Friday, May 31, 2019

Speed Bumps on Maple, Action on Allan Bros Space: Newsbits

Yesterday the City announced they'd finished up installation of the speed bumps on the Winter-Maple Greenway.

via Twitter
Maybe over the weekend there will be a chance to check it out.

Have you used it lately? And more significantly, has anyone observed an increase in people biking on it? Does it draw in new people biking? And how does it function for kids? There was no "walk and roll to school day" hoopla earlier this month, and it had seemed like some might be keyed to the Greenway.

Is there a plan for post-construction assessment?

Governor's Cup Expanding or Moving?

Others will have more detail on whether the Governor's Cup is moving or is expanding, but details in a Hearing Notice at the Historic Landmarks Commission show that the old Allan Bros. space downtown on Liberty Street should not be vacant long and strongly suggest the Governor's Cup is going into it.

The main thing the HLC will consider is the request to eliminate the recessed porch with a new storefront system continuous with the windows and wall of the second floor. (Probably there is an anti-camping element in play here.) But it's good that the space will not be vacant long.

Some have cited the coffee shop's closing as a sign that our downtown is ill. But Allan Bros has been closing shops around the valley. In Eugene a third-wave roaster, Farmers Union Roaster, recently went in the old Allan Bros shop in 5th Street downtown, and they seem to be plenty busy. In that instance, and likely here in Salem also, the problem may have more more to do with a tired brand than problems of downtown economics or politics. Allan Bros did not seem be able to bring themselves out of a 1980s model of coffee retailing, and the market has moved on to newer styles in coffee shops. There are other ingredients also, and it's true the Starbucks on Chemeketa and Liberty closed, but it's not like Allan Bros elsewhere have been thriving. That's surely the main factor.

Here's an old photo
of the upper part of the building.
(More discussion of it here)
Because of previous rounds of remodeling, the building is designated a "non-contributing" resource ("this building does not contribute to the historic character of the district in its current condition"), and this may be another instance where our Historic District could impose disproportionate process on routine alterations. (Curiously, the Hearing Notice calls this building a "contributing resource," and this could be an error or the designation might have changed. That will be a detail to which we return.)

Dennison Building in Downtown Historic District
Probably there will be more to say when the Staff Report is published and closer to the Hearing on June 20th.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Making a Cherriots-City Collaboration more than Bells and Whistles

Last week at the Cherriots Board meeting there were a couple of items that seem worth some brief notes.

Between the recommendations from the Congestion Relief Task Force and the Public Transit Committee, the City has suggested that it sees a need for greater collaboration, consultation, and coordination with Cherriots.

In the Cherriots Board packet was a brief memo about a meeting and prospects for more collaboration.

Cherriots and the City: more collaboration
The memo itself was preliminary and did not seem very informative. There are details to be worked out.

Trip Reduction goals
But one thing that is interesting is that while the City wants to stress the trip reduction programming that is currently being done by Cherriots Trip Choice (previously Rideshare), the quarterly report from Trip Choice showed ways that there might be a considerable mismatch at present in goals and metrics.

The presentation led with "awareness and understanding"

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Weird Art: The Watchful Eye at the Police Station

Did you have a nice weekend? Council met yesterday and SKATS adopted the 2019 RTSP and maybe we'll backfill with a couple of brief notes. But maybe not. There didn't seem to be much to say on them, and it was mostly a nice weekend, though not perhaps quite as sunny as it has seemed it might be.

Today we are getting the first public look at art for the new Police Station, the Eye of Sauron Salem.

What is this? A weird celebration of the Surveillance State?
What were they thinking? Maybe some other reading and interpretation of it - apart from the interior text embedded in or projected on the thing - is intuitive and obvious to you, but the first thing that comes to mind is an eye. The second things are the Mason/illuminati eye on our dollar bills above the pyramid, and "Big Brother is watching you," and of course Sauron. This looks like a strange and creepy instance of public art with all the wrong kind of messaging.

The Public Art Commission shared little in public about the process of selection, and this definitely looks like an instance where more public comment would have helped things greatly.

