great deal of early Salem history.

March 29th, 1919

Friday, March 29, 2019

Engineering Doctrine with our Incoherence on Congestion Together Steamroll Safety

The catastrophe on Fairway Avenue sadly exposes the current state of our autoism. The City's already pushing back on slowing the cars and safety counter-measures. This is a kind of intransigence, but it has reasons. One of them is that in other contexts, citizens protest congestion and want speed and zooming.

At root, we can have one or the other:
  • Slow streets that are sometimes annoying, or backed up and congested, and allow multiple kinds of users. Hazards are easier to see and crashes are at slow speed and therefore minor.
  • Faster, wider streets that are not congested, are more zoomy, and prioritize cars and drivers. Crashes are at higher speed, are more violent, and more catastrophic and deadly.
Citizens complain and the City's damned either way.

On Thursday, City disparages safety counter-measures
From the piece:
Most speed bumps are found on local streets [rather than collectors].

But that’s not the only reason speed bump installation projects are few and far between.

There are other criteria that must be met to pursue the project, according to Kevin Hottmann, the City of Salem traffic engineer.

First, at least 600 drivers must use the road per day. If residents can count about 60 cars during rush hour, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., that’s a good indicator that there are at least 600 vehicles passing through on a daily basis, Hottmann said.

Also, the street would typically have a speed limit of 25 mph and one half or more of the drivers would need to be traveling at or over the speed limit.

“The issue cannot simply be one or two people speeding down the roadway every day,” said Fernandez. Most importantly, the project must be spearheaded by the community.

Neighbors may agree there is a speeding problem in the neighborhood and are often worried after accidents occur, but do not pursue the project, Fernandez said. “The community has skin in the game.”
The oppositional structure here is telling: The idea that residents who want a safer street might be freeloading, and need to have "skin in the game." This is probably at least partly an attempt, a little clumsy, to express the idea that the City wants neighborhood consensus on traffic calming, and does not want to put something in that then is criticized for making congestion or causing slow driving that is annoying. But it's also a patronizing expression that the engineers know best and "leave it to the experts." (See Strong Towns "Conversation with an Engineer.")

Monday, March 25, 2019

Reasons to Visit Pioneer Cemetery, new Open Streets Salem Route - Bits

On Sunday I saw a literal handful of cherry blossoms on the Capitol Mall. They were at the point where you can still humanly count them - 1, 2, 3. So it's just beginning, and maybe this next weekend will be the first time to see full trees in bloom.

A few early fruit trees in bloom at the cemetery (Sunday)
Elsewhere, some earlier-blooming varieties are at peak. In Pioneer and City View Cemeteries, the trees that line the drives in the cemeteries aren't yet blooming, but there's a few scattered trees that are lovely.

If you haven't been to the cemetery recently, you should consider a visit. A couple years ago, roughly at its center some interpretive signage went up on the history of the cemetery and on notable burials. It may seem like a home for the dead, and it is that, but it is also full of living history and a place of beauty. The easy reference materials makes it easy to notice interesting stories and details.

Crash Reporting on Fairway Avenue Mystifies Causes

It's the worst news in the world: Your child is dead.

The first story on Sunday

Today's follow-up
There's an understandable urge for tact in writing about tragedy like this. But in not naming what happened as best we can, we end up mystifying the calamity in ways the reduce the likelihood of future prevention.

From Sunday:
One teenager died and four others were hospitalized early Saturday morning after a car they were in hit a tree in South Salem, police said.[italics added]
And from today:
When a black sedan rammed into a tree, South Salem resident Christian Turner thought it was the sound of a bomb going off.

Turner, 42, and his partner were in their backyard early Saturday when they heard a car accelerate, followed by a loud explosion. [italics added]
Even though the driver was a young person who made a grievous error in judgement, who did the kind of dumb thing that teenagers just inherently do, the set of driving decisions had life-shattering consequences.

