Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Climate Change in the News of 1921: Blurbing William Cooper at Glacier Bay

Sept. 22nd, 1921

It's not often that glimmers of climate change appear in print a century ago.

Here's a note about the recession of Muir Glacier from September 22nd, 1921. Probably the 19th century change is not entirely anthropogenic from fossil fuels but it's striking nonetheless.

And it turns out that William Cooper was engaged in a fascinating project that was revived just a few years ago.

See in National Geographic, "Century-Long Glacier Study May Help Us Crack Climate Change" and an interactive with some of the original field notes in "The Lost Study of Glacier Bay."

Started in 1916 by one of the countries leading ecologists, the study ran for over 75 years - but then was lost, as the original researchers died. In 2016, the plots were rediscovered through a combination of old sketch maps, compasses, notes, faded photographs, and wilderness exploring. It's a story reminiscent of John Muir crossed with Indiana Jones, where X marked the spot and old buried spikes were pursued like a needle in a Glacier Bay sized haystack. The expedition was successful, and the longest running study is all set for the next 100 years of monitoring.

The project turned out more to be about plant succession than about glacial recession, but it's interesting it was mentioned in the paper in any case. (Also interesting is the National Geographic headline, which may have a bit of false bonhomie and suggests Climate is a problem to be solved and mastered.)

via Twitter

Yesterday we hit another way to mark our warming climate. We've already smashed the record for days of 90 degree or greater heat in a year. And yesterday afternoon we hit a milestone for days of 80 degree or greater heat in a year.

And big trees have been in the news.

LA Times, September 18th

Even though the human costs of climate-intensified fire loss are more direct, the costs and losses to our oldest and biggest creatures are especially moving.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

JC Penney Building Sold, Odd Fellows Hotel Broke Ground in 1921, Mystery at Landmarks Commission - Bits

You probably saw the news that the former JC Penney building finally sold.

JC Penney listed for $4.7M, sold for $2.9M

It sounded like they had to agree to a discount, nearly 40% off the original offering price. The new owners are signalling they will divide the large shell into several smaller units, for retail, office space, housing, or a mixture. They intend to perforate the shell with more windows, which would be a good thing, both for any new tenants and their light, but also for passers-by and sidewalk life. The blank walls on the building as well as across the street on the Mall and former Nordstrom just deaden the sidewalks.

Hopefully the momentum to delete the skybridges continues, and there is new interest both in Liberty Plaza and in Belluschi crater. This is an important set of corners for downtown!

Previously on JC Penney:

A Mystery Hotel Project?

On Wednesday the 15th, via social media the Historic Landmarks Commission teased "a major historic design review of a proposed seven-story hotel" for their meeting on the 16th.

That's big news, and something nearly certain to be downtown in the Downtown Historic District.

But there was no Public Hearing Notice published to the City Notices page nor any agenda or Staff Report for a September 16th meeting.

Missing Agenda and Staff Reports

Was it a modification on the New Holman Hotel? A project for Belluschi Crater? Something else? If we find out more, we may update this - or it could merit a whole new post.

A Definite, Historical Hotel Project

100 years ago, the Odd Fellows announced plans for the Central Stage Terminal and Hotel building immediately south of the Grand Theater.

August 7th, 1921

The very first mention came on August 3rd, 1921. Just as trivia, the front page of the morning paper is terrific and broad. The main headline is on the Black Sox baseball gambling scandal of 1919. Around it is opera news, on the death of tenor Enrico Caruso. There are other bits on the labor tensions at the new hospital building site on Center Street and gossipy notes on visitors to the auto camp ground where Pringle Park is today. The range of interest on the front page is much greater. It's busier, of course, and harder to read, so it's not "better" by those measures. Just different, when the media ecosystem hadn't become so fragmented and niche.

Friday, September 17, 2021

City Council, September 20th - Climate Plan is a Dud

On Monday Council will hold a formal Work Session on the Climate Action Plan. But at the moment it's a dud, a sophisticated kind of climate delay discourse rather than a plan for reducing emissions.

The three main kinds of delay in our plan process
(comments added, "Discourses of Climate Delay")

If the plan is going to be at all serious, more than a Potemkin plan for show, it's clear that Council needs to stage an intervention and redirect the planning process to ensure the plan is reasonably likely to meet the goals.

