Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Second St NW Opening? Questions on Bike Parking at a Proposed Shelter: Hearing Notices

The City's published a couple more Hearing Notices that are a little interesting. There may be more to say once the Staff Reports are out.

One of the notices provides indirect evidence that a segment of Second Street NW that had been closed off may be opened.

The proposal appears to change address
from Edgewater to Second St.
The project for 901 Edgewater St NW is part of the former Oregon Fruit complex, I believe. The plan appears to show a new address for "chang[ing] an existing warehouse building to a self-service storage facility" with a shift from an Edgewater St to a Second Street address.

This segment of Second Street has been closed off with a chain link fence, and it's hard to see how it could be addressed off Second Street without opening Second Street.

This is also a gap in any connection along Second Street to the Union Street Bridge, and was something that should have been incorporated in a Rails-to-Trails conversion. The street concept is now for a street with cars, and the connection across Wallace remains uncertain, with the former proposed underpass very expensive. But even with modest car traffic, this could be a key bikeway with a direct connection to the bridge.

All in all something to watch! This will be at the Hearings Officer on May 13th. There is no in-person public comment, and comments must be made in writing. See the notice for more detail.

Is this enough bike parking for a shelter?
The other Notice is for "a proposed non-profit women’s shelter serving 40 individuals" at 1910 Front St NE.

The main thing here is to ask whether for a shelter the ratio of car parking stalls to bike parking stalls is correct. The plan as published in the Notice shows a potential mismatch.

This will also be at the Hearings Officer on the 13th.

Addendum, May 7th

The Staff Report is out for the storage units, and the news on Second Street is: Not Quite Yet.

Second Street will be opened, but not yet
The project will be required to be consistent with opening and improving Second Street, but since it is a "continuation" of an existing development, and a kind of swap in use, and not a "new" development, few changes to Second Street are required at the moment:
The land use within the building existed prior to June 13, 2018 and is continued development within the ESMU [the Edgewater Mixed Use zone] according to SRC 535.005(c). At this time, the applicant is proposing a change of use and construction of self-service storage units within the building, but is proposing no changes to the exterior of the building that would trigger compliance with the development standards or design review standards or guidelines of SRC Chapter 535. Any future proposed changes to the exterior of the building would be evaluated according to applicable standards and guidelines. The proposed nonconforming use of self-service storage is a substitution for the existing nonconforming use. Future changes of use within the building at 650 2nd Street NW must conform to the uses allowed in the ESMU zone or would be subject to the nonconforming use provisions of SRC Chapter 270.
Parts of the existing building "encroach" on the right-of-way for Second Street, and those will need to be scraped off. The buildings also encroach on vision clearance at driveways, and the driveways will need to be reconfigured to improve sightlines.

Interestingly, no bike parking is required for a storage unit complex.

The Staff Report on the shelter is also out, and bike parking is required there. Staff recommends as a condition of approval providing
a total of ten bicycle parking spaces. Of the ten spaces, five shall be covered or indoor.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Bike Shops and the Pandemic on the Front Page, Other Bits

It was nice to wake up to a front page with a feature on bike shops and their adaptations for distancing and health.

Today's front page
(now online)
Maybe there will be a follow-up, but an important story that's just briefly mentioned in an aside is that there was a fire next to Santiam Bicycle, and they are closed temporarily.

Santiam news
From FB:
A fire started in the adjacent building that spread into the shop. The shop sustained substantial smoke damage. We are still temporarily closed....No one was in either building at the time of the fire!...Portions of the shop will need to be demolished and rebuilt. Our current goal is to be reopened in two months.
Best to call ahead for any repair, purchase, or other appointment needs:
  • Bike Peddler (503) 399-7741
  • Northwest Hub (503) 584-1052
  • Santiam Bicycle Temporarily closed (503) 363-6602
  • Scott's Cycle (503) 363-4516 

The Policy Committee for the MPO meets today by telephone, and there's nothing much to say on the agenda - nothing new, anyway.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

City Council, April 27th - Pioneer Cemetery Connection

Council now operates without any in-person audience at Chambers, and they are taking written comment only. On Monday's agenda are restarting talk about a cemetery connection, considering accepting the Battlecreek Park Master Plan, and considering subsidy for affordable housing at the former State Hospital redevelopment.