When we report stories and ascribe agency to an automobile, refuse to focus on the human agent and choose not to say "after the driver lost control and hit a tree at high speed," we contribute to the autoist culture that minimizes the lethality and dangers of driving. It's not until the ninth paragraph in the second story that we get to "the driver" and agent in charge of the vehicle. The first story on Sunday never once mentions a driver in charge. "It's framing traffic deaths as things that kind of happen..."

Sunday, March 24, 2019

At the MPO: The Public Draft of the RTSP and Resolution on Goal 7 is Closer

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday to prepare the way for the public draft of the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan and its formal Public Comment period.

There are some other topics to note in passing also.

The full Public Draft of the RTSP looks to go before the committee next month to be approved for a formal public release. Then in May they'll hold a public hearing and vote on adoption. This month they'll look at Chapter 7 with the project lists, Chapter 8 on impacts, and the Executive Summary. Next month we'll see the whole. (Chapter 8 was not in the meeting packet, however. So this post may be updated later. See notes on the Technical committee's previous draft version of Chapter 8.)

This version of the RTSP comes at a transitional moment. Salem City Council finally decided for the "No Build" alternative on the SRC, and much of previous editions of the RTSP (and a wider orbit of associated planning efforts) has been premised on some kind of big build for the SRC. Salem City Council is also finally undertaking a greenhouse gas assessment, and since the transportation sector now is the largest contributor to Oregon's greenhouse gas emissions, any kind of formal evaluation of emissions will now have consequences for transportation planning. Then there is the specific matter of Goal 7, which remains contested and in particular is a site of conflict between the reactionary forces at Marion County, and new perspectives at Salem City Council.

The RTSP is ostensibly a neutral document, but it's really shot through with assumptions and enacts a particular notion of "balance."

The balance may be tested this time around, and the supporting materials read a little anxiously.

At February's meeting, just after Council's decision on the SRC, the MPO deliberated whether to delete a set-aside of $20 million for right-of-way on the SRC.

Let's keep $20 million for the SRC!
They decided to retain the money, and not to allocate it elsewhere.

(Though in fairness, as I understand it, there are two main buckets of money, and this $20 million is in the more theoretical one involving funding projections for the future: "Committed" funds, which go out four, or sometimes six, years, are hard funding commitments on projects that are actually being planned and built; this $20 million is not for that, but is for "included" projects and projected funds, and these are future projects outside the four-year horizon of the firm funding commitments. It is not terribly difficult to revise funding notions on "included" projects. Retaining the $20 million for the SRC is more symbolic than actual budgeting action. Still, serious thought should be given to re-assigning it to any overages or enhancements on the Seismic Retrofit of the Center Street Bridge. That keeps it on the "crossing," but redirects it to an actual and actually useful project.)

There's also a discussion of the procedure for adoption of the RTSP, and for the first time it acknowledges that things could get sticky. Previously the adoption has been very routine, but not perhaps this year.

Will there be a showdown on Goal 7?

Friday, March 22, 2019

City Council, March 25th - Tax Incentives for 260 State

Council meets on Monday and for our interests here it's a light agenda.

260 State Street birds eye view
(Marion Car Park on left, and Scott's Cycle in middle)
The most significant item is an application to participate in the City's Multiple Unit Housing Tax Incentive Program, a ten year property tax abatement, for the development at 260 State Street on the corner of Commercial and State Streets. (See previous notes here.)

From the Staff Report:
The Program provides for a tax exemption only for the City’s tax levy, estimated to be $41,267 in the first full year....if the District’s Board consents to the tax exemption for a project under the Program, the project will be exempt from all local property taxes for the period authorized, estimated to be $165,069 in the first full year. The project is within the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area, and all tax revenue generated by the project above the current assessed value would go to the Urban Renewal Area, and would not go to the City and other taxing districts.

