Friday, February 28, 2020

Detours and Closures on Liberty, Division, and Commercial for Police Station this Spring

The front page today has a great shot of the charlie foxtrot on Commercial at Front and Division. It was a terrific idea to send the photographer to the top of the new Police Station.

Great image of the charlie foxtrot on Commercial
at Front and Division - front page today
The photo supported a longish piece on the street closures and changes coming to the area because of the new station. It was nice also to read more reporting than merely churning the City's press release.

Street closures - via City of Salem
Here's the City's release:
Beginning Monday, March 2, 2020, Liberty Street NE between Division Street NE and the Mill Creek bridge will be temporarily closed to all through traffic. The northbound lane on Liberty Street NE will re-open in early April. Pedestrians and motorists are asked to use caution and plan for some delays as traffic is re-routed toward High Street NE and Commercial Street NE.

This street closure is necessary for the construction of streetscape and pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements adjacent to the new Salem Police Station. Additional street closures along Liberty Street and Division Street will occur in phases through June 2020 as follows:
  • Division Street NE and Liberty Street NE intersection (closed late March through early April),
  • Division Street NE and southbound Liberty Street NE between Division Street NE and the Mill Creek bridge (closed late March through early June).
This construction will change the streets and traffic signals to improve access and traffic circulation in the area. The work will provide additional on-street parking, landscaping, street lighting, sidewalks, and stormwater improvements.

Street closure dates will be posted on digital signs in the project area prior to the closures.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Smallpox and Influenza Returned in February of 1920; City Hospitals Break Ground for New Buildings

Back in the winter of 1920, Salem faced a resurgence of two infectious diseases. The flu was not as intense as the bout of 1918-1919, either in quantity or in deadliness, but it was still more significant than "average" flu seasons in previous years. There was also an outbreak of smallpox, and the City initiated a vaccination campaign.

Smallpox prompts vaccination campaign
February 6th, 1920

Both influenza and smallpox on the increase
2000 residents vaccinated
February 10th, 1920

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Panel at the Mill to talk in March about Hobo Element in History - Postponed

Update: It has been postponed, new date TBD.

The Mill is cranking up the "History in the News" talks again! They've been on hiatus for a little over two years, and it's nice to see the talks start up again. "State of Homelessness: Past and Present" will be on March 11th at 5:30pm, the Willamette Heritage Center.
Homelessness has become increasingly visible on the streets and in newspaper headlines, state and nation-wide. This panel considers the histories of people experiencing homelessness and the long-term history of public responses to homelessness in order to understand current conditions.

Has the experience of homelessness gotten worse, or simply more visible? How have media representations of homelessness changed over time and how do these affect public opinion and policy? What approaches to shelter and support people have been equitable and effective in the past and in other places?

Panelists will include:

Sammy Basu (Professor of History and Public Health, Willamette University)
Jimmy Jones (Executive Director Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency)
Elizabeth Schrader (Director of Resource Development Safe Sleep United)

Moderated by Leslie Dunlap (Professor of History, Willamette University).

History in the News is free and open to the public. Food will be available for purchase from TAO: Taproot Annex One.
Again, going in heavy on
the cleanup/sanitation trope
Here's an episode from just south of the Mill, in Yew Park near Deepwood. Many of the attitudes have endured, but it also points to ways that we simplify in a monolith of "the homeless" (like the false monolith of "the bike community" and most of the other abstractions like that!) and miss differences among people who lack shelter for one reason or another. These were probably riding the rails, but it was the theft that seemed to be the real problem. In addition to the railroad, another important physical locus would be the Poor Farm, but there would also be shacks and tents and other camps distributed around town, and various levels of involvement from families, churches, and other charitable enterprises. I don't know if the history talk will be more about attitudes in general or if it will drill into specific Salem history of camps and attitudes. If the latter, it will be interesting to see what emerges, as this is not something mentioned much in the standard history bits of Salem. The promo tile for the Mill's talk uses what is I think an image of the "hotel de Minto," and it will be interesting to learn if they read that ironically for the jail like the "hotel de Gibson" signified or understand it a more benign way.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Local Wineries that Profess Sustainability should rethink Airport Support

While we watch the latest episode of Calhounian Reactionary Nullification at the Capitol, over the weekend it was dismaying to note the local winery enthusiasm for "the return of commercial air service to Salem."

