Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Cherriots Shutdown, Parking Garage Closures - Transportation Roundup

The news yesterday that Cherriots is temporarily shutting down really strikes at the heart of "we're all in this together." It's a prudent thing, but also a costly move.

via Twitter
Our system of compulsory autoism already distributes access disproportionately, and when transit stops working the disproportion is sharpened.

Transit and race
Even more, all of our arrangements reveal class and race and shows ways we really aren't a "classless" society.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Gas Tax and Road Building Success Prompt new Highway Department Shops by Prison in 1919

In the spring of 1920, our nation's first gas tax had been in force for a calendar year, and the report was good.
The wildest estimates that were made by legislators at the 1919 session...have been exceeded for the first year of the law's operation by almost $100,000.
New Highway Department shops from
4th Biennial Report of the State Highway Commission,
1919 - 1920

March 26th, 1920
The Deputy Secretary of State, Sam Kozar, was responsible for reporting the revenues, which were nearly $400,000 in total for the first year. These monies were applied to service the debt on the $10 million bond authorized by the Legislature at the same time. (The State had already been issuing bonds, and while this was an increase, it was not by itself necessarily a huge one. The impact on the bond program lagged a little, until it was clear how effective was the gas tax in raising funds to service debt. We will follow this in the months and years to come!)

With the bond and the tax to service it, the Highway Department was staffing up and had let out a number of contracts for road building.

Along the Geer Line, just south of the Prison, the State had started building what is now ODOT's "East Salem Complex" at State Street and Airport Road. Some of the activity may have been on the north side of State Street on the Prison grounds proper, but soon it was consolidated on the south side of the street.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Final Draft of 2021-2026 Project List in the TIP out for Comment: At the MPO

Draft 2021 Transportation Improvement Program Survey
The draft 2021-2026 Transportation Improvement Program is out and because of the "Stay Home" order, SKATS is collecting public comment in writing, especially electronically. They've published a storymap with explanatory material; a more traditional brochure; and a social media style comment map, which will accept likes and comments, but no downvotes. They are taking comment until May 17th.

But it's basically a charade - but not really in a dishonest way. The projects have already been through rounds of scoring and vetting, including solicitations for public comment, and what we see here is hardly a draft. It's baked, it's done. The emphasis is on final in "final draft." It would take an extraordinary amount of public comment to change something. Not just lots, but some kind of epic avalanche, including electeds. You'd have to show some kind of giant mistake.

I'm not really sure what is the point of making a big show about collecting public comment at this moment in the process. We're all just rubber-stamping at this point. This solicitation of comment now is a procedural requirement and formality, but there were previous moments for comment also. So it's a charade, yes, but not a malignant one.

The full project list, adapted from the brochure
Since the projects have already been scored and vetted, I do not have much to say now. Two important changes were made earlier: Projects 19 and 24 were originally submitted during the application phase for a big cross section with five total auto lanes; they were adjusted - right-sized! - during vetting and are now funded for an "interim 3-lane section." That's a substantial win.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Pandemic's Decongestion: The Radical TDM Hammer of Stay at Home

Center Street Bridge traffic today, about 6:45am

With so many businesses and places closed down in the succession of restrictions on gathering and then the "stay home" order, and with other employees working from home as much as possible, the pandemic has resulted in a radical transportation demand management exercise.

The pandemic, the antecedent cause of this TDM hammer, is awful and nothing to celebrate. The first order consequence of an economy-wide shutdown and recession is awful also.

But while we have suppressed demand for road space, it's also a chance to think about actions, like increased telecommuting during the work-from-home phase, that can be retained to some degree.

Think about a Victory Garden this Year

If you were looking for a project that is creative and grounding and is also useful, something constructive to counter gloom and doom, it would be hard to do better than to grow some vegetables this year. (And if you already do that, it's a year to do more!)

via Twitter
See also this OPB piece

Editorial for the WWI version of a "victory garden"
January 7th, 1918

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Our Salem Map of "What We Heard" Suggests limited Appetite for Change

This week the City published a "What we Heard" summary of the comments collected during the Fall last year on the Our Salem charettes and online surveys.

The maps on the first page of the summary are rather a splatter, but the larger map on the second page is much neater and aims to show "areas where there has been some level of agreement."