Since 1976, six properties have been approved by Council for this Program.
Since the site has been vacant for so long, without any new development actually breaking ground, it is not implausible to argue that this kind of subsidy is in fact necessary to make the project happen. The Staff Report does not, however, attempt to make that positive case, to argue that the incentive is necessary. Instead, the Staff Report takes the program as it is, and merely argues that the project meets the requirements technically and administratively.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Church Street and SAIF, Winter-Maple Greenway, City Archiving - Bits

The City's upgraded the closure on the bridge
across the "stream of mystery"
($140k is budgeted for a fix, fortunately)
Over at CANDO they've got a note about the demolition and clearing across the street from SAIF and just north of Shelton Ditch, the sewage pump station, and Pringle Park:
CANDO is getting a new green space on Church Street at SAIF. It's not a City park, but it will be open and green. Thank you SAIF Corporation for being willing to share your space with the neighbors. Neighbors, don't get too attached, 'cause SAIF might need the space for a building again, one of these days.
This is going to be greenspace?
But with Pringle Park and the larger the path system along Shelton Ditch, Pringle Creek, and the Mill Race, is more green space something we need here? There's already that large parking garage immediately to the east. This area suffers from too much slack space and urban renewal "towers in a park" style development.

So here's a contrary take: We would be better served by one or more buildings here. What we need here are commercial and residential uses that create incidental foot-traffic for the open space, which is currently slack and underused. More green space will just intensify the slackness. See here for more on the stream of mystery and nearby open space, and notes on the "good cents" installation and the way SAIF has fenced off other open space here. Since we are fencing off areas and have difficulty finding maintenance budget to repair a bridge, these are more evidence there might be too much open space near here.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Yesterday Finally Felt like Spring. Questions about a Walnut and Cork Oak.

Is this a Walnut? Could it be a child of the Judson Walnut?
Did you get out on Saturday or Sunday? Sunday was especially glorious, and it was the first day that didn't just hint at Spring, but really felt like Spring. Especially after the cold of February, it was a welcome change.

A little more than a block away from the Judson Black Walnut that overlooks Gilmore Field, another "walnut-y" tree lined the walk for a very nice little cottage.

The Judson tree is especially venerable. It was planted in 1863, but because it's in a back yard and on private property, it's a little hidden and not something easy to appreciate. From the street you can see most of the upper half, but not the trunk and where it roots and meets the ground. (Apparently there's an old Rose bush near it also.)

So how old is this other grand tree? And if it's a Walnut also, did a bird drop it, or was it planted deliberately by an early homeowner? It frames the steps and walk for the current house very nicely, and maybe it's only as old as the house. But since it's so close to the Judson tree, it is reasonable to ask if it's related.

At the Setziol rocks, some trees are beginning to bloom
The Cherries at the Capitol were not yet in bloom, but some cultivars or other fruit trees at the Royal Court apartments, as well as on the Mill Race were just beginning to blossom.

On Liberty at Mill Race Park, the prospect of blossoming trees promised to show the Setziol piece to best advantage. The piece seems like it belongs in a Japanese rock garden rather than a Brutalist expanse of "park." I think the Public Art Commission misjudged the site. On a glorious day, there was no foot traffic, no visitors in the park. Even with Gamberetti's patio nearby, it's an empty space we ornament with art, trees, and the edges and angles of 70s landscaping in concrete. Still, this is a time of year when it seems especially likely to vibrate with life. Check out the park and sculpture on a sunny day in the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Crosswalk Corner Bumps on Google Tonight!

Ever wondered about those bumps set on a "place mat" of contrasting color at a corner or a ramp cut into the sidewalk? We're seeing more of them, and the City's redoing corners to improve ADA compliance and accessibility. They're an important ingredient in sidewalks for everybody.

The google-doodle tonight and tomorrow
New curb ramps and truncated dome bump pads (in red)
on the south side of Fairview and Summer.
Note also the raised curbs to signal or stop downhill motion
The history's been a little obscure, and it's terrific to see Google's got the details tonight.
Today’s animated Doodle celebrates Japanese inventor Seiichi Miyake, whose desire to help a close friend turned into an innovation that drastically improved the way those who are visually impaired navigate public spaces around the globe.

In 1965, Miyake spent his own money to invent tactile blocks (or Tenji blocks as they were originally known) to help a friend whose vision was becoming impaired.

