Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Promotion for Bike Week in 1919 Smaller than in 1918

Tonight there's a workshop on the missing middle code concepts, but the City hasn't published anything new on them. With the new website, they seem to be publishing fewer of the technical memos that are the basis for the presentation materials they then publish. More and more of the information is being filtered, presumably with a view towards shaping the outcome in definite directions. The new website might look better, but as a total source of information it is in so many ways inferior.

The workshop is at the Library, downstairs in the Anderson rooms, at 6pm today, Tuesday the 30th.

"Ride a bicycle": National Bicycle Week ad, May 7th 1919
So we'll talk a little about bike month. There's a real shift in tone in the "bicycle week" advertising from 1918 to 1919.

Half-page ad, May 8th, 1918
There was a lot more in 1918! A full page ad on May 4th, and this half-page ad on May 8th. In 1919 there is only this quarter page ad.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

SKATS RTSP Map is Helpful, also Overwhelming, and Maybe Buggy

As part of the public outreach and as prelude to an Open House on May 1st and the Public Hearing on May 28th, our local Metropolitan Planning Organization published earlier this week a map of all the planned projects through 2043.

They want comment.

It's like ALL the projects!
Tell us what you think!

Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS) invites you to comment on the 2019-2043 Regional Transportation Systems Plan (RTSP). Comments will be accepted from now up to the public hearing scheduled on May 28, 2019.

The Regional Transportation Systems Plan (RTSP) provides a comprehensive, long-range look at the Salem-Keizer region and how to meet the anticipated transportation needs. Projects that have a reasonable certainty of being funded and address mobility and safety needs and enhancements to the regional system or provide new service are identified in the plan.

Draft documents are available on the MWVCOG website, and there is an interactive map of the projects where you may enter comments. An Open House will be held May 1, 2019 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the MWVCOG offices located at 100 High St SE, Salem, Oregon. We welcome your feedback.

The Policy Committee will receive all comments and hold a Public Hearing at noon on May 28, 2019 at their monthly meeting (at MWVCOG offices). For more information or to comment, contact Ray Jackson at rjackson@mwvcog.org or 503-540-1607.

Thank you for your interest!
The first window over the map itself says:
Welcome to the SKATS 2019-2043 Regional Transportation Systems Plan Interactive Map!

The map of draft RTSP projects will open in a new window and allow the viewer to see the location and details about each project or program.

You may leave a general comment by choosing "General Comments" and you may leave comments on any of the individual projects by choosing them from the list. You may also indicate your favorite projects by clicking on the heart icon below the description.
The Map is Overwhelming and Hard to Grasp

So what to do with this thing?

It's a strange thing, however, and aside from the big list in the sidebar, one of the first things to notice might be the colors: Lime green, yellow, and red. What do these mean?

There is no further legend on the map, and it's not obvious what these mean.

Something is not quite right here:
A 2007 project in a 2019-2043 plan?
One of the green segments, one on Portland Road, says it was to be built in 2007. (Since the map was published and that clip taken, this date field appears to have taken out of the sidebar display, and it makes you wonder what it means.)

But if you click on all the green things, they are all "ITS-Signals," so it looks like the colors represent a category of project (and not a go-caution-stop traffic light scheme!):
  • Green: ITS-Signals (technology)
  • Red: Roads and Bridges
  • Brown/orange: Bicycle and Pedestrian
  • Lavender: Transit

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Monster Cookie, Bike More Challenge, Scenic Bikeways Anniversary: Wheeling Season is Here

The weather looks dry and temperate, and it's time for the Salem Bicycle Club's Monster Cookie, the first big ride of the season this Sunday, the 28th.

Monster Cookie, 2011
If you bike regularly, you'll already know about it.

If you don't, it's a metric century - 62 miles - through the rolling hills of French Prairie out to Champoeg and back. Some people only do half of it, from Salem to Champoeg, and get picked up at Champoeg.You could do the second half, from Champoeg to Salem, also. This year they'll also use the Winter-Maple Bikeway through town and much of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway also.

Day-of-ride registration ($40) opens at 8am on the Capitol Mall Fountain and plaza. A last minute decision is ok! That's the best way to wait and assess the weather if you're not an all-weather rider.

And always remember Governor Geer, who rode his bike out to Champoeg on May 1st, 1900, to set in motion the establishment of the historical marker and then the park!

