Saturday, November 27, 2021

Agate Beach and the Bush-Bloch Connection: Little Bluffs Built in 1917

The paper today has a nice travel feature on hiking from Beverly Beach, over Yaquina Head, down to Newport, and across the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

In the paper today

It briefly mentions Agate Beach, and by coincidence a friend of the blog who happened to be vacationing in Newport separately was alert to a Salem connection.

A grainy scan from the National Register Nomination

Music fans will likely know about composer Ernest Bloch and his connection with the Oregon Coast.

But Bloch's history might have overshadowed an earlier relation to Salem history. What we know as "The Ernest Bloch House," a large beach cottage on the National Register of Historic Places at Agate Beach, was in fact first a summer residence for the descendants of Asahel Bush.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Historian John Ritter Passes Away

Here's sad news for the day.

Obituary for John Ritter in the paper today

The newspaper ran an obituary for historian John Ritter today. John was an entertainer and  popularizer, running the underground tours you might have heard of or gone on. Because he did not always publish his findings, especially claims for new discoveries or novel interpretations of contested facts, it was sometimes difficult to extend them or even confirm them. Some of the lore seemed more mythic or speculative than not. At the same time, it was often non-traditional history of vice, squalor, or racism, ugly history, that establishment historians seeking consensus or harmony or the politics of great men generally passed by.

A talk at Deepwood in July 2019

Even in death he was perhaps a bit of a storyteller. The obituary says

Never content to stop learning, he earned several grants and scholarships throughout his life including a Fulbright to study in Egypt (where he rode camels and climbed a pyramid at dawn to see the sun rise) a National Merit Scholarship, and a Rhodes Scholarship for Europe.

via the Rhodes Scholar Database

But there is no record of any Rhodes Scholarship. It would have made him a contemporary of Dave Frohmayer, who was a Rhodes Scholar for 1962. Perhaps there is a "Rhodes Scholarship for Europe" distinct from the one we usually mean by the term.

Thanksgiving in 1921 at the Marion Hotel

It's always interesting to see the hotel menu for Thanksgiving 100 years ago.

November 24th, 1921

Some of these are obvious typos, but some of the items may be unfamiliar also. I did not know about Toke Point Oysters, which now seem to have been absorbed into Willapa Bay Oysters, for example. The Marion Hotel was where the Conference Center is now. The menu:

THANKSGIVING
DINNER
The Marion
Salem, Oregon
Thursday, November 24, 1921
5 to 8 p.m.
Toke Points on Half Shell or Canape ala Trionon
Mock Turtle Aux Quenelles
Consomme De Steal
Stuffed Celery Heart
Burr Gherkins
Mixed Olives
Fresh Lobster ala Nerburg en caise
Pommee Sauffle
Sliced Cucumber
Small Baucheese ala Perigoux
Thanksgiving Sherbert
Roast Oregon Turkey Chestnut Dressing Cranberry Sauce
Domestic Goose Dressing Prince Jam
Prime Rib of Beef Yorkshire Pudding
Whipped Cream Potatoes
Sweet Potato Victoria
Baked Hubbard Squash
Brussel Sprouts Buerr
Salade ala Marion
Hot Mince Pie
Fresh Mince Pie
Palmer House Ice Cream
Nabisco Wafer
English Plum Pudding Hard and Hot Sauce
Mixed Nuts
Cluster Raisins
Camembert Cheese Bent Water Crackers
Demi Tasse
$1.50 Per Plate

Two recent pieces on agriculture and our food supply were of interest, and both made connections, one direct and one indirect, with our approach to housing.

Rent, heat, low wages - LA Times this week

The Los Angeles Times had a piece on the movement of farmworkers from California to Oregon as they followed crops to harvest. The relative cooler summer and lower cost of shelter had made Willamette Valley farms more attractive, but with our heat and smoke, and with increasing costs of housing, the advantage is disappearing. "Fewer and fewer Californians are now showing up for the blueberry harvest. Experts and farmers say economics and a lack of affordable housing are largely to blame." That's a trend to watch.

