Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Autoism and the Treasure Hunt: Seeking Glass Birds as Drive-to Activity

It was fun to read this morning about the project to seed our parks with glass birds in a kind of treasure hunt.

Front page today

Mostly that will be fun for people and a kind of programming for more activity in parks.

But it's totally framed up under an implied autoism. It's a drive-to activity, something that will induce people to drive around to all the parks on the hunt.

There is this concession, "alternating between parks in different parts of the city will also open up the free activity to people unable to travel far."

But that frames not having a car and not being able to travel far as a disability!

The project's framing should be flipped. People should be discouraged from driving far, that should not be understood as a norm, and instead people should be encouraged to walk or bike to their neighborhood park. Proximity and walkability should be the center!

The focus should be on the neighborhood and that kind of hyper-localism, and not on driving all over to visit distant parks.

This is a kind of induced demand for driving, cuts against our recent planning efforts, and is something we should reconsider in light of our climate plans and needs.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Checking in on Wren Heights and Salem Heights

Back in 2018 and 2019 there was a debate over a large undeveloped parcel along Salem Heights. Then in 2020 there were complaints about tree removals beyond those approved in the initial development plans. And most recently, and still in process, a plan for street redesign and some kind of arrangement for walking and biking on Salem Heights.

New housing and Doughton extension

With the shift to late Spring sun, it was a great time to visit to see how things were going.

For connectivity alone, the extension of Doughton and also the Felton segment really aids north-south travel through here.

It was nice too to see new housing. Every bit, at any price point, counts.

Salem Heights at Doughton with dashed bike lane

The slightly widened section of Salem Heights, a kind of "half street improvement," was hard to parse.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Visiting the Civil War Memorial

With the transfer of planning for Memorial Day in 1923 from the Grand Army of the Republic to younger veterans and their organizations, one prominent name in the Sedgwick Post of the GAR came immediately to mind.

The 1905 GAR Civil War Memorial
at City View Cemetery this weekend

I run across Gideon Stolz' name regularly. He was one of the signers of the report of June 5th, 1923 and was also the last surviving member of those who chartered the Sedgewick Post in 1882. He also has a place in our brewing history. He had two cider plants downtown on what is now the Willamette University campus, and also made vinegar and pickles. It was nice to visit his grave in the IOOF Pioneer Cemetery this weekend.

Gideon Stolz, charter member
and leader of the local GAR Post

May 29th, 1923

Sunday, May 28, 2023

A Flag Ad's funny Language: Nationalism and Sacramentalism for Memorial Day in 1923

The morning paper struck a new note of "patriotism" in the lead up to Memorial Day in 1923. 

They advertised that "every Statesman reader should have a bright, fresh flag" for Memorial Day and hyped "Old Glory, the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."

May 25th, 1923

Advertising for a new flag wasn't new, but a Christian language of sacrament for it was. An implied and lesser sacramentalism hovers around our adoration of the flag, but here it is made absolutely explicit. The phrase occurs across multiple denominations, so I am not sure it's right to ascribe it to any one particular tradition, but here is what might be its most familiar form from early America, the first American Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer, published in 1790.

Book of Common Prayer

It's also interesting as an instance of American civic religion and something in tension with the separation of Church and State. The State isn't enforcing any particular religion, but the State here is itself the religion, and it is a kind of idolatry.

In 1923 the morning paper wasn't all that secular, however.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Person injured in January Hit-and-Run Dies, Driver Charged with Manslaughter

Back in January, a Salem man in a pickup struck and seriously injured a person on foot. The driver fled the scene and was later charged for a hit-and-run, for driving with a suspended license, and for driving under the influence.

Back in January, 2023

Today the paper reports the injured person, Julia Aubrey Wade, died of her injuries, and the driver has been additionally charged with manslaughter. 

They report at least seven DUII convictions going back to 2010 as well as prison time for the driver. 

There will be more prison time.

But it is a terrible sign of our autoism that we have a system and culture that somehow tolerates so many instances of impaired driving, over and over.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

City finally Publishes Updated McGilchrist Plans

Today the Bond Oversight Committee met and in the supplemental packet was an update on the proposed McGilchrist project.

The current statement says 74% of the bike lane will be separated. Which is a distinct and unambiguous improvement on earlier drawings.

But the 26% legacy paint-only bike lanes are typically at intersections, where turning conflicts are most frequent. 

Here on 22nd you can see the green curb strips and the ramps going from the multi-use path in speckled grey (a little darker than the sidewalk segments) to the paint-only lanes on the street in solid grey.

McGilchrist at 22nd

The treatments at Pringle and the RR are also paint-only lanes with some advisory green striping at mixing/merge zones for turn lanes.

McGilchrist at Pringle and the RR

Maybe this is the best that can be done, but it still seems a little half-hearted. There might be more to say later with second thoughts.