And City Councilors do the Cookie, too! (And Councilor Andersen often bikes to Council meetings and for other City business - see below for more in the City's lack of institutional commitment, however.)

Prepping for the Monster Cookie, 2015
(Councilor Hoy on left in helmet, via SBC)
Bike More Challenge

One of the items on the recent update to City Council on the work by the Congestion Relief Task Force is a recommendation to "develop and implement commute trip reduction programs."

The Bike More Challenge is one of the biggest and best and funnest around the state, but the City's participation has been very lukewarm, practically invisible. Both the City of Salem proper, and our businesses, haven't really got behind it. Mostly it's State agencies. So it will be interesting to see how this year goes, especially with the City of Salem.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Capital Improvement Plan at Budget Committee Tonight

The Budget Committee meets this evening and they'll hold a Public Hearing on the draft 2020 five year Capital Improvement Plan. (Agenda and packet here.)

There's not a whole lot new in this iteration of the plan, and so just a few comments. (Here are longer notes from last year, and much of that remains current and relevant.)

Funding is inflated with a BUILD grant and drops off for 2022
Maybe the City's been tipped off in private, but publicly I'm pretty sure the City has not yet been announced as a winner of a BUILD grant for the McGilchrist project. The current Federal administration has also reconfigured it from the TIGER program to have a much greater emphasis on rural projects. You can see the green dots in the map of the most recent awards. As the program currently operates, McGilchrist may not be a strong candidate.

Columbia River and Coos Bay got awards last year
In any case, on other programming like ODOT's ARTS, STIP, SR2S, or the City's own SDSs, STREC, URA, projects don't get included in the Capital Improvement Plan until funding is committed. So why is the City repeatedly wishcasting on McGilchrist? They keep doing this! It looks like an attempt to inflate the numbers, really.

$15 million makes the project list seem a lot bigger
And you could see a reason why. Without a bond measure, the transportation projects are really falling off after 2021. The gas tax is not enough. The City should talk about that more. Auto user fees are not sufficient. We subsidize driving. Even a small new local gas tax wouldn't be very much.

On most other items there's just not very much new to say.

Monday, April 22, 2019

SKATS to Release Public Draft of 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan: At the MPO

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 23rd, and they have two big drafts to consider. They'll look at the formal work plan for the coming year, and they'll release the formal public draft of the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan.

The Work Plan

Just a few things to notes in passing on the work plan.

The section on the SRC has not been updated since the Council vote. It's unclear whether this is an accident or by design. It may be a sign that there remains hope of some last minute intervention to revive the bridge as the preferred alternative.

Information on the SRC is badly out of date
The Cordon Road Study deserves more thought, but it is an ambiguous thing. On the one hand, Cordon Road is terrible, terrible, terrible for walking and biking; but it is important for them as a circumferential connection, and it should be possible to walk and bike. At the same time, it is a quasi-highway that coincides with much of the Urban Growth Boundary, and it may not rank highly as a priority for walking and biking. As the Mill Creek Corporate Center area is built out, making it possible to walk, bike, and bus in that area should be an increasingly high priority. And Cordon does connect directly with Kuebler, which is an important east-west connection through South Salem.

The Work Plan makes it clear that the study is more of a negotiation, between County and City, and is less a matter of engineering details.

On the same page? Coordination mostly on Cordon Road
But really, the whole length needs more than just 1980s style bike lanes. Because of the speed of cars and traffic volumes, Cordon and Kuebler both need a fully-separated, modern protected bike lane and sidewalk system.

Finally, on travel models, it has become clear that the matter of false precision and margin-of-error needs to be highlighted.

Friday, April 19, 2019

City Council, April 22nd - Weeding and Congestion

If only we attacked the problem of too many cars with the same zealous energy we are attacking the "problem" of too many books. The inversion in priorities says so much about us.

On Monday Council will meet, and they will assess the latest rationalization and modernization scheme at the Library as well as get an update on the recommendations from the Congestion Task Force.

Trying too hard to keep up with the "latest"
April 2nd, 1919
A century ago, local librarians followed "the librarians back east" in advocating for a "natural way" of phonetic spelling. It was the latest and best theory! Keep up with the times!

We all know how this attempt at rationalization turned out.

Now, we have another attempt at a misguided modernization scheme. From here The Big Weed looks like more like high-concept "cotzj chez" than real cottage cheese, and Council should ask for course-correction on this fad.

A resolution from SCAN summarizes much of the case.