Areas of agreement
The four circled areas correspond to broad zoning concepts:
  • Industrial (blue)
  • Single Family (yellow)
  • Mixed use (purple)
  • Commercial (red)
Mostly these conform to zoning and planning already in place, and may suggest a consensus for "we don't really want much change."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Need for Second Closure Order in 1918 Should Remind us not to Stop Distancing too Soon

You might have seen this chart circulating from a 2007 study of public health measures during the 1918 flu pandemic.

The two rises for St. Louis roughly correspond
to dates of our closure orders
"Public health interventions and epidemic intensity
during the 1918 influenza pandemic", 2007
The Smithsonian wrote about half of it in "Philadelphia Threw a WWI Parade That Gave Thousands of Onlookers the Flu." That big spike is directly related to the parade.

Though the scale for Philadelphia's peak reduces the apparent variation on the line for St. Louis, St. Louis had two smaller humps, one towards the end of October, the other in mid-December.

In mid-November, schools had opened and public gatherings were permitted again. But then the rate of new flu cases started increasing again, requiring a second round of closures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Our Salem considers Transportation Infrastructure, but what about Water?

The rains this week and the current drought map are a reminder that we should be thinking about water more.
We are identified for
both S (short) and L (longer) term drought
US Drought Monitor
You might also recall the crash and fuel spill on Highway 22 last month.

Crash and fuel spill on February 16th;
driver fined $265 for speeding earlier this month.

February follow-up 
That crash with an emerging pattern of crashes, the algae blooms and cyanotoxin, and our more general prospects for drought have not, however, seemed to make much of an impact on the way we talk about "Our Salem" and any amended Comprehensive Plan and a new Climate Action Plan.

Are we also planning for 60,000 more water users in particular?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Overestimating our Collective Virtue: Carrots Only don't Work; Sticks also Necessary

Even if you are not inclined towards any hint of Calvinism, the mass refusals this weekend to isolate and distance suggest a kind of inherent depravity in our human nature. Just WTF.

On the East Coast - AP story in SJ today

And here in Oregon - Oregonian today
I don't have anything to add now to any talk about our public health emergency, but I do think it might bear on the way we talk about greenhouse gas emissions and transportation.*

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Our Salem Survey Looks like Temporizing and even a little Retrograde

Because of the public health emergency and need for physical distancing, the City canceled the Open Houses for Our Salem this past week and redirected to an online survey.

With the short notice and revision in form, it's hard to be too critical of the survey. It may not be completely thought-through as purely an online survey and may suffer from being more of an awkward translation of materials designed for an in-person forum.

Still, the thing is a little strange.

The only time "resiliency" appears, it's in an autoist context
The one time the word "resiliency" appears, it's asking about reviving the Third Bridge. Our Salem is supposed to be conducted in light of emissions and climate, and there are several other contexts in which resiliency might be mentioned more trenchantly. This looks like a subtle attempt to greenwash more auto capacity.

Friday, March 20, 2020

City Council, March 23rd - More on State Hospital Redevelopment

Already today the headline is that at Council on Monday the City will pull the employee payroll tax from the ballot on account of the pandemic and crisis.

Here the main item of interest is the information report on approvals on the subdivision plan for the single detached housing along D Street and Park Avenue on the former State Hospital parcel.

Single detached homes line D and Park.
Apartment blocks (blue) on interior compound.
The apartment complex had already secured approval, and last Monday Council was going to consider a single-lot TIF for it. But the virus blew that up, and we will have to wait to learn more about this part of the total concept.

But since the project is mainly conceived along a suburban model, with a auto-oriented apartment complex set on a parking lot and compound, rather than a more urban model with a street grid and missing middle housing or streetcar apartment blocks, the enclave turns its back on the neighborhood. With connectivity a problem, one of the requirements is cruciform footpath system that basically quarters the whole.

At D Street the footpath will align with the west side of Icel Court.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Science for the Coronavirus, but not for Climate: At the MPO

Because of the pandemic, the MPO has moved to appointment only.
While the MWVCOG offices are not closed, our public access doors will remain locked and no outside guests, members or visitors are permitted inside the COG office without a pre-arranged appointment. All visitors must comply with social distancing. Anyone who is coughing, appears to have a fever, or is having difficulty breathing will be asked to return at a later time.

We are encouraging teleconferencing tools to facilitate meetings. We are taking these steps not only to ensure the health and safety of our employees, but also to ensure that our staff can continue to provide services to our members
The meeting of the Policy Committee on Tuesday the 24th is consequently by phone, and not in person.

