Sunday, October 10, 2021

City Council, October 11th - Our Salem, MUHTIP, Marine Drive

Council convenes on Monday and one of the items is cueing up the formal Work Session next week on Our Salem and the proposed new Comprehensive Plan.

Transportation in the 1973 Comp Plan

There will be more to say next week, but without diving in too deeply, the language in the current draft proposal may be too loose and subjective, too oriented to hopes and wishes, without measurable standards to assess progress, and it may reproduce the some of the same problems in previous editions of the Plan that didn't really get us to where we said we wanted to go.

Two generations ago, in 1973 we seemed clear on "differences in the social costs and environmental impacts" in transportation, but how much progress have we made on remedying and correcting for them?

The current draft

Current draft, continued

A document on additional ideas

When we "pursue strategies," "increase access," "accommodate," "employ strategies," and "decrease reliance," these are all things that can be understood as satisfied without any actual change in driving and VMT by Salemites. It is too often signalling of good intentions without substantive change.

There will be more to say next week.

There is a second reading on renewal and revision of the the Multiple Unit Housing Tax Incentive Program. Council added language so that larger projects either have affordable units, or have to meet two rather than just one of the "public benefit" criteria.

At the September 27, 2021 Council Meeting, Council adopted a motion to modify the ordinance to include the following language requiring an affordability component or requiring the applicant to meet additional public benefits for projects with 100 or more units:

Applicants for multifamily projects with 100 units or more to provide at least 15% of the units at rents affordable to households at 80% of the average median income or less for the duration of the incentive, or meet at least two of the public benefit criteria.

The list of "public benefit criteria" is not part of the packet, and may come to Council on November 8th. This list will deserve more attention, as some of the "public benefits" have seemed rather private or should now be baseline expectation rather than some special public benefit.

  • At 990 Broadway, an "open courtyard for residents" was deemed a "public benefit," but wasn't necessarily something for the actual public. Though 990 did not use it, "recreation facilities" is also a criteria, and these may not be open to the public in an apartment complex.
  • Criteria like "facilities for the handicapped," "pedestrian oriented design features," "parking spaces within the structure," "supportive of the use of mass transit" should now be baseline expectation, not a special quality of above-and-beyond for a tax break.
Big NIMBY energy

Councilor Lewis asks for a pause and more process on the proposed structured camp at the Wallace Road Park and Ride. The exclusionary energies directed at the prospect of a camp are very similar, though more intense and angry, to those directed at any kind of apartments, any disruption to the pattern of single detached homes in "affluent" neighborhoods. The rhetoric we see on the camp will rhyme with rhetoric on Our Salem and prospects for change.

Exclusionary sentiments - via Twitter

And there are three purchase agreements for lots around six or seven acres, priced a little over $1 million each, for the future Marine Drive.

Approximate area of three lots

The Staff Reports are a little opaque, repeating boilerplate three times (italics added, and here, here, and here.):

[In 2020 on two different dates] Council authorized City Manager to execute a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the Seller for fee acquisition of a portion of the property in addition to an easement for Marine Drive NW right-of-way. Upon completion of survey work and submittal of partition documents, unforeseen land use issues arose requiring actions which Seller was unwilling to undertake. In order to acquire the necessary right of way for Marine Drive NW, it is necessary to acquire the entire parcel of land and complete the required land use actions at a later date when the City is in full control of the Property.

Funding for this acquisition will come from a combination of funding sources including: 2008 Streets and Bridges Bond/Marine Drive NW funds, Stormwater Utility Rate funds, and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

What were these "unforseen land use issues"?

The whole process for Marine Drive is unsatisfactory, with a real lack of clarity on what the City is going to do with the alignment and road design. (See previous notes on Marine Drive here.)

1 comment:

Don said...

It is disappointing that when west Salem had a chance to act for the benefit of our city, the residents instead decided to revolt at the idea of sharing space with people who are already there