Friday, December 29, 2023

The Year we got Real about Parking: 2023 in Review

Three themes stood out here on the blog for 2023: Parking reform; new projects downtown; and the City's coverup for a cop who killed Marganne Allen as she was biking on High Street.

WSJ earlier this year and
Capitol Shopping Center
now Red Lot

Parking Reform

Though it was driven by State climate requirements, Salem was hardly alone in the move for compliance, and Salem had already been chipping away at parking requirements, it was nevertheless terrific to see the City completely eliminate minimum required parking on new development and changes in use. We might look back on 2023 as the tipping point for real change in the way we approach temporary car storage. As part of the State regulations the City also adopted rules for climate mitigation on new large parking lots. On its own, the City formally initiated a project for right-priced curbside parking on downtown streets. Actually installing meters is a few years out yet, but it's good to see it initiated for real.

New Holman Hotel, Nishioka Building, Pioneer Trust
Looking north on Commercial Street at Ferry

Downtown Building

Though it was completed a couple years ago, the Nishioka building may be the pivot project for this decade in the way the McGilchrist & Roth project was in the last decade. The Nishioka building was proof-of-concept for small apartment homes with minimal parking. The project on the former Nordstrom block followed, and this year there were more announcements. None are certain, and some may be cancelled, but a kind of dam seems to have burst and we will see more of them. In nearly all cases eliminating minimum required parking allowed for projects to pencil out and move forward.

A little farther away from downtown two large projects were announced and one completed:

Hopefully this momentum downtown and close-in can be not just maintained, but accelerated. The City's plan for Climate-Friendly Areas (more on this below) requires it, and any general interest in downtown vitality calls for a shift from seeing it as a drive-to destination like a mall and instead understanding it as a real neighborhood and place.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Clips and Comment on the New Sign and Road Markings Bible

The new sign and road marking bible is out. The Feds released the new Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices earlier this month, updating the 2009 edition.

It can be a helpful resource when facing a stubborn traffic engineer, arguing with the City, or more positively advocating for safety and comfort. (Though it's still not fully modernized for our 21st century exigencies.)

Here are some clips that show a range of applications.

I'm pretty sure the whole green paint thing is new since 2009.

Green paint on driveways

Green paint for lanes and crossbikes

But here's a wild application of green paint for a bike box on a huge and zoomy stroad. Maybe the stroad itself is irredeemably effed up?

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Warning Lights on City's Vision Zero Framing?

I thought we might be done with serious topics for a few days, but maybe not.

Yesterday's City newsletter

The City included a blurb on the Vision Zero grant in yesterday's newsletter, and the framing and rhetoric already looks a little problematic. It is a narrowing contrary to Vision Zero.

First off, the image. That's a bike lane from 2016 on Church Street near Chemeketa. The City used that in a 2023 Year in Review video, and so now maybe we have to ask, Is this going to be the iconic image for the Vision Zero project and its bundle of associated activities?

If so, while bike lanes have some general traffic calming effect, and indirectly improve things for people on foot, that's not the best image to illustrate "eliminating pedestrian deaths."

But what it does do, and this is the real source of concern, is that it frames the project as something special for people on foot and people on bike. The safety project becomes an expression of special interests. That's what the City's headline says, right?

Earlier this month

The paper echoed this a little in their announcement, with the headline on "pedestrian deaths," and as illustrating it with a focus on a crosswalk. The car is blurred, and in motion, but the focus, especially online and in color, was on the crosswalk sign, on the special facility for people walking.

But Vision Zero has not historically been limited this way. This is either a misunderstanding of Vision Zero or it is a substantial revision and limiting of it that requires more discussion.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Planes, a Train, a Truck: Santa's Conveyance in 1923

Representations of Santa are always fun to see. Here are some from 1923. These must be nationally distributed illustrations and ad concepts, and not anything local.

In a truck, December 20th

Flying an airplane, December 21st

On a train, December 21st

Another airplane, December 22nd

Here are two more "traditional" flying sleighs and reindeer, and one rooftop chimney scene, also, but they are not dominant. It's interesting the toy ads focused on flight, but the two furniture ads were more grounded.

Mostly the Christmas ads in 1923 have not seemed particularly noteworthy. Lots of wreaths, holly, candles, and snow.

