At Council on Monday Counselor Andersen offers an excellent resolution with an important adjustment on the current approach to our Climate Action Plan.
I move that the City Council adopt the following goals as part of the City’s Climate Action Plan (CAP):
• By 2035, Salem’s greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced to 50% of the citywide greenhouse gas emissions for the baseline year of 2016, and
• By 2050, Salem should be carbon neutral.
|Our Salem models only an 18% reduction|
for 2035, and we need something closer to 50%
Global Warming Commission and Our Salem
(Notes in green added, graphic swapped out)
Though the chart from Our Salem (bottom half of image) lacks time labels, they model conditions in 2035. (Why the project team didn't label every chart is a mystery; this is not good information design.)
The "preferred scenario" out in draft form right now appears to offer about an 18% reduction from current conditions. The difference between "current trends" for 2035 and that preferred scenario is negligible, well within any rounding error or margin of error.
Any scenario worth preferring would have greater reductions, and adopting a set of carbon reduction targets helps greatly with planning for that and achieving it.
In every way we need better metrics, and Councilor Andersen's resolution is a meaningful start on that.
At the same time, the climate goals our neighboring cities do not very often have teeth in them. One way that Salem could make our plan superior to have a clear plan, a flow chart even, for what happens when we miss intermediate targets. Do we have escalating actions that will kick in when we miss on early rounds of measurement?
This is a great step and Councilor Andersen deserves enthusiastic support. (And if at the end of the process we want to refine those numbers, we can always do that, but without a goal to structure our beginnings, we're just flapping and posturing. We do not at this point have to determine that Councilor Andersen's proposed numbers are the right and final ones for us. We just need a target for our start.)
|The Pandemic really dominates everything|
There's a report on the Strategic Plan, the "2020 Annual Community Report," but it does not seem right this year to dwell on it. Under "Safe Community" they rightly devoted a large section to the Pandemic. Maybe when we see how next year shapes up, it will be appropriate to take a closer retrospective look at this.
The Pandemic also shadows this year's Community Satisfaction Survey. Almost certainly because of depressed traffic volumes, "road infrastructure" fell off the list of "most important issues." A third bridge is on it, but in a very secondary position. (It's important also to note that "the margin of error for this survey is +/-4.9%")
|With Pandemic traffic volumes, roads of less concern|
Last year the survey split walking and biking, but this year they lumped them together again. That is unhelpful.
|Walking and biking lumped together|
They also ask very specifically about driving across the city, but ask only very generally about walking and biking. When we have a bike commute rate of only 1% or so, it's so very hard to believe that two-thirds of Salemites are ok with biking here. It just doesn't add up. We should split out walking and biking separately, and we should also split out recreational biking on park paths from utility cycling for errands, work, or school. If we ask about "drive across the city in rush hour" we should ask about "biking to work" or "biking for a gallon of milk" or something roughly equivalent.
|Walking and biking in general vs drive across city|
For more see notes:
- On the 2016 survey
- On the 2017 survey
- On the 2018 survey
- On the 2019 survey with more detailed discussion of trends
Finally, there's a Council call-up and review of the Planning Commission's decision to approved ODOT's request to rezone the 2400 block of Commercial. The Staff Report
recommends that the City Council reverse the Planning Commission's...decision and deny Comprehensive Plan Change, Neighborhood Plan Change, and Zone Change....
In approving the change, the Planning Commission had asserted
The property’s lack of suitability for multiple family development due to its location near incompatible uses and along state highways, and its small size which would make it cost prohibitive to develop.
But this is exactly the kind of land Our Salem's preferred alternative envisions for mixed-use and multi-family conversion along very busy arterial corridors. We are tending towards saying this kind of property is very suitable for multiple family development. Our Salem, in fact, proposes a large cluster of new mixed-use designation immediately to the south of the site, and the current multi-family zoning is more consistent with that than the light industry of shops expansion.
|Our Salem proposes a large cluster|
of mixed-use zoning immediately south
|Parking crater on State Street at Airport Road|
ODOT should be able to find other, better land for their shops. They have a vast expanse of parking lot at their existing compound on State Street and Airport Road. Something still just doesn't add up here. See previous notes here.
Bullets for the rest:
- A proposed increase to water rates.
- The annual review on the floodplain management plan.
- A proposed expansion to Park Ranger duties and authority.
- An interesting proposal to leverage and expand the guest Councilor program in the service of better transition planning with incoming new Councilors.