Principals and an Enthusiasm Gap?

One of the biggest problems with the Climate Action Plan process has been demonstrated recently. The principal City planners don't appear to believe in it. When Staff have been given the opportunity to lean into the plan, they leaned away. They may say "climate matters," but their actions show they may not actually believe this.

In one case, when City Staff had a direct opportunity to coordinate and integrate climate planning with other formal planning activities, they not only passed on that, they acted as if climate didn't matter and even hindered other, more important activities.

Primary frame: Emissions or Parking demand?

One of the principal City planners on the Climate Action Plan also led the Geer Park Master Plan update, and given every opportunity to advocate for climate action, they showed they may just be going through the motions only and did not believe in the climate action plan. By their actions, they seemed to disparage the Climate Action Plan

Is there still this lack of clarity about emissions?

Separately, in a Salem Reporter article on climate, the other principal City planner had every opportunity to say, "here are the most important things we can do to reduce emissions," and instead they said we "need to build more resiliency." We need to endure and adapt to the climate emergency, not prevent its worst excesses, they appear to think. From the piece:

The city of Salem started working on a climate action plan in Aug. 2020 and is close to completing it. There’s a work session with the Salem City Council on Monday, Sept. 20.

Patricia Farrell, Salem’s parks and natural resources planning manager, said not many of the people the climate task force has talked to commented pessimistically, “though the subject is daunting.”

“Instead, people are more inclined towards the urgency of doing something. People want to know what they, as individuals, can do and how their choices matter,” she said in an email.

She said the results of the survey show the need to build more resiliency in the community, which is part of the Climate Action Plan.

With the Geer Park plan and in comments to media, City Staff in charge of the Climate Action Plan have chosen not to advocate for climate, not to advocate for reducing emissions, not to advocate for the plan.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hit and Runs are More than Merely Rude, Drive-thrus and Emissions: Mystifying the Autoism

Yesterday the paper churned a press release from an auto insurer into a whimsical piece on rudeness. Probably it just maintains the jocular tone of the press release, but it also maintains our unseriousness about driving.

Politeness? or Hazardous? - via Twitter

From the SJ:

A national auto insurance comparison website has decided Salem has the rudest drivers in Oregon....

Insurify, a website to compare auto insurance rates, based its ranking on analysis of about four million car insurance applications. The applications require drivers to disclose their city of residence and any prior driving violations. The analysis looked specifically at failure to yield violations, failure to stop violations, improper backing, passing where prohibited, tailgating, street racing and hit-and-runs.

But are we really talking about rudeness? Or are we talking about kinds of dangerous driving with potentially lethal outcomes?

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Cherriots Switches up Consultant for Long-Range Plan: At the MPO

At the meeting of SKATS' technical committee today, Tuesday the 14th, Cherriots will give an overview of the forthcoming Long Range Plan process.

Announcement intro

The most striking thing is that they switched up the contractor.

Jarrett Walker + Associates had written the Comprehensive Service Analysis in 2014, guided much of the service expansion, and I believe they just wrapped up the Salem to Albany Corridor Feasibility Study Project. They may have completed other studies in between.

For some combination of reasons - and we don't know if Walker even bid on the project, since the presentation to SKATS doesn't touch on any elements of the bid selection process - Cherriots engaged a new contractor. Maybe they wanted a fresh perspective.  

They feature a big highway project in Sydney

But when you google "jacobs + engineering + transit" you get a picture of a giant highway project. Rail, it seems, is their "transit" focus, light rail and heavy commuter rail. They are an engineering firm and do megaprojects. In the overview they don't talk about bus service, and the word "bus" appears only once in many paragraphs of text.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Bewhiskered Bus Drivers and Walking all the Streets: Bits in the Sunday Paper

In addition to the hard news, the Sunday paper has a couple of interesting bon bons on transportation.

Walking all the streets

Bus drivers in 1940

We'll probably return to the story about walking all the streets of Salem, as in addition to it being a neat story about a Pandemic Project, it is also interesting for its choice of detail, what is and is not mentioned, and the way some things are framed. The story genre is feature, but of course there is much underlying policy and politics.

There is much more to say about walking in Salem!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

City Council, September 13th - Make an Un-Hooverville!

Council convenes on Monday the 13th. Because of Delta and the fourth wave of infection, they have returned to videoconferencing only.