Previously on Santa:

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Mystery of the Observatory on Waldo and High in SCAN

With SCAN history at the Historic Landmarks Commission and in mind, one of the minor mysteries in SCAN has been the observatory at the corner of Waldo and High.

via Shineonsalem

In her history notes at Shineonsalem Virginia Green writes:

This observatory is in the rear of the former Hatfield home on Waldo Street. The Senator remembers it had been abandoned when his family moved into this house in the 1930s. Some say it was the hobby of a former tenant who had a bicycle shop downtown.

The observatory has been somewhat absorbed into the Hatfield story, but of course it has its own story independent of Hatfield. The time line doesn't line up exactly, also. But it is in outline right! And the story is even more interesting than any rumor or legend.

June 8th, 1926

Around 1929 Boliva "Buck" L. Bradley came to Salem and worked in insurance. He had two or three years earlier married the daughter of bike dealer Arthur H. Moore.

January 21st, 1932

Astronomy was a serious interest, and with real mechanical skills he built a large telescope.

December 16th, 1934

He hosted viewing parties at his home on Waldo and High.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Histories of Englewood Park and of SCAN at the Historic Landmarks Commission Thursday

Off-and-on I have been working on a note about the origins of Englewood Park, and it is very pleasant to see that NEN and the Historic Landmarks Commission are already on top of it!

Second Lord & Schryver plan, 1941

At the HLC meeting on Thursday the 21st, the agenda lists "Englewood Park Designation" as a discussion item, and there is a packet of historical materials — albeit not organized as any formal Staff Report. There is nothing specific about what kind of designation is proposed.

An HLC member tentatively traces the origin of the park to 1924.

I can supply some information about the early days of the park. The earliest reference to Kay Park I found was in 1924, with the Salem Kiwanis Club clearing the area of brush so that it could be "in condition for use" during the summer. The city's eventual ownership of the property, like Kimberli mentioned, was a contentious issue. By late 1925, T.B. Kay was ready to have the seven-acre tract surveyed and platted for selling it off in lots. He offered the property to the city for $1,000 an acre. One city alderman was in favor of the purchase but feared residents would vote it down if it went to an election. He hoped it could be had for $5,000. Another idea was to have residents in the Englewood district put up the money for the park if the city would help pay off the debt. During the Jan. 18, 1926, City Council meeting, on the motion of Alderman Hal D. Patton, the ways and means committee, the park committee and Mayor Giesy were instructed to close a deal with T.B. Kay for the Kay park site in the Englewood district. After a contentious regular city council meeting that included name-calling on Feb. 15, 1926, a special meeting was held at 11:35 p.m. that night with Alderman Patton leading the efforts, approving the $6,000 purchase. The new park officially became known, by ordinance provision, as Englewood Playground and Park. On March 1, 1926, a report was read to the city council stating that the Kay park site can be purchased for $6,000 in cash. The city "definitely authorized" the purchase, "which will probably be transacted today" (3-2-26 Capital Journal).
We can push it back a little further to the fall of 1923. Significantly, it was offered for free.

October 21st, 1923

November 9th, 1923

As the note in the HLC packet says, the transfer was protracted and contentious. Initially it was a kind of horse-trade: Free land in trade for paving access to the subdivision Kay was developing. Council balked.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Salem Wins $2.8 Million Grant for Vision Zero and Twenty is Plenty

This is great news! The City announced the award of $2.8 million for a Vision Zero plan and Twenty is Plenty program.

Speed Radar on Sunnyside SE (2018)

The grant will help fund various components of the Vision Zero program, including:

  • Salem Vision Zero Plan – A strategic blueprint focused on implementing safety measures and fostering responsible road behaviors.
  • Residential Neighborhood Speed Limits: Install 20-mph speed limit signs in residential neighborhoods, aiming to create safer transportation for all.
  • Speed radar enhancements – Purchase speed radar devices and trailers to inform drivers of new speed limits.
  • Public Education Campaign – Initiative to educate the community on road safety behaviors and responsible driving, walking, and biking practices.

Here's the complete list of awards in the Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program.

Back in June the City announced they were applying for these. On October 30th our Federal Electeds announced the first round of winners.

via Sen. Weyden's release

Salem was not on the list, and it was hard to say whether Salem would make the second round.

They did!

Clackamas County also won $330,000 in this latest round. 