Less directly, a piece on the enduring myth of the yeoman farmer suggested its persistence in the way we valorize the urban and suburban single home and the property owner with a large yard, and subordinate other forms of housing and land use in policy and cultural preference.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Talking Around Climate Action at the MPO

Drought in summer, flood in winter
Seattle Times last week

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today the 23rd, and climate threads through several of the agenda items.

Carrots only as discourse of delay

The MPO continues to slow-walk the process for new administrative rules on climate from ODOT and DLCD. In the meeting packet is a letter from the League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties arguing for carrots and delay. In context, the inclusion reads as approval for, rather than critique of, the approach.

Prefer carrots

In their own letter, SKATS references "balance" and "encouragement," but not the actual outcome of less driving and shorter trips. An ongoing problem is that this is a Potemkin show of symbol, and not actual shift from driving to other trips.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

City Council, November 22nd - More on MUHTIP

On Monday Council has not one, but TWO applications for the housing incentive and property tax abatement, the MUHTIP, which was just extended earlier this month.

One of the applications, for the project at the former Nordstrom, was expected and does not seem to present anything worth comment. It seems fully to meet the intent of the program.

The other is interesting in small ways. You may recall a proposal for a wine bar a few years back in the northern third of the Starkey-McCully block of 1867:

Abandoned proposal for a new wine bar (2017)

That appears to have been abandoned, but the apartments in back of the old building are still moving forward. The Staff Report says the Certificate of Occupancy has been issued, so construction is complete.

Initial plan: Later additions on alley demolished,
replaced by three new apartments in a modern style

At Council is a MUHTIP application for "two new 1,100 square foot residential rental units and the rehabilitation of the existing 5,800 square foot of commercial space." 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

McGilchrist Corridor Shut Out Again

Today the Register-Guard has news that Eugene won a $19 million Federal RAISE grant for the Franklin Boulevard corridor.

Although the USDOT web page does not have a formal press release and list of winning projects, the google turns up many Senators and Representatives with local press releases on winning projects in the last two or three days. The Eugene news appears to come from Rep. DeFazio's office on the 16th. (Update: Here's the full list. It confirms Salem did not win a grant.)

There has been a roll-out and it seems clear that we would have seen a similar press release locally from our delegation if the McGilchrist project had been successful.

Phase 2 at the University

On the Eugene project, the grant appears to complete Phase 1, a section in the Glenwood neighborhood, and also to fund part of Phase 2.

Phase 2, the more interesting segment, is at the University of Oregon. You can see the oval of the new basketball arena in the lower center of the image.

You can also see the roundabouts. The project is full of them! They also propose to double-track lanes for EmX, the bus rapid transit system, which currently use one lane a little awkwardly for travel alternating in both directions. There are multiple crosswalk enhancements as well. 

Phase 1 also contains a couple of quasi-boulevard sections, with through-lanes separated by a median from a local access lane for parking and transit. (The concept picture of Phase 1 is lower resolution than the picture for Phase 2, and later a better photo/image might prompt another post as this boulevard element might be interesting. The reliance also on roundabouts might be excessive, and there might be some criticism to make also.)

The whole is a considerably more modern project design than vintage design rooted in late 20th century standards proposed for the McGilchrist project. In addition to the ongoing building projects adjacent to the University in Eugene, the Glenwood area of Phase 1 also has a lot of redevelopment planned.

In order to field a competitive application, the City likely needs to improve the concept for non-auto travel, not just for freight. The surrounding monoculture of industry may make McGilchrist less competitive also. (Our balky blue dog might also be an impediment.)

After TIGER, after BUILD, now RAISE

The City also keeps including a grant in the formal CIP, but in successive cycles, TIGER under Obama, BUILD under Trump, and now RAISE under Biden, the City has not been successful. Including funding sources like this in the CIP is excessively speculative and should be discontinued.

In a more general comment, keyed to the larger infrastructure bill, last week the City Manager seemed to indicate he knew the McGilchrist application had not been successful:

At this time, we are monitoring the national dialogue and in the coming weeks, as more details are made available, we will identify projects that could be funded by the new federal legislation. Any potential project would have to satisfy the funding parameters established in the legislation and direction from the City Council. Some potential projects that could be identified and considered quickly might come from our Capital Improvement Plan or community-generated project lists in Bike/Walk Salem, the Transportation Systems Plan, the Parks Master Plan, or other infrastructure plans. McGilchrist Street SE is our singular, federally permitted, shovel-ready project. We need about $20 million to complete it.