We've already mentioned cueing up some materials for the Work Session on the Climate Action Plan.

That was the most important thing here.

Early image of State Insurance Building
NW corner Commercial and Chemeketa
Oregon State Library

Also interesting are finally some details on the proposed redevelopment of the former UGM/Saffron Hardware block.

Corner proposed for affordable housing

The northwest corner of the intersection of Commercial and Chemeketa (or the southeast corner of the block) is occupied by a heavily modified, but nonetheless remnant first floor of the State Insurance Building (at top). They just whacked off the top two floors and disguised the bottom floor. But if you look at the window frames and mouldings, some original detailing is still there.

Friday, September 10, 2021

City Council, September 13th - Prep for Climate Work Session on 20th

A little buried perhaps on Council's agenda for Monday the 13th is some preparatory material for the formal Work Session on the 20th.

The one new item is the "Benefit-Cost Analysis of 10 Strategies for Salem's Climate Action Plan."

Analysis of 10 Strategies

It is worth more attention and there will be more to say.

Here are four quick hits, one on overall approach, and three on the analysis.

First off, it just exemplifies the way the process has been structured to avoid engaging the central goals, that of reducing our emissions by 50% in 2035 and the other goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Instead, this is all about how expensive or how difficult a very small subset of 10 actions will be. It shifts the focus from actual reductions to efficiency.

This kind of analysis belonged earlier in the process, and is misplaced now at the end of the process. It should have been a preliminary SWAG done at a very early stage that then guided further refinement in an iterative process designed to get us to that 50% reduction for 2035.

Within the limitations of this approach, then, the number one strategy is not very surprising.

Right-priced parking at the top

Over and over we keep circling around and avoiding parking. It's a third rail. That needs to stop. The evidence against free parking is overwhelming. It's time to end it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Daily Lows in August 1921 were Nearly 10 Degrees Cooler than in 2021

Of all the imagery from the fires last year, it was the orange, even apocalyptic, sky right here that has most stayed in memory.

A year ago, via Twitter

There's plenty being written about the fire, especially about rebuilding in the canyon, but still not enough about the larger context of climate disruption.

Earlier this year, in the "Climate Vulnerability Assessment Highlights," the City and project team published some modeling for the average year in the 2050s.

Blowing past the prediction from January 2021

It suggested that "Days with temperatures greater than or equal to 90°F will increase by 26 days, from 7 days (1990s) to 33 days (2050s)."

Today marked our 40th day of 90°F heat in 2021.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Driver Strikes and Kills Person Biking on Hazelgreen Road Early Monday Evening

Yesterday evening a person driving an SUV struck Eileen Rose Johnson as she was biking on Hazelgreen Road. Johnson later died from the injuries.

From Marion County Sheriff:

On September 6th, 2021, at approximately 7:30 p.m. a 911 caller reported a bicyclist had been struck by a vehicle on Hazelgreen Road NE near 75th Ave NE, east of Salem. The bicyclist was transported to a local hospital by ambulance where they later succumbed to their injuries. The driver of the involved vehicle was not injured in the crash.

The deceased bicyclist has been identified as Eileen Rose Johnson (62) of Salem. The driver of the involved vehicle has been identified as Feliciano Mendez Hernandez (46) of Salem....

Based upon preliminary information, investigators learned the driver of a black Ford Expedition was traveling westbound on Hazelgreen Road NE prior to bicyclist being struck. [map link added]

This post may be updated.

Monday, September 6, 2021

After Wage Complaints in 1921, Hospital Agrees to Prevailing Wage on New Building

Back in 1920, after McKinley School was no longer in use as a hospital, the existing capacity at Deaconess Hospital was not enough, and Salemites planned for a second hospital. In 1921 the contracts were finalized for the building just north of the State Hospital.

October 21, 1920

June 28th, 1921

With the economy slowing and general distaste for unions, the developers sought to reduce wages on construction. The move was resisted.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Historian Scott McArthur Passes Away

A selection of news bits

Shoot, the paper today has an obituary for Scott McArthur, a notable local historian. The obituary focuses on his legal career and says little about the history work. He had a full life!

