Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Five-year Forecast, Community Portal and Scorecard, Vision Zero: Bits from Council and the Budget

The airport discussion and vote last night was very disappointing. Maybe there will be more to say about that later. Council seemed more interested in Carbon indulgences than in actually reducing Carbon emissions.

The Budget Committee meets tomorrow the 11th, and they'll see the annual version of the "structural imbalance" chart.

Why are we going to spend millions on the airport?

The chart is familiar. Here's the same forecast from May 2017, five years ago.

Back in 2017

The forecasting keeps saying there will be a big problem, but that big problem does not seem to arrive. Do we really have a problem, or does Staff use a rhetoric of alarmism to shape the budget agenda in certain ways?

I would like to see a more historically informed discussion of, say, the last two decades of forecasts and actuals.

The forecasting looks authoritative, but that may just be on the surface.

With the meeting the City will also be launching the Community Portal and Scorecard website.

The metrics are very uneven

There probably will be more to say later. It is important to say they are just starting the public launch, and the tool should get time to settle in. 

But still, if we focus just on the "Safe Streets and Sidewalks" portion, it looks like it needs refinement.

It represents hard measurables, things easily quantified, like length of streets repaired, ADA ramps fixed, potholes repaired, sidewalks repaired, and then it has very squishy things in public opinion like "satisfaction with safety for people biking in Salem."

It says 54% satisfaction, but there are two great problems with this.

From the 2022 survey

The 54% figure in the portal scorecard is from the 2021 survey. The 2022 survey has 36%, a great decline. 

Second, the survey question is for "walking/biking safety," not biking only as the scorecard lists. In the appendix, the survey said "Safety for people walking or biking in Salem" was the actual survey question.

The "or" is important there! Lumping them together does not get us a meaningful response on one of them isolation.

Equally, why don't we measure what people do instead of what they say? This is another instance of preferring talk to walk. We should use a firmer measurable like the number of people who actually bike. The revealed preference is more significant than the sentiment of "satisfaction." People who only drive and never bike might say they are "very satisfied" with biking in Salem, for example.

At the moment the portal and scorecard looks like a lot of bells and whistles, and it needs more refinement and focus to be really useful.

Finally, going back to Council, at last night's meeting Councilor Stapleton indicated she was ready to bring a Vision Zero resolution to Council later this month. That would be very nice, but again that would also be another plan. Without more walk, it would just be more talk.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A Salem Reporter piece on the meeting highlighted two sources of funding that apparently kept the City whole recently:

"Eggleston noted that the 2019 city operations fee, which charged single-family homes $8 per month, narrowed the gap between expenditures and revenues. Funds were boosted by one-time federal pandemic relief funding, which is expected to run out in 2024."

Perhaps the expectation on not having funding is behind the tepid suggestions for the 2023 Council Policy Agenda.