Why is the trend of this chart dismissed?
But if the MPO is moving decisively on account of the science and math of our pandemic, it's a reasonable question why they aren't also moving on account of the science and math of climate and greenhouse gas emissions. It is so strange to see science and prudence invoked for one and not for the other. Both of them involve modeling and future projections, but only one is deemed urgent and credible.

Generally, on emissions the tone is trying to evade as much as possible, do as little as possible, and do it as late as possible. The impacts of climate action - and not the impacts of emissions themselves - are always understood as negative and something to avoid. We won't do it until we are required to and we will do the minimum. Can you imagine this attitude for the virus?

Coronavirus Cancels the Monster Cookie; Some Shops Shifting to Appointments

With the April 26th date for the Monster Cookie within the window of the pandemic, the Salem Bicycle Club has decided to cancel the Cookie.

The Monster Cookie is canceled this year
The sudden wave of unemployment claims is staggering. Food and beverage, hospitality and tourism have all been gutted. You may have seen that Powell's closed. Retail is impacted also. It's a time to think about what stores and businesses you value especially, and to give them extra business as you are able.

A State of Oregon Economist wonders - via twitter
Bike shops have also begun to modify hours and practices, and here's a brief roundup. Things are fluid, and liable to change quickly, so best to call ahead if you need service. But of course, it's best to stay at home as much as possible. (3/23 Update - Everyone is now on or moving to appointments only with a locked front door. So call ahead.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hospital Campaigns of 1920 Consider Count of Beds

Well, right about now I bet we wish Salem Health had not been so prompt to demolish General Hospital.

Salem General Hospital - Maternity Unit, 1980s
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
A mothballed hospital building, even obsolete in some ways, would be handy at this moment. It's a stark reminder that resilience often entails redundancy and is antithetical to efficiency.

100 years ago, campaigns to build a new Deaconess Hospital on Winter Street and a new General Hospital on Center Street ran into some difficulty.

March 8th, 1920

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Cherriots Suspends Service March 31st (Updated)

Update to all the updates: March 30th is the last day of service and Cherriots is suspending service for a period TBD. See update at bottom.

Earlier this afternoon Cherriots announced a temporary elimination of fares on account of the pandemic. (Update - "According to the governor's order, everyone MUST STAY HOME except for critical trips.")

via Twitter
The customer service windows at the transit centers in Keizer and downtown are also being modified.
Starting Wednesday, March 18, we will begin fare-free back-door boarding on Cherriots Local as an extra measure to protect drivers. The more drivers that stay well, the more service we can provide to you. This means that unless you need the ramp to board, please enter through the back door. Seniors, people with disabilities, and people with children in strollers can still use the priority seating area in front. Strollers and carts may not block the aisle, as always.

All rides are free starting Wednesday, March 18 on Cherriots Local, Cherriots Regional, Cherriots LIFT, and Cherriots Shop and Ride until further notice. 30-Day Pass and Month Pass holders may contact Customer Service for a refund.

Customer Service hours are being reduced and the waiting area in the Customer Service lobby is now closed at the Downtown Transit Center. This is to reduce the number of people gathering in an enclosed space, and therefore reducing transmission of coronavirus. Customer Service staff are still on hand to answer questions and sell passes. Customer Service is now open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.The Keizer Transit Center lobby is now closed as well. One-Rides and Day Passes are still available for purchase on the bus.
Update, March 20th

Looks like planning for service contraction is starting.

City Council, March 17th - Pandemic Emergency Edition

Huh. After canceling last night's Work Session, now the City has called an emergency meeting for tonight. They could have kept last night's meeting and changed the agenda. This lurching on-off-on suggests the City may be uncoordinated at the moment, and that should be a little concerning.

Still, there are some proposed procedural changes to meetings that are substantive, and might not easily have been substituted into last night's agenda:
  1. Suspend public comment at all City Council, URA Board, and SHA Commission meetings through April 27th.
  2. Limit total attendance at all City Council, URA Board, and SHA Commission meeting to 25 people (inclusive of governing body members, staff, and the public) through April 27th,
  3. The City Manager is delegated authority to, if necessary, cancel a meeting of the City Council, URA Board, or SHA Commission, notwithstanding an applicable rule that requires a minimum number of meetings in a month,
  4. Council, URA Board, and SHA Commission public meetings may be conducted utilizing technology to allow members of the governing body, staff, and the public to attend and participate in the meeting, so long as the meetings are conducted consistent with state law.
These are a bummer for the spirit of open meeting law - but what do you do? Making all comment be submitted in writing seems fair for the duration of the pandemic. 