But as you can see, the amount for Salem is much larger and represents a more ambitious slate of projects. Hopefully the speed reductions will not be limited to residential streets, but will also be on collector and arterials, stroads with higher posted speeds, where most of the deaths occur. The education and PR elements will be of limited utility.

This is a great news dump for a Friday afternoon!

More to come.

Two Proposed Apartment Projects show Contrasting Approaches

Nearing the end of the year, there are a few Notices for administrative approvals sneaking in at the last minute. Two of them are for similarly sized apartment developments, one for 22 homes nearly at the intersection of a minor arterial and a parkway, another for 27 homes at the intersection of a major arterial and a parkway. But they show very different approaches. Nevertheless, both have parking lots even thought the City doesn't require any now. And both simply require an administrative approval rather than any full Public Hearing before the Hearings Officer or Planning Commission.

The more interesting one is on Broadway right by the Parkway.

Modern urbanism

Project site on Broadway and Tryon Ave

19 parking stalls

It would replace a somewhat shabby single-story commercial building and lot that had been used for car sales.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Jaydriving Federal Agent secures Move to Federal Court and more Immunity in Trial over Fatal Crash

Because the articles were prompted by a press release, and did not seem to represent any significant node of new investigative reporting, both Salem Reporter and the Statesman had updates early last night on a development in the trial of DEA Agent Samuel Landis for jaydriving and killing Marganne Allen while she biked home from work.

Not seeing it here

From Marion County District Attorney:

On August 31, 2023, a Marion County Grand Jury indicted Samuel Landis with Criminally Negligent Homicide for causing the death of Marganne Allen on March 28, 2023. Mr. Landis was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on September 20, 2023, and the case was assigned to Marion County Circuit Court Judge Tracy Prall.

On October 16, 2023, Landis’ defense team filed a Notice of Removal of State Criminal Prosecution, which if granted, would remove the prosecution from Oregon state court (Marion County Circuit Court) to federal court. Federal law provides law enforcement officers with a potential criminal defense of immunity from prosecution, which is a defense that does not exist under Oregon State Law.

The Marion County District Attorney’s Office objected to the removal and filed written briefs in federal court on the issue. Oral argument occurred on December 12, 2023, in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon. After hearing argument, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane ordered the removal of the case into federal court. Because the case has now been removed from state court, all future proceedings will occur in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. The Marion County District Attorney’s Office will remain the prosecutorial office on this matter in federal court.

The Marion County District Attorney’s Office has requested the Oregon Department of Justice to review Judge McShane’s removal order and consider an appeal. The Oregon Department of Justice would handle any appeal if they determine that an appeal is appropriate.

The paper added some from the arguments:

Marion County prosecutors said in court documents that Landis showed "grossly negligent actions."

"While conducting surveillance in Salem, Oregon, in which no exigent or emergency circumstances were present, defendant ran a clearly marked stop sign and killed a cyclist as she entered the intersection," prosecutors said in a response filed in federal court.

There were no plans to arrest an individual being surveilled that day or to immediately intervene to disrupt the transportation of drugs, prosecutors said.

In their reply, Landis's attorney said he was involved in the crash while "actively surveilling a dangerous fentanyl supplier."

Because he was acting under the color of office, he is entitled to use the federal defense of immunity.

"In some instances, breaking traffic laws is necessary for law enforcement to do their job; the failure to do so would render them 'ineffective'," his attorneys argued in the reply.

The irony is horrific: Landis' jaydriving rendered Marganne Allen "ineffective" in the ultimate way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

City's Year in Review Video is a Little Phony

The City's published a "Year in Review" slideshow/video, and it's kinda phony!

Just generally it's oriented to friendly, smiling faces, oriented to a mood rather than anything more discursive and an attempt to sift and say "these are the most significant things." It's also a little loose on detail and fact. Without narration, the jazzy stock music is doing a lot of the work.

In an early slide for the bond projects, it shows a plan view of Silverton Road rather than McGilchrist. It's also a slip lane, which speeds turning autos and degrades safety and comfort for other road users. The City has not published anything on Silverton Road yet. So the image in the video is just a complicated, techy low-res picture that trades on our willingness to see "complete street." It's mood, not detailed claim.

The angled intersection is not McGilchrist!

