Friday, September 24, 2021

City Council, September 27th - Satisfaction Survey and Thoughts about a New Bond

Council convenes on Monday, and first up is a formal Work Session on the annual satisfaction survey and cueing up planning for a big infrastructure bond.

We have choose one of these frames
(front pages, June 2015 and June 2019)

And more than the conversation around the planning process for any Climate Action Plan, what is and is not in any big bond measure will disclose where we are in reality on climate.

Are we going to fund strong climate action?

Or are we going to fund business-as-usual and pay lip service to climate action?

As a "top concern" roads are declining

Yet rush hour remains the focus of anxiety

A great structural flaw in the annual survey is that it floats along the surface and does not make any attempt to tease apart attitudes.

Even as the Pandemic reduced driving and congestion, driving across the city in rush hour remains a potent source of anxiety and dissatisfaction.

Was driving in rush hour so hard? (June 2020)

But our discourse around congestion relief is in very great tension with our needs on climate action. We can't keep adding auto capacity if we want to reduce our emissions. We need, in fact, to reduce driving by a large amount. It's simply not plausible to humor the citizenry on congestion relief while making progress on climate - or to humor on climate, while widening roads. It is a time for choosing. Our official messaging from the City should be clearer on the trade-offs between climate, vehicle miles traveled (and hours of delay), and car capacity.

Scenario 1 isn't enough, but is doable right now
(last week at Council)

The survey is also not very helpful on walking and biking. It asks about appearance, not reality.

If walking and biking were "easy" more would do it

We are failing badly on walking and biking
(June Our Salem 2019 indicators - here and here)

The survey answers are not at all consistent with observed behavior and personal choices. A substantial number of respondents likely do not walk or bike, but think it is "easy" for other people. But when we ask about what people actually do, walking and biking is not very easy.

For more on the annual surveys, see previously:

There is only a brief memo on the question of a bond, but when it was discussed back in May, the rhetorical focus on "maintenance" seemed to be a bit of a Trojan Horse for "improvements and expansion." There is not enough in the published Council materials to say whether thinking has evolved on this, but the initial presentation suggested a certain disingenuousness about the matter.

Smuggling "improvements and expansion"?

If we are going to be honest and going to act on our most pressing needs, we should make it a Maintenance, Climate, and Housing Bond.

So it will be very revealing to see where Council and Staff go on any project list as any bond measure is developed. 

(Other topics at Council will be in a separate post over the weekend. The prospect of renewing the MUHTIP program is particularly interesting.)

1 comment:

Walker said...

This is a good spot to plug Chuck Marohn’s new book “Confessions of a Recovering Engineer” — not news to anyone who follows this blog closely maybe, but a well thought-out summary of ideas that Salem desperately needs to implement.