The City should consider modernizing the McGilchrist project so that it is more competitive and offers more safety and comfort for non-auto travel. The City should also consider modernizing the concept plans for other projects so they answer less to 20th century standards, but look forward to our 21st century needs, which include treating walking, biking, and busing not as fringey amenity but as primary mobility, with cars as increasingly secondary mobility of last resort.

See previous notes on the McGilchrist corridor here.

Recommended First Stage Climate Actions Finally Released

Has Appendix 9 finally appeared? After the City and project team scrubbed reference to it from the "draft Climate Action Plan," and several days after the comment period on that draft closed, the City now has published "Recommended Priorities Strategies for Early Implementation." In the sidebar to the draft plan, it's not identified as Appendix 9, however, and I suppose it's possible there will be a further document. But this appears to correspond to the implementation strategy Appendix 9 was going to show.

And even worse in British Columbia

Earlier this month here

At any rate, this or something like it should have been the center of the draft Climate Action Plan. It, unlike the other document, is the start of an actual plan.

Parking reform is prominent

More on reporting

While it calls for the City to "begin reporting community greenhouse gas emissions on a regular basis," the list does not contain any estimate of the total greenhouse gas reductions if everything on the list were accomplished. How far would this take us to a 50% reduction by 2035? Which of these proposed actions are the most important? The public still has no idea.

Persons on Foot and on Bike Killed on I-5 Last Week

Last week drivers on I-5 struck and killed exposed and more vulnerable users, one on bike and one on foot. 

With the high speeds and long stopping distances on the Interstate under normal driving, there may have been nothing a prudent and reasonable driver could have done. Driving on the Interstate is different from driving on city streets.

So it is very difficult to know if there are any safety countermeasures to advocate. There many not be much to say there on that. I was hoping more would come out, but it has not.

Anthony Garza

From State Police:

On November 10, 2021, at approximately 7:38 P.M., Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a bicyclist on Interstate-5 northbound at exit 260 near Salem.

A preliminary investigation revealed that a bicyclist identified as Anthony Lee Garza (61) was riding his bicycle across the northbound lanes of Interstate-5 when he was struck by a pickup truck operated by Benjamin J Miller (35) of Gervais. Miller remained at the scene and is cooperating with law enforcement.

Garza was pronounced deceased at the scene.

I-5 is unquestionably a barrier difficult to cross, and overpasses are usually busy arterials or highways with poorly maintained shoulders or uncomfortable bike lanes. They require substantial out-of-direction travel. These arrangements impose costs on people employing non-auto travel.

But why was a person on bike trying to cross on the highway surface itself rather than crossing by an under- or overpass? Garza might have been fleeing someone or something. He could have been victim or perpetrator. Nothing is clear, and the brevity of published information is not very helpful.

Still, even if he made a terrible decision, even if he was fleeing a crime he had just committed, he does not deserve death on the highway as the punishment.

Christina Klug

On Friday, a driver killed another person. Her death is even more bewildering in the short account.

From State Police:

On November 12, 2021, at approximately 9:18 P.M., Oregon State Police and emergency personnel responded to a motor vehicle collision involving a pedestrian on Interstate-5 southbound near milepost 254 in Salem.

Preliminary investigation revealed a female pedestrian, who was identified as Christina June Klug (26) of Lebanon, exited her boyfriend's vehicle that was parked in the median on Interstate-5 southbound near milepost 254, walked out into the lane of travel, and was struck by a southbound vehicle operated by Maria Guzman-Coria (24) of Salem.

Klug was pronounced deceased at the scene. Guzma-Coria remained at the scene and is cooperating with law enforcement.

Klug's death may not make it into print out of a kind of tact or deep uncertainty. With the stress on "walking into traffic," the police account and online rewrite in the paper suggested it may have been suicide. But she might have been fleeing abuse also. In the attempt to stay close to the facts of the matter, the brief account obscures much also.

