Friday, December 31, 2021

Early 1950s Supermarkets show Appetite for Parking

In the few years right before and right after 1940, Safeway built new stores facing the sidewalk. In the late 1930s they were right on the corner, and in the 1940s local new stores had a small parking lot on the corner, but still faced the main street. 

A little more than a decade later, new stores were set in the middle of large parking lots, recessed away from the sidewalk on the main street.

Successor store, just 15 years later
November 13th, 1951

We have often understood the story of the Center Street Safeway as a story of loss, of the loss of one of Salem's earliest school buildings from the 1880s. But it is also a story of our autoism. The store's central location, starting with that one in 1936, on the edge of downtown has proved durable and useful, but the evolution in store plan showed our appetite for parking.

East School / Washington School, 1949
(Salem Library Historic Photos)

November 13th, 1951

Erickson's had opened a "super market" on Portland Road at Lana Avenue in 1946, and Berg's another one in the Capitol Shopping Center in 1949, but the Erickson's store does not seem fully realized, and Berg's wasn't stand-alone. At the moment, the Center Street Safeway seems like the best candidate for the first modern supermarket in Salem.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Short-living Safeways of the late 1930s: The Grocery Trade in Transition

Though refrigeration technology and retailing practice would have had impacts, it may be bigger parking lots that changed grocery stores more than anything between 1935 and 1955. The change is striking in the two stores serving the same close-in neighborhood, one opening in 1936 and the other just 15 years later in 1951.

June 19th, 1936

Successor store, just 15 years later
November 13th, 1951

In researching the Ericksons Supermarket on 12th Street, I found an old Safeway I had missed. At the corner of State and 13th, recently a pastry shop and Sassy Onion Catering, is an old Safeway (top image). The front has had a stone facade applied and new storefront system, but the corner detailing at the roof is still there.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

At Oxford Park site Ericksons Supermarket building now home to Fitts Seafood and Santiam Wine

You may recall the note this summer about Hall of Famer and Negro League star Bullet Rogan and the game at Oxford Park in 1921.

April 10th, 1920

Oxford Park (also known as Oxford Field) opened in 1920. It was in disrepair and neglected by the late 1930s, and in 1956 an Ericksons Supermarket was built there. That store building, a little remodeled, remains and Fitts Seafood and Santiam Wine occupy it today.

May 7th, 1938

I'm still working on finding out when it was finally demolished or erased. It seems to have been a gradual erosion from deferred maintenance and a lack of ongoing investment.

July 2nd, 1953

In 1953 when Biddy Bishop died, the obituary noted that he had arranged for Oxford Park after World War I, but it did not say anything about the park's end. It said he "induced the late George E. Waters to provide the financing for the construction of a ball park on south 25th Street."

Waters Field was built in 1940 at the current site of the main Post Office at 25th and Mission. It burned down in 1966.

Even if there might have been a lingering open field at the Oxford Park site, 1940 likely marks the end of organized baseball there.

A little over a decade later, in early 1956 there was a notice for a zone change, from residential to business for the grocery store. It would be interesting to know how Oxford Park had been originally zoned and whether there was an intermediate stage of park to residential to commercial zoning.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Retrospective on Lancaster Mall Should Focus More on the Autoism

After a couple of days off, the paper is back, though the snow and ice may still impede it, and on the front page on Sunday was a retrospective look at Lancaster Mall and its rebrand.

Not enough on local history

For background, the piece places the mall in the context of national retailing, but it may have a little too much template and potted history, and not enough specifically on Salem history.

A national element in mall history that is missing is the development of the Interstate Highway System, which made it easy for suburban drivers to reach and collect, and also for wholesale distribution, at new destination shopping centers. Highways and bigger roads are a "driver" here. We should not underestimate the logic and appetite of our autoism and centralizing logistics.

