Thursday, January 9, 2020

Our Salem Visioning May be Limited by Autoism and our Busy Streets

The City and consultant team have published a long summary of the fall visioning exercises.

I think they are too zoomed out to be really useful, but as a kind of snapshot, maybe they tell us some things.

These neighborhood hubs sure cluster along our major arterials
And one of the things they disclose is that we are still limited by autoist patterns and major arterials.

Three of the stickers for the mapping charette.
Is the bump from 200 to 330 homes actually enough for a hub?
The neighborhood hub is supposed to be "mostly single family homes with neighborhood scale business," yet the pins are mainly clustered along our major arterial streets.

At least as I read the "hub" concept, it is supposed to be more deeply embedded in residential areas, maybe on a cross street with a collector, or at a park, but more "corner-store" than "big box and parking lot."

So I read this pattern of pin placement as evidence of a disconnect.

Another potential disconnect is in the profligate way we throw around a desire for more open space and avoid more development. Did Salemites place a pin at every undeveloped lot in the city?

Do we really need this much more open space?
The more open space we have, the less likely useful things will be spaced at walkable distances. Open space is generally conceived under autoist logic and is too often understood as something to which we drive.

Glancing at the pin and sticker summaries, I see too much of mid-century autoism and see a lack of ingredients for something really interesting.

The City and consultant team will zoom in and sift the wheat from the chaff. What is popular is sometimes wrong or unusable, and the yield of genuinely useful ideas will be a smaller proportion of the total spitballing. It will be interesting to see how the team filters all this.

The City's also announced Open Houses for mid-March. There will be more to say as these approach and more concepts are published.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

I went to one of the City's open houses and did the sticker game. Then I invited them to come to my neighborhood association and they did the same sticker game. What struck me was how different the two efforts came out. How you would reconcile these two different preferences will be interesting. But bottom line, development will happen based on the desires of property owners and not the desires of 'planners.' We have yet to devise rules that are not overturned almost immediately, so .....

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Maybe as the project team publish more analysis or begin to float draft concepts they will discuss some of the differences by fora and media. Probably there are demographic skews. That you discerned such a difference between the open house and neighborhood association is interesting and possibly significant!