Additionally, the City proposes to ban camping on sidewalks downtown and to push camping out to Wallace Marine Park and Cascade Gateway Park:
The Declaration:
1) Authorizes the City Manager to issue order and take other necessary steps to implement the Declaration,
2) Prohibits “public gatherings” in “public spaces” and restricts public spaces to active pedestrian use, and
3) Suspends the public camping prohibition (SRC 95.720) in all unimproved areas in Wallace Marine and Cascade Gateway parks....

The allowance for public camping in unimproved areas at Wallace Marine and Cascade Gateway has the following requirements:
1) Campsite may have up to ten people,
2) Campsite must be separated by at least 50 feet from each other and any improved area within the park or abutting properties.
They have secured a letter from ARCHES supporting some kind of action, but the endorsement may not be for this particular plan. It will be interesting to read and hear how service providers comment on the specifics of the plan.

CANDO has general criticism, but the pandemic, and prospects that the coronavirus both harms people lacking shelter and potentially would create a reservoir of infection in various campsites, adds new dimensions to the public health emergency and may warrant measures that in normal times had seemed unjust, stigmatizing, or hurtful. Council will be criticized no matter what they do and it is very hard to see any "good" outcome or plan. It's all various flavors of bad at this point.

This post may be updated.

Monday, March 16, 2020

On Gas Pricing and Construction - Bits

For the past week it has seemed important to join with others in talking about physical distancing, flattening the curve, and other elements of trying to anticipate the wave of illness in the pandemic.

I'm not sure there is more to say now that is constructive, so maybe we can return to the regular programming for a while. It may be more sporadic, though, with City meetings canceled and on-going projects shifting to online modes or even slowed. Maybe some new topic will emerge, also.

Gas Prices

Somehow over at City Observatory, they've managed to notice things other than the pandemic. Last week there were a couple of good notes on gas prices.
The Observers write that with gas prices dropping precipitously, now would be an excellent time to implement a carbon tax to take up the slack in the drop.
We, like most economists, have long advocated for pricing carbon as a way to reflect back to consumers the environmental costs of their decisions. The predictable political opposition to that idea arises from the fact that no one wants to pay more for energy, particularly a gallon of gas (which is perhaps the most visible price in the US economy). Implementing a carbon tax as oil prices are falling would cushion the blow. A twenty-five center per gallon carbon tax would capture something like half of the value of the decline in oil prices–and could produce $35 billion in annual revenue to support projects to fight climate change. A carbon tax would also diminish somewhat the increase in vehicle miles traveled, air pollution, and greenhouse gases that would otherwise be triggered by cheaper gasoline. Similarly, it would serve as a valuable incentive to consumers not to purchase less fuel-efficient vehicles (which would likely happen if gas prices are consistently lower than $2 per gallon.

It’s never easy to implement a new tax. But there’ll never be a better opportunity to implement a carbon tax than when oil prices are dropping.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

We aren't Talking Enough about Hospital Beds

This weekend has seemed like it might be a critical one for reducing the transmission of the coronavirus and the incidence of full-blown COVID-19. It has been dismaying to read accounts of St. Patrick's Day weekend revelry, of long brunch lines, and of crowded airports.

Locally, the City still likely deferred too much to the State guidelines, which have seemed tentative and behind the best information from Italy, Spain, and France, even Seattle, and did not recommend or even demand stronger measures. People in Europe are the proverbial "travelers from the future," begging and imploring for us to take stronger measures before it's too late. There is increasing evidence of asymptomatic transmission, and so without large-scale testing, we should be assuming that there are many more cases here than we know about.

At this point the problem is really about community capacity and slowing transmission, since it seems likely many, perhaps even most, of us will come to be infected over the next several months.

The Register-Guard has the right focus today:
We will outrun our capacity real fast in a wave of illness
And key to managing that is hospital capacity for the gravely ill. Salem Reporter noted
Salem Hospital has 48 ICU capable beds & 27 negative air flow rooms, per spokesman
There has been too little public acknowledgment of how quickly these will fill in a wave of illness. Some number of them will be needed by people in car crashes, industrial accidents, cancer, heart attack, other illness. If we overwhelm them with patients in very bad respiratory distress, people suffering other illness and misfortune will be harmed with less attention and fewer beds. Doctors and nurses overwhelmed themselves fall ill, and then they are not available to care for new sick patients. There is the prospect for a cascading chain of catastrophe here. We already saw the Keizer Fire Department members have to self-quarantine after an exposure. We are very vulnerable.