Diversity along Lancaster Dr., 2010

Locally, the story talks about "white flight," but this may not be the best way to interpret Salem history and development. There was centrifugal movement to the edges, but how racialized this move was here in Salem particularly is likely overstated. Still, especially in the hills the zoning and large lots and large houses functioned in an exclusionary way. Wealth, rather than race, might be more significant locally in the genesis of the mall. Later as the Salem area developed, Lancaster Drive then became our most diverse area, the least white part of town. The role of "flight" and separately the subsequent development in east Salem are topics that deserve more consideration in any history of the mall, and they are more complicated than a simple trajectory of "white flight" from the center.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Document Sneckdowns in the Snow!

It's sneckdown time.

As you are out and about this morning in the snow, take pictures where you find extra space in the road clear of the tire tracks. This is space that could be repurposed for bike lanes, extra sidewalk, or reduced auto travel lane width to slow cars.

Traffic Camera at 12th and State this morning

See notes from 2016 and 2018 for more on sneckdowns.

And, for those driving, be careful out there.

December 26th, 1921

Driver Kills Person Walking Early Christmas Morning

A man identified as a driver who struck and killed a person on foot along Lancaster Drive, and then fled the crash apparently with the body was arrested early Christmas morning.

From Marion County Sheriff last night:

At just after 2:00 a.m. on December 25th, 2021, a 911 caller reported a pedestrian had been struck by a car on Lancaster Drive NE near Ward Drive NE in the unincorporated area of east Salem. When deputies arrived at the scene, they learned a red Honda Civic had left the area at a high rate of speed. There was evidence at the scene the victim had sustained serious injuries and likely did not survive the collision.

Investigators from the Marion County multi-agency Crash Team were called out to process the crash scene. Lancaster Drive was closed between Iberis Street NE and Hayesville Drive NE for four hours during the investigation.

At close to 3:30 a.m., a caller reported a red Honda Civic with a deceased person inside several miles away near Wheatland Road NE and Brooklake Road NE, north of Keizer. Investigators were able to determine the deceased adult male inside was the pedestrian victim from the earlier crash.

Through the investigation, deputies identified Armando Rodarte Jr. (26) of Salem as the driver of the Honda Civic. Deputies located Rodarte shortly after 6:00 a.m. walking on Devonshire Ct NE, in Salem, and were able to take him into custody without incident. He has been lodged at the Marion County Jail on the following charges:

Manslaughter in the First Degree
Manslaughter in the Second Degree
Hit and Run – Injury
Reckless Driving
Reckless Endangerment

Rodarte is scheduled to appear at the Marion County Circuit Court annex for arraignment on Monday, December 27, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.

The victim has not yet been identified. This is an ongoing investigation; no additional information is available for release at this time.

Update, Jan 24th

NYE print edition

Addendum, February 23rd, 2023

Salem Reporter with an update. Rodarte was sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison. The details are grim.

The victim, Samuel Lannigan, lived about a block from the crash and was walking to his grandmother’s house for Christmas when the crash occurred, according to a sentencing memorandum....

Police found evidence of the crash over about a half mile long with clothes, car debris and human parts scattered along the road. That indicated the car was driving at a high rate of speed when the crash occurred, according to the court filing.

Surveillance video from local businesses showed a red Honda Civic around the time of the crash driving over 90 miles per hour down Lancaster Drive, running through several red lights and passing a gas station near the crash scene....

Friday, December 24, 2021

Stabilizing South River Road Bluff a Candidate for new Bond Projects

Yesterday another landslide on south River Road fell from the bluff near Minto Park.

Via twitter

Today the City announced River Road would be closed for a while:

Due to continued safety concerns, it is estimated that River Road could remain closed for about 7-10 days. Cleanup of the River Rd S rockslide may not be safe until weather improves.

Maintenance of detour routes will be a priority until repairs can safely be made.

Here are a number of them (but not all of them), testifying to their frequency in the last decade. The combination of unstable bluff and road below create problems for all of the traveling public, not just those in cars.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

117 Degrees, January 6th, and Grief: The Year in Review

Even with the Capitol Putsch of January 6th and with the second year of the Pandemic, a year in which national stories resonated powerfully as local stories also, the Heat Dome was the story of the year. 