Monday, May 22, 2023

350 Salem notes Omission of Induced Demand in Long-Range Plan: At the MPO

The Policy Committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 23rd at noon for a formal Public Hearing and then adoption of the 2023-2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

About the long-range plan it has been a struggle to zero in on useful comment. Its project list is long and broad, and it is the short-term plan and that project list that actually instantiates funding decisions. So from here the short-term plan and list has seemed to be the more important document.

Moreover, the long-range plan needs not merely minor fixes to language or other detail, but instead needs a comprehensive revision to bring it into the 21st century. Revision might not be strong enough, in fact. It might need to be completely rebuilt from the bottom up.

However, since there are Federal requirements and other regulatory demands the document must satisfy, this might not be possible. But that's what it needs. Without that wholesale revision/rebuilding, it's hard to say what might be the most constructive set of edits. Most of the changes just seem like tinkering on the edges.

Here are a couple of higher level themes others have expressed.

Our chapter highlights the ways the document still fundamentally fails to account for induced demand and climate. They "object strongly to the emphasis in the draft MTP on expanding capacity of existing roadways. Study after study shows that road widening does not significantly reduce traffic congestion." comment on induced demand
(Yellow in original, red added)

Separately, Cherriots commented extensively on the draft and noted the striking absence of transit in the goal statements. A few lines were subsequently added in the most recent draft, but transit as an efficiency measure, as the foundation of multimodalism, and a keystone for emissions reductions and environmental mitigation is insufficiently central. It's still very autoist with transit on the margins.

Striking lack of transit in goals

They also had what might be the single best comment on a bike "facility", about the mess of paths and ramps at 12th, 13th, and Mission: "RU kidding? Is this REALLY in our BIKE system?? Never in a million years would I try to ride my bike on one of those swirly ramps."

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Civic Center and Millrace Park shared Designer with Failed Eugene Pedestrian Mall

Some readers here have objected to criticism of the landscaping at the Civic Center and along the Millrace, both earlier this month and also over the years.  The lack of activity in those spaces has over the years been a consistent theme.

In one sense they have a point, as it is not strictly speaking the landscaping itself that is only at issue.

It's grown in a lot (1974 & 2023)

Right now it's pretty lush and green. It could be a pleasant place; and if you like solitude, it might be a very inviting place.

The criticism is about context and edges, about the whole, and not necessarily about individual features in the landscape. It is about the way the area functions and the way the edges fail to supply users.

Here is an image from midday on Friday. It was gloriously sunny, and there was only one other person entering the area from the crosswalk at Trade and High.

Millrace Park on a weekday mid-afternoon

There was also one couple at an outside table at Gamberettis. So there were four of us total in the immediate area at that moment. Even at midafternoon on a weekday, there should be more activity!

How often do we see this level of activity?
March 12th, 1973

The designers certainly envisioned more activity.

Friday, May 19, 2023

City Council, May 22nd - Apartments near Doaks Ferry and Orchard Heights

At Council on Monday is an information item on approvals for 436 apartments in a complex near the intersection of Doaks Ferry and Orchard Heights in West Salem. Part of the new development was a slice of a parcel that a decade ago had been designated for "neighborhood center mixed use," but which recently was rezoned as MU-II

City of Salem zoning map

The north half of the parcel was rezoned a couple years ago for apartments with RM2 zoning (including that slice of NCMU), and these approvals are its fruition.

Site plan for apartments

Interesting is a reversion to the original plan for Landaggard.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Two Art Proposals: Mural for Dave's Hot Chicken, More Flexibility for 3D Mural Surfaces

The Public Art Commission has posted a Notice for a proposed Public Mural for Dave's Hot Chicken on Center Street near Lancaster Drive. The painting has apparently already been completed.

Proposed mural design

It will be interesting to read the statement and Staff Report! The Notice mentions St. Longinus, and from here it looks like he's busting through the walls of the box, like he was hatching and breaking out of an eggshell.

The reference to St. Longinus, however, must be a Christian religious allusion to conversion.

The Notice also references "State Fair inspired shapes and colors." (How these relate to St. Longinus and Bernini is not clear, but perhaps the applicant will address that in a fuller statement for the Public Art Commission and Staff Report.)

The site is also in a wasteland of parking lots, big box stores, and malls. And apart from any proselytizing it might be subtly suggesting, just about any splash of color is welcome here.

On a parking lot and mall wasteland

The Hearing will be next month, on June 14th.

Problem of tanks specifically
and 3-D surfaces generally

You might remember back in November Councilor Nishioka's motion for an adjustment to the mural code to accommodate certain kinds of non-flat surfaces off the building wall.

That has matured and there is at Council on Monday the First Reading for new ordinance language clarifying and allowing this.