These will be meandering notes, more about the way history threads through the three, and the ways we don't always do a good job honoring that history.

Capt. Chas. Bennett, died 1855, in the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery
The square in the wreath used to hold a daguerreotype.
Council Nordyke has a motion to reintroduce study for a north-south connection through the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery. The motion does not itself take a position and merely asks for
a report to City Council that summarizes the background including but not limited to historical issues and outlines options regarding a pedestrian connection between the neighborhoods west of Commercial Street S that are divided by the City-owned Pioneer Cemetery and the adjoining privately-owned City View Cemetery.
I'm not sure I have anything new to say specifically the effort on that (see most recently here), but it does seem clear that the current effort to fence and protect the cemetery reduced, even walled off, opportunities for better public history. One writer who opposes a connection says:
Another supporting reason for the pathway is that it would provide an opportunity for families to walk through the graveyard and teach the children about people who lived in Salem in its early years. I maintain that such an opportunity already exists and I would wonder how many families are doing such a thing now. There is an easily accessible entrance to the cemetery, even if it means walking or driving a few extra blocks to reach it.
I would wonder how many families are doing such a thing now. Yes, they should wonder! Few families are doing such things now, and part of the reason is that the cemetery is fenced and uninviting, forbidding even. Any "opportunity" at the Cemetery is more theoretical than practical, not something actually used very often. If people aren't using it, then we should want to make it easier rather than to pile up the barriers like so much fencing and "a few extra blocks."

Crystal Lakes Cemetery in Corvallis, path entry
Signage:  Dogs on Leash, Closes at Dusk (2013)
In fact, many Pioneer Cemeteries in the valley are open. In Corvallis the Crystal Lakes Masonic Cemetery is open.

In Eugene, both the Pioneer Cemetery on campus and the Masonic Cemetery on a hill a little south of it are open.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Commercial Club Inaugurates Blossom Day in 1920, Made Possible by Cars

In 1920, wanting to attract visitors and "commercialize orchard blossoms" the Commercial Club of Salem "instituted Blossom Day," a tourist event around the flowering. It leveraged the expanded transportation range and speed of automobiles as well as improved road funding and road building.

Blossom Day headline and panorama, April 24th, 1927
Cherrians, their outfits, and the blossoms, perhaps in 1930
Published January 1st, 1931

"to commercialize
orchard blossoms"
March 11th, 1920
When we think of "Blossom Day," we probably think of the festival at the Capitol around the Cherry trees on the Mall. That flowering is over a month gone. As we have lost our orchards, the focus has shifted.

100 years ago it was a festival around the agricultural flowering in orchards, around culinary cherries, prunes, pears, and apples. Truthfully, it was probably prunes most of all. Boosters wanted to show off the "beauty and productivity" of Salem and the surrounding area.

The festival was also made possible by car travel, and so the festival is indirectly dependent on auto technology and road engineering. Maybe similar events took place elsewhere by horse and carriage, but scenic loops of several miles aligned with auto technology more conveniently.* Organizers also leveraged, even pressured, Salemites for volunteer jitneys to drive around those who came by train:
Every person in Salem with an automobile, and a grain of civic pride, is urged to be on hand at the drive the thousands of the various scenic parts of the county.
April 24th, 1920
And in a different story, "Salem people must volunteer [their cars and time] for use of hundreds of visitors."

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Earth Day: Working on Climate like we Prepared for Corona

I see this is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day tomorrow. I'm not feeling very good about Earth Day these days.