Even in Nebraska, 117 was remarkable

113 and 117. Death Valley level heat right here in the Willamette Valley the end of June. High summer was a month away still. All-time record heat, an outlier sure for now, but also a harbinger of warming to come in the years and decades ahead, was the outstanding moment in 2021. (There was also the February ice storm, but even as bad as it was, it was not the same kind of outlier.)

An early undercount
Oregonian, July 1st

In that context, it was disappointing that the Climate Action Plan was not stronger. The draft came out in the fall, and the gas lobby mobilized home builders, developers, and business groups to create static and oppose reducing our use of gas heat and cooking. Our driving habit, the largest source of emissions, did not get enough attention, nor our land use. More directly on land use, Our Salem (including the middle housing code compliance package) also was not as strong as it could have been, and the City shied away from deeper climate action in it. Neither plan seems fully adequate to the gravity of our moment.  

Even if we are not yet responding as well as we might, climate was less fringey, was more centered, and began to structure our debates. From here, even with all the other mess and dread, climate was the main story.

Pandemic and Politics

The Pandemic, still, was a close second. So much loss and disruption. So many dead, nearing a million now. With the distortions caused by the Pandemic, the need to respond continually to it, and the grief both generalized nationally and immediately for friends and family, it is still difficult to assess the year gone by.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Another Contested Development Proposal at 27th and Kuebler

The proposal to change zoning in preparation for a new complex at Kuebler and I-5, across 27th from the new Costco site, is at the Planning Commission tomorrow, Tuesday the 21st, and it's turned into a bit of a rhubarb.

A large new project proposed (Costco label added)

It was first at the Commission in November, and the debate has not yet been resolved with a decision.

The first Staff Recommendation was for denial. The heart of the on-going disagreement is the magnitude of retail traffic induced:

The largest difference between the applicant’s proposal of CR (Retail Commercial) and the Our Salem proposed CO (Commercial Office), is the amount of retail sales allowed....The zone proposed by ‘Our Salem’ generally allows office and professional services, along with a mix of housing and limited retail and personal services, where the applicant’s proposal allows a wide array of retail sales and office uses....Staff does not agree that the CO Zone would provide the same amount of automobile generation as CR, that the peak of the businesses would be similar to the CR zone or that the market would support 24-acres of eight story office buildings.

The neighborhood associations are generally opposed. South Gateway would like the whole site zoned for mixed use, and Morningside would simply like denial.

The current Staff Recommendation still tends towards denial, and proposes to close the hearing but to keep the record open for further documents and comment, aiming for a decision at the January 11th meeting.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Priorities for new Federal Funding from Infrastructure Bill: At the MPO

The Policy Committee zooms on Tuesday the 21st for the final time in 2021, a week earlier than usual because of the holidays. They also have an abbreviated agenda, and there is not a great deal to note.

The lifting right now is at the level of the technical committee, so the one substantive thing on the agenda is the approval of a letter to ODOT/OTC on recommendations for the extra "flexible" Federal funding coming in the Infrastructure bill.

In the Sunday paper

And, it is very pleasant to note, three of the four recommendations directly or indirectly center climate, one on "active transportation and safety," one on "transit centers," and one explicitly for "projects that reduce GHG emissions."

Three of four recommendations on climate

The fourth sounds benign, framed as it is with the "enhance" rhetoric, but that's about highway widening essentially, and is not so benign.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Union Street Plans Still Rely too much on Paint Only

During the Tuesday online presentation and conversation for the Union Street project, it became awkwardly clear that City Staff hadn't used Councilor Stapleton's pilot with Winter and Union Streets during Saturday Market for any field work. They hadn't gone down to see how people on foot and on bike were using Union Street, and they hadn't seen how drivers did or did not observe the traffic changes. They had not been very curious, and they did not seem to think it was very important.

In a nutshell, that tells us something about how City Staff regard the Union Street Bikeway project.