With a scheduled event, the ornamental emptiness will be full!
Anyway, there's a "Meet the Artist" event in the Conference Center Sculpture Garden today the 29th at 5:30pm. Maybe more about the sculpture concept will be published and it will seem less "sauronic."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

New Crosswalk Takes Shape on Commercial at Royvonne Avenue SE

In the April 23rd City Manager's update was news about an enhanced crosswalk on a corner with South Commercial that had not been marked with one.
The pedestrian safety crossing on Commercial Street SE at Royvonne Avenue SE will be completed by August 2019. The $100,000 project includes installation of a rectangular rapid flashing beacon, curb, sidewalk, striping, and other site work.
The area for the new median is marked and prepped.
Bus Stop at Royvonne and Commercial Street SE (May 21st)
It is very near where two years ago Zane Hilton struck and killed Shatamera Pruden as she attempted to cross Commercial.

Immediately adjacent is the memorial to Shatamera Pruden
Though it will have taken two years - a short time really for infrastructure - this is an instance where parental and neighborhood advocacy obtained results.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Marion Car Park has a Fancier Pedigree than we Thought

Well, we might think that we have an accurate count of buildings associated with Pietro Belluschi, but that would apparently be wrong. Hiding in plain sight is a minor building with ties to him.

Marion Car Park from inside the Conference Center
Guess what?! It's a Belluschi!
It looks like the Marion Car Park, which will be demolished, was designed by Belluschi's firm. A brief note from November 1950 says it will be "of modernistic lines...[and] designed by Pietro Belluschi, Portland architect."
November 14th 1950

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Mystery of the Asylum Cemetery Continues

Apparently fake? No burials found in 1959 off-site
after the headstones had been moved
from the hospital grounds
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
In the City Manager's update this week, there's a note about new complications for the housing project at Yaquina Hall on the former North Campus of the State Hospital.
City and Salem Housing Authority staff have been working with DAS on acquiring Yaquina Hall and the park property. The Oregon Department of Administrative Services’ environmental review process for the North Campus required archeological and historic review. The consultation has resulted in information that the area to the north of the Yaquina property was once a cemetery. It has been requested that DAS perform ground penetrating radar testing to determine if there are any human remains in this area. DAS has retained a consultant and this work is expected to be completed by June 30. Given the historic and archaeological issues, the earliest the City can close on the Yaquina and park properties would be January 2020. We will have a much better understanding of the options, requirements, and timelines at the beginning of July after the ground penetrating radar work is completed.
The best available information has been that the Asylum Cemetery was fully decommmissioned. In 1991 the Willamette Valley Genealogical Society published a booklet, "The Asylum Cemetery, 1883-1913, Salem, Marion County, Oregon," and historians work off this end date of 1913. There were additional stories in 1959 about a trove of headstones off-site, seemingly disconnected from any burials (image at top), but at that time no new information suggested there were still burials in the ground.

Cremains in the new Columbarium
(OSH Memorial Pamphlet)
Subsequent rounds of research this decade for the Columbarium at the hospital did not turn up evidence that the 1913 date and decommissioning was in error, though there will still some gaps in the record for burials and people. (Update: The gap is very big: There are over 1500 burials unaccounted for. See comment with reference to Oregonian piece.)

Friday, May 17, 2019

First Presbyterian Observes 150th Anniversary this Year

While we consider the prospect of the IKE Box moving the former mortuary building across the street, their prospective new neighbors had their own move in 1958 and this year are celebrating 150 years as an institution.

Moving First Presbyterian Church, October 1958
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
100 years ago, First Presbyterian celebrated a 50th anniversary. It and an entirely different church building was front page news. A piece on May 12th in 1919 notes that
on May 15th this church was established in Salem with a group of 20 charter members...[it was] organized in 1869 as a United Presbyterian church, with Rev. T. J. Wilson as its first pastor, but in the year 1872 it changed its denominational affiliation.
On the 16th they counted more than 200 people at the celebration.

May 16th, 1919
The church building in which they were celebrating during 1919 was built in 1894, and in 1928 when the congregation built their current church (yet on a different site!) the old Presbyterian Church became a Lutheran Church, whose successor is St. Mark Lutheran, whose current church is one of the great mid-century modern buildings in Salem.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

HLC Should ask for More Time and More Public Conversation on Alley Names

The Historic Landmarks Commission meets on Thursday the 16th, and they've got several items of interest.

Bar, saloons, and brewing are important!
Eugene Eckerlen is a candidate name.
(March 23rd, 1909)
The most compelling item is the Main Street Association's proposal for alley names.