There is great sadness all the way around in both of these. Grief for the friends and family of the dead, and enduring sadness for drivers who, particularly if they were truly blameless and driving with great caution, must nonetheless live with having killed a person. 

(This post may be updated, but at this point it seems unlikely.)

Monday, November 15, 2021

Two Venerable Properties: Truitt Bros. Cannery for Sale and Fitts Seafood perhaps Sold

The Monday paper has a nice piece that ties the sale of a set of historic cannery buildings and land to the mixed-use zoning proposed in Our Salem.

Dehydration hype, Canning Age, January 1920

From the piece:

“We’d love to see waterfront housing — three- to four-story apartment buildings with a main commercial floor,” [owner Jordan Truitt] said. “I would love to see the existing buildings stay and the greenway stay and be repurposed.”...

He said the new Mixed-Use Riverfront zoning for the property proposed in the city’s “Our Salem” project would open the door for the Truitt brothers’ vision for a revitalized waterfront like those seen in other northwest cities.

Front page today

Previously from 2017, "Truitt Bros Building on Market and Front to Celebrate 100th."

Fitts Sold?

There have been rumors that Fitts Seafood has sold, and while its storefront is not the commanding riverfront property the cannery enjoys, it is an even more venerable enterprise, having started in 1901.

Friday, November 12, 2021

City Council, November 15th - Policy Agenda and Priorities Work Session

Monday Council meets for a formal Work Session on "Progress report on 2021 City Council Policy Agenda and major Citywide initiatives."

The progress report may be losing its way, however.

We can take a smaller detail as an example. Far into the report it talks about updating the walking and biking chapters of the Transportation System Plan. But it is silent on whether we are actually improving bike and pedestrian safety and inducing greater numbers of walking and biking trips.

An update could be good

The annual report needs metrics. What are we measuring, and are we actually improving on the outcome any policy is designed to affect?

We are failing badly on walking and biking
(Our Salem, June 2019 - not in this report)

Why aren't these indicators from a couple of years ago included in the annual report? We lost them in Our Salem, and we've lost them in other applications where they would in fact be useful.

The annual report isn't reporting on progress very much if we aren't discussing the relevant details. Across most areas in the report it is greatly hampered by the lack of metrics. It prefers to focus on process and procedure. Since it doesn't measure anything, it is free to make unsupported claims and to act as if procedural improvements in fact yield the desired outcomes out in the real world.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Tomb of Unknown Soldier Dedicated on Armistice Day in 1921

Armistice Day in 1921 was a jumble of different meanings. The big news locally was the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (The Washington Post has a piece on it with film from 1921.)

November 14th, 1921

A coop ad focused on peace, economic reconstruction, and commerce.

Graphics in a big coop ad, November 10th, 1921

President Harding's proclamation further institutionalized the holiday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Guidance of Youth Statue Needs More Discussion

The story of Guidance of Youth is usually framed up as a story of provincialism and prudery. We could have had a Renoir, that story goes, a female nude but exquisite. Salemites rejected the high art, and we got Guidance instead.

Salem Library Historic Photos

The Public Art Commission meets this week on Wednesday the 10th, and on their agenda is "Formal accession of Guidance of Youth by Avard Fairbanks to the Public Collection." (The agenda says Wednesday the 13th, but that's not right.)

It is interesting to learn that the sculpture is not actually in the Public Collection. But this agenda item, more than a little buried, is something that deserves more attention.

In her book, Pioneer Mother Monuments, Cynthia Culver Prescott devotes much of a chapter to Salem and to this sculpture, and highlights exclusionary themes encoded in it.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Climate Delay, Infrastructure Bill, and the 2024-2029 Funding Cycle: At the MPO

The technical committee for the MPO meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 9th, and they will be thinking about new funding and new projects.

Fire and Ice
Oregonian, Nov. 1st and today

LA Times, today

In the minutes from last month's meeting on starting a framework for scoring project applications in the 2024-2029 cycle, MPO staff underscored that "The MPO has a broader focus than the Climate Friendly rulemaking," listing it as only one complication and priority among several. While that is strictly true in a trivial sense, it was also meant as a way to continue to slow-walk on climate, to disparage and minimize the urgency of action action now.