From SCAN's resolution in critique of the Big Weed
A senior librarian, 16 years with the City and with intimate knowledge of internal processes and Salem's usage, writes:
I have several concerns, including the “collection evaluation” project, the numerous unfilled librarian positions, and the removal of the reference desk. The most urgent is the "collection evaluation"....The new City Librarian... is undertaking a huge “collection evaluation” project without enough replacement book money. In addition, I believe her philosophy of “new and popular” above all else will lead to a possibly irreversible decline in the library’s collection.
However fusty an attachment to old books might seem, old books are expensive and hard to replace once discarded. (Consider recent fires at Notre Dame and the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro for a catastrophically more intense form of this same kind of loss.) They also have useful information in them, historically illuminating even when the bare "facts" themselves might be out of date. More than this, as the resolution from SCAN suggests, in comparison with peer libraries, in our practices, standards, and funding we are behind or deficient. Our Library's current enthusiasm for weeding seems more impoverishing than improving, and hopefully Council will step in with corrective action.

(Update: Save our Books points out this is an "information item" only, a report on continuing the weeding program, and not an action item asking for Council explicitly to confirm the Big Weed or to give corrective direction. So that's an interesting, even sneaky, maneuver that I missed.)

There's no need to stop maintenance weeding itself, but there is great need for a more thoughtful approach away from the clear-cutting mode.

As it has been easy for the Library to reduce book holdings, it has been difficult for the City to reduce car trips. Sure, books and cars are different, and there is no Roads Czar equivalent in power to a City Librarian. But the difference still is telling.

Council will also get an update on the recommendations from the Congestion Relief Task Force. Already, it's a slog. There are four items called out in the update.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Yes, Let's Remember Peppermint Flat! Salem Main Street Group Proposes Alley Names

Over at CANDO they've got information on a fun project.

Names for the alleys?
This could be "Electric Alley"
The Salem Main Street Association has proposed formal naming for the downtown alleys. They've identified "five historically referenced alley names" (keyed on the map below) and are looking to name the others:

1. Electric Alley
2. Pastoral Alley
4. Spirited Alley
7. Sun Alley
8b. Peppermint Flats Alley

Should we name our alleys?
(via CANDO, comment added)
The naming proposal is fascinating, but at least some of it on the surface looks fantastical, not really historical. Unfortunately the information comes filtered from CANDO, and the Main Street group has not posted any of the information on their own website. Maybe as more comes out, things will be clearer. (As critics have pointed out several times, the Main Street group is lousy about maintaining a website, blog, or facebook! They operate more like a secret club than a public-minded advocacy organization. Maybe "Dancing with the Salem Stars" will change this.)

Already old, April 24th, 1919
But first off, they've got the wrong alley marked for Peppermint Flat. 100 years ago a note does suggest it's "flats," but it also says the area was mainly between Liberty and High (8a), not between High and Church (8b). Maybe the 8a/8b split recognizes this a little, but 8a is really the right one. It is low land, flooded seasonally, and where the peppermint might have grown. But because there are parking decks there, it's a much less interesting alley.

Two talks at WU: Champoeg after the 1861 Flood, the Psychology of Sustainability

There are two talks in the next couple of days at Willamette that might be of interest, one on recent archeology at Champoeg, which will touch on settler colonialism, the origins of statehood and early statehood, and of course flood; and the other on the psychology of sustainability (and presumably why it has been so difficult to engage people).

Though it's from 2009, it's still relevant for this talk!
Tomorrow, on Thursday the 18th at 7:30pm in the College of Law auditorium, there is a formal talk on research at Champoeg, "Caution! High Water: An Archaeological Investigation of the Champoeg Townsite after the 1861 Flood":
Archaeological excavations, led by Dr. David Brauner of Oregon State University, took place at the Champoeg townsite during the summers of 1990 and 1991 in search of information regarding the significant, pre-flood townsite. Yet, excavations at Block 4, Lots 1 and 2, seemed to tell a later story, and began to yield information pertaining to a post-1861 flood occupation, potentially a general mercantile store. However, analyses and interpretations regarding the archaeological record recovered during these excavations were never completed, leaving the tale of Block 4 and post-flood Champoeg a mystery that still needs to be told. Thus, this lecture will discuss recent research regarding both the historical documents and the archaeological assemblage from the Block 4 site in order to better understand the unknown history of the post-1861 flood time period at the Champoeg townsite.
The Champoeg meetings, the international situation at the time, the wolves, the native peoples, the floods - the issues remain so timely, and are so central to our self-understanding and origin myths.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

CANDO to Hear about YMCA and UGM Plans Tonight

As the IKE Box seeks to raise $1.5 million, there are also capital campaigns for the YMCA, the Union Gospel Mission, and the Center for Hope & Safety. There might be others, too.