Downtown alleys proposed for naming
And what is clear from the Staff Report on the research and naming ideas is that the whole thing is rushed, at least the public portion of it. The project is a good one, but it needs more time, more research, and more public participation. There's no need for a "Boaty McBoatface" kind of popular input (and subversion), but the project needs to cast a wider net of people and ideas, and develop a slate that has actual and broad appeal. In the present list, there is a risk of confecting a sign-board, Potemkin set of notions about the city and its history. The process is also cliquish and too top-down right now. City Staff have been involved since last summer, and only now is it going public. This is bad process, and it should be opened up.

HLC should not give its assent to this first draft for a slate of names.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

415ppm and a Bust for the Bike More Challenge

A little buried in the paper this morning is a thin column with news that we've hit the latest round increment of terrible, 415 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere.

On the front page is a pull quote from Governor Brown during her address to the Salem Chamber of Commerce:
The harsh reality is future generations will judge, not on the fact of global climate change, but on what we've done to tackle it.
Those are fine words, and true enough.

But passage of the cap and trade bill will be far from sufficient. It's merely a baby step, and we will have to do more, much more.

For starters, the Governor and ODOT will have to renounce planning for more driving. There's no way we hit our climate goals with increases in driving.

This kind of disconnect is pervasive.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Looking Closer at Project Applications for 2021-2026: At the MPO

The Technical Advisory Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 14th, and they're in a moment of process: they've got discussion on the agenda, but no big action items.

However, the minutes from April's meeting show one of the giant, almost structural problems at the MPO: The problem with driving and greenhouse gases. There's just no explicit awareness of the contradiction and trade-off, even among the technical staff.

More and faster driving? Or less Carbon pollution?
The Great Impasse (from the April minutes)

The MPO is just in deep, deep denial
The facts are out there, and at least they could say, "we know driving is the biggest driver of local greenhouse gas emissions, but because people are so attached to driving, we are not going to do anything about it. We are also not going to tell the public very much about how driving is a problem. We cannot discourage driving. We looooove driving."

We're just doomed, aren't we.

As part of the discussing and vetting process, in the packet are some additional questions on the project applications for the $15 million or so in funds from 2021-2026. They'll be discussing these and making a preliminary ranking.

Here are some of the more interesting bits.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

City Council, May 13th - Minor Updates on OSH North Campus and UGM Shelter

Council meets on Monday, and this week it's the formal "information items," rather than action items that are of greatest interest. Status reports on the North Campus of the State Hospital and on the new UGM Shelter lead the way.

Proposed path system at the North Campus
They're just lines on a map
At the North Campus of the State Hospital, the Planning Commission approved the first development. It will have single-family lots on Park and D, but no driveways on Park or D, and the interior streets with cul-de-sacs will function as an alley. The multi-family portion will just have a parking lot system, and the provision for "pedestrian connections" looks problematic. Once it is built out, we will mourn the fact that the grid breaks down and there will not be a full set of interior streets. There will be lines on the map to "connect" Center and D Streets, Park and 25th, but these will not be very effective, and will be a set of Potemkin connections instead. If you are walking in the neighborhood, you probably won't feel "invited" onto the path. Instead, you will skirt the development and keep on Park, 25rd, and D. Streets signal "public space" in a way the path system does not, and the paths will look private, even though there will be public access easements.

North Campus: These amended conditions look hinky
The total effect will be for a compound, and the project does not appear headed to a vibrant outcome.  It's dull.

UGM will retain the green cottage, but demolish the other two
(via Streetview)
The Planning Administrator approved some changes to the UGM Shelter project on Division and Commercial. Two lots that had been excluded, with a century old cottage and a boxy storefront, will now be purchased by the UGM, and they needed to be folded into the site plan. Plans indicate the cottage will be saved, but the storefront demolished. The way the project greets Division Street looks nice and human and reasonable. Hopefully the businesses will be able to move and will not be adversely impacted. (Update: It's been appealed. Update 2: CANDO reports the appeal has been withdrawn.)

Friday, May 10, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Assessment points to Cars

The City's published the full draft greenhouse gas inventory, and it's all about the cars.

55% from transport - but only 1% of that 55% from the airport!
It was interesting to see the airport's contribution. I wish they'd added in the prospect of commercial air service.

But at the same time, it may be that it's more important right now to focus on the cars, not on the planes.