Electric cars were enough of a thing
to be on a stamp in 1901
The City Manager's update of April 17th has a note on our Climate Action Plan.

Really looks like we're queuing up a box-checking exercise
Rather than taking Salem's emissions and backing into reductions to meet a target, we seem to be starting with a list of seven categories for mitigation and adaptation.

Since transportation is some 53% of our emissions, a serious plan would be sure to tackle that as one of the leading matters for mitigation. Here, in the list of seven categories transportation seems very subordinate and likely to be buried in a kind of check list.

It continues to look like our Plan will be more flag-waving and virtue-signalling than substance, mostly small changes on the margins rather than the structural changes that actually scale to reduce emissions meaningfully. Electric cars are great, but we really also have to drive less often and drive fewer miles, for example. Better gadgets, composting, and upcycled cuteness alone won't do the trick. A handful of ADUs annually is not a meaningful change in city-wide land use. We aren't thinking enough about proportion, scale, and impact for each potential policy.

via Twitter
Last week The Oregonian published an opinion on the Pandemic and Climate by Barbara Dudley, "We can act in a crisis. Except when the crisis is climate change."

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Second Mission of Jason Lee and Origin of Salem Set for Dig this Month

One of the hobbyhorses here is the way we uncritically celebrate Jason Lee as Founder. Founder of Salem, Founder of Willamette University, one of the Founders of Oregon. He has a prominent place in our myths of origin.

3 cent Oregon Territory Centennial, 1948
But if he founded important institutions, he was also a prime mover in settler colonialism. An accurate history requires looking at the myths, silences, and evasions, and doing a better job in our official histories with ambiguity, ambivalence, and costs. What is likely myth and what is likely truth? What have we erased as we've polished up the image?

"Unappreciated" in some ways, but also overappreciated
as the subject of hagiography later.
In the paper on Saturday was a small blurb on the archeology dig that is preceding the construction of a small apartment block on the corner of E Street and Broadway.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

ODOT on Pandemic Traffic Focuses on Speed and Congestion, Omits Crash Reduction

In the paper yesterday was a blurb picked up off the wire about a recent ODOT Report on traffic and the Pandemic.

ODOT spin: "Freeways...less congested"

ODOT documentation on Pandemic Travel Patterns
April 10th, and April 17th
The report focused on speed and congestion relief - "travel speeds are [now] reliable and congestion levels low to moderate" - but did not adequately stress that the speed-up is not just from "slowing" to posted speeds, but occasionally surpasses the posted speeds in outright "speeding." It did not address a significant cost of free flow. (See "Have Coronavirus Shutdowns Prompted an Epidemic of Reckless Driving?" at Strong Towns, also.)

Salem speeding - via Twitter (comment added)

Thursday, April 16, 2020

YMCA Design Review Scheduled for May 5th

Here's some good news. After a few weeks of quiet, the City's published some new Hearing Notices. The gap in Notices has been a clear sign of the C19 Plague's economic shutdown, so some new ones are especially welcome.

The latest corner view (April 2020)

Online Hearing, written comments only
The most interesting and significant of the three Notices is the Design and Site Plan Review for the new YMCA. Above all, it will be great to have a corner entry, kitty corner from the World War II Memorial and across from a small future housing project.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

From Indicators to Guiding Principles: Our Salem's Latest Round Diluted too Much

Now that I've taken more time to read more of the supporting documents, the dilution and change in Our Salem is worse even than it first appeared to be. The project team has executed a major course change, and without a detailed discussion of that has apparently tried to hide the fact.

Guiding Principles (partial) April 2020
In the "Guiding Principles" document, which ought to be a distillation of core values, many of the values have been deleted.

On transportation, while they show a pleasant icon with walking, a bus, and a bike, the words are all about "a complete and integrated transportation network" and a "safe and efficient travel by all modes." This is the "balanced" code of autoism. This is not "reduce driving" and "reduce speed," but is "keep non-auto travel on the margins."