Scott McArthur's obituary today

He'd contributed a couple of pieces, one on Ben Maxwell of course, to the Oregon Encyclopedia, and with a little different focus his capsule bio there says:

Scott McArthur, Monmouth author and retired lawyer, worked with Ben Maxwell on the staff of the Salem Capital Journal from 1959 to 1964. McArthur was raised in Tacoma. He is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound, University of Oregon, and Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College. He practiced law for 40 years, and before that taught in the public schools and at Mt. Angel College, and was a writer for the Capital Journal, Albany Democrat-Herald, Associated Press and United Press International. McArthur is the author of three self-published local history books, one of them a collection of Ben Maxwell's writings.

See this 2013 piece in the Itemizer-Observer, "Scott McArthur: Monmouth's Answer Man," for more on the journalism and history side.

On the Civil War here

The book on the Civil War has been of interest, but I have not yet read it. I am particularly interested in the chapter on the Knights of the Golden Circle, the pro-Confederacy paramilitary group, which may have counted early Salemite J. B. McClane as a member. (See here on McClane and the suggestion about his membership in the Knights.)

According to that Itemizer-Observer piece,

While McArthur wasn't part of the campaign to legalize beer and wine in Monmouth in 2002 and hard liquor in 2010, he has played a key role during Monmouth's dry history.

While serving as Monmouth City Attorney in 1969, he convinced city leaders to draft a bill that was eventually introduced to the Oregon Legislature to allow Monmouth to share in state liquor revenues -- as a dry town, Monmouth was previously denied those funds up to that point.

Oregonian, September 19th, 1920

That's a little ambiguous, but since Independence, and the greater Monmouth area, was such a center of the Hop industry, a beery toast in his memory seems appropriate.

Deadly Crash on Fairway Avenue Near 2019 Site of Crash

Back in 2019 you might recall a terrible crash and death on Fairway Avenue SE. In the days after the crash, there was a story about neighbors wanting traffic calming, and the City dismissing the request.

In 2019 City said "No"
to safety counter-measures

Yesterday, Salem Police had sad news about another fatality yesterday on this same stretch of Fairway Avenue, nearly certain to involve speeding.

On Friday, September 3, 2021, at approximately 6:45 p.m., Salem police and firefighters responded to a motorcycle crash near Fairway DR and Lexington CR SE. [The City's "primary address" map identifies Fairway as an Avenue, not Drive, and it is the only street intersecting with Lexington Circle]

The first arriving officer attempted lifesaving measures for the motorcycle rider before paramedics arrived. Ultimately, the rider identified as David Patrick Lewallen, age 41 of Jefferson, was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The initial investigation indicates Lewallen was driving southbound on Fairway DR when he could not negotiate the curve near Lexington CR and left the roadway, striking multiple objects.

Lewallen’s was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

The Salem Police Traffic Team responded to the incident and is completing the investigation.

This is a street designed in a way that allows for and even induces excessive speed, there is a pattern of speeding, and it deserves calming.

(See recent note on Mildred Lane, also about speeding. This post may be updated.)

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Yellow Buses and Redundant Transit, Updating Historic Survey in Grant - Bits

On the front page this week was a national story about problems with the yellow bus system.

The story wasn't specifically focused on 24J, but they are not immune to the trends, and we've already seen Cherriots announce some service reductions at the very time time they are trying to roll out new Sunday service. There's also a story in Eugene Weekly about Lane Transit having difficulty recruiting new drivers and retaining existing drivers. There are multiple factors in play, some very immediate, others more structural and longer-term.

The problems are a small crisis that also represent an opportunity.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Library First Impressions: Walking and Biking to It

It has been a little surprising to see people complaining about the new, brighter interior of the Library. Do they remember how dark and gloomy it was? Probably as more art is installed there will be more splashes of color, but the basic white, wood, and gridded ceiling just seem clean rather than sterile. Particularly when there are people in it, the white will be a neutral canvas for the life of books and of human activity.

The nooks look pretty warm and inviting, don't they?

The nooks used to be blocked, and now they are open!

It was of course a great disappointment not to be able go to the Library yesterday. Postponing the opening is the right decision, but a sad one.

Once we all can actually go inside with the regular buzz of activity, there will be more to say, and we may have to revise some of our first impressions made from photos.