The City's published the slide deck and video for Tuesday's presentation on the proposed design for Union Street.

You can see the previous draft version from last summer here. I'm really not seeing a lot of changes. Some people participating on the conference mentioned fewer trees taken out, and indicated they saw meaningful revisions. Fewer trees removed is a positive change. But as far as the bike lanes themselves go, the basic design does not seem altered, I am not so sure the changes are very meaningful.

Most generally, I do not think it yet meets in a direct way a full "family friendly" standard. Maybe you would trust your high school student, but would you send junior high or upper elementary school students to bike on it alone? Or your grandmother if she was not already a regular road cyclist? The City says "family-friendly," but the design isn't there yet. 

And as we will see, the City is still very much attached to its autoism.

Bike lane near Liberty is parking protected

Most of it is just paint, though
Floating bus stop and sidewalkification at Winter

While a couple of western segments near Liberty are still parking protected, the turn pockets invite car traffic. Cars and their drivers are still being prioritized. The City could say Union street was prioritized for non-car travel. There's the Marion/Center couplet, and Division was just made two-way. So why can't we make Union street primarily for non-auto travel with cars and their drivers as guests?

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

MORE PARKING!!! won't Solve Peace Plaza's Deadness

On Monday Council approved an ask for the Legislature.

Celebrate Salem Civic Center’s 50 years. Prepare Peace Plaza for 50th anniversary - August 18, 2022 - and years to come as an attractive, welcoming community asset. Funding for this work would restore the fountain and add greenspace and accessible parking to Peace Plaza area.

Peace Plaza desolate in the early evening, 2013
(click to enlarge)

The Staff Report was a little vague and Salem Reporter shared more clarity:

Courtney Knox Busch, Salem's strategic initiatives manager, told the legislative committee that project would cost about $1 million.

Parking on West side, from October 2013 concept

Probably the City is thinking about dusting off the concept plan from the early 2010s, when the hope was for a new Police Station at Mirror Pond. These drawings show a new parking area where there had been a gridded lawn with trees. The pavers have been removed already, and it seems like they might already be heading down that path.

Gridded lawn area would become parking

But converting this to parking would be a total waste and drain on the plaza. There are already parking garages south of the Library and north of City Hall. The one on the north side is no longer used by Police and should be available. Parking is not a problem. If parking becomes a problem, paid parking, right-priced so 15% of stalls are always open, solves it.

The problem with Peace Plaza's inertness is inactive edges, not insufficient parking.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Mrs Beck's Beer at the Mill: Zooming Back to History on Thursday

For the Mill's "Zooming back to History" series, on Thursday the 16th historian and archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton of Oregon State University will discuss “Women behind the pints: Oregon’s 19th century brewery wives.”

Mrs. M. Beck, Proprietor
July 15th, 1902 and Feb. 6th, 1903

You may recall that Mrs. Margaret Beck seemed to be a good candidate for the talk. Her brewery was where the Sculpture Garden is now for the Conference Center.

Chemeketa Hotel (l) and Capital Brewery (r)
WHC 2014.082.0055.003
and Salem Library Historic Photos

The brewery after several rounds of expansion
at the Conference Center Sculpture Garden site
(Sick's Brewery via Salem Library Historic Photo)

Edmunson-Morton agrees that Mrs. Beck is interesting. And in preparation for her talk, she's published some background with some terrific findings:

I want to emphasize a part that might be worth more attention. Edmundson-Morton writes:

Seraphin died in 1899 and there was a somewhat protracted legal battle over his estate. In the end, Margaret outbid Klinger to buy the business, and then ran it for 3 years before selling it to Stanislaus Zyanda, a representative for the Salem Brewery Association.

The legal battle is interesting. It's hard to know exactly what was going on, and it is possible that there was a constructive, collaborative purpose to the lawsuits, but on first glance, the way I have read these is that Margaret Beck had to fend off the attempt by Maurice Klinger to depress the value of her asset and to seize it. It's hard to read his actions as those of an ally and partner. Over two years, with lots of advertising in her name, she built the value back up, and then sold the brewery. So in addition to all the other dimensions, she was protecting family assets and acting not just as brewer but as business owner. (And then, at the end, there is what might be a great plot twist!)