On the environment, there's nothing about greenhouse gases. It also recapitulates the idea that growth always has "negative impacts." There's nothing about positive values and positive results of growth. Instead it's about the autoist conception of green space, of parky ornamental emptiness.

On Mixed-use, the word is "allow" not "promote," "encourage," or anything very strong at all. The Economic one leads with "strengthen" and Parks leads with "develop, enhance, and expand" but Mixed-use is pretty pallid by comparison.

When we look at the indicators more closely, we see that instead of "bicycle and pedestrian use," which even with the word pedestrian was at least intelligible to non-specialists, we have "mode split," which is just professional jargon. It also moves away from focusing on improving walking and biking specifically, and reverts to the false egalitarianism of "balance" for "all modes."

Old Transportation Indicators (May 2019)
The new indicators also lack anything about crashes and deaths. They skate over safety and prefer efficiency. Especially with "hours of delay" and with "volume to capacity" measures, the whole is now much more autoist.

Friday, April 10, 2020

City Announces new Art for the Library Remodel

Hey, here's some pleasant news that's completely unrelated to our current crisis moment.

"Cutouts," "Wall stacks," "Hawthornes" - relevant examples
from Amanda Wojick
In the City Manager's new update is a bit on the art selected for the Library's seismic remodel (unfortunately the Public Art Commission itself has not published any discussion or materials):
The public art selection committee for the Library has selected Amanda Wojick as the artist to move forward with for the Library’s commissioned piece. Amanda is a professor at the University of Oregon and has many public commissioned pieces on her resume. She titled her proposed piece as a “Dewey Decimal Waterfall” and described (sorry, no visual of the concept) it as: “The proposed project will be a large wall relief comprised of tilted, painted and welded steel planes. The composition is inspired by the many beloved waterfalls in the state of Oregon, together with the symbols and shapes found within the Dewey Decimal system. The shapes will be arranged in layers, creating a three-dimensional relief that changes from different perspectives.” [links added]
She's repped by Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland.

The cutouts, wall stacks, and hawthornes (see her site and also Elizabeth Leach's) look like relevant examples that point to what a Dewey Decimal waterfall might itself look like.

The cascade of knowledge and information, along with the nod to our winter weather when rains make the library especially welcome, on the surface is an apt set of metaphors. Hopefully the waterfall will be something children can grasp as art and interesting and lovely enough to engage adults also.

WPA poster - via Library of Congress
(many more posters here!)
The commission is also a reminder that with all the museums, symphonies, and other arts organizations shutting down temporarily and some of them permanently, we will need a WPA style arts program at the Federal level.  You may recall the Federal Art Center in the old High School where Macy's is today.

Salem Federal Art Center at the old high school
(From a history of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

First Impressions of Our Salem Scenarios: Not Inspiring

The City's published the presentation and slide deck from today's online Open House, and here are some first impressions. It will be necessary to go back and review the material in more detail, but these were what stood out immediately. It was not inspiring.

More than anything, the presentation kept jobs and homes separate. Instead of structuring around "new households" and then "new jobs," the presentation and analysis should analyze each scenario on all aspects. We should be able to see how jobs and housing relate to each other under each scenario. First A, then B, C, and D.

Why are these kept separate? We should see the links
between jobs and housing.
(Comments in red added throughout)
One of the presentation slides said that "Each [scenario] has been evaluated through indicators." But the indicators were nowhere to be found. How does each scenario actually score against the indicators? (See more at bottom on this.)

The scenarios were strangely constructed to minimize change it seemed. Why wasn't there a scenario that combined all the mixed-use pieces in scenarios B, C, & D into a super-mixed-use scenario? Overall they seemed timid.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Our Salem Open House, Small Manufacturing, Cherriots Restart, ODOT Climate Office

Our Salem, the project to update the Comprehensive Plan, will hold an online Open House tomorrow.