Stories on Son of SRC at Wheatland and Cherry Blossom Day Miss on Climate

As students around the world and also here in Salem skipped class on Friday to highlight climate disruption, news stories, including talk about a new bridge across the river, continue to be siloed stubbornly from any talk about climate. This is wrong. Many stories now are also climate stories. These might seem like they are mainly about commerce and convenience, or about cultures, transience of beauty, and delight, but they are also about climate.

Wheatland Ferry site touted for bridge
Of course it was interesting to read a little more about what looks like what might be an emerging consensus about upgrading the crossing at Wheatland Ferry to a full bridge.

On the face of it, this is not at all unreasonable. There is existing demand there. Historically it was considered, and on this latest round it should have been given more consideration during the SRC process (the formal Purpose & Need Statement was written to exclude it from the start). It deserves to be thought through and given a full analysis.
Oregon Global Warming Commission 2018 Biennial Report
But we can't continue to talk about big new transportation facilities without also talking about greenhouse gases. If a bridge at Wheatland would better serve farmers and freight, what does it do with induced demand and for total emissions?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

1919 Cartoon on Automobile Accidents Shows Elasticity of Word

"Automobile accident" has seemed like a recent locution, a problem from the second half of the 20th century, very much part of the autoist project for erasing the driver and absolving cars and drivers from fault in crashes.

Traffic safety advocates have sought specifically to reframe the way we think of crashes and to discard the rhetoric of "accident" as misleading.
An "accident" is, by definition, unintentional. We accidentally drop dinner plates, or send e-mails before we're done writing them. The word also suggests something of the unforeseen — an event that couldn't have been anticipated, for which no one can be blamed.

That second connotation is what irks transportation advocates who want to change how we talk about traffic collisions. When one vehicle careens into another or rounds a corner into a pedestrian — call it a "crash," they say, not an "accident."

"Our children did not die in 'accidents,'" says Amy Cohen, a co-founder of the New York-based group Families for Safe Streets. Her 12-year-old son was hit and killed by a van on the street in front of their home in 2013. "An 'accident,'" she says, "implies that nothing could have been done to prevent their deaths."
It remains fascinating - and sad - how much death we accept on the roads because of automobile "accidents," and it is of interest to understand how the word came to normalize, even trivialize, traffic death as no big deal, something we routinely tolerate and look past. We profess to be upset by the deaths and injury, and though individuals who are directly affected by them are in fact upset and grieve, our collective upset still encounters barriers as it tries to rise to the level of the whole society and doing things in a determined and systemic way to reduce traffic death.

Distracted driving and underage drivers
A cartoon strip in the paper 100 years ago on the causes and reasons for automobile "accidents" complicates a reading of the word accident that sees it mainly as later 20th century usage. It draws on established usage and asks Do you know why we wonder at the vast number of automobile accidents?

Early examples of the word "accident" involving cars show that the way people interpreted automobile crashes under the word "accident" drew on a range of meanings that predated the automobile. And in fact the usage allowed for various kinds of intentionality. A much more complicated, even incoherent, set of ideas is embraced by it. If advocacy to say "crash not accident" has seemed to take more time and work than it ought to, if "accident" has seemed a very stubborn word in police reporting, in news, and in other conversation of many kinds, it turns out there is a deeper reservoir of established meaning for "accident" that still might have to be drained or critiqued.

The complete strip: Do you know why
we wonder at the vast number of automobile accidents?
(March 13th, 1919)
We might wish for the cartoon to distill an essence and offer clarity on the origin and meaning of "accident" - at least that's a kind of grail I hoped for! - but instead it shows what a jumble of ideas we pack into the word.*

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

City Tries to Leverage New Bike Lanes to Greenwash Tree Removal near Police Station

On Thursday the 14th the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will conduct a Public Hearing on the proposal to remove trees on Division Street between Liberty and High in a project related to the new Police Station.

