Sunday, July 25, 2021

City Council, July 26th - The Symbolic Reduction at Geer Park

Council's agenda for Monday is unusually packed and interesting. After the Union Street proposal and the Bush Park Plan, there are several other items of note.

The revised plan for Geer Park is at Council. 

See detailed comments in "City Barely Changes Parking Lot in Revised Plan for Geer Park" when the plan came to the Parks and Recreation Board. There's not a lot more to add.

One small new thing is that the Staff Report the City includes a matrix with stall counts under different iterations of the plan.

Stall count matrix

The reduction is incrementally slightly helpful, but it is not really responsive to the reality of 117 degree temperatures or of orange skies at 4pm from the Santiam Canyon Fires last year. It is oriented more for a theoretical "desire to reduce dependency on the automobile," but doesn't do very much actually to reduce driving or express a new interest in satisfying new park demand with non-auto travel.

Washington Post, today

There's no urgency on climate yet.

Front page yesterday

It also ignores that there is a large parking lot already that can "still [provide] access for families and people living with disabilities who may not be able to use public transportation, bike, or walk to the park." Not building a new parking lot doesn't eliminate access for people who need to drive!

Front page, LA Times today

The proposed reduction in the parking lot size remains a symbolic gesture essentially, and expresses no real interest in rethinking our autoism and emissions. We have to drive less in addition to converting the fuel source!

At the same time, the end outcome of no new parking lot is still possible:

New parking will not be added in the next phase of development but will be implemented incrementally as high-use facilities are built and demand for parking increases. Should parking demand increase, parking will be developed closest to the high demand amenities at the northwest side of the park in a quantity sufficient to meet the demand. Full buildout of the parking lot may or may not occur within the 20-year planning window of the park master plan update.

It should be, though, that we flip things here: The default is no new parking and a subsequent plan amendment required for more parking instead of the default for new parking just in case and maybe we won't need to built it.

In absolute terms this parking lot isn't that important. But as a sign of the City's interest in a real Climate Action Plan, and remembering that the principal planner on the park plan is a co-principal on the Climate Action Plan, so coordination would have been especially convenient, the signs are not looking good.

Bullets for the rest:

  • Agreements with ODOT for new traffic signals for downtown and south Commercial Street. Some of these will have a protected crosswalk phase so that left-turning drivers will not be driving across a crosswalk with people in it.
  • Another, procedural agreement with ODOT for work on the crosswalks on State Street at 25th. There are no new project details here. (The City's Council preview email uses a slightly misleading headline, "Council Considers Mobile Crisis Response, Pedestrian Safety." There's really no "considering" going on; these are intergovernmental agreements for projects already decided some time ago.)
  • A new grant program, "Open for Business," that will be available to fund things like "new permanent spaces/platforms for outdoor seating at food and beverage establishments" in the downtown urban renewal zone. That is good!
  • And formal rule changes for a move closer to permanent adoption of a hybrid teleconference mode, with both in-person and remote attendance, for City Council meetings and public comment.

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