Just generally more murals is better!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

With Image of Salmoning, City shows Unserious Approach to Bicycling

The City posted a careless note on social media this week. It's not the first time they haven't been serious about bicycling.

via FB

As others have pointed out, the person biking is likely salmoning, biking against traffic. Another person suggested it was a stock image from Getty, nothing to do with Salem. The imagery is not very helpful and doesn't point to anything very useful for a person interested to "try alternate forms of transportation."

Focus on individualism is also a discourse of delay

The text also offers no policy or other action to support a personal, discretionary decision to bike. Ostensibly inviting, it actually expresses the marginalization of "alternate forms of transportation" and remains stuck in an autoist frame. There's nothing here about making it a primary or central form of transportation. Additionally, by branding it as part of the "clean streams" initiative it is a little distant from the transportation mainstream, a way to consider water quality but nothing really about mobility, and nothing about direct benefits in mood, incidental socializing, exercise, budget savings, or freedom from congestion.

Considered in July last year, but not done yet

The City might have announced more programming to support employees who bike. The Climate Action Plan calls for a "commute trip reduction program," for example.

They might show City of Salem employees biking to work. Here's an image of a City of Portland bike room.

City of PDX, Bike Coordinator - via Twitter

If images of bike parking for Salem City staff seem paltry or embarrassing, then the City should undertake a more serious self-assessment for why employees don't seem so interested in "clear choices" for "clean streams" they recommend for the citizenry.

There are lots of ways with choice of image, rhetorical framing, and substantive policy the City might improve on their off-hand social media. This was a missed opportunity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Update on Zombie Son of SRC Silent on Climate

It was disappointing to see a total silence on climate and emissions in yesterday's front page piece on the Zombie "Son of SRC."

Front page story with insets from Washington Post
and an earlier OPB story published in the SJ

Maybe they'll come back for a more detailed analysis, but it reads more like a story placed by one of the bill's sponsors, an instance of PR rather than something more sober and incisive. Sure there's a little he-said, she-said balancing with critics, but the main framing seems hopeful, "Maybe it's back!"

But there are so many additional lines for context. 

On ODOT's great priority, a replacement bridge on I-5 over the Columbia, ODOT is running into strong headwinds on funding alone. ODOT is running out of money and may not be very interested in funding a new bridge here.


Even apart from the problem of funding, our climate goals call for less driving, not merely the fuel conversion to EVs and maintaining the same amount of driving (or more). 

via Twitter

Some transit advocates have argued that conventional fossil fuel buses, supported by the right road configurations and land use, are still very useful.

Others have looked at the metals use in batteries and suggested that merely replacing our cars with large EVs creates real problems.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Solar at the Airport? A Better Sign near Boon's. Good Ideas at the Planning Commission and Historic Landmarks Commission

The Planning Commission meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 16th, and you might have seen on social media a great idea for a solar farm.

So much open field - some for solar?

Planning Commissioner Michael Slater has a motion to study the possibility of using some of that open space for solar panels and a microgrid.

Motion at the Planning Commission

That seems like an excellent way to use open space that has otherwise been empty.

Old and badly dated sign deserves an update

Separately, at the Historic Landmarks Commission on Thursday the 18th, Jim Scheppke has been working on a proposal to replace the outdated narrative and framing on a sign from 1959 across the street from Boon's, commemorating the second mission of Jason Lee.

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz agree we deserve an updated and more inclusive narrative of our local history there.

Newish Plaque at Jason Lee House site (April)

There is also that sign at the Jason Lee house site. (Where are the bricks? It references invisible bricks!)

That area is old and deserves a much richer telling of the intersecting and sometimes conflicting stories at a cultural crossroads in the center of Salem history.

This too is a great idea.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Shellburg Falls and Dr. Boto Schellberg's Colonic Therapy

An early practitioner of "colonic therapy" and booster of yogurt turns out to have a link to the Stayton area and Santiam canyon. A century ago he got a funny blurb in the paper, a reprint of some press in Scientific American.

May 13th, 1923

Dr. O. Boto Schellberg had a book and treatments to promote. Colonic Therapy in the Treatment of Disease came out that same year.

Colonic Therapy, 1923

It was interesting to see yogurt talked about - albeit in somewhat medicalized and roundabout terms, not so much as tasty food, but as medicine.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Promoting Brassicas in the 1920s

Even though the Willamette Valley has great soil, there are agricultural fashions and also structural reasons one crop or another peaks and fades.

March 31st, 1923

It was interesting to read in today's paper a note about what looks like resolution for a conflict between seed growers of broccoli and kale and growers of canola, all of which are brassicas and will cross-pollinate.

In today's paper

In the 1920s on Thursdays the morning paper ran a promotional section, variously titled the "Salem Slogan Section," "Pep and Progress Pages," "Selling Salem District," hyping and focusing on a different industry each week. Some of them have dwindled and did not become important industries. Filberts and walnuts were on an equal footing, but Oregon today is known for the former, not so much the latter. Flax has not persisted, and prunes are not so big now.