One of the reasons adduced for the removal is the prospect of new bike lanes on Liberty Street, which would result "in a reduction of available on-street parking." So the City proposes to hollow out the curb strip, and install new angle parking where there was parallel parking before.
New bike lanes as reason to justify tree removal - Staff Report
Over on Facebook, tree advocates have posted more information and have rightly suggested that we should no longer routinely countenance trading mature trees for new parking in the public right-of-way. At this moment, maintaining tree canopy is a higher value than adding to the stock of subsidized car storage.

It also seems relevant that there are no bike lanes proposed for Division Street, where the trees are proposed to be removed. The bike lanes are actually on Liberty Street, a little distant from the trees in question. Removing trees on Division gains no space directly for any new proposed bike lanes. The relationship the City posits between tree removal and new bike lanes is much less direct.

So let's look at what appear to be a cascading set of changes just off Division Street. Because these changes affect other projects, they deserve more notice and analysis. The City has been very quiet about them. One of the biggest is extending two-way sections on Liberty and Division here. The Division Street bit seems unproblematic, but Liberty bit seems more complicated, and it impacts the Union Street greenway. The bike lanes on Liberty Street also terminate awkwardly and do not connect adequately with the wider network. Overall the project appears autoist, with bike travel very secondary and not at all integral.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

At Thursday Sustainability Lunch, Think on ODOT's Unsustainable Approach to Highways and Autoism

When ODOT remodeled the Transportation Building on the Capitol Mall, they focused on stormwater management rather than greenhouse gases or sustainable transport. Even the art was more about cars and driving than anything else. ODOT made it clear: They are a HIGHWAY agency. This continues to animate them.

Priorities! Swales for run-off dwarf the bike racks (in 2012)
On Thursday the monthly Sustainability Luncheon will feature ODOT:
Geoff Crook, ODOT Sustainability Program Manager, will provide a brief overview of ODOT’s recent sustainability efforts and how the agency is preparing for possible legislative direction on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the transportation sector.
As ODOT remains committed to road and highway expansion, it is interesting here to note the flipside, the language of waiting for "legislative direction." They aren't voluntarily going to do very much, it seems.

This has been noticed before.

Oregon Global Warming Commission 2018 Biennial Report
In the most recent report to the Legislature from the Oregon Global Warming Commission, they write
adoption [of the Statewide Transportation Strategy] is only advisory and has no specific programmatic implications unless the Legislature chooses otherwise.
Indeed, as we have seen on the SRC, and now Portland is seeing on the propose I-5 Rose Quarter widening project, ODOT wants to claim speeding traffic along is actually the green enterprise with lower emissions.* ODOT is more interested in greenwashing business-as-usual than doing what is necessary to reduce emissions in the transportation sector.

For a HIGHWAY agency, reducing driving is self-cancelling. So of course they are resistant.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Origin of the Boise Mill, Cherries Slow to Blossom, Ducks at Belluschi Pond - Updated

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first announcement for what become the Boise mill.

Near the beginning, early or mid-1920s
Looking southwest from Sculpture Garden corner
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
March 11th, 1919
I don't know how interesting this might be, and maybe we'll follow it a little over the next couple of years.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

City Council, March 11th - Momentum for Congestion Relief Task Force

Council meets on Monday and they'll consider a resolution introduced jointly by SRC foes coming together for unity on the recommendations of the Congestion Task Force.

From 1937 this remains our ideal - via NYRB
Salem Reporter had a story earlier in the week on this, "Salem councilors Kaser, Lewis to file rare joint motion to start planning congestion fixes."

The resolution specifically calls out 4 of the 17 concepts:
Our motion directs staff to specifically initiate the following actions as soon as possible:
  1. Solicit a recommendation from SPRAB (Salem Parks and Recreation Advisory Board) regarding a parking and walk/bike/shuttle service at Wallace Marine Park;
  2. Send letters to ODOT requesting approvals for actions involving its roadways;
  3. Send letters to Cherriots regarding actions involving the downtown circulator feasibility study and trip reduction programs; and
  4. Send a letter to SKATS requesting City participation in updating the regional Congestion Management Process.
But only the first of them, on the Parks and Recreation Board and Wallace Marine Park, is under direct City control.