Monday, December 13, 2021

City to hold Second Teleconference on Union Street Greenway

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th, the City is hosting a teleconference on the latest concepts for the Union Street Greenway, which will connect the Union Street bridge to the Winter-Maple Greenway, and in later phases may connect to the 12th Street Promenade. The current plans end at Summer Street and use existing legacy bike lanes and routing via Chemeketa to points east.

Warning signs, but no striped crosswalks or signals
Planned for bulb-outs and traffic signal

They have published no new information about any revisions, and so there is nothing really to say yet. Hopefully they will publish concept drawings and not restrict everything to the video feed. Later there will be more to say. 

From the City:

The City of Salem will present an updated design for the Union Street Family Friendly Bikeway Project on December 14, 2021 at 7 p.m. The public meeting will take place as a Virtual Open House via Zoom, where design elements of the project will be presented to the public.

The proposed project, which seeks to add bike lanes to Union Street between Commercial Street NE and Summer Street NE, will enhance the overall pedestrian, bike riding, and vehicular safety of Union. The project will provide separated bike lanes, road striping, improved crosswalks, and parking as required. When all segment pieces are complete, this project will connect with the 134-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway. Additionally, the intersection of Union Street NE and Liberty Street NE will be improved to include a traffic signal and bulb out corners to improve safety for both bicycles and pedestrians.

Once complete, the bike path will be an integral link in the downtown Salem bicycle system. The project will connect directly to Wallace Marine Park, Riverfront Park, Minto-Brown Island Park, and the Capital Mall.

In the pile of pre-applications for the 2024-2029 cycle at the MPO, a new project would stripe bike lanes on Winter Street between Mill Creek (just south of D Street) and Court Street. (It does not include the traffic circle, however. See August discussion linked below for a little on that.)

Winter Street between Court and D Streets



Nice to see the Board Chair for Cherriots weigh in!

via FB

Pre-Apps for the 2024-2029 Cycle at the MPO

The Technical Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 14th, and they've got a long list of project pre-applications to start evaluating for the next round of funding.

At the top of the list, and likely to get funding, since the MPO has historically valued completion funding, is a little over $2 million in requests on projects that already received funding in previous rounds and are in process. They are listed with a brief title, the applicant jurisdiction, and requested amount (not total cost):

  • Connecticut Ave: Macleay Rd to Rickey St Marion County $112,150
  • State St: 4106 State St to 46th Ave Marion County $616,376
  • Delaney Rd: Battle Creek Bridge Marion County $803,981
  • Commercial Street SE: Vista to Ratcliff Salem $628,110

The more interesting group are not yet funded, a total of $138 million. Earlier the MPO had said a little less than 20% of that would be available:

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/

So they have some winnowing to do! Here is one way to group and consider them.

Overdesigned and greenwashed

Rural highway-ish projects. Some of these, like this County one at Cordon and Hazelgreen, seem wildly overengineered and way too costly for the limited total funds. It's also greenwashed by saying it will "improve...environmental impacts." It will do no such thing. Many of these don't really fit the spirit of the "metropolitan" part of the MPO's mission, and they will often induce more driving travel rather than less.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

City Council, December 13th - Misunderstanding Degradation in LOS Analysis

Council convenes for the last time in 2021 on Monday, and they have a technical fix for a Comprehensive Map Amendment process that is worth more attention.