Some of the initial goals and plans have already been scaled back.

Is there really this much potential philanthropic wealth sloshing around the pockets and bags of the Salem gentry? Will all these projects find patrons and be completed?

Front page today
CANDO meets this evening, and while they won't directly be talking about the prospects for completing all these capital campaigns, the question lurks in the background.

They'll be getting updates on two important projects, the YMCA campaign and the UGM campaign.

The YMCA project has already had recent coverage in the paper, but the UGM project has not, and the agenda suggests it also is changing. So there might be new things especially to learn about the UGM plan.

CANDO meets today, Tuesday the 16th, at 6:00 p.m. at First Christian Church on 685 Marion Street NE.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

City Council, April 15th - Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Gas Tax

Council meets on Monday for a work session on the prospects of new funding sources and closing the budget gap. One of the options on the table is a local gas tax, and there's no better way for Council to commemorate the nation's first gas tax than to enact a 100th anniversary gas tax!

The first gas tax was mostly uncontroversial
(February 28th, 1919)

A tacks/tax pun suggests a little bit of dissent, but it wasn't much
(February 22nd, 1919)
More seriously, we have this one process and conversation around "sustainable services" and the funding gap, but then we have this other process and conversation around greenhouse gases. Though they are using the same word "sustainable," they are in fact siloed and disconnected.

We need to bring them together.

New Auto Section in 1919 Still has Room for Bikes

Starting in April of 1919, the Capital Journal expanded the Saturday paper with a large "automobile section." It followed the novel legislation for the gas tax in 1919 and Salem's own first auto show at the armory, which, though it had been delayed a month because of influenza, still came off with success in February. 1919 is something of a cusp for the history of motor transport here.

The second "automobile section" in April
(April 12th, 1919)
But this new section is the paper is not yet a "pure" automobile section. On its very first page at the top is an article - probably more like advertorial - for bicycling, "Bicycles resuming popularity of old." You will recognize the name of Harry Scott. Maybe his account books would show a local "resumption," but in general the bike boom of the 1890s had to wait for the Depression and World War II for the second bike boom. (And then there was another lull until the 1970s.) This piece was probably more marketing hoopla and forward-looking than based on a backward-glance at any empirical trend.

detail from April 12th
On an inside page, there are three bicycle ads - and a Buick ad from our former bike dealer, Otto J. Wilson. (Scott's business is still around, Moore's slightly later building is still here, and Santiam Bikes is in Wilson's building. Ramsden has largely disappeared, however. If traces of the first round of bike dealers in the 1890s are scarce, links to this second generation have endured.)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Saturday Market, Loss of Missing Middle Housing - Bits

You may recall when the valet bike parking at the Saturday Market shut down in 2011. After that, as before, it was necessary to lock to signposts or go up the street to the North Mall Office building, a block away.

The staple racks on Winter St at Union St.
This past season the City installed a pod of racks on Winter Street at Union, and decent bike parking is at the market now. It may be early yet in the season, but put that fact away for when you do want to ride, especially as we get fair weather nearer to summer!

There's an interesting note in the paper today about an offer to give away a cottage cluster just off Edgewater Street, on the corner of Gerth and Second Street NW.

The cluster of nine cottages and courtyard at center
From the piece:
The 500-square-foot cottages are currently located at 155 through 171 Gerth Avenue NW. Northwest Human Services wants to move them in the next 45 to 60 days to make room for an expansion of the agency’s clinic which will provide primary medical, dental and mental health services.

Over the past two years, NWHS has searched for a non-profit, governmental agency or low-income rental property developer who can relocate and manage the properties to rent out to families and individuals in need, NWHS CEO Paul Logan said.

The company contacted entities such as Polk County, the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde, Community Resource Trust and smaller property developers, but were unsuccessful in striking a deal. The biggest hurdle, Logan said, was finding suitable land for the relocated cottages.

