Saturday, August 17, 2019

City Council, August 19th - Our Salem Work Session

Council meets on Monday with the Planning Commission for a Work Session on "Our Salem," and the Staff Presentation seems a little shallow.

Slide Deck cover
The next phase, "visioning"
There's not really any meaty slides to clip.

It's very much an overview oriented to people who might not be following the process very closely.

But wait. This is City Council and the Planning Commission. Shouldn't they be assumed to know more than ordinary citizens who might not even have heard yet of the process and plan?

The tone and implied audience for the presentation just seems off. There's not very much work in it, and instead it reads as an introduction to Our Salem, one that assumes the Council and Commission don't know very much about it.

There are also a couple of notable omissions.

It's great to ask people what they want, and buy-in, consent and assent, will be necessary. At the same time, some necessary things may not be popular, and it will require leadership from Council to act on them. The presentation seems to put Council in a passive stance and does not point to any necessary leadership.

For example, driving is popular, and making real reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions will require leadership and unpopular decisions on driving and car use. We will have to change the way we approach "congestion."

Final pie chart from Our Salem is nowhere
in the Work Session materials
The Staff presentation is also strangely silent on HB 2001.

This map on "zoning buildout" is now wrong
First off, the "zoning buildout" map is now outdated. It shows greenfield action, but not so much redevelopment. Reasonably, you may say that there was not time to revise all the maps and previous work from phase one, and that the total of new four-plexes will still be small relative to large greenfield apartment complexes. It accurately reflects the expected zoning conditions that prevailed in 2018 - "current" then.

But in a work session, shouldn't there be at least be a discussion of the course-correction that is going to be made?

The work session materials are just strangely agnostic about greenhouse gases and four-plex legalization. They are too anodyne and do not dig into matters that are difficult or likely to be contested.

Maybe you will say that the proper stance at Council right now is just to listen, just to hear what citizens have to say. But it still seems like insufficient attention to greenhouse gases and four-plexes will maintain inertia and set us on a course for more of the same. As a work session, it doesn't look all that encouraging.

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