Slow-walking "climate friendly rulemaking"

At this month's meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee, they return to considering how to score and prioritize applications for that 2024-2029 cycle and also how to score and prioritize projects for new funding in the new Federal Infrastructure bill. (When the agenda was written, it was possibility, but now it is reality.)

Agenda items on scoring and prioritizing

Something in that Infrastructure bill to watch for are moves or incipient tendencies to define, codify, and penalize "improper walking" and to add new surveillance technologies to control walking.

via Twitter

Saturday, November 6, 2021

City Council, November 8th - Goal 5 and Infrastructure

In this weeks' story at Salem Reporter on the abandonment of a proposal for a micro-shelter camp near the West Salem Park and Ride, the City had to admit a critic had pointed out a hitherto unknown wetland.

"sure enough, it's...a wetland"

Earlier, unnamed tributaries of Wilark Brook, not recognized by any official City inventory of waterways, had been an issue in approving a new subdivision on Doaks Ferry near Orchard Heights in West Salem.

Council meets on Monday and they will receive as an information report the letter from the Planning Commission formally requesting a "a phased Goal 5: Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas, and Open Spaces update in the next City budget."

Commissioner Slater had introduced this, and with the information about the West Salem Park and Ride, he seemingly could not ask for better, confirming evidence that a review and update was necessary. The rest of the Planning Commission agreed, and even if they did not necessarily share the same environmental concerns, they would value the predictability, and concomitant reduction in grounds for appeals, that an improved and less ambiguous set of Goal 5 criteria would offer.

Just generally we should be willing to trade higher development intensities with less area for parking, on lots away from trees, waterways, and wetlands in return for stronger protections on sensitive trees, waterways, and wetlands.

Friday, November 5, 2021

As Development for the Meyer Farm is Debated, History Remains to be Investigated

At Council on Monday is an information item on the approval for the Meyer Farm development. It seems sure to be appealed, and that process may go on for a while.

A little buried in the packet on the approval is a short history report! It clarifies some matters, but leaves others obscure. 

No matter what is the final disposition on any housing development at Meyer Farm, and as it goes through any appeal there will be more to say on the proposed housing development, its settlement-era history is very much worth more investigation, and a number of details remain murky.

The Status of a Waldo DLC Still Unclear

The Meyer Farm and what may be the Waldo DLC

In the report is a clip from a survey map labeled from August 1855 with the square of Joseph Waldo's land outlined in black.

But this map does not appear to be a faithful version of the survey map from August of 1855.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Mahonia Nursery looks to Develop into Subdivision for Single Housing

A principal behind Mahonia Nursery has filed an application with the City for "238-lots for single family development and open space lots (Headwaters Subdivision)" on the land, 68 acres composed of a few separate lots, now occupied by and adjacent to the nursery. (The Notice of Filing says "Reed Road" but it's actually Reed Lane SE.)

Current nursery site
and proposed subdivision

As with the Meyer Farm parcel, there would be opportunity to preserve more of the tree cover while also using more smallplex and middle housing forms to net as many or more dwellings as single houses would yield.

But that is not the concept for which they are applying. 

As Our Salem is getting baked, we should ask more closely whether the incentives will align properly for lower carbon and lower-car neighborhoods and households. Right now, the large developments in process (like those at the former mushroom plant, at the North State Hospital site, at Fairview, the Meyer Farm, now this - and there are surely others), seem committed to single housing or to suburban-style three-story walkups set on large parking lots. The middle is still missing, and the forms, locations, and site plans still very car-dependent. Things do not seem to be changing very quickly, if at all, and stronger incentives and rules may be necessary.

Whether this project would come in under the Wildwood/Mahonia umbrella is not clear. 

Nor is the future of Mahonia Nursery clear. The phasing appears to skirt the nursery at first, and it may be structured to allow for a future decision. More will surely be reported or commented on this.

All in all the big development projects, even those by entities with interests in sustainability, seem to maintain late 20th century autoist patterns and are not yet very responsive to future needs and interests.