Boosters for the airport held a "Come Fly with Me" fund-raiser Saturday night with tickets starting at $150 a person.
Taste the best of the Willamette Valley as 15+ wineries pour in one location! Sip as you feast on a beautiful meal, and seize your opportunity to bid on unique and one-of-a-kind auction packages.

Proceeds from the event go to further the effort to restore commercial air service to the Salem Airport.
The effort has attracted formal support from the Oregon Wine Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Association in addition to the individual wineries that were pouring for the dinner and auction.

Do the wineries really think things through?
But the wineries and their trade associations should know better than almost anyone other than a scientist about the effects of greenhouse gases and warming. They have the record of summer temperatures and harvest dates in the vineyards. They great data!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Keizer Names a very Bikey First Citizen, Scenic Bikeways at the Capitol

Here's some old and pleasant news that deserves more notice!

Last month the Keizer Chamber named Hersch Sangster First Citizen. He's a long-time Salem Bicycle Club member and past President, a former Cherriots Board Member, and current Ride Salem Board Member.

Hersch Sangter, Keizer First Citizen - via Keizer Times
They write:
Hersch, is a man who has mentored and served Keizer in multiple ways for many years. He is “the guy people want to know and be around”. He has a deep passion for transportation and cycling.

Hersch and his wife, Marianne, have lived in Keizer for many years. He is an active community servant, participating with community organizations and boards such as SE Keizer Neighborhood Association, Salem-Keizer Mass Transit, Keizer Rotary, McNary High School Boosters (band and athletic), and the City of Keizer Bikeways/Traffic Committee.

Hersch has a remarkable talent for getting things done and being exceptionally kind to all around him. His deep love for cycling has fostered his approach to bringing access and safety to all.

Hersch “got caught” doing great things for Keizer, and the short list of honorees who have come before him are proud to see his name added.
You can read a longer piece on Sangster at the Keizer Times.

Friday, February 21, 2020

City Council, February 24th - Win on Parking

Earlier this month Council made a strong move towards comprehensive parking reform when at first reading they strengthened the multi-family and missing middle housing code amendments. The ordinance is up for second reading and enactment on Monday, and this is a great step.

From the updated Staff Report on parking:
The proposed code amendment would calibrate parking requirements according to the type of units provided in developments with 13 or more units. For example, one space would be required for each studio and one-bedroom unit, but 1.5 spaces would be required for each two- or more bedroom unit. This recognizes that dwelling units with more bedrooms are more likely to house residents with more than one car.

The proposed code amendment would also reduce off-street parking requirements for smaller multifamily projects. Specifically, the requirements for housing with three to 12 units would be required to provide one space per unit. Currently, a three-unit project is generally required to provide two spaces per unit, and a four to 12-unit project is required to provide 1.5 spaces per unit. Reducing these requirements would make it easier to develop smaller developments by providing more space for housing units instead of parking stalls. (Developers could build more parking than the minimum requirement.) The current parking requirements have made it very challenging for property owners to develop smaller projects on smaller lots, with many often abandoning their plans.

As mentioned above, the City Council voted to eliminate minimum parking requirements for multifamily projects in the Central Salem Development Program (CSDP) area and Cherriot’s Core Network. The CSDP area is generally located between Hood Street NE to the north, Mission Street SE to the south, the Willamette River to the west, and 12th Street to the east (Attachment 7). Salem’s downtown is more likely to support multifamily units with little to no parking than other locations in the city. It is an urban environment where goods, services, and entertainment are generally within walking distance, and there are multiple options for alternative forms of transportation, including frequent transit service. There are also City-owned parking facilities in the downtown that could provide additional parking spaces to residents that want to lease an off-street parking space.