Without any takers, the houses will be demolished when construction begins.
There are lots of interesting things here:
  • The shift in the Edgewater district to be this monoculture of clinics.
  • The potential loss of affordable housing in this walkable area.
  • The failure of the new "Edgewater/Second Street Mixed Use" zoning to induce the desired mixed-use facilities. 
  • In the absence of zoning reform, the difficulty in finding new land in West Salem to relocate the cottage cluster (as distinct from any difficulty in cost and financing).
Maybe there are other angles you will see.

This story, if the paper chose to develop it further, could be a useful lens through which to examine the "Our Salem" project and the impediments that remain to the kinds of development our policies seek to encourage.

In any event, the demolition or the location of these cottages is something we'll follow at least peripherally here.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Council Legislative Committee looks at Emissions and the Bridge District

the agenda and packet
The meeting today of the Council Legislative Subcommittee looks especially interesting. They've published a relatively large meeting packet, and will be discussing important matters related to greenhouse gas emissions and transportation.
  • HB 2020 on establishing a Carbon Policy Office
  • HB 2974 on a proposed Bridge District
  • SB 451 on renewable energy certificates for our garbage incinerator (Wait, Fahrenheit 451?! That's a coincidence, I guess.)
Probably there will be more to say after the committee makes a recommendation to full City Council. (Our 350.org group has posted several links to articles on the incinerator.)

On the Rep. Evans Bridge District idea, one item especially in the analysis might give us pause. It seems to suggest that it's not at all out of the question that the District might try to site a bridge in Salem again. 

This makes it sound like the Bridge District concept
is an attempt to revive the SRC with the same bridge
It had seemed like the District was an attempt to gather support for something more like a bridge at Wheatland Ferry.

But this note makes it look more like it might be a bad-faith end-run around City Council's decision on the SRC.

Between the problems of property tax compression, the fact that any new bridge will induce traffic and add to greenhouse gas emissions, and adding another layer of regional government or governmental entity - all these together suggest the Bridge District idea should be approached very cautiously and critically.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Yes, the Path from the MInto Bridge has Flooded

Again, this is not as important as it at one time seemed, but during planning for the Minto Bridge, the City suggested the path system would be above the level of the 2012 flood, which was another two feet higher than this flood.

Plainly we can now see this is entirely wrong.

It doesn't matter for the usefulness and value of the bridge and path system, but it does matter for the credibility of the City when it seeks to persuade citizens of the value of some expensive plan. Sometimes the City offers deeply misleading, or even outright false, takes in the service of some aim. This makes it hard to trust the City sometimes.

The path is flooded at midday,
on the Minto side of the Minto Bridge.
This crest is two feet lower than the one in January 2012
In a July 2013 FAQ, responding to "I am concerned about flooding of the Bridge and Trail. How is this being addressed in the design?" they said:
The Trail will be located on the top of an existing berm on Minto Island. The edges of the paved Trail surface will be thickened, reducing the likelihood that flood flows will damage the Trail. The area of the planned Trail remained above high water in the January, 2012 flood event. Connecting trails in Minto Brown Island Park do flood, but alternate routes located above the 100-year flood elevation are available. [italics added]
The edges of the path might be reinforced correctly, but in most every other way it is wrong.

The bridge plans showed the path would be
well below the 2012 flood at 29 feet
(comments in red added)
For engineers, it should have been easy to see that the trail as marked on maps and in elevations was not going to be above the level of the Janaury 2012 flood.

And based on a river crest of about 27 feet, the path landing at 26.32 feet would just be underwater - just like the picture at top.

The engineering and surveying was accurate. The information was there for the City to make the right inferences and to present them to the public.

But the City misrepresented the information, in error or by design. Why???

Milwaukie Mayor Gamba Seeks to Primary Rep. Schrader

A primary challenge to Representative Kurt Schrader would be outside the usual range of topics here, but one of Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba's hallmarks is that he bikes.

original at OPB

From a BikePortland profile in February
So I guess there's a three-fold choice:
  • if you think that Schrader's "blue dog" style is too conservative, and that a more progressive candidate on transportation and climate change would be a good thing, you should read the BikePortland profile and start following Gamba's candidacy;
  • if you think that primarying Schrader would lead to flipping the district to a Republican candidate and you desire to flip it, you might embrace the candidacy with even more gusto; or,
  • if you think that primarying Schrader would lead to flipping the district to a Republican candidate and you prefer a Democrat, you might double-down on support for Schrader and his "blue dog" enthusiasms, however troublesome they might be.
Probably we'll not follow this race very closely - but if transportation becomes an issue in the race, it may be necessary to pay more attention!