On the others, collaboration with - and presumably funding from - ODOT, Cherriots, and SKATS is necessary, and so letters of "request" must be sent.

The politics on all this may be a little tricky. After making one great decision that was so very unpopular in certain circles, maybe Council feels like they have to mollify a little. So maybe stacking a second set of difficult and even unpopular decisions right on top of the "No Build" decision does not seem prudent at the moment.

But if we are simply going by effectiveness, three letters of request may not be the most effective measures.

There are things the City can do by itself, right now.

Friday, March 8, 2019

War Garden Commission Promoted Daylight Saving Time in 1919

Don't forget to "Spring Forward" this weekend!

March 3rd, 1919
(But wait, the veggies look like
they are fleeing the Garden Monster!
Or Hun-Things to Be Pickled fleeing Lady Liberty?)
Ready for Daylight Saving

The Seeds of Victory Insure the Fruits of Peace

The extra hour of daylight which comes back to us on the last Sunday in March means millions of dollars to the country, says the National War Garden Commission, of Washington, which urges that everyone have a garden in 1919.

Copyright National War Garden Commission

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Red Light Camera Enforcement Reporting Looks Odd

Over at CANDO they recently posted a link to a report to the Legislature on Salem's three red light cameras, violations, and the tickets they generate.

Is it possible that there's 3x as much traffic in 2018 as 2012?
That would be more than 67% increase!

Just in general this does not look like very reliable data
It looks very much like the data needs to be scrubbed more, however. It's hard to believe the numbers as reported.

By comparison, here are the numbers the Congestion Relief Task Force used. They show a much different pattern, nothing like a jump from 7.9 million to 23.4 million between 2012 and 2018. An increase similar to what is shown on the bridges would be more like from 8 million to 9 million.

From the Congestion Relief Task Force
Other than wanting the best, most accurate data, I don't know how any errors specifically might matter to revenue, cost, staffing, or anything else. But the City and Police should consider a closer look, maybe even a kind of audit, for the Red Light Camera numbers. They look funny. And to try to draw any conclusions from them seems very premature.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Draft Chapters Seven and Eight of the RTSP at the MPO

Things have fallen into a bit of a lull for the moment, so we'll get ahead a little. Next week on Tuesday the 12th, the Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets, and they'll mostly be looking at draft chapters 7 and 8 of the RTSP.

Cars man, Why?
Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation
at a mobility conference via Twitter
A complete draft for public review is supposed to come out next month, and are we sure that Goal 7 language has been adopted? It kinda looks like they're just trying to slide this in under the radar or something. It looks a little hinky.

A public draft of the RTSP is supposed to come out next month
Chapter 7 is on the "proposed system" and it's awfully listy, mainly an enumeration of the projects. Maybe there will be more to say about it, but there shouldn't be any surprises in it. (Fingers crossed!)

More interesting is chapter 8 on "impacts."

No matter what language they might have for Goal 7, they are ignoring greenhouse gas emissions. In Chapter 8 on "environmental impacts," it's mostly about wetlands and salmon, about water run-off and contamination. There's nothing about carbon dioxide. (The section on air quality also ignores carbon dioxide, and discusses carbon monoxide and ozone only. This is a legacy of a regulatory framework a couple generations old that needs desperately to be updated.)

The section on "Environmental Impacts"
misses the biggest one
It is a great irony that in a section about "avoiding, reducing, and mitigating," they take as self-evident the need for construction projects, and do not apply the avoid and reduce concepts to drive-alone car trips themselves. (See the tweet from MassDOT at top!) Avoiding construction and new auto capacity altogether is more powerful than rerouting a road around a wetland.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Governor Withycombe Died in Office 100 Years Ago

Secretaries of State have been in the news sadly this last week, and 100 years ago, another Secretary of State was in the news.

Almost immediately following the end of the 1919 Legislative session, Oregonians were surprised to learn that Governor Withycombe was ill and had died, and Secretary of State Ben Olcott succeeded to the Governor's office.