The Core Network is a network of bus service corridors where frequent service is prioritized. The corridors include, in part, Commercial Street SE, Liberty Street SE, Lancaster Drive NE, Market Street NE, Center Street NE, State Street, Edgewater Street NW, and Salem’s Downtown (Attachment 8). Reduction or removal of service in the corridors cannot occur without the Cherriots’ Board of Directors holding a public hearing and taking action. This Planning Commission recommendation is reflected in the ordinance; it further incents transit-oriented development and workforce housing.

In addition, the proposed code amendment would allow a 10 percent off-street parking reduction for developments within a quarter-mile of a transit stop, and it would allow reductions for multifamily projects that provide additional covered bicycle parking or a shared car/van service on site. This provides an incentive for multifamily housing to be located near transit stops and encourages alternative forms of transportation. A 20 percent reduction in required parking spaces would also be allowed for multifamily developments within a quarter-mile of stops with 15-minute transit service, as recommended by the Planning Commission.

Under the proposed code amendment, parking reductions would also be allowed for affordable housing units, which are those affordable to household with incomes equal to or less than 80 percent of the median family income for the county in which the property is located. This would incent the development of lower-priced housing and workforce housing. [italics added]
I'm not sure everything is cleaned up and consistent?
But look at the two italicized passages from the Staff Report. Aren't the 15-minute service bus stops essentially identical with the Core Network? I'm not sure it's clear on when a 20% reduction is allowed and when there is no minimum required. Separately, the summary chart also uses 25%, not 20%. There might be a little clean-up and clarification needed yet on the support materials and perhaps even in code itself.

But the overall policy goal remains clear.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Susan B. Anthony visits Salem in 1871

Salem Reporter just published a nice piece on Willamette University Prof Cindy Richards and her research on women suffrage in the Pacific Northwest. "As U.S. celebrates 100 years of women voting, Willamette professor chronicles how Oregon suffragists won the ballot" is worth a read!

In Portland, September 8th, 1871
Transportation news here is slow. SKATS even cancelled next week's Policy Committee meeting for our MPO, and there's just not a lot to comment on right now.

But in that article is a nice tidbit about Salem.

"Miss Anthony's success at Salem
was as complete as at Portland"
September 22nd, 1871
On her 200th birthday the other day Susan B. Anthony had a google doodle, and I had wondered if she'd ever been to Salem. I did not chase after it very hard though, and I did not come up with anything. Published remarks in 1906 from an April memorial service in Salem did not mention an earlier visit, nor did the local obituary published on March 17th, 1906.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Causes of Downtown Struggle: Insufficient Free Parking or Loss of Residences?

"There are problems the market can't solve.
Parking isn't one of them"
It was nice to see this Strong Towns post circulating on local discussion groups, but some of the responses are strange.

Asphalt soteriology and asphalt socialism
While some people say that free parking was key to downtown survival in the late 20th century, I think this is wrong. Downtown never really prospered during that period and people constantly fretted and complained there wasn't enough parking. People who make this claim about free parking "saving" downtown can't point to a golden age of downtown when it was actually "saved," a period when we had enough parking and businesses were thriving. Instead, in the 80s and 90s and thereafter there is a constant refrain of complaint about imperiled downtown vitality and always wanting more parking as if that was the solution. But even with the devotion to free parking, and with the free garages that remained only 50% full, downtown struggled.

In the second half of the 20th century we hollowed out the city, and people would have gone further, killing the patient to "save" the patient.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Police Surprised at Amount of Speeding

Even the Police said "eye-opening"
It was nice to see the front page article today on speeding and automated camera enforcement for speeding and red light violations.

But it's still framed up as almost like service journalism: Don't get caught doing this basically innocent thing we know everybody is doing! The dominant frame is about driver convenience - don't be inconvenienced by a ticket - rather than about road safety and our obligation to other road users.

The full lethality of driving and driving speed is evaded a little.