As we've pointed out (here and here) the cross-section it shows for McGilchrist is not continued its whole length. It's short, in fact. The City wants us to think the image is representative and typical, but it is instead selective and limited. Again, mood rather than detailed assertion.

That's an old crosswalk and old bike lane

The slide on pedestrian safety is even more fake. The speed bump might be new, but the crosswalk on Mission over a decade old and bike lane on Church Street is from 2016. They have nothing to do with any new "safety" projects in 2023! This is misleading and probably intentionally so, trying to make it sound like the City has done more than it really has. It is not truthful.

And the video is full of copaganda.

Full of copaganda

You can go through in your own areas of interest and find other details and atmospheric imagery that ring false or oversimplified.

Rather than being a sincere attempt to review the year, good things and bad, it's an expression of spin and PR, designed to elicit pleasant feelings about the City.

We'll have our own Year in Review post later this month, and it will center something not at all mentioned in the City's video, something important, which should be in such a video, but not always popular and conducive to the fuzzy, warm feelings the video is intended to elicit.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Morningside, SCAN, Parks - Bits on Fairview, High Street, Sustainable Cities

Though meetings are slowing down and wrapping up for the year, three meetings this week had surprisingly interesting meeting agenda and packets.

Fairview Park, Fairview Hills, The Woods

Morningside Neighborhood Association meets on Wednesday the 13th, and they'll hear a "Fairview Hills Refinement Plan Presentation." 

A decade ago the "Fairview Hills" plan was called the "Simpson Hills" plan, and then it went on hiatus. 

Simpson Hills July 2012 Refinement Plan (detail)

With a lot more now built out at Fairview, including immediately adjacent areas, it's reasonable to suppose the owners, or new owners, want to revive the project. It will be great to learn more about this.

They'll also hear a brief update on Fairview Park planning.

At the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (more below on it), it sounds like sentiment for the park might be shifting in favor of fewer hardscaped recreation features and for more trails, trees, and open space. 

But there's already the plan to keep "The Woods" as natural space. A more built-up park, with splash pad, ball field, volleyball/pickleball court, things like that, to complement it is reasonable, especially since it will be a "community park" for wider use, not just a neighborhood park intended for local use.

That will be something to follow more closely as it develops.

Friday, December 8, 2023

City Council, December 11th - Housing Incentives

Also on the agenda for Council on Monday are incentives for the project at the England-Wade building downtown.

This is alley housing!

The development team behind Fork Forty Food Hall and the former Whitlock Vacuum have a new one for the England-Wade building, a remodeled building from c.1890. The back half, an old warehouse wrapped in corrugated metal, will be demolished and a small apartment block erected in its place. The Historic Landmarks Commission already signed off on it. 

Now they are applying for a grant from Urban Renewal funds.

Agency Board [Council as the Urban Renewal Agency] action is needed to approve a grant in the amount of $600,000 as an exception to the maximum grant amount of $300,000. The Director, under the Riverfront-Downtown Urban Renewal Area Capital Improvement Grant Program Guidelines, can approve grant requests up to $300,000. Grant funds will be used to partially fund the costs to rehabilitate an existing historic building and construct an adjacent new building that will include 16 rental housing units at 236 Commercial Street NE. The building is scheduled to be renamed the Retro Electro Building.

Separately, there's a MUHTIP request for property tax abatement to support new construction across the street from Grocery Outlet and north of the Police Station. It will be two mixed-use buildings with two commercial spaces and seven apartments on a currently empty space. The City's land use applications portal does not appear to show any activity there, so this appears to be very early still in the planning stages.

On FB there's already discussion of the planned reduction in Library hours, and Salem Reporter picked up the story. Then the paper added a story.

Shear wall and trellising
at the Library (2021)

There's a "pre-design" update on the Civic Center seismic project, and the Staff Report says

Preliminary analysis identified that the addition of concrete shear walls and other lateral bracing are the most likely way to retrofit the structure to meet a life-safety seismic performance standard...

That's what they did at the Library, and it took out whole banks of windows and wall with an opaque panel in between structural elements.

Thursday, December 7, 2023

City Council, December 11th - Safety for Whom? And Crosswalks, Capitol Street, Green Paint

You might remember a couple of years ago a new project concept for the junction of the 12th Street cutoff and south Commercial. It was not funded, as I recall, but something of a revised element of it appears in a set of three suites of applications for ODOT All Roads Transportation Safety funding at Council on Monday.