(Comments are off on this post.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Minto Bridge in Flood - Will we See the Path Covered?

This is now mainly trivia, but during planning and construction for the Minto Bridge, it seemed important. The City never really made it very clear when high water would actually close the bridge or even submerge it. They talked about making the bridge deck itself above the "100 year level" - something like the 1964 flood, with the river at about 38 feet - but the path system itself is considerably lower than that 100 year event elevation, and the City never discussed in public when high water might cover the path.

But with the river now projected to rise to about 27 feet - edging towards 2012 levels, but many feet short of 1996 or 1964 - we may get to see the path covered.

"Closed"? What does that mean?!
(yesterday evening)
Since we've been talking about the bridge, it's become clear that enough parts of Minto Park take on water when the river is at about 20 feet, the City closes the park.
This week we are going to crest near 27 feet. Minto Park has been closed for a few days. Some of the lower paths near or across slough-ish areas inside that park are already submerged and have been for a while.

Around 24 feet on Tuesday, cresting near 26 feet
But it's been updated to nearer 27 feet for tomorrow
 - via NOAA
For comparison, the 2012 flood was a little over 29 feet. At the time, the City swore that the path would not have been covered, but this seems unlikely and false.

We may get to find out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Draft RTSP and First Look at 2021-2026 Project Applications: At the MPO

According to Eugene's Register-Guard, where flooding is more significant than here, our episode this week is remarkable:
Andy Bryant, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Portland, said the weather service has no record of a flood event in the southern Willamette Valley occurring this late in the rainy season.

“The time of the year, just in my mind, makes it historically significant, that we’re having a flood like this a week into April,” he said.

Bryant added: “It’s very unusual to have this kind of heavy rain in April. What we’ve had is more of a November through February kind of weather event.”
So while this is an instance of weather, not climate, it is reasonable to think its lateness can partially be ascribed to climate change, a partial effect of climate disruption, and something of which we may be seeing more.

Tuesday front page
The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today, Tuesday the 9th. Climate remains the Elephant in the Room, but they've got a couple of other substantial items on the agenda.

Start of draft RTSP (yellow in original)
The big item is the first complete draft of the 2019 Regional Transportation System Plan. The MPO is preparing the formal release of the draft later this month, will solicit public comment, and then in May hold a Public Hearing, with formal adoption to follow.

So at this point is it possible to start outlining main threads on the RTSP. The Executive Summary offers one of them. It's a very clear expression of hydraulic autoism, and they've even left a relevant portion in yellow: "The anticipated increase in travel demand will put pressure on each component of the regional transportation system..." It's all about inexorable growth of fluid and the pressure that follows.

It's not about safety, it's not about the movement of people and goods (as distinct from cars), it's not about climate and pollution. It's about fluid pressure.

This remains a great theoretical problem in our high-level concepts and planning for transportation.

Monday, April 8, 2019

City Council, April 8th - Downtown Parking

Council meets tonight, and you might recall a front-page piece from a couple weeks ago on proposed changes to downtown parking for residents of downtown.
Downtown Salem is experiencing an increase in private development. Currently proposed projects include a mix of uses including housing, which will increase the demand for on and off-street City parking resources. In addition, future development of the Union Gospel, Saffron sites, and the former Nordstrom Building may also increase the demand for parking resources in downtown.

The Commercial Business District (CBD) zoning district requirement for buildings with housing is one parking space for every housing unit developed. Because it can be challenging with site constraints and financial costs to build on-site structured parking and recover those costs through rental rates, developers are requesting parking adjustments or considering City structured parking resources through an agreement as a solution to meet their on-site parking needs.

Without a paid on-street parking system that would incent utilization of the free off-street parking resources, or a permit requirement for residents currently utilizing the parking garages for long term parking for free, these users are not contributing to the cost to operate and maintain the City parking resources. If the proposed revisions are approved, residents who live within one-quarter mile of the Downtown Parking District boundary will be prohibited from parking in a City garage without a parking permit. This boundary includes Pringle Parkade which is a City parking resource outside of the Downtown Parking District but within the one-quarter mile parameter.
We're just basically incoherent on parking. Separately, in the Legislative positions, there's an argument against reducing parking. The City opposes a bill that would make transit work better and help reduce the cost of new housing:
SB 10 would require the City to increase the maximum density allowed for housing to 50 units per acre within 1/4mile of bus routes with 15-minute service (e.g. Commercial, Center, Market, Lancaster, Broadway) and 25 units per acre within a 1/2 mile. In most cases, this would be higher than the densities currently allowed, though developers rarely build to the current maximum densities due to parking or other requirements. SB 10 would also prohibit the City from establishing parking minimums in these transit corridors
As advocates, the Budget Committee, and Council consider moving forward on a Climate Action Plan, it's increasingly clear we will have to read our debates on parking, on congestion. and on transit in light of our developing understanding of greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