April 6th
The pandemic's added several swerves and wrinkles, and the cancellation of in-person open houses is one of them. Thinking about manufacturing is another. The surlyurbanist is on the faculty at PSU in geography, and one topic they've harped on is manufacturing.

Surlyurbanist riffs on importance of manufacturing
One new thing here that the pandemic has highlighted and prompted reconsideration on is the role of small manufacturing and light industry in the total economic mix and for resiliency.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Arlene Schnitzer, born in Salem, Died Saturday; Father Simon Operated Stores Here

A titan of the arts died today, and in the obituary for Arlene Schnitzer is a fascinating tidbit.
Arlene was born in Salem and moved to Portland when she was 2. She recalls running around the large furniture business of her parents, Helen and Simon Director, at the corner of Southwest 10th and Washington streets.
Arlene Schnitzer dies at 91 - via Twitter and the Oregonian
Here's an ad for her father's store in Salem in 1926 and an advertorial history (which may not be 100% reliable of course). In a quick way I could not find a birth notice for Arlene, unfortunately. There is an auction notice in 1932 for the furniture in Simon's house on Cottage Street, and that appears to be when they moved to Portland. (In the advertorial, you'll also recognize the Kafoury name, and they too seemed to have a family and business here for a while before moving permanently to Portland.)

She's not really a Salemite, but her father's time and activity here, about a decade it seems, was meaningful. So that's an interesting footnote on a tremendous life in the arts.

November 26th, 1926

Aloof, Unfriendly Bert Hoover left few Traces or Strong Memories for 1920 Salemites

The Hoover mania in 1920 was a little amazing. Hardly a day goes by without some editorial on "Hoover for President" or a nostalgic reminiscence about "our boy."

"Hoover's boyhood days in Salem," April 3rd, 1920
The tales are scrubbed, though, and seem too anodyne. They're not very interesting. Sometimes they may not even be very truthful. They are shaped more for what the audience expects and desires in 1920 than for any real attempt at objectivity.

Soliciting memories, February 24th, 1920
Some people are borrowing glory or embellishing from supposed proximity to him as a teen, and others might just be outright fabricating. To greater and lesser degrees, they are often retconning themselves into a selfie with him! The stories are essentially about how Hoover was understood a generation later and about how the story-tellers wanted themselves to be remembered, and are not a record of "what really happened."

Friday, April 3, 2020

Autoism and the Disembodied City: Counting Cars instead of People

As some have lamented the city emptied, immobilized, and impoverished by the pandemic, they have used the lack of cars rather than the lack of people as the primary index of desertion and loss.

At the mall in Eugene - today's Register-Guard
Counting cars instead of people is a great error of our autoism. And the confusion of cars for people starkly illustrates the problem of defining downtown as a suburban-style drive-to destination.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

State's Public Health PSA Campaign Shines Accidental Light on Road Safety Messaging

State of Oregon "stay home" campaign
The State rolled out a PSA campaign a couple of days ago created in partnership with venerable ad agency Weiden + Kennedy. One of the slogans is "Don't accidentally kill someone."

It is interesting, though not surprising, that they didn't ring variations on their most famous slogan, "Just Do It."

Why not "Just Stay Home"?

Well, we know why. Doubtless the corporation that benefits from "Just Do It" would not want to share any mood, any proximity to the implied economics of "Just Stay Home." In that context, "Just Stay Home" might operate as a critique of consumer capitalism. Can't be doing that!

An earlier logo
I prefer the mood of the logo with the Governor's Executive Order, the green silhouetted state with a front door closed and the lights on. That seems more patriotic somehow. It's less forceful, without the scolding, but also more encouraging. (It's almost Kinkadian, a positive variation on that nostalgic kitsch.) "Together, we can do this." It prompts pride and solidarity in a way "don't kill" does not.

I don't know. It will be interesting to see how the "don't kill" message is received and shared. Maybe its target audience requires the stronger medicine.

It is also interesting to consider why we shy away from this message in the context of road safety.