Thursday, March 18, 2021

City Publishes new Policy Concepts and Meeting Schedule for Our Salem

Following Council's acceptance of the Vision for the Comprehensive Plan sketched out so far in Our Salem, the City and project team have published a list of draft policy concepts and a public meeting schedule to discuss them.

There will be more to say in greater detail later, but at a glance they continue to be underwhelming. 

The language on transportation is an easy ecumenicalism that doesn't grapple with the urgent need to transition away from drive-alone car trips. We want to promote "safe, efficient travel for every user." The default remains the car trip and so we need to insist on including "non-automobile modes of transportation, including bicycling, walking and public transportation, in all transportation planning and projects."

We already have language for this, and it's not working well enough. We should have stronger language about the pernicious effects of cars and the resolve to make them the transportation choice of last resort. The language here continues with the assumption that it is the default travel choice of first resort.

On Transportation

In the meeting schedule and packet, there is also a grid of policy ideas.

The transportation meeting is for April 21st.

On transportation, they lead with the airport, greenwashing it as a "sustainable airport." This is nonsense.

Concepts for the meetings

Also rather than talking about reducing development on the edges of the city, they say "developments at the edge of the urban area shall be designed to provide connectivity to [adjacent] existing and future development."

But we already have policies for street and sidewalk connectivity.

The problem is not that we aren't connecting developments, the problem is that the developments on the edge of the city are necessarily car-dependent. No amount of sidewalk and bike lane will make them near meaningful non-residential destinations.

And on Active Transportation Routes, they focus on alternatives to zoomy streets, but not on the zoomy streets themselves which are rich with employment and commercial destinations, the places people actually want to go.

Change on Lancaster, Portland Road, Commercial

If we want to put all this new mixed use redevelopment on the big arterials, like Lancaster Drive, Portland Road, and Commercial Street, we will have to retrofit those streets to deemphasize car travel and making walking, biking, and busing much more inviting.

A Nelson/Nygaard proposal from the helpful
Stroad to Boulevard tumblr
(gone now, alas, but see Strong Towns here)

The autoism in the policy language does not yet match our ambitions for changes in land use.

I continue to see the plan as too superficial and not deep enough to be adequate to the magnitude of our climate and housing crises.

There will be more to say.

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