There's also more on why they consider the incinerator such a small source of CO2. So again, like with planes, it may not be very important to focus right now on the incinerator. (As a separate matter, heavy metals and other poisons might be a reason to transition away from it, but CO2 is not a strong reason right now.)

The incinerator is a very small source of CO2
Here's the revised pie chart with the proportions. It's all about the cars.

55% from cars, 1% from garbage
The draft report card is less easy to summarize. It is manifestly partial, very much a first draft and work-in-progress. The yellows indicate areas in which we have not articulated a target or standard by which to judge. These require more refinement to be useful.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Downtown Parklets Pilot is Underwhelming

Have you had a chance to check out the two pair of parklets downtown?

On Liberty Street, exactly the size of a parking stall
It's great to see the City employ a "tactical urbanism" approach to pilot a concept for which there had been some hesitation during the Sidewalk Study.

On Commercial street, four stalls worth
Even so, over on FB a note about the parklets occasioned nearly 100 comments and lots of emotion.

We have a climate crisis, we have a City budget deficit, we will have an algae problem in water supply again, and in a classic expression of "the color of the bike shed" what really gets people worked up is the temporary loss of 6 parking stalls on low-demand block faces.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Our Salem and GHG Assessment Holds Open House Wednesday

Today we have articles about a Spring heatwave and new news about the sixth Great Extinction in earth's history.

(the Oregonian)
On Friday the Eugene Register-Guard ran a piece about changes to whale movements and tide pool ecosystems in California.

Climate's affect on Tide pools and Whales
(Friday's Register Guard)
But making connections and threading climate through the whole remains elusive. Stories remain siloed and disconnected.

On Saturday stories about youth (and their future) and cap and trade legislation jostled against a story about our thirst for air travel. But the story was silent on increased emissions from air travel.

But no connection between airports and emissions
(Saturday's SJ)
It should be alarming that our desperate thirst for commercial air service is seen as an unambiguously good thing. But while "grad rate remedies" are important for parents and school board members, they do not loom over the future quite like climate.

Back in March
It would be "just great" for the adults to improve graduation rates and to trash the world those graduates inherit and attempt to inhabit.

Our Salem - Is a Climate Action Plan a Solution?

Last month the Advisory Committee for Our Salem met and received a presentation with some preliminary findings on greenhouse gas emissions as well as on other "indicators." On Wednesday the 8th, the City's hosting an Open House for the materials.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Places for Bikes City Ratings Ranks Salem Low Again

This morning Places for Bikes released their new City Rankings, and Salem stayed the same.

No surprise: Not so good (full scorecard)
Last year we were at 1.5 stars. This year we are also at 1.5 stars.

Interestingly, Eugene jumped from 1.9 to 3.4 stars.

Eugene makes a big jump this year, led by "acceleration"
This probably reflects some changes in formula and methodology, but it also reflects the "acceleration" assessment, which jumped from 0.6 to 3.8.

That seems like a little bit of overcorrection. It's not clear that things in Eugene have changed that much in one year.

So there's still a sense in which this is an evolving set of metrics, and further iterations will continue to refine it.

At the same time, the big picture is correct: Salem's not doing a very good job.

We are not meeting our targets (Our Salem)
There are some recommendations in the report and these might be interesting to visit in more detail later in another post.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Revised Missing Middle Housing Concepts Whiff on Parking

The City finally published the presentation boards from the April 30th workshop on Missing Middle Housing, and the way they are handling parking is going to doom the project to ineffectiveness.

Require 1 space  per unit even on triplexes

But these 3- and 4-plexes don't have parking!
Here are the posters and code concepts.

If we want missing middle housing to be as affordable as possible, and if we want to encourage more of it, insisting that large portions of a lot be allocated to car storage is inefficient and costly, and will hamper development of these.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Vick Bros Sell to Watt Shipp et. al., who form Valley Motor Company

In the Bicycle Week ad for 1919 we saw Watt Shipp's name among the other bike dealers in Salem. Shipp had built a general sporting goods business and diversified into blasting powder.

April 23rd, 1919
In 1919 Shipp made another move. Like Otto J. Wilson a decade earlier, Shipp decided to sell automobiles.

In April the Vick Bros decided to focus on tractor sales and this required a move to Portland. They sold their Ford dealership on High Street to a partnership that included Watt Shipp. The new dealership's name was Valley Motor Co.