This project will go under administrative review, not any formal Public Hearing, and the comment period closes Thursday the 11th.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

350 Salem Offers Detailed Comment on the initial draft Climate Action Plan

The comment period for the draft of our Climate "plan" closes in just a few days, at 5pm on Friday the 5th, and it is striking how little is being said about it.

Oregonian, front page yesterday

From here it has seemed empty, enthusiasm more than policy and plan. All the policy is underdeveloped and shoved off into the unorganized list of Appendix 8; and what might count as an actual plan, a prioritized list of actions, is even more remote, further buried in a forthcoming Appendix 9 that isn't even mentioned on the project landing page any more, after they scrubbed it.

Our 350.org chapter had not made any comment publicly on it, but yesterday they shared comments finally. While they were perhaps more diplomatic, at least from here it seemed they shared many of the same concerns about the lack of actionable plan elements in the so-called "plan" document:

There are several changes we would like to see in the final Salem CAP. In terms of broader changes, we would like to see the priority strategies among the 176 strategies [that Appendix 8] incorporated into the seven sections addressed in the CAP. Please connect the five or six most high-impact strategies for reducing GHG emissions to each of the seven sections. Wherever you can quantify goals or likely emission reductions, that would be appreciated....

The task descriptions come off as good ideas rather than actions. Tasks need to be rewritten to identify specific actions the city will take, when they will be completed, and what city department or official is responsible for getting them done. Otherwise, these are just general recommendations that are the responsibility of no one, with no accountability for follow-through.

They published detailed comments in a long email worth reading. It goes into detail on several other points, fleshing out what would make the document a substantive plan.

Previously in September they published a list of top 10 actions, and in that email from yesterday reiterated it as a summary: 

  1. No more widening (or adding lanes to) existing roadways. No new freeways or parkways. Invest instead in pedestrian and biking network/safety to transit network, schools and major employers
  2. Charge for city-controlled parking in and near downtown
  3. Mandate that major employers implement sustainable transportation for employees
  4. Lobby/support intercity transit and rail at the state level
  5. Improve pedestrian safety at crossings
  6. Require EV charging stations at new (and later at existing) multifamily residences
  7. Send all of Salem’s mixed trash to the Coffin Butte landfill. Adopt a comprehensive municipal waste program to reduce methane emissions
  8. Ban new fossil gas residential and commercial hookups
  9. Exempt System Development Charges within ¼ mile of the core transit network
  10. Hire a city staff person to implement CAP

LA Times, front page today

Monday, November 1, 2021

New Project by new Costco, First Look at new Project for old Nordstrom, West Salem Study - Bits

There are several interesting matters that slipped under the radar and which deserve more interest and attention.

The biggest is a new project concept proposed for the large site sandwiched between the forthcoming Costco and I-5.

A large new project proposed (Costco label added)

Tomorrow the Planning Commission will hear an application to rezone the site.

Staff Recommends denial

Staff recommends denial. I was not able to read the full analysis and recommendation, and there might be more to say later. This is the sort of proceeding that seems unlikely to be decided after just one meeting.

WSRAB

At the West Salem Redevelopment Advisory Board, last month they got a sneak peek of the concept for the former Nordstrom site.

Elevation from Liberty side (street labels added)

That will be so much more lively than the bricked up blankness of the Nordstrom and the mall buildings!

Saturday, October 30, 2021

City gets Approval for 25mph Limit on 17th Street, other Bits

Here's some good news. ODOT came around and now supports the City's desire to post the whole of 17th from Silverton Road to Mission Street for 25mph.

17th Street signed for 30mph, soon to be 25mph

City Manager's October 22nd update

Signs by themselves are of course not enough. 

But this is a good step.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Cueing up the 2024-2029 Funding Cycle and Selection Process: At the MPO

At the MPO tomorrow the 26th, there are a number of items to note.

City to fund walking safety projects

In a letter to the MPO, the City said they plan use their allocation of Covid relief funds, just shy of $1 million, "to construct pedestrian safety projects." That should fund at least a few new enhanced crosswalks! (Hopefully the City will plan for sites in addition to ones already planned, and will not merely shift the source of funding so that funds that had been allocated to crosswalks would now go to more autoist projects.)