In Eugene, City and Transit District Collaborate on Analysis of Arterial Corridors

As City staff work on an implementation plan for the Congestion Relief Task Force recommendations, and the recommendations from the Public Transit Committee are also out there maybe a little dormant, coordinating policy and action between the City and Cherriots has seemed elusive. We resort to "sending letters" of request. This may blossom into something more, but it's also a sign of silos.

The City of Eugene and Lane Transit
collaborating on project
(Executive Summary, comment added)
Down in Eugene the City and Lane Transit may point the way to a better collaboration. Together they are working on a major plan for improving transit, reconfiguring the streets, and linking this to improved land use along the resulting transit corridor. Even if the project isn't exactly something to emulate, surely there are elements of both the process and the plan that Salemites should consider as we work on better transportation for the 21st century and to update the comprehensive plan.

Front page of the RG today
The project is evaluating expanding the existing bus rapid transit system. It's had three rounds of construction, resulting in essentially two main corridors, one on an east-west axis, the other in Springfield on a north-south axis.

EmX Bus Rapid Transit in Eugene
BRT has: Raised platform, dedicated bus lane,
bigger bus, all doors open for entry/exit,
frequent service (image via LTD)
Inside Eugene itself, the study is evaluating five big arterial stroady things for improvements. The high build alternative would be a full EmX line. A lower build alternative for improved conventional bus service is also included.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Our Salem Advisory Committee Meets Wednesday the 3rd

Is this the right 20? Three of them seemed redundant
Our Salem, the update to the Comprehensive Plan and preliminary greenhouse gas assessment, holds a stakeholder meeting tomorrow the 3rd. The City's shared no materials in advance, and it's hard to say very much.

No meeting packet, and a sparse agenda
It will be interesting to see what they say about the indicator key metrics, whether they will propose to modify them in any way, and what they might say about the greenhouse gas assessment - which does not actually appear to be on the agenda.

The meeting is at 4pm in the Center 50+, Classrooms A and B, 2615 Portland Road NE.

See previous notes on Our Salem here. Depending on what materials are published after the meeting, this post may be updated also.

ODOT to Talk New Speed Zone Process at MWACT this Month

The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation, a tri-county board subordinate to the Oregon Transportation Commission, meets on Thursday the 4th, and they'll be getting an update on a new project at ODOT that looks a little interesting:
ODOT is working with stakeholders to develop a new method for speed zoning within Oregon. Nationally, there has been a reliance on 85th percentile speeds to set posted speeds. The proposed speed setting process will be based on work done in NCHRP 855 that expanded the functional class system using context and the work currently being done within NCHRP 17-76 developing new guidance for speed setting describing the factors that influence speed setting. [links added]
The rest of the meeting agenda isn't all that interesting for our purposes here, but it's good to be alerted to this potential change on the 85th percentile doctrine. (As well as a shift in thinking on the functional classification system.)

Here are some of the slides from the presentation and a little bit of comment in captions.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Downtown Notes on Early Spring

The Cherries on the Capitol Mall get all the attention, but don't forget about Camas at Bush Park and in the field just south of the Fairgrounds. At Bush, the smaller and earlier variety looks like it's just starting to appear. Nearby, at Deepwood the Trout Fawn Lilies are also up and the leaves of the Indian Plum glow when they are backlit. Even though we may have lost the sun today, don't miss on the glories of early Spring.

Camas just beginning at Bush Park (Saturday)
There was a nice piece on Saturday's front page about the demolition of the old Greyhound Depot. The new project will definitely be a higher use for the lot, and looks in nearly every way to be an improvement. So it's not difficult at all to justify the demolition.

Still, in the southmost bay, there was a lively mural, and hopefully they documented it with photos. Most of it's gone now, but you can see a single musical note and most of the phrase "We sell entertainment." I don't know if it was a nightclub or a music store or what. But it was an interesting bit of interior decoration.

Front of the Greyhound Depot at the start of demolition