Saturday, April 10, 2021

City Council, April 12th - Biden Rescue Plan and Speed Limits

Council convenes on Monday and they will initiate planning for the $33 million from the Biden American Rescue Plan.

Salem will have $33 million

The first two tranches are mostly back-filling the gaps caused by the Pandemic. (The City's subdivided the two Federal tranches further, it looks like.)

But the third tranche looks very interesting and a real opportunity for vision and creativity. It's supposed to be something new.

Hello, Climate!

Projects funded here have to be shovel-ready or the equivalent, with funds able to be spent by the end of 2024.

It would be nice to see the City choose something legitimately "catalytic" and selecting one or more climate initiatives to jump start might be the best choice.

Three headlines all in Friday's paper

Council also looks to initiate formally an appeal on the speed zones for 17th Street north of State Street.

Cherriots consultant, via twitter

While the Staff Report is supportive of the appeal and the improved doctrine of 50th percentile analysis, it also strangely undercuts part of the appeal and clings to the older 85th percentile, saying

Studies suggested posting speeds near the 85th percentile speed (the speed at or below which 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling) minimizes crash occurrences and provides better driver compliance.

We might also say

Studies suggested bedtimes near the 85th percentile bedtime (the bedtime at or before which 85 percent of kids want to go to bed) minimize tantrums and provide better compliance.

This is the autoist logic we use on our roads!

The 50th percentile will be a help. But we should still do more, altering the design so that the design speed is lower. Instead of adjusting posted speeds to driver behavior, we should adjust road design until we see the desired driver behavior. Our framework is still backwards, even with the improvement of the 50th percentile doctrine. (It's also messed up that the City doesn't have more authority over its own streets, and has to defer to ODOT so much.)

We could instead shift the curve and
reengineer the road for a slower speed

For more detail see:

Clean water and poop management are super important, and the City's got a couple of projects for them. I don't know exactly how to analyze them; clean tapwater and sanitary sewer drainage are basic needs, and we should not deny them. But the two projects are likely because of annexation and obsolete systems now crapping out and needing replacement.

The Sleepy Hollow Water System (Sleepy Hollow) is an independent community water system located within the Salem city limits. Sleepy Hollow serves 41 homes with drinking water from a community well. Since 2012, the system has been experiencing elevated arsenic levels....[It will] connect 41 homes to the City water system at an estimated cost of $1,120,000...[from] FY 2020-21 Water Non-Assessed Construction Fund 255, funded with utility rates.

Six residential properties within the City limits along Boone Road SE, east of Stroh Lane SE, have no ability to connect to the City of Salem’s sanitary sewer system. One of the property owners has a failing septic system and requested that the City construct a sewer main in Boone Road SE so they can connect their home to the new sewer main....The total estimated project cost for planning, design, and construction of the sanitary sewer extension is $310,000...[from] FY 2020-21 Wastewater Non-Assessed Construction Fund 255, funded with utility rates.

This looks a lot like substandard development on the edges of the city being subsidized by the center of the city. The houses probably sold at a discount because they were not hooked up to city resources, and now city resources are going to subsidize that discount. (This may be a small example, a subset, the general problem Strong Towns calls the "growth ponzi scheme," in which the development pattern does not generate sufficient tax funds for ongoing maintenance and then replacement in the second phase of the lifecycle.)

As we consider Our Salem, and planning for development on the edges, we should think more about problems like this. It's not that all subsidy is bad, but that we need to be more strategic about what we subsidize and what public goods we expect from those subsidies.

Addendum, Monday

The City's added Legislative Positions to Council agenda, and it is a little surprising to see them oppose civilian review of photo traffic enforcement.

These arguments are pretty lame

They say "slippery slope toward privatization" and "I do not have the data [and may not want to look for it]" on cost savings. Neither of these are compelling reasons to oppose the bill, especially when we have a documented speeding problem.

But reviewing the prospective citations is a bottleneck and is costly when it requires sworn officers.

At Willamette Week see "Police Unions Will Oppose Changing Law to Allow Civilians to Review Fixed Speed Camera Tickets" and at BikePortland see "Bill would remove photo radar hurdle by allowing non-police agent to review citations" for more.


Susann Kaltwasser said...

You say, "I don't know exactly how to analyze them" referring to the two water system upgrades. Then you do on and analyze them with speculation and assumptions. Hmmm....

Perhaps you could do a bit of research on the situations, or remain silent as they have nothing to do with bikes....or even transportation.

The septic systems and wells have been used in and around Salem for decades. They now are failing because of the encroachment of development. The City has a policy of not allowing people to upgrade their current systems at their own expense. This is a policy designed to force everyone within the current city limits to connect to the city water/sewer system. Therefore these property owners have no recourse.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

"I don't know" is to signal tentativeness and uncertainty. Why are you reading it then as a perverse assertion of certainty? It is to invite conversation and analysis from others who know more, as you do in this case. I am sorry this was not clear.

In any case thank you for the clarification. That the City apparently prohibits self-financed upgrades is very interesting. Have you or others written about this, do you know?

(As for the relation to bikes, well, this blog isn't just about bikes, as you know! Development on the edges of the city in car-dependent patterns is very much an interest here, and water is very much affected by climate, a central interest here also. So it does not seem like that much of a stretch, though water infrastructure it is not itself a central interest. Here are a little more than 10 posts about water over the years, however, so it is something we visit occasionally. Someone should start blogging about water supply, wastewater, and their infrastructure here in Salem. That's a good topic around which to structure a blog!)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Added clip and comment on Legislative Positions.