Also on the agenda is conversation about how to score and prioritize project applications in the next round of discretionary funding in the TIP, for 2024-2029.

How should we score project applications?

What's a TIP, you ask? From the MPO project site on the call for applications:

The Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study (SKATS), the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Salem-Keizer-Turner, is soliciting for sponsors of transportation projects within the SKATS MPO boundary to apply for federal funds for the federal fiscal years (FY) 2024-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). There will be approximately $13 million in federal funds available for new projects in FY 2025, 2026, and 2027 and an additional $12 million available for projects ready for contract in the FY 2028-2029 illustrative years; although, it is up to the SKATS Policy Committee’s discretion to program funds for those years. Projects eligible for funding must be within the SKATS MPO boundary and be included in, or consistent with, the 2019-2043 Regional Transportation Systems Plan (RTSP). Applicants must be a tax-funded public agency that can enter into a contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), with some restrictions, to be eligible to receive funding. A minimum 10.27 percent match with non-federal dollars is required. Private entities or non-profit organizations may apply as co-applicants in partnership with a public agency.

In a separate topic and agenda item, but conceptually linked, in defending the historical approach to prioritization and project selection, they suggest nearly a third of funding remaining after some non-discretionary categories are taken out has gone to "complete street" projects that are "mostly bike/ped." These are often taking a two-lane street and adding a center turn pocket and also sidewalks and bike lanes. (See diagram below.) To say they are "mostly bike/ped" has seemed here like an exaggeration generally: The center turn lane widens the street, adds auto capacity, and makes for longer crosswalks. But this is one of those debates on which reasonable people can disagree and may not be possible resolve definitively.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

City Council, October 25th - Thinking about a Bond

Council convenes on Monday and they lead with a formal Work Session on concepts for a bond measure.

Cooking up a bond and figuring out the best ratio of bond sweetener to healthy food and good medicine seems tricky.

Still, the report on focus group testing has two things that just seem odd.

Nothing on climate

One is an omission. They didn't ask about climate projects. If this is the big bond for a decade's worth of projects, why aren't we planning for climate? This just seems like a very significant omission and lack of foresight. Of course, it is not too late to introduce that into the process.

The other is the decision to ask if people wanted free parking. Of course people like free! How is this useful information? Is the City considering a new parking structure a "bond sweetener" to make the whole package more palatable?

Friday, October 22, 2021

OHQ Teases Winter Issue with Sung Lung Laundry in 1889

The image of the Sung Lung Laundry on Court Street appears at least twice in the Library's historic photos collection (here and here), and you may have seen it in other contexts as well. Relatively speaking, it's often reproduced, and even a little iconic.

Sung Lung Laundry 1889 - via twitter

The Oregon Historical Society tweeted out another instance of it this week, and if you click all the way through, it appears to be the highest resolution scan of them all. Maybe you've already figured out where it was exactly, but if not, here it is placed on a map of early Salem.

Sung Lung Laundry at 105 Court and angle of photo
Reed Opera House on left
1888 Sanborn Map, Library of Congress

And the approximate view today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Climate Action Plan Frothy but Empty

The City and project team have released a Preliminary Public Review Draft of our Climate Action Plan.

I do not understand it. It reads like a sales and marketing document, not like a policy plan. If the goal was to have a plan for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2035, we are still distant from having that plan.

The very first words

From the start, it sells good intentions and lofty language, but it is very short on actual policy recommendations to achieve the outcomes it teases. It says we are "taking action," but aside from the action of publishing the plan, what action is there? Our "ambitions" seem content to remain ambitions, not actions.

Tentativeness: "Might be able to achieve"

Indeed, in the Executive Summary, there is already a retreat, and the actions are qualified as those we "might be able to achieve." In the body of the plan, distinct from the appendices attached to it, there are only three policy recommendations, and these lack any estimate for impact on total emissions. They are mentioned only because they are "cost-effective."

The only actual recommendations?

And they seem vitiated by the coach speak, the "determined resolve" of trying hard. ("Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose," etc.?)