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.

Why not combine these into a more ambitious scenario?
And big evidence that they were timid is that there was essentially no difference in transportation among them! Sure, the project team carried out their modeling to tenths of a percent, but that is bogus precision. All these values are well within a reasonable margin of error and across each row are essentially equal. Why isn't there a scenario that has significant change modeled for it?

These are not meaningful differences

Remember this? Way bigger than tenths of a percent!
And the fact that we are using hours of delay still is bogus also.

If we are selling this project on reducing delay, we are screwed
Was "hours of delay" one of the indicators? The presentation today and the four scenarios don't seem at all to be related to these indicators - so why again do we have them?

Vehicle delay is not one of the indicators! (January 2019)
All in all the scenarios seem disconnected from the work that went before them, and do not seem likely to make a very great reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. There will be more to say later, but as first impressions go, it was underwhelming.


Ah, I see. The indicators are in a separate document, basically a technical appendix, linked in a different place on the Our Salem website.

Here are the indicators
But more importantly, "vehicle miles" all round to the same value; "hours of delay" is not at all in indicator, nor is "volume to capacity." (Compare to the chart of 20 top indicators.)

So it's not surprising the scenarios don't differentiate on greenhouse gas emissions. They're all the same.

Since VMT rounds to the same value,
it's not surprising GHG is the same
There will be more to say about the others in a second post.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Updated with addendum on indicators.

Susann Kaltwasser said...

This is all a total waste of time! Staff just ticking boxes to satisfy a State requirement. It is all meaningless when any developer can come in and ask for a zone change, a variance or a conditional use. Too few people gave any real input. A chance to do something meaningful slips away again.