Who are we protecting here with the rail placement?

The new project seems, however, to slight non-auto travel. It identifies this site as one of three to "provide guard rails to address risks of roadway departures at three locations that have a history of roadway departure crashes or that have conditions that indicate a high risk for roadway departure."

But any "roadway departure," whether from jaydriving and high speed or from the impact of another vehicle in a crash, will endanger anyone walking or rolling here. This is a real problem with "forgiving" design and its emphasis on safety primarily for those inside of cars. 

This is an opportunity for a segment of protected bike lane! (See BikePortland for a recent note on a location there where the railing is in the traditional, and wrong, place.)

An unsuccessful project application (2021)

The current application doesn't mention the crosswalk or any of the other elements in that 2021 project scope. But turning around 180 degrees shows the messed up crosswalk, dead-ending in landscaping and the light standard, and without any connecting sidewalk.

The crosswalk dead-ends into landscaping

Isn't it embarrassing to scope a project only for drivers and passengers here? At the very least this deserves more discussion as an explicit "phase" in a solution for this whole area.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

We have a Climate Action Plan Manager!

Here's some good news. Though the City has not made any formal announcement, the agenda for the Climate Action Plan Committee meeting on Tuesday the 12th shows a new name.

Meeting agenda for Dec. 12th

Julianah Douglas
via Linkedin

Julianah Douglas is our new Climate Action Plan Manager. Her most recent academic work for a Masters in Public Health focused on food waste and landfills.

It'll be great to see how she learns, listens, then takes charge and coordinates City processes and policy.

The meeting on the 12th appears to have the same agenda as the postponed meeting from last month.

"Individuals and consumers are responsible..."
Individualism as Discourse of Delay

Driving's still worse!

Hopefully, though, the interest in food waste doesn't signal too much focus on individual household discretionary choices, which depend on people making virtuous and sometimes difficult choices, and is not something that really scales at the magnitude we need to reduce emissions.

Anything to deflect from fossil fuel - NY Times

Worry about the City trying to understand Climate Action as a PR and messaging problem rather than anything that calls for policy action remains a concern. (See more notes on the postponed November meeting.)


The Climate Action Plan Committee meets Tuesday the 12th at 2pm.

Safety for Walking and Rolling at MWACT Thursday

Our Area Commission on Transportation, a tri-county board advisory to the Oregon Transportation Commission, meets tomorrow on Thursday the 7th.

With a greater tri-county coverage area, there's a lot of highway expansion and rural projects outside of Salem, so we don't regularly make notes on MWACT agendas and meetings.

But on Thursday they'll hear an update from ODOT and talk a little about safety for people walking and rolling, including Salem area projects.

"Urban design verification" is a terrible name!

You may recall the survey this summer on some key downtown stroads. It was one of these "urban design verification" project areas.

The street/highway segments

Presumably they'll talk about some of the early findings and concepts.

A barrier might be the refusal to understand safety for those outside of vehicles, accounting for the asymmetry in lethality. One member of the commission at the last meeting was perplexed by the increasing deaths in our "time when vehicles have never been safer with the safety features."

Safety for those in cars - what about those outside?

Significantly, at least according to the meeting minutes, no Staff from ODOT or for the commission pushed back on this.

Maybe later there will be more to say about tomorrow's meeting.

See previous notes on MWACT here.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Driver Strikes and Kills Person trying to Cross Cordon Road

A person driving a delivery truck struck and killed a person trying to cross Cordon Road, where intersections and crosswalks are sparse, and driving speeds high. Night time visibility was likely a factor also.

Crosswalks at signalized intersections
at Gaffin and Lancaster are one mile apart

From Salem Police:

A man was struck and killed by a delivery truck Saturday evening on Cordon RD SE. 

At approximately 7:50 p.m. on December 2, the driver of a delivery van reported he had struck what he believed to be a pedestrian while traveling northbound on Cordon RD SE just south of the HW22E overpass. Salem Police personnel arrived on scene and located a deceased man off the west shoulder of the roadway. 

The preliminary investigation by the Salem Police Traffic Team shows the decedent, Kiristian Murauo, age 23, was attempting to cross Cordon RD when he was struck by the delivery van in the north-bound vehicle lane of travel. No lawful pedestrian crossing, or overhead street lighting exists in the area of the crash location.