But we can talk about the exterior a little! The City's release the day before the postponement was announced, "Parking Update at Renovated Main Library," was completely autoist, and just assumed everybody would visit by car. But people will walk, bike, and bus to it also. And while these were not primary interests for the seismic and renovation work, the team made some changes also for non-auto access and circulation.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

MWACT Meets Thursday: Lots of Crosswalks and other Safety Projects for 2024-2027 Funding Cycle

The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation, MWACT, meets on Thursday the 2nd, and they have a number of interesting items on the agenda. 

Even though the membership of MWACT overlaps a lot with the membership of SKATS, the ACT is a creation of ODOT and State regulations, whereas SKATS is largely a creation of USDOT and Federal regulations. For non-specialists these expressions of the bureaucracy are largely opaque, duplicative, and Byzantine.

The ACT also represents a lot of rural area, the whole of Yamhill, Marion, and Polk counties, and often they are focused on highway matters or other roads distant from Salem. So we don't talk about them very often here.

But this month they have a lot of urban and non-auto matters of interest.

Alas, there is something profoundly remedial in the agenda items.

Do we really have to keep doing this?

The first agenda item is "Strategic Bike /Pedestrian Project Prioritizations for FY 24-27 STIP Update." Which might be great if it was really about "strategy" and "priority." But the presentation is padded with yet another instance of supplication, "why fund walking and biking."

Apparently, even with rising traffic fatalities and rising emissions from motorized vehicles, it is not a baseline or self-evident yet. That's the reality and it is dispiriting.

(In fact, outside of urban areas there are ways that walking and biking might be even more politicized now. See especially "How a trail in rural Oregon became a target of far-right extremism," a new take on the collapse of the Yamhelas Westsider Trail, which had been on the agenda of MWACT several times in the past few years. Here in 2016 is some criticism of it, which reads a little differently now in light of the news on right-wing extremism. Maybe the composition of MWACT really does need this presentation and approach. At the same time, ODOT could more firmly support walking and biking, and make it clear they are in fact a baseline, not an enhancement or amenity.)

In the minutes from last meeting they talked about the scoring for walking and biking facilities on the "Active Transportation Needs Inventory," but they do not seem to have made any changes since last time. The curves on the downtown Pringle Parkway remain the worst - but scanning the list of projects in this meeting I didn't see anything to address it specifically.

ODOT ATNI Evaluation Criteria and Prioritization

And there are a lot of projects buried in the agenda. The second agenda item is a list of projects proposed for scoping before final funding decisions. Many of these are new proposals that have not, I think, hit City Council agenda.

A bunch of new crosswalk improvements proposed

The most exciting might be a new list of crosswalks for improvement and a couple for outright creation.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Catastrophe on Mildred Lane Shows Problem with Road Design

August 2020

Front page

The front page today has news on sentencing in a traffic fatality from last summer.

It is framed up as the story of poor teenage judgement that leads to catastrophe and grief.

[The driver] told police he was driving too fast and that he saw the stop sign [at Liberty] and knew it was an intersection but didn’t see any headlights, so he didn’t stop, according to the state’s memorandum.

It certainly is an instance of catastrophically bad judgement, but there is also more.

Mildred Lane had a posted speed limit sign of 35 miles per hour less than a mile from the Liberty Road intersection. Investigators determined Goodwin was driving more than 60 mph through the intersection.

Mildred Lane is overbuilt. It is built to our contemporary urban standard for a minor arterial, with bike lanes and sidewalks, and a continuous center turn pocket. The car lanes are a foot or two wider than they need to be. 10 feet would be sufficient, and is safer. Even with occasional medians that interrupt the turn pocket, the street is three lanes wide. The terrain is hilly. The posted speed is high for a residential neighborhood.

Current design standard (TSP, Jan. 2020)

This design and the posted speed of 35mph practically invite speeding. It is comfortable to go faster than the limit.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Driver Strikes and Kills Person at 25th and Mission Early Thursday Morning

At one of Salem's most notorious and gigantic intersections, known to be dangerous and therefore one of the very first to get red light camera enforcement in February of 2008, a driver struck and killed a person in the street early in the morning on Thursday the 26th.

25th and Mission is a top 10 percentile
safety problem statewide

The brevity of the release from Police, as well as its language suggests there is more to the story, but also that Police may not feel any need to say more. The short release from Police is at once ambiguous and definite, the gaps troubling.