"Cancel Everything" and self-isolate as much as possible
(adapted from a USA Today chart on "flattening the curve")
The reason to practice extreme physical distancing right now is not just to protect oneself. It is to preserve capacity for the whole community and those most in need. Physical distancing, social solidarity.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Structural Change to Watch from Social Distancing in the Pandemic

The requirements of social distancing right now have just wiped out our lives of public association. They strike at the heart of what makes urban life worthwhile.

Delivery, distancing, and retreat from public space
But a number of actions and qualities that we might bemoan in normal circumstances - or at least things about which we are critical here - are helpful right now. Some of them may stick, and even apart from any of these in particular, it is nearly certain that this pandemic crisis will crystallize into place some structural changes that had seemed slow-moving or uncertain.

Waggish takes on autoism and social distancing
Here are some things to watch, many of them in response to pieces in the paper today. No conclusions, but just trends to watch, or things we'll be watching here anyway, particularly that touch on transport and the urban form.

Friday, March 13, 2020

City Council, March 16th - Urban Renewal and Airport - Canceled

Council has a formal Work Session on Monday to discuss Urban Renewal, Business Development, and the Airport Business Plan. But unless you really, absolutely must attend, it's best at this point to stay home and employ social distancing as much as possible, even for smaller gatherings.*

Update: The meeting has been canceled.

How is this offered seriously by the City? It is nonsense,
 devoid of real meaning! (Comments reversed in white added)
The report on Urban Renewal is something - deceptive, incomplete, misleading? I'm not sure of the motive, but it lacks information that Council might use to think critically about Urban Renewal and Tax Increment Financing. This has been a pattern on Urban Renewal.

The chart purports to show growth in assessed value of the districts, but each location needs three bars, not two. The missing bar is a inflation-indexed value of the district's original assessed value - what the value might have been by doing nothing. Even this is imperfect, but to say that there is "growing" assessed value, you'd want to show inflation-adjusted growth. Or maybe the number is nearby property growth in assessed value. Some control value needs to be a third bar in order for the comparison to be valid. Indications of time would also be helpful.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Herbert Hoover, Cleaning Stables, and Involuntary Dismounts in 1920

There are lots of reasons to think about Herbert Hoover right now. Here's a little more on the way Salemites understood and remembered him in 1920, before he was Commerce Secretary or President.

Hoover mania, August 17th, 1920
"The saloons are gone now and are replaced by
the auto repair shops so much in demand."
You may recall the editorial, "A Salem Boy for President," in the note on Warren G. Harding.

The day before, the paper ran a story on Hoover by Fred Lockley. (Lockley had interviewed Ben Taylor in 1934 about having the first bicycle in Salem. He is one of our great journalists!)

February 27th, 1920

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

City Manager's New Update Silent on COVID-19

After a gap of a little over two months, the City published a "City Manager's update" on Tuesday.
The weekly newsletter (inset) kept advertising them
In January and February it was a little amusing to see at the end of the City's "Community Connection" newsletter each week that we should read the City Manager's Updates. It was clearly just careless boilerplate, not at all linked to the existence of any new update.

And this new one dated March 6th is a little longer than usual.

Praise for the City
It leads with Praise for the City. I suppose the ritual acclamation and anodyne tone could be a good way to start, but what is alarming is the utter silence on coronavirus and Covid-19.

Former OBRA Director to run for Senate District 10

In ordinary times, this would merit a longer piece. As it is, I am going to drop it here, and bury it.

Sugahara's piece from 2012
"My Passion: Cycling Offers Many Benefits"
In a note about Nkenge Harmon Johnson choosing not to file for Jackie Winter's old Senate seat, currently held by a member of the Nullification party, Denys Boles, Salem Reporter says that former Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Executive Director and current Dronemeister Kenji Sugahara has also filed to run in the Democratic primary against Deb Patterson, who also ran in 2018. Sugahara is, I believe, a non-practicing lawyer, and his wife earlier this decade worked for the Oregon Department of Justice, also a lawyer. Maybe there will be more to say later.

