Saturday, November 6, 2021

City Council, November 8th - Goal 5 and Infrastructure

In this weeks' story at Salem Reporter on the abandonment of a proposal for a micro-shelter camp near the West Salem Park and Ride, the City had to admit a critic had pointed out a hitherto unknown wetland.

"sure enough, it's...a wetland"

Earlier, unnamed tributaries of Wilark Brook, not recognized by any official City inventory of waterways, had been an issue in approving a new subdivision on Doaks Ferry near Orchard Heights in West Salem.

Council meets on Monday and they will receive as an information report the letter from the Planning Commission formally requesting a "a phased Goal 5: Natural Resources, Scenic and Historic Areas, and Open Spaces update in the next City budget."

Commissioner Slater had introduced this, and with the information about the West Salem Park and Ride, he seemingly could not ask for better, confirming evidence that a review and update was necessary. The rest of the Planning Commission agreed, and even if they did not necessarily share the same environmental concerns, they would value the predictability, and concomitant reduction in grounds for appeals, that an improved and less ambiguous set of Goal 5 criteria would offer.

Just generally we should be willing to trade higher development intensities with less area for parking, on lots away from trees, waterways, and wetlands in return for stronger protections on sensitive trees, waterways, and wetlands.

Much more expansive, but also overwhelming, is a future report on the package of code updates and amendments. It is cued up for a First Reading on the 22nd, and a Public Hearing and Second Reading on December 8th. The Staff Report is long, but looks to be a useful summary written in reasonably clear language. It seems clearer than the materials that went to the Planning Commission. It is worth taking the time to review.

There is also an information report on a "City Council Steering Committee for Infrastructure Bond Engagement." It is composed of the Mayor and Councilors Gonzalez, Hoy, Lewis, and Stapleton. Under transportation projects it lists as initial ideas, "Initial ideas may include improvements to McGilchrist Street SE, Doaks Ferry Road NW, Battle Creek Road SE, Browning Avenue S, Fisher Road NE, and Sunnyview Ave NE." Housing, a City Hall seismic retrofit and remodel, and fire trucks also appear as significant areas of initial interest. They are looking to place something on the November 2022 ballot.

Bullets for the rest:

And not on Council agenda, but something that will be in mind and discussed and ultimately on the agenda later, with the passage of the Federal infrastructure bill last night, there will be some new funding. At the technical committee meeting next week, our MPO, SKATS, will start discussing this. On their agenda it's only a possibility (clip below), but the vote has now overtaken it. There will be more to say in a post on that meeting in a day or two, including notes on a preliminary list of candidate projects for the additional funding. This would be an opportunity to center climate action.

Climate, not congestion, should be priority

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