Friday, September 25, 2020

City Council, September 28th - Costco

City Council convenes on Monday, and they will deliberate on the proposed Costco for the development on Kuebler near I-5.

There is a massive dossier on the project. To the litigants, of course, the minutia will seem necessary and useful, but it has also seemed like we have allocated a disproportionate amount of attention to this project and particularly to some parts of it, especially since the goal of critics is not to kill the project, but just to make it a little bit smaller.

  • On jobs and economic development: Amazon warehouse jobs pay much less than Costco jobs, yet so much firepower has been directed at this Costco project rather than the Amazon one.
  • On traffic impacts: The differences between a big strip mall and an even bigger box Costco do not, in the end, seem very significant, and these differences may being overstated by critics of the project.
  • On trees and siting the box: It is surprising how much the "NW Plan," which retains the Oak grove, has been resisted by the development team. It's a big box, and how is the disposition of the box on the site away from Kuebler so important? Give the neighbors the trees and move on.
  • On costly parking mandates: But our minimum parking requirements interfere here with tree preservation, and it is our parking requirements and cultural expectations for plentiful parking, not tree preservation goals, that should be adjusted. 
  • On fossil fuel infrastructure: Additionally, we should be permitting no new gas stations. Why are we building new gas stations?! They will be stranded assets very soon! Isn't this the biggest problem here?

Gov. Brown has signaled she will follow California

Anyway, others will have more to say and will be more informed about it. It just seems like we are missing the forest for some trees here.

Council will take no public comment and this is for deliberations only.

More significant, really, is a proposed amendment to the Jory Apartments TIF District agreement at the former State Hospital site. An important change appears to signal doubt about the project and to give the developer an out:

Section 3.1 is added to define a feasibility period, during which the LLC will confirm their ability to undertake the affordable housing project. The feasibility period will last through construction completion. It has been added to clarify that the proposed tax increment rebate will not be funding construction activities, and that these public funds will be used strictly to secure affordable units within the development once it is completed and operational.

The LLC has until November 30, 2022, to inform the Agency of their ability to undertake the affordable housing project and commence the activities in the Agreement.

Making the North Campus project work and getting a larger quantity of affordable housing has seemed more important than throwing up roadblocks or making small changes to a new Costco development, and this is the sort of thing that might be neglected with so much attention to the Costco plan. (Previously on the OSH North Campus projects here.)

Finally, there's a new Strategic Plan for Public Works

Part of the plan

Here are the priorities on transportation:

  1. Determine the future of the Sidewalk Repair Program through a new program or improvements to the existing one
  2. Evaluate the current asset management system used to track pavement condition and life-cycle costs
  3. Address the need to expand the Street Sweeping Program to better comply with the MS4 permit & improve appearance
  4. Accommodate the 5G wireless technology infrastructure that will be installed within the public street rights-of-way
  5. Address pedestrian safety crossing needs on Salem’s arterial and collector streets

Climate and carbon pollution are a significant silence in the plan. They are obliquely implicated in the water system section, on cyanotoxins and needing a secondary source for drinking water. But climate should be much more centered here - as it needs to be with so much else.

Not on the Council agenda but relevant here, earlier this week the City sent out a release on the Climate Action Plan and announced a new microsite for the project at Two parks planners are leading the process. The site asks you to register for email updates, but registering requires a password for a full login sequence, and also agreement to submit to a "privacy policy," aka permission for third-party data mining and surveillance:

We collect information from you when you register to use this site. This includes your email address and additional demographic information as provided by you on the registration form....

The content you create as part of your interactions with this website. These can include responses to surveys, comments on discussion forums, or any of the other engagement opportunities available here.

We collect information about your usage of the site, such as pages visited, documents downloaded, etc.

So now public comment is "content" for a third party, and I don't like where this is going.

Addendum, Monday the 28th

Probably should have mentioned the Public Hearing for the Stormwater Plan. Some of the comment submitted in advance of the meeting raises some good questions:

  • SESNA asks about climate change and modeling its impacts. The plan doesn't talk about this enough, they say. They also ask about overflow from the North Santiam into Mill Creek during flooding and whether that is adequately accounted for.
  • Neighbors around Battle Creek continue to ask about mitigation and detention, and whether the City has adequately learned from 2012 and other recent episodes of high water. They suggest a better mapping scheme for flood risk that uses better models than the current FEMA scheme and maps.
  • And the Taybin purchase along with the procedures that allowed it continue to be questioned.


MikeSlater said...

You can subscribe for updates on the CAP project without registering. I takes a bit of looking around to find it.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Council decided to move forward with the Costco. A key part of the decision was, as it seemed to be back in 2018 (here and here), that the earlier 2007 land use decision had not been crafted narrowly enough if that Council's intent truly was to bar a big box shopping center. The terms of that 2007 decision left ample room for this current project and interpretation.

MikeSlater said...

Here is the City's response to your privacy concerns with the CAP website:

In response to the concerns you forwarded regarding privacy of information related to registering on the Climate Action Plan website (via Engagement HQ/Bang the Table), we want to assure you that all of the data created on and obtained by this website belongs to the City of Salem, and the City will not sell or otherwise give or provide any personal data collected to advertising companies or any other third parties.

In addition, Oregon Revised Statute 192.377 provides that:

A public body that is the custodian of or is otherwise in possession of information that was submitted to the public body in confidence and is not otherwise required by law to be submitted, must redact all of the following information before making a disclosure described in ORS 192.355(4):

(1) Residential address and telephone numbers;
(2) Personal electronic mail addresses and personal cellular telephone numbers;
(3) Social Security numbers and employer-issued identification card numbers; and
(4) Emergency contact information.

We hope this allays any concerns and that people will register to fully participate in the process.

Just as a note, while people can still view the material and participate in the public surveys on the website without registering, certain interactive components and activities will only be open to those that register.