Strong Towns on design, comfort, and safety

The problem the fix seeks to solve in fact evades the larger matter of our autoism, and if an amendment like this is necessary, and given the exigencies of our climate emergency stronger action will be necessary in the future, the City is missing an opportunity to rethink the autoist hegemony of Levels of Service analysis. The Oregon Highway Plan policy references "avoid[ing] further degradation," as if the primary "degradation" was congestion and not tailpipe and carbon pollution, brake and tire dust pollution, and the lethality of car speed and power. Cars, their speed, and their pollution degrade the walking, biking, and busing environment, even the living environment, but the OHP only considers the supposed "degradation" to drivers in congestion and delay. There is enormous autoist bias here.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Friends Polytechnic Institute Preceded Deaf School in Highland

Earlier this week the Mill published an interesting and not often seen image of the Friends Polytechnic Institute. It has significance across several dimensions.

Friends Polytechnic School
in Highland (WHC

In addition to George Fox, Chemawa, Nye Beach, and the Oregon Land Company, in Highland Bert Hoover's uncle, Dr. Minthorn, also was a partner in the Friends Polytechnic Institute. His significance is often swallowed up by his relation to President Hoover, and the capsule biography at the Hoover-Minthorn House is typical of that, but he was involved as a principal organizer and manager of a lot of institutional and land development in and around Salem. He is certainly worth more attention, and we might come back to him.

June 1st, 1889

After announcing it in 1891, the building seems to have been completed in September of 1892, though all its finish work might have taken a little longer into the fall.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Apartments may be Needed to Support Hubs: New Activity at the Bone Parcel

You might recall a decade ago the Neighborhood Center Mixed Use zoning. Though it was supposed to be available more generally for sites around the city, it was specifically formulated with the Bone parcel at Chapman Corner in West Salem in mind.


For whatever combination of reasons, the new zoning did not yield a new mixed use development. And other developers around town have not found it useful zoning. The NCMU concept is very dormant.

Now, after a decade, the developers are asking for the northern part of the property to be zoned for apartments. The southern part, at the intersection, would remain zoned for mixed use.

New apartment zoning

As with the Fairview projects, this should be a case study, an example of a kind of forensic analysis, for Our Salem. Why didn't it develop? What ingredients were missing? Are there any lessons from this project and the NCMU generally for the Neighborhood Hub concept? In Our Salem, the City is missing closer analysis of empirical data from right here in Salem.

The hypothesis here on the blog is that nearby swaths of single detached housing do not provide enough people, enough prospective customers, to sustain business activity in a neighborhood center or hub. (At the same time, the applicant has "Bonaventure" in their name, and it may be this is for a retirement home. If they are active, they could patronize businesses in any NCMU developent, but if it is any kind of assisted care, residents probably would not.)

With an adjacent apartment complex, the critical mass of customers might be created.

This is evidence that even with the State making fourplexes legal in zones for single housing, the rate of changeover will mean that there still are not enough people to support Neighborhood Hubs nearby, to support new transit routes or higher frequency, and to make meaningful changes in travel away from drive-alone trips.

As for this proposal specifically, there may be more to say when the Staff Report comes out. The Hearing at the Planning Commission is scheduled for December 21st.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

City Council, December 6th - Our Salem and Middle Housing Code Update

The front page of the Sunday paper has a big piece on climate disruption. It's oddly framed, a little like an investigative report that is presenting some hitherto unknown set of facts. But apart from that oddness of tone, and the mention of causation a little deep in the piece, it clearly points at greenhouse gases.

Climate on the front page today

From the piece:

Reporters read thousands of pages of climate assessments, scientific papers, weather reports and government documents. They interviewed more than 70 people, including climate scientists, academic researchers, local and federal officials, and residents forced from their homes by drought and flood.

Taken together, the reporting reveals a stunning shift in the way precipitation falls in America.

(There were other articles on water, too: "Rockies winter starts with whimper, Experts: Drought could threaten water supply" and "How Midwestern rainfall poisons the Gulf of Mexico.")

Deeper in the paper, the Council preview doesn't link up much with the front page. It leads with the prospect of drastic change, but not the change we are already experiencing. This rhetoric will trigger loss aversion. It's a little alarmist. The piece doesn't start with the existing drastic changes from climate, like those discussed on the front page, and our urgent need to reduce our emissions and adapt to changes already in process that cannot be stopped.