Governor's Executive Order on Climate Leverages ODOT's Transportation Strategy Framework

The Nullifiers got themselves an Executive Order!

On climate Governor Brown yesterday did by fiat what the Legislature should have done by statute. One reporter called it a variation on Cap and Trade, a "Cap and Reduce," since the trading scheme is absent, not something an EO could apparently create.

The Nullifiers sputtered and protested and said lawsuits are a'coming. We will see.

Specifically, to agencies she addressed in the letter of September 23rd of last year, including ODOT and DLCD, she said implementation shall occur "at the highest level."

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In the Neighborhoods: Morningside, Highland, and Social Distancing

At the Morningside Neighborhood Association meeting last month, they got an update on a new Fairview project:
[A developer] is currently developing 72 lots on 34 acres along Reed Road for single family units. Application has been submitted to the City but not yet approved. Property is in the process of being cleaned up. Trees will be delimbed to allow for better sight lines and to discourage homeless encampments. Goal is to do grading in the fall and begin building in the winter. Lots will go on sale in 2021. Minimum Density requirements by Code are being met (6 units per acre) but not as dense as the original plan. These lots will be approximately 5000-8000 square feet. 5-6 builders will be subcontracted to do the work.
Discussion then led to the importance of funding sidewalks, bike lanes, and modernization on Reed Road.

The Morningside Neighborhood Association meets at Pringle Creek Community Painters Hall,  3911 Village Center Drive SE on Wednesday the 11th at 6:30 PM.

Enhanced crosswalk on Pine at Maple - March 2018
At Highland, there are two transportation items. ODOT will talk about a "zone change," which must be a speed zone, on Hickory Avenue. The City of Salem will also talk about the enhanced crosswalk on Pine Street at Maple, where a driver struck and killed Caroline Storm in 2015.

Monday, March 9, 2020

The 1920 Election for Harding and Normalcy

Who outside of specialists knows very much about the Presidential campaign of 1920?

Declared Presidential Candidates
January 2nd, 1920
The candidates were not memorable in any longer historical narrative of general interest.

The man who was elected President, Warren G. Harding, came out of a contested convention, and emerged only after multiple ballots.

June 12th, 1920
At least initially, the afternoon paper was not a fan of Harding's slogan for a "return to normalcy."

Sunday, March 8, 2020

In Debate over Cemetery Connection, we Erase Ordinary Impact of Cars

At City View Cemetery last week
Councilor Nordyke has revived conversation and debate around the prospect of a connection through the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery, and there is a nice piece in the Sunday paper on it.

In the Sunday paper on reviving talks
Invisible Autoism

Among all the talk about fears of vandalism, we do not give sufficient weight to the damage created by our "ordinary" autoism. As with many other policy topics, our cars, their demands and impacts, have become invisible background noise, and we need to center them again.

Compaction, emissions, erosion, cutting corners (2012)

Saturday, March 7, 2020

New Report on Induced Demand Critiques our Errors on Congestion and Budgets

This past week Transportation for America published a report on induced demand, "The Congestion Con: How more lanes and more money equals more traffic."

I didn't look at it promptly because I figured it was about big cities.

And it was about them. It found that in the 100 largest "urbanized areas" they increased highway lane-miles by 42% when population increased only 32%. But a measure of congestion found delay grew by 144%!

More lanes isn't offering faster speeds and freer flow
But it turns out Salem makes the list. Salem counts as one of the 100. (I just don't think of Salem as this big. But merely as cities - not the larger "urban areas" - Salem and Eugene hover around #150 on the list right now.)

Friday, March 6, 2020

City Council, March 9th - New Urban Renewal Area?

The City is proposing a new Urban Renewal Area for the former North Campus at the State Hospital.

Council meets on Monday, and a novel approach to Urban Renewal, including a name change, looks to be developed.

Apartment blocks in blue; private drive and parking lots
off cul-de-sacs; single detached homes line D and Park

Proposed TIF District = apartment complex
The proposal to "Initiate creation of the Jory Apartments TIF District on the former Oregon State Hospital North Campus" is interesting, and deserves great thought and analysis. It might be a worthwhile project. It might also be a boondoggle. Apparently because of changes to state law - but also because of changing cultural norms - we aren't calling them "Urban Renewal Areas" now, but are calling them by a more neutral term that recognizes the funding mechanism as a tool apart from any other goal or value, "Tax Increment Financing District." That seems reasonable if also jargony.