But look at the scope of the problem:
Once the speed tracking capabilities went live at the intersection of Fisher and Silverton roads NE, more than 1,100 speeding tickets were issued in October, November and December — nearly three times the number of tickets issued to red-light runners at the same intersection in the same three months.
10mph makes a huge difference - via Placemakers
And remember also that a person really has to be speeding to be ticketed, and a certain apparently "banal" level of speeding of one to 10mph over the limit is tolerated:
When a vehicle approaches an intersection going 11 mph or more over the limit, the system triggers the camera to capture the image of the vehicle and records its speed.
The fact that we're surprised remains surprising. Public Works and transportation planners routinely conduct and have access to speed studies, and the 85th percentile engineering doctrine nearly always discloses astonishing levels of speeding.

Here's one from right in front of Statesman-Journal-HQ from the Commercial-Vista Corridor study of a few years ago.

From the Commercial Vista Corridor study
If they were surprised at 1,100 over three months,
how about 4000 a day! (red comments added)
So it's great to see more visibility for the problem of speeding, but it would be nice to see the frame shift so that we don't talk about "inconvenience" to drivers anymore, and about expectations for speed and free-flow, and instead we talk primarily about the way speeding inconveniences and harms people on foot, on bike, and others in cars.

The harm and problem is speeding, not the ticket or any intrusive nanny state.

See also:

Friday, February 14, 2020

City Council, February 18th - Climate Action Plan - updated

The first half of this month has already brought news about record warmth in Antarctica with temperatures in the mid- and even upper-60s.

"climate change is related
to the growing extinction risk"
(February 8th)
The drip-drip-drip of other signs and alarms continues unabated.

Pinot in Peril:
Our Pinot Noir vineyards are at risk
They will likely be grafted over
to warmer climate grapes
(January 28th)
Council meets on Tuesday because of the holiday, and they'll conduct the Work Session on Council goals and policy originally scheduled for January that was postponed to address street camping and homelessness.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Driver Struck and Killed Sharon Pritchard on River Road N Tuesday Evening

A driver struck and killed a person on foot in Keizer on Tuesday night.

The first version in print
 From a second version online:
Sharon Rene Pritchard, 52, died after being hit about 10 p.m.

Police were called to the 5000 block of River Road North on a report of a crash involving a pedestrian, according to Keizer Police.

An initial investigation found the driver of a Ford Edge SUV traveling south on River Road struck Pritchard in the roadway. Pritchard was from the Salem/Keizer area.

Officials say Pritchard was in the vehicle lane of travel and not in a crosswalk when she was struck.

The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Officials have not issued any criminal citations.
The framing from police is already at pains to absolve the driver and to blame the victim, who was "not in a crosswalk" and since they were out at night were doubtless committing the informal offense of improper walking.

Never mind that River Road is designed for lethal auto speed. It's five car lanes wide and signalized crosswalks are infrequently spaced. Lighting could be an issue also.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Transportation at SCAN and Highland, Fairview at Morningside: In the Neighborhoods

The neighborhood association meetings this week are especially interesting. SCAN, Morningside, and Highland all have items that are worth mentioning and may be worth your notice.


Cemetery connection in 1988 regional TSP
It was taken out in the 1992 plan
(a few more notes on the plan's bike system here)
On Wednesday at SCAN, they'll be talking about construction and managing traffic at South Salem High School.

From the January minutes regarding a December subcommittee meeting:
Scott Mansur of DKS described review of the Oxford – Church Street intersection. It may be made safer by installing a median barrier that would prevent left-hand turns from Oxford to Church and from Church to Oxford. In addition, Howard Street would be modified, getting new sidewalks, curb cuts, bump-outs and speed bumps. In response to questions about the traffic impact on Howard Street of the new parking lot, Mansur indicated that traffic models projected a minimal impact. The new parking stalls are needed to meet city code requirement; more new stalls would be required but for the use of on street parking around South High. He indicated a site survey showed that bike parking is under-utilized. Nevertheless, there would be 180 bike-parking slots to meet City alternative mode requirement.
Maybe, you know, if we weren't inducing more driving with more free parking, there would be more demand for the bike parking stalls. Just a thought, as they say.