Here's a continuity. A century ago, you can see the development of broccoli growing and broccoli seed, and it's still important today.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Parking not Strolling was the Focus for the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal Area

Over on FB there's a proposal for refreshing the paths and park areas in the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal Area. Since those areas are not likely to be very significantly altered in the near or even medium term, investing in maintenance and refreshment is reasonable and valuable.

But in discussing it, particularly as trying to understand it as a kind of "stroll garden," we abstract it too quickly from its historical and current urban context.

The Pringle Creek Urban Renewal Area is slack, underused space. It is a waste of valuable downtown land, redeveloped on a surburban, office campus model.

The area in 1975 (see it in the newspaper below)
(Salem Library Historic Photos)

We can better understand the space as an "ornamental emptiness," which might direct attention to our strategies for ornamenting it and why it stubbornly remains empty.

Ornamental Emptiness and SAIF, 1974
Salem Library Historic Photos

Back in 1975 the whole concept and space was anchored by a parking garage. It was very much understood as a drive-to destination.

LTE, November 1st, 1971

Even in 1971 people questioned the cost and utility of a very large parking structure. As the project developed and then was actually constructed, later pieces in the papers focused on the parking garage and on SAIF, and did not focus on the path system and landscaping as any kind of independent value or feature. They were always fitted in secondarily, ways to fill the resulting voids.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

McGilchrist with Paint-only Bike Lanes in Places: A PS

Apparently because the City has featured repeatedly one cross-section with a multi-use path (misleadingly labeled a "cycle track"), people are under the impression that a multi-use path is continuous.

Published "60%" plans do not support this understanding. On parts of McGilchrist they show a 5-foot sidewalk, a 6-foot planting strip, and a 6-foot paint-only bike lane.

Paint-only vintage style bike lanes near 22nd
(click to enlarge, yellow and red added)

These cross-sections are not consistent with the one in color the City features and seems to want us to believe is typical.

The featured image from March 2023 Bond meeting
(comments in red added)

As part of PR for the McGilchrist project, the City wants us to believe they are installing something new, a "cycle track." But the facility they show is neither a true cycle track nor continuous. It verges on a kind of bait-and-switch. For $50 million, and on a truck route currently signed for 40mph, Salemites deserve better.

Friday, May 5, 2023

City Council, May 8th - Policing the Hobo Element

Council meets on Monday, and an update at Salem Reporter on the death of Marganne Allen might renew questions about trust and policing.

Do we have a coverup? via Twitter

Washington Post, front page, February of this year

From the 2022 Strategic Plan

On the agenda is a first reading for a new vagrancy ordinance.

September 15th, 1903

March 25th, 1923

New State law says "Any restriction on unsheltered use of public areas must be 'objectively reasonable.'" The City's proposal for objectively reasonable is "Camping restrictions in many areas: parks, near vision clearance areas and building entrances, residential zones, near existing shelters, and areas designated by City Manager as no camping."

Advocates and service providers will have more to say, but this sure looks like a maximal attempt to exclude camping from the city, and to engineer the disappearance and exclusion of campers and camping. But if there is no housing, where do they go?

Thursday, May 4, 2023

City Reply on McGilchrist doesn't Advance Debate Enough

McGilchrist at the SSA Office:
40mph, no sidewalks - but watch out for pedestrians!

It is great to see more discussion of the McGilchrist project. Commissioner Slater has very helpfully placed it on a Planning Commission meeting for an informational discussion at the least and perhaps a more detailed discussion and critique. This may be a result of the Commission's recent move to assert a stronger "advisory" function on City Planning. This is an excellent development!

Meanwhile, on FB there was a long response from the City.

via FB

The response was not in fact very helpful, and mostly recapitulated materials and framing from the grant application. It did not respond much to the substance of any critique.

From the 2022 RAISE application

The first claim:

The street lacks sufficient width to safely accommodate current traffic volumes and freight movement.

The grant application shows two 11-foot travel lanes in the current configuration. The street has been posted for 40mph.

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Budget Committee on Bike Lanes and Photo Enforcement

The Budget Committee meets tonight, Wednesday the 3rd, and in the Addendum to the previous week's meeting on the CIP, are several notes on transportation.

Especially interesting was an explicit mention of what has not yet been done on the Winter-Maple Greenway.

To Do list on Winter-Maple Greenway

What's up with the Greenway

One item that continues to be odd is a disconnect at the intersection of the Union and Winter bikeways.

The "to do" list shows a roundabout still for Winter and Union. The most recent Union Street plans do not allude to any future roundabout. They also employ sidewalkification at the bus stop.

No roundabout; sidewalkification instead

It would be helpful to see evidence that the two plans are properly coordinated.