That push-pull ambivalence is probably all too accurate.

In addition to getting an update on the Climate Plan, Council looks to initiate adoption of Our Salem. The next step would be a formal Public Hearing at the Planning Commission next year.

Friday, December 3, 2021

City Council, December 6th - Update on the Climate Plan

With the Climate Action Plan, Our Salem, and the bundle of code amendments, Council has a lot of substance on the agenda for Monday.

Just the latest in today's paper

Staff had thought to initiate adoption of the Climate Action Plan, but public comments on the draft have prompted a slight retreat, and the item at Council now is only an information report.

Public materials generated by the CAP team have not very directly addressed the reasons for delay, but the Staff Report does finally touch on some of it:

Several of the strategies contained in the CAP, if implemented, will have a significant impact on various sectors of the Salem community. For this reason, the public comment period on the draft document is being extended....

Based on interactions among members of the task force and on public feedback received to date, one of the more contentious strategies in the draft Salem CAP is the recommendation to shift homes and businesses to all-electric heating/cooling systems and appliances. Options for implementing this strategy range from providing education on the subject to creating incentives to convert to electricity to enacting an outright ban on new natural gas hookups. Regulations banning or restricting new natural gas hookups have been implemented in dozens of US cities. Conversely, nineteen states have passed laws restricting the ability of cities to ban gas hookups. Banning new natural gas hookups in Salem would be a significant and controversial action by City Council....

However, based on what is known now, Salem will not be able to meet the Council-set goal of net zero emissions by 2050 without essentially eliminating all fossil fuels, which includes natural gas, unless emissions are offset or another similar approach is taken. As a best practice, fossil fuel emissions should always be reduced or eliminated rather than offset. Alternative fuels such as renewable natural gas and hydrogen, while not viable today as replacements for fossil fuels, could help to meet Salem’s goals over the next 30 years.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Final Climate Action Report Clears Throat, Still Seems Short on Actual Plan

The revised "final" draft of the Climate Action Plan has been out now for over a week, and the team chose not to make very many changes from the preliminary draft.

(The rest of this post covers no real new ground, maybe a few new details, and repeats themes in criticism. It may not be very interesting if you are looking for new observations. See very bottom for links to previous posts. Here is the list of edits in the revised document. They truly are minor edits, not substantial revisions.)

SF Chronicle front page today

There is no actual plan to reduce emissions by 50% in 2035.  Crucially, the core of any plan, the suggested actions, are displaced into an appendix, still formally outside of the plan document proper and very discretionary. Even with some enthusiastic rhetoric, on action the document is tentative rather than decisive, the deferral of decision and action to some future plan and moment.

The center is displaced

The process still seems to be stuck in an earlier phase, that of "strategy development." No matter how much they want to say we have "a plan," how many times they use the word plan, it doesn't look very much like an actionable plan. Just saying there is "a robust list of 183 recommended strategies" is neither plan nor "roadmap...for years to come."

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Quests in the Sunday Paper: For a House and for a Gubernatorial Portrait

The Sunday paper has two long pieces that are very interesting. One is important generally, the other interesting more personally. Both are worth reading in print!

Front page today

The generally important one is on the continuing problem of the cost of housing. It will furnish material for conversation and debate, and will be productive in that way.

But its shape is a little dissatisfying. The very first version online had a headline something like, "Why so many are priced out of the Salem housing market while new home construction is at a 10 year high."

It has been revised to eliminate the "priced out" portion and focus on the 10 year high for construction. That is unfortunate, and simplifies the shape and initial impression of the article in more optimistic ways.

A double kind of romantic closure at end

And in fact the harmony in the piece may not be wholly earned. It ends with a kind of double romantic closure: Even after vicissitudes and difficulties, they got the house and they are starting a family.

But a different focus might have yielded a better analysis. Maybe tragedy is a better genre, tragedy for climate and tragedy for people who cannot afford housing. Above all, the tragedy of our continued obsession with the single house and a large yard.

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:

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.