Saturday, September 11, 2021

City Council, September 13th - Make an Un-Hooverville!

Council convenes on Monday the 13th. Because of Delta and the fourth wave of infection, they have returned to videoconferencing only.

We've already mentioned cueing up some materials for the Work Session on the Climate Action Plan.

That was the most important thing here.

Early image of State Insurance Building
NW corner Commercial and Chemeketa
Oregon State Library

Also interesting are finally some details on the proposed redevelopment of the former UGM/Saffron Hardware block.

Corner proposed for affordable housing

The northwest corner of the intersection of Commercial and Chemeketa (or the southeast corner of the block) is occupied by a heavily modified, but nonetheless remnant first floor of the State Insurance Building (at top). They just whacked off the top two floors and disguised the bottom floor. But if you look at the window frames and mouldings, some original detailing is still there.

Vestigial building details

The building itself, truncated and altered, is not at all important to preserve, especially when the proposed replacement is desperately needed housing for people.

From the City:

Approximately three of these lots will be retained for affordable housing and be developed, owned, and managed either by the Salem Housing Authority or an affordable housing partner. The lots for affordable housing are located on the east side of the alley between Front/Commercial, including the corner of Chemeketa/Commercial. The remaining seven lots will be marketed through a solicitation process and disposition and development agreement.

Since Chemeketa is designated as a bikeway through downtown, putting the housing here on that corner is appropriate, and perhaps could stimulate further improvements to Chemeketa.

Young Bert, c. 1888
Hoover-Minthorn House

But the building and site testifies indirectly to one of few moments of world-historical significance we can point to in Salem. It would be nice if the housing project could incorporate some reminders of the building, of its use for the YMCA, its home to the Oregon Land Company and their great role in Salem development, and above all its brief significance for Bert Hoover.

The new housing should be a type of un-Hooverville, wholly its opposite.

On the block and its wider place in our history, see previously:

Reed Road, terrible for walking or biking (2012)

There is maybe some progress on Reed Road on the south edge of the Fairview projects, between Battle Creek Road and Fairivew Industrial Drive. It's terrible to walk or bike - not quite impossible, but forbidding and dangerous - since it is posted for a non-residential speed, very has narrow shoulders without any bike lane or sidewalk, and it terminates abruptly in ditches.

Reed Road SE in its current configuration does not meet Minor Arterial street standards. Developments occurring within the Fairview Development District require the construction of street improvements along portions of Reed Road SE. City staff has been coordinating with the current developer to improve additional sections of Reed Road SE by using Development District Fees (DDFs) and System Development Charges (SDCs).

The total estimated cost for the improvements is $4,265,000. Staff is recommending that the project costs will be funded as follows:

  • $925,000 of Development District Funds authorized in this project request for street, sidewalk, and storm improvements.
  • $1,440,000 of Development District Funds credited to the developer at the time building permit applications are received. This is in lieu of the City collecting the fees and then returning them to the developer when street costs are reimbursed.
  • $650,000 of Water SDCs for the 18-inch water line required in conjunction with the street work. 
  • The remaining $1,250,000 are unreimbursed costs borne by the developers as their proportional share of the overall expenses.
Current design standard (TSP, Jan. 2020)

It may be that more attention needs to be given to our minor arterial standards. We have this problem on Mildred Lane being overbuilt with three lanes. We've seen the speeding on 17th Street also, another oversized three-lane street. We know now that unprotected bike lanes on higher speed arterials, major or minor, do not meet any family-friendly standard. While it is true that right-sizing a four-lane street with a 4/3 safety conversion is an improvement, when we built streets from scratch, or upsize them from a two-lane configuration, the three-lane configuration with too-wide travel lanes and a center turn pocket, as well as painted bike lanes only, altogether is not yet optimal for climate or for safety. We are still designing and building to 20th century standards that are one or two generations old, and we need to update things for our climate emergency.

The business plan, utterly silent on greenhouse gas

There is an application for $500,000 for "a federally-funded master plan update at the airport in 2022." The funding may not be flexible, but it has not seemed like our other master plans lately have cost half a million! This one is either larded or we aren't spending enough on other master plans. Additionally, Council should insist that greenhouse gas emissions be better integrated into plans. You may recall that the recent business plan (distinct from the last master plan) for the airport was utterly silent on greenhouse gas pollution, and any new plan must include an analysis of that.

Some of the proposed changes in redline

City Staff and the Finance Committee have proposed some changes in language for "Priority Based Budgeting (PBB) criteria to score City programs." Hopefully others will read and comment on this. It is nice to see "bike paths" singled out, but there is also too much on "reduces traffic congestion." And as we have seen bike paths are often seen as a way to get people on bikes "out of the way" in order to speed along car travel. I am not sure these changes really get us to where we need to be. We also might want to wait on these changes until we have a completed Climate Action Plan, as the priorities on climate will not always be consistent with current notions about a "balanced" transportation system, and likely will alter other priorities. Just on transportation, we need, in fact, to "unbalance" our system away from car travel right now and to give priority to non-car travel.

Bullets for the rest...

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Our chapter commented on the Priority Based Budgeting criteria:

"350 Salem Oregon strongly objects to the proposed Results Area text proposed by staff as being inconsistent with the Council Greenhouse Gas Emission Goals. These goals call for a 50 percent reduction in GHG emissions from the Salem area by 2035 and being carbon neutral by 2050....The weak language in the result area 'for Natural Environment Stewardship' regarding emissions of GHGs is inconsistent with the need for the City to make significant changes to meet its GHG goals."

Several members commented individually in support of stronger language for Natural Environment Stewardship, and suggested also that climate/emissions deserved its own heading, split off from natural environment in general.

Separately, even though the City's email on Friday teased a PGE presentation, it wasn't published until today (and still lacks an agenda item number). It is titled, "Resiliency key to Oregon’s clean energy future" and is essentially silent on reducing greenhouse gas pollution. The presentation is wrong: Reducing Greenhouse gas pollution is the key to Oregon's clean energy future, not resiliency.

This is another instance of a discourse of climate delay.