The driver, Justin Rodriguez, age 35, remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators....

No arrest has occurred, or citation issued as the collision remains under investigation. No other information is available for release.

This is near the Amazon and Home Depot warehouses and a person might like to cross Cordon Road to the housing on the north side of it. Crosswalks at Gaffin Road and Lancaster Drive are fully a mile apart. A person might be camping also. We don't know.

But we do know that Cordon Road is completely hostile to people on foot and on bike, and with the City working to site warehouses and other new businesses in utterly car-dependent configurations on the outer side of Cordon Road (no longer any "cordon"), some people will not be driving, and this is not some isolated catastrophe. All the ingredients for future catastrophe remain, unmitigated.

This post may be updated.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

City Council, December 4th - Redeveloping the old General Hospital Site

For Council's meeting on Monday, a late add is really the only item of interest. It's a temporary arrangement for the City to "buy" the old General Hospital property, hold it for a short term, and then flip it to the developer for the affordable housing project.

The City has been asked to help facilitate the conveyance of approximately 10.6 acres located at the 2500 block of Center Street, NE from Salem Health to Green Light-HomeFirst, LLC (Green Light) for the purpose of Green Light developing affordable housing on the property. Under the tentative agreement reached by the parties, the City will take an assignment of the existing purchase and sale agreement between Salem Health and Green Light and execute a new purchase and sale agreement to convey the property to Green Light.

Location, with site context notes added

And further detail:

  1. City will take an assignment of the sale agreement between Salem Health and Green-Light;
  2. City will close and acquire the property no later than January 31, 2024,
  3. City will not be required to pay the purchase price of $3,833,715 ($4,000,000, less Green Light paid earnest money and other set offs) until December 31, 2024;
  4. City will execute a purchase and sale agreement with Green Light to convey the property to Green Light for $3,833,715;
  5. Close of the sale to Green Light anticipated to occur by October 1, 2024, however, Green Light can extend through January 2025;
  6. Green Light will pay City a $50,000 transaction fee to compensate for the City’s costs in facilitating the transaction;
  7. Green Light will lease the property from the City for no money and will be required to maintain and insure the property until the sale to Green Light is completed.
  8. The property is the home to the former Salem General Hospital and adjacent to the Oregon State Hospital Grounds and the Housing Authority’s Yaquina Hall. Preliminary site investigations indicate the potential for burial sites which may include Native Americans who were patients at the hospital many years ago. Prior to the City acquiring the property, the Green Light will perform Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to determine if there are objects underneath the property and if they will pose an issue for redevelopment of the site. Green Light will share the results of the GPR work with the City. Based on currently known information regarding the site and discussions with City historic preservation staff, it is very unlikely that the location of burial site on the property, if any, will substantially affect development of the property for affordable housing.

Hopefully it will all work out. 

Also on the agenda are a couple of second readings of some interest:

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Willamette Week on Meyer Farm Misleads

Willamette Week's cover story on the Meyer Farm has occasioned a bit of comment this week. But it's really a weird piece, though, and perhaps this is a reason comment has been a little muted.

The cover story this week

Structurally, it's chimerical, half a policy piece on emerging problems in housing reform, and half a melodrama on the Meyer family. It would have been much stronger to stick with one of them.

It starts by leaning heavily into the idea and romance of a "farm."

The intro is crucially misleading

This introduction sets up the notion of a working farm outside the Urban Growth Boundary: "[A] farm lies amid rolling meadows, shaded by guardian oaks" and invoking Senate Bill 100 paint a definite picture of a rural setting.

Are we sure it's "prime farmland"?

But that is not in fact the situation and context. The Meyer farm is an undeveloped parcel, not a working farm, surrounded by development, leap-frogged decades ago in ways our land use laws were intended to discourage. From Trader Joe's south to I-5 and the city limits is about 3 miles.

The rhetoric of "a sneak preview of the fights that can be expected" suggests the policy piece really should have prevailed, and it leads into a subtext of Portland criticism of Governor Kotek's focus on housing. The piece expresses a kind of eco-NIMBY sentiment, "houses vs. trees." It even invokes vintage red scare sentiment, saying "Shortly after becoming governor, Kotek formed the Soviet-sounding Housing Production Advisory Council."*