From Salem Police:

Salem, Ore. — Just before 2:00 a.m. this morning, August 26, 2021, patrol officers were dispatched to the report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at the intersection of 25th and Mission STS SE.

The preliminary investigation revealed a vehicle was traveling eastbound on Mission ST and struck a woman who unexpectedly entered the roadway. The pedestrian, identified as Aleta Pierre-Kelly, age 67, was transported to Salem Health where she was later pronounced deceased.

The driver, Kristen La Plume, age 48, remained on scene and cooperated with the investigation. No citations have been issued in this incident.

Even without direct language of blame, the release and its gaps imply the victim was to blame. Police appear to sympathize more with and to absolve the driver, saying that Pierre-Kelly "unexpectedly entered the roadway" and "no citations have been issued." They do not say any investigation is ongoing, or leave other open-endedness. Releases the same day of a crash and death are often less definite. As I read this release, Police are signalling that the matter is closed or near closed, and it is unlikely they will publish any updates.

Still, Pierre-Kelly is dead, cannot share her side of the story, and this frame may uncritically accept the perspective of the driver.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Meeting Structure and Rhetoric on Climate may have Invited Doubt and Delay

The City and project team have published materials from the "Economic Forum for Climate Action Plan hosted by Chamber of Commerce / SEDCOR."

It's great they reached out and initiated a conversation.

Slides 5 and 6 are pretty clear

The introductory presentation mostly looks good. They included a clear statement of sources of emissions and costs of inaction.

But then they appear to have lost focus, and asked about feelings rather than about substantive and effective actions. Rather than building support for action, the "narrative arc" in the structure of the meeting appears to have built to doubt and delay.

People like gas from fracking and other sources

After the initial presentation they presented a set of seven possible actions and asked for feedback, and then polled them. But the polling was all about feelings, whether respondents "loved" or "hated" the action.

Why the heck would you ask about feelings in this way? If we "loved" giving up our fossil fuels, we would have already done so! The reason this whole thing is difficult - that whole "inconvenient truth" etc. - is because we don't "love" giving up our fossil fuels. Very few "love" the real actions necessary to give up fossil fuels. On the contrary, collectively we demonstrate in so many ways we "hate" doing so.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Mini-Cookie Ride to visit Settlement Site 30 Years older than Jason Lee House

The Pandemic's scrambled everything and the Salem Bicycle Club's Monster Cookie has also been scrambled. Customarily in the spring, it was cancelled last year and deferred this year. This year the Monster Cookie ride slots into to the date of what would have been the late summer Peach ride, Sunday the 29th, and it is based not at the Capitol, its usual starting point, but at Keizer Rapids Park.

The Mini-Cookie Route in Keizer

In the disruption, there is opportunity, too, and this edition of the Monster Cookie has for the first time a shorter family ride, the Mini-Cookie, about six miles on quiet neighborhood streets.

Like the full Cookie, which turns around at Champoeg, the Mini-Cookie also runs through an historic site, this one from a full 30 years before Jason Lee's activity in Salem and the  Champoeg meetings.

Wallace House Park (2007 plan, not yet completed)
Possible Location of 1811-13 Fur Trade Activity

The park is the conjectured site of William Wallace's fur trading outpost circa 1812, and is among the earliest settlements in Oregon, not just the Salem area.* Soon, however, activity shifted a little north to "French Prairie," and by the time Thomas Dove Keizer arrived in the 1840s, little if anything was left here.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Beer and Buildings Featured in Latest History Talks at the Mill

The Mill's announced another round of history talks for the "zooming back to history" series.

"Finding Louisa Weinhard" - OHQ, Summer 2021

Two are of particular interest here.

History talk, Sept. 16th

You may recall back in May when Pioneering Oregon Architect, W. D. Pugh was released. On the cover are images of our Old City Hall and the second Mill building, both of which Walter D. Pugh designed. Author, former Salemite, and retired professor of history Terrence Emmons will give an online talk on September 16th.

The remarkable architectural career of Salem native W. D. Pugh and the question of why so little was known about it until now. How I came to make this inquiry. “A life in buildings” is the giveaway subtitle of my book; that is, an attempt to answer that question and to learn more about the life of W.D. Pugh, especially during the quarter century of his greatest activity (roughly 1885-1910), by searching out the buildings he designed, with photographs if possible. It also examines his later career as building contractor and road builder, all in the context of the social and economic development of the American Northwest.