March 4th, 1919

Sunday, March 3, 2019

DE May, Artist and Salemite, 1952-2019

DE May, Untitled Boat Drawing, 2017
on a found stereographic card
PDX Contemporary Art

There was another sad obituary in the paper today. Artist DE May died last month.

I would see him on a bike and on foot around town occasionally, and perhaps because I was a stranger and did not know him, having no introduction, but also as he seemed to be a retiring type (and note none of the tributes have photos of him), when I asked to take a photo of him and his bike one day on Chemeketa Street, he declined. He was a notable Salemite who biked, and it seemed like he might have interesting things to say about biking or the city.

Tributes have been heartfelt.

A few days ago over at Hallie Ford Museum of Art they wrote:
Salem and Oregon lost one of their great artists last night when Dan (DE) May passed away from pancreatic cancer at Salem Hospital. Dan was born in Salem in 1952 and attended high school here. He studied for a time with Larry Stobie at Western Oregon University in Monmouth (15 miles west of Salem) but really spent his entire life in Salem. For most of his professional life, Dan worked as a custodian in order to support his studio practice, which finally took off in the 1990s and culminated with him being selected as a Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts in 2013 and receiving one person exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles the following year. He had frequent solo exhibitions at PDX CONTEMPORARY ART in Portland over the years and was featured in two small solo exhibitions and one large group exhibition at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. In addition, we have a large body of his work in our permanent collection, some of which is always on view. With Dan’s passing last night, I think the time is right to consider a major retrospective and book for him at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in the next few years. Dan was truly an “institution” around Salem and one of our genuine “art treasures.” He fought a brave and courageous battle against one of the most deadly forms of cancer and he will be sorely missed. May his memory be eternal.
Less institutionally and more personally, over at On the Way, there's a very lovely and deeply felt tribute. It's got great postal ephemera and hand-drawn maps and so many signs of life.
Dan slipped off the island this week and won’t be coming back. All of us Islanders are bereft, and others in the greater world too. Artist, poet, maker, gatherer, friend.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

First Look at State Hospital North Campus Concepts

If you've been to some of the adjacent neighborhood associations, this will not necessarily be news, as they have already seen presentations.

But for the rest of us, a Public Hearing Notice is the first opportunity to look at the concept proposed for the first project on the North Campus of the State Hospital.

The City's already working on the Yaquina Hall rehab and remodel, but this is the first private development on the grassy fields after the buildings were all demolished.

Concept for 211 apartments; next phase for houses along D St.

The apartments would go in the middle section of the east parcel
The matter at the Planning Commission is only a rezoning. There is nothing about the site plan, design, or other building details:
A Minor Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment and Zone Change from Public and Private Health Services to Single Family and Multi-Family Residential designations to allow for a future mixed density residential development, and a subdivision to further divide the subject property into four lots.
I don't think there's really anything to criticize here, and it's hard to see this in any way other than a necessary, routine matter.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Missing Middle Design Standards Workshop doesn't Explain Enough

The City published the posters from Wednesday's Multifamily Housing Workshop, and it's clear now we are talking about "missing middle" housing, the kinds of small plexes that used to be legal during the streetcar era, which we made illegal with exlusionary single-family, "lawn & driveway" zoning during the autoist era.

There's no Staff Report aimed at the public, but there is a very brief technical memo.

Overall, there's not enough discussion and analysis of the proposals. They trade too much on readers and commenters already understanding zoning, construction, and housing issues. They are not, therefore, as persuasive as they might be. Generating real political momentum behind them will require persuading a general audience who will mostly not have any background in development or zoning.

So here are just some quick-hit notes in red on the posters.

(red text and yellow highlighting added throughout)
While on the surface it might seem helpful to make small plexes confirm to single-family standards rather than large multifamily standards, we also have an affordability problem. Asking small plexes to meet the same single-family standards might still make housing too expensive, and we might want to think more about some tiered approaches. Aren't there instances where conforming a four-plex to single-family standards results in an overbuilt four-plex? The City and consultants should address this more directly.