Neither the City nor the School District should be inducing and accommodating more student drivers. They should be acting in ways to induce more walking, biking, and busing.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

City Council, February 10th - Parking and Housing Again

Last month Council continued the Hearing on new multi-family housing code in order to get more information on parking mandates.

The Staff Report this month didn't really do that, and instead merely offers Council a menu of possible decisions. Staff ducked, and it's a weak response.

From the SKATS 2019 RTSP appendices
(comments in red added)
Fortunately, there's an academic paper submitted by a citizen.

"Households with bundled parking use transit less"
But this also casts an interesting light on our prevailing standards for Staff Reports. Why doesn't staff ever compile academic papers and give Council a summary of current research? Rarely does a Staff Report actually present the best available current research on a topic. "Literature review" is not some exotic genre of writing or analysis.

We see the lack of a review on homelessness right now, we have seen it many times on induced demand in transportation, and probably we see it on trees and other topics. It seems to be a pattern. Is it unrealistic to expect City staff to be able to summarize the current best state of research on a given topic and then to formulate a recommendation based on that rather than recycling the same old popular bromides from a decade or two previous? This is a way that City staff fail to give Council the best information for their decision-making and policy choices. Staff sometimes seem too responsive to politics, and it's Council's job to assess politics. Staff's job is to articulate the best analysis regardless of politics and to let Council do the politicking.

Friday, February 7, 2020

King Tides, Calhounian Nullification Theater: Two Sides on Climate

With yesterday's astroturfed protest taking over downtown, a story about coastal communities and rising sea level was especially apt.

Front page yesterday
But the media went in on a kind of false equivalence and devoted too much laudatory attention to it, and today's story is disconnected from that story about King Tides, or other recent stories about crab shells and ocean acidification and about wine grapes and vineyards.

Front page today
The media seemed to be approaching the wasteful, polluting, and intimidating trucks as a marvelous spectacle, worth saturation coverage. People then misunderstood the coverage for support.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Grant Neighborhood Talks Crosswalks Thursday

Grant Neighborhood Association meets on Thursday the 6th, and crossing busy streets is on the agenda.

If the sign is not safe, how are people safe?
Less than a year old, this chewed up sign
is an accurate emblem for our lack of progress.
The association will talk about the proposed crossing on Fairgrounds Road at Norway and also about difficulty crossing Market Street.

February agenda
The crossing on Fairgrounds is especially interesting. Here is what I think is the last published plan for it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

In 1920 Land and Labor Party Called for Vote by Mail

Vote by mail and equality for women
(detail, January 30th, 1920)
With the mess in Iowa, perhaps we will see renewed calls for national vote by mail as a superior low-tech, resilient, and secure method for voting.

"A mess" - Oregonian front page today
Without going too deep, the Oregon Secretary of State's office and other sources take the history of vote by mail only back to the 1980s.

But in what really is only a footnote in Oregon political history, a little-known and little-lasting attempt at a third party called for voting by mail exactly 100 years ago! Maybe this is known to specialists, but it seems to be little known in more popular histories of vote-by-mail.

January 29th, 1920

Monday, February 3, 2020

Transportation History, Club History, Legislative History - Bits

It was nice to see the transportation history on the front page yesterday, but...

Front page + pages 2-4 yesterday
here's the last time it ran:

Front page, March 2016
Maybe the front page doesn't matter any more and it is wrong to criticize this as old news. There is big news in the world, though, and as long as there is a "print product" and editorial curation, this story, even refreshed and updated by a different author, seems like something that really belongs on an interior section or group of pages.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Spring is Coming

Daphne starting to bloom
Things are starting to bloom. You might like signs of life as counterweight against the gloom, decadence, and decline in the news.  Sarcococca has been fragrant for a while now, and Hellebores are also blooming. Daphne is now starting to bloom and some Rosemary also. Indian Plum is budding and leafing, and Camellia flower buds are visible also. Have you seen or smelled any interesting blossoms on your travels?

Rosemary also starting to bloom