And on December 16th, pioneering Beer Archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton of Oregon State University will discuss “Women behind the pints: Oregon’s 19th century brewery wives.”

An important detail is missing from most 19th century Oregon beer history: these brewers didn’t arrive alone. Though the name over the door was a man’s, and women weren’t likely to be found in the brewhouse or serving lager in a saloon, their involvement as wives, widows, and daughters is an important, unknown, and untold story.

Edmunson-Morton has an article in the current Oregon Historical Quarterly about Louisa Weinhard (at top).

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Draft Strategies for Climate Action Plan Still Evade the Heart of the Matter

The City and project team have published the first revision of a set of proposed strategies for our Climate Action Plan. The original was published in June. It seemed pretty chaotic and I wanted to wait for more clarity. The second, revised draft is still a welter, but we are approaching a deadline, supposedly with a Council Work Session next month, and so it merits some comment.

It's an awkward spreadsheet format
(and truncated here)

But before we comment, here is a really helpful typology of ways that people dismiss climate action by means of arguing for delay.

Typology of climate delay discourses

We will see several of them in the proposed strategies and actions listed in this current draft for our Climate Action Plan as well as the debate around them:

  • Individualism
  • No sticks, just carrots
  • All talk, little action and non-transformative solutions
  • Appeal to social justice (especially when talking about pricing parking or tolling)
  • Change is impossible

So this might be helpful in identifying delaying action or talk and in assessing the list of proposed actions and strategies.

Monday, August 16, 2021

We need to Stop Ignoring Climate in Transportation Stories

So far this summer we've had an intensified fire season, all-time record-breaking heat waves and mortality from them, drought, so many things directly related to our climate emergency. 

Yet, when we talk about highway widening, we forget all that.

Is it really about safety?
Or safety-washing capacity increase?

Today's front page story about the Aurora-Donald Diverging Diamond project is legitimate news, but at this point readers should get closer analysis of expected safety benefits, of induced travel from congestion relief, and of emissions and climate impacts from highway capacity increases. The reporting accepts and reproduces uncritically the highway postures, even propaganda, from the County, from ODOT, and from our Congressman.

We have choose one of these frames
(front pages, June 2015 and June 2019)

Earlier this month

It's not like the climate issues are a secret. But the transportation stories are compartmentalized to keep climate away. This needs to stop. We know transportation is our biggest source of emissions locally, and at a minimum we should be clearer about the trade-offs when we widen or "improve" highways.

Hope Plaza, Unnamed Tributaries, and Pringle Creek Community at Planning Commission Tuesday the 17th

Continuing with the Planning Commission's busy week, on Tuesday the 17th they will review the plans for Hope Plaza, which generally seem supported and non-controversial, as well as more contested appeals of a Minor Amendment to the Refinement Plan at Fairview for Pringle Creek Community and an approval of a subdivision on Doaks Ferry Road in West Salem.

Hope Plaza

A driveway on Church Street would require
right turns across the buffered bike lane

On Hope Plaza the one interesting item was retaining the driveway on Church Street. I wondered if it could just be closed, but the Staff Report proposes approval for the revised driveway plan, saying that since it reduces an existing two-way driveway to a one-way, right-in and ingress only; since the alley is not wide enough to support two-way traffic and will support exit only; and since City policy is to minimize driveways on arterials and to make access from the lowest street classification possible (Church Street being lower than Center/Marion), the proposal meets all the relevant requirements. So I don't think there is much more to say, even though it might be nice to use the alley more completely.  (See previous notes here.)

No mention of the buffered bike lanes and turning

It is possible, however, to fault the Staff Report for too narrowly focusing on car travel.   Generally, when Staff address "safe and efficient movement...of bicycles" and any "traffic hazards," they do not think very deeply about bike travel, and it would be helpful for the basic template of Staff Reports to drill into more detail on the actual facts of bike travel and not the just the theoretical level that the map shows a bike lane there and "we're all good." The Staff Report does not directly discuss the existence of the buffered bike lane and any right-hook hazard from drivers making right-hand turns across it. It's box-checking, and not any real assessment of "safe movement."

But that is a more general point, and there's a lot of positive in the specific proposal for Hope Plaza, and we should just wish the greatest success for it.