Saturday, May 9, 2020

City Council, May 11th - Affordable Housing, Corner of Hood and Fairgrounds Road

Council meets on Monday and the agenda is light. Affordable housing is the largest topic, with a work session and second reading of the ordinance creating the single-lot TIF District for the Jory Apartments.

There is only one slide
The materials for Work Session are a little dissatisfying. They are slight, a single slide only.

Beyond these questions, what Council and the Citizenry need are a series of detailed case studies - a kind of audit, perhaps - that show how projects worked, how they failed, or how they were merely adequate.

On the Jory Apartments agenda item, the current instance in the database includes no public comment, but we know that there has been some.

NEN would like more analysis
 Last month the Northeast Neighbors association wrote
[City staff] are aware of only one other instance in Oregon, in Wilsonville, where tax increment financing was used for direct payments to the owner.

The plan projects payments over 41 can the city commit to so many years of payments when it's impossible to predict the housing market over that time?...

We are also concerned that the number of affordable units...has decreased...

We hope Council will review carefully the TIF ensure [it is] in the public's best interests over the life of the TIF District.
And it does not seem yet that the City or Council has made this review - or at least shared it publicly. The slide for the work session doesn't much address the level of detail asked about in the letter from NEN.

Maybe more substantive material will be published later.


Here's another chart that purports to show change, but
 lacks a control variable. (Comments reversed in white added)
Totally forgot that the City had a similar Work Session scheduled March 16th, which was cancelled as the severity of the Pandemic dawned on governments and companies and wave on wave of cancellations and restrictions came down.

That presentation is not part of Monday's, but it would be useful to included it - or better, to include a revised version.

A Rambling Digression Slightly Related to an Agenda Item

Behind the piano and memorial wall,
an old storefront bolted onto the house (2012)
(The VFW history shows the house before the storefront addition)
Also on the agenda is an information report on "a proposed partition to divide property located at 1340 to 1380 Church Street NE into three parcels."

The lots are directly south of the VFW Hall (built in 1938), and across the street from Salem Alliance Church. The Church is the owner of the lots, and you might recall news last summer about their properties in the neighborhood.

Perhaps this is prelude to selling them individually.

There's no real policy matter here, I don't think. It's the corner and immediate neighborhood that's interesting. The funny intersection there with Hood, Church, and Fairgrounds Road, is a mid-century vestige, with bones even older, and the mix of older storefronts, a curve not designed for modern auto speed, and foot traffic prompted an early median treatment earlier in this decade.

1905 Birdseye Map
Streetcar line running on Hood and Fairgrounds Road
  (Library of Congress)
A century or more ago, a streetcar line had gone north from downtown on Liberty, turned east on Hood, and then curved up on the diagonal of the road to the Fairgrounds. The 1905 birdseye map shows a church on the east side of the street (the current one is on the west side), and some of the streets now have different names. Instead of Oak and Division, as they were labeled in 1905, we now have Gaines and Hood. I have not found much about what events prompted the renaming and specific choice of names, and I have been curious about it. Gaines was a Territorial Governor, a Veteran of the War of 1812, and is buried in the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery. A logical candidate event for the renaming is the annexation into the City of Salem in 1903. Since there were other streets named Oak and Division farther south, it could be that the City didn't want the duplication. But this is not certain. (Maybe you will know more!)

Preaching Fire and Brimstone, May 8th, 1920
The current Salem Alliance Church is on a site formerly occupied by a Seventh Day Adventist Church, which the Alliance Church purchased in 1939 after the 1937 snowstorm wrecked their downtown Tabernacle. (At least in 1920 the Statesman ran ads for the Adventists' Fire and Brimstone style, but not Capital Journal.)

At the end of the streetcar era, the fact this was part of the highway to Portland created problems - and fodder again for newspaper quarrels.

December 3rd, 1929
But instead of calming traffic, the City "Dads" zoomed it up, apparently eliminating or turning stop signs to create a continuous throughway. (This might be an antecedent of our arterial streets. Probably there will be more to say another time!)

December 17th, 1929
This is just a funny little pocket of town. Once the temporary Library reopens, it may be worth strolling around. Since Hollywood was urban renewaled out of existence, this is one of the last close-in vestiges of the old highway and its adjacent commercial development.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added clip and note from the March 16th Work Session, which was cancelled.)