Thursday, April 28, 2016

MWHITF: Agenda for Meeting 3

Home of the Brave
At its third meeting this coming Monday, May 2, 4pm at the Keizer Civic Center, the Task Force will hear about "The Challenge to Better Serve Homeless Veterans" through two local providers: Gerald Pygott, Deputy Director of Home of the Brave,  and Linda Strike, Director of The ARCHES Project, followed by Q&A.

According to one estimate, there are about 300 homeless veterans in Marion and Polk Counties. 

Home of the Brave, a seven-bedroom house at 655 Cottage St, NE, is entirely supported by private donations, including substantial underwriting by Larry Tokarski.  Since it opened September 30, 20135, it has offered transitional housing to maybe a couple of dozen male veterans, five at a time, supported by Mr. Pygott.  [August 2016 Update:  HOB has placed its clients in other programs and closed its doors for reasons undisclosed but suspected of being financial.]

Gerald Pygott

Mr. Pygott previously worked for Northwest Human Services' Homeless Outreach & Advocacy Project (HOAP). [6/10/16 Update: you can hear much more about Mr. Pygott and HOB in this podcast.]

Two questions we would have for Mr. Pygott are, what support do his clients receive when they leave his care, and what provisions have been made to determine whether they remain "self-sufficient" up to, say, five years later?
 
Linda Strike
One of the programs offered by The ARCHES Project is "Supportive Services for Veterans", which, according to the notoriously uninformative MWVCAA website, provides "supportive services for low or very low-income veteran households who are experiencing homelessness or at-risk of becoming homeless. The services are designed to increase the housing stability of veteran households."  Maybe Mr. Pygott's  clients go into this program after they leave his care?  Hopefully, we will find out that and more on Monday (e.g., what the "Supportive Services for Veterans" program looks like generally [case load, success rate, tracking system]).

One thing we do know about these two individuals/programs is that they both are likely to support the proposal to amend the Oregon Constitution to require 1.5% of lottery revenues to be expended for the benefit of veterans, on the November 2016 ballot (House Joint Resolution 202).  That's about $9M/year that would be used to leverage additional federal dollars.

Following Mr. Pygott and Ms. Strike is a 20-minute, five-member "veteran panel discussion" that's billed as "information", followed by 10 minutes for questions.  We predict there will be problems keeping panel member remarks to no more than four minutes, unless Commissioner Wheeler's a whole lot stricter than Mayor Clark was about keeping time.  (See below for who's on the panel.)

The mystery item on the agenda is, once again, the item "Strategic Plan (Information/Discussion/Action) Commissioner Janet Carlson", which is allotted only 20 minutes, at least half of which we can expect Commissioner Carlson to absorb.  This item is scheduled to start at 5:20 p.m.  (See below.)

As to what will be discussed, the agenda gives no hint.  No doubt Commissioner
Item 5: Meat on Bones
Carlson will explain everything when the time comes.  We have heard that the co-chairs have started staffing several committees, so perhaps this is where the Task Force will be asked to approve those actions, as required under Robert's Rules of Procedure (creation of committees, etc.). 

Speaking of transparency and following the rules, those on the list of interested persons received a copy of the agenda on Monday, but it has yet to be posted to the Task Force page on the Marion County website, so here it is:
 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Minutes 4/19/16



April 19, 2016
Minutes
ANNUAL MEETING

p
David Dahle, Chair
p
Woody Dukes
a
Brock Campbell
p
Michael Livingston,
Vice Chair
p
Bob Hanna
p
Diana Dettwyler

p
Erma Hoffman, Treasurer
p
Bruce Hoffman
p
Neal Kern

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Sarah Owens, Sec’y
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Rebekah Engle


p=present a=absent e=excused

Residents: Bill Holmstrom, Deb Comini, Rosa Leonardi, Ruth and Dwight Racke, Valorie Freeman
Organizations: Jon Christianson and Lorrie Walker, SCAN; Simon Sandusky, UGM; Maurice Anderson, Salem Homeless Coalition and St Mark Lutheran Church
City and County Representatives: Councilor Bennett; Officer Van Meter; Hitesh Parekh, Chief Moore and Don Frederickson, Public Safety Coordinating Council
Guests: Cara Kaser, Jan Kailuweit, both of Grant NA and both candidates for Ward 1 Council seat

The Annual Meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem. Michael Livingston was in the chair and Sarah Owens acted as Secretary.

The minutes of the March meeting were approved unanimously.

Officer Van Meter reported a decline in thefts from vehicles in 2016 over the same period in 2015 (from 20 to 4) and 500 fewer “car clouts” during the last holiday season over the prior season, and that this was due to the work of a large team, from detectives to parking enforcement officers.  He reported that SPD is no longer doing “transient sweeps”, but is instead using a harm reduction model that uses outreach and cleanups, a somewhat nuanced distinction, but an important one nonetheless that was having some success.  There have been two outreach/cleanups, one at the K&D Sand & Gravel property (Hwy 22 at Capital Manor) and the other off of Portland Road NE at Kale, which two CANDO board members observed.  Both were accomplished with no arrests, and resulted in getting at least one individual into permanent housing.  Sgt. Van Meter is continuing to work with medical professionals to understand the OHP system and find efficiencies in indigent services.  Lastly, he announced that he would be moving from head of the Downtown Enforcement Team to an administrative position and that Sgt. Kevin Hill would be taking over his position.

Invited to comment, Chief Moore, who said he had been with SPD for 37 years, the last 11 as Chief, said “we can’t keep Salem safe by ourselves, we need the eyes, ears and ideas of the community”, and approved the changed approach to the homeless in the community.        

Councilor Bennett reported that the Community Development Department was launching a pilot program to assist with neighborhood association capacity-building and goal setting. One neighborhood association will be selected for the initial pilot project through a competitive grant application process.  The successful applicant will receive staff time to assist with a specific goal for a few hours a week for one to six months.  He also reported that budget hearings were underway and invited everyone to attend.  Asked about whether the City is collecting transient occupancy tax on AirBnBs, he reported that the City has not developed a method for identifying them (other than looking on the AirBnB website) and so relies on an “honor system” for reporting and tax payments.  He also indicated that Salem’s ordinances are likely out of date and will need to be revised, which he will be looking into.

Michael Livingston reported on the results of CANDO’s Public Safety Survey, followed by public comment, which is detailed in this report. 

In new business, Sarah Owens nominated Rebekah Engle, Woody Dukes, Bob Hanna, Bruce Hoffman, Erma Hoffman, Michael Livingston, and herself to serve as board members.  Michael Livingston nominated Bill Holmstrom.  All were elected by unanimous consent.  The Chair announced that officers would be selected at the May meeting.

There being no other business before the board, the Annual Meeting adjourned at 6:55 p.m. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

CANDO Public Safety Survey


Last January, the Marion County Public Safety Coordinating Council contacted CANDO and requested a meeting to discuss its public safety concerns.  To prepare for that meeting, CANDO  created a short, unscientific Survey Monkey survey, and shared it through its mailing lists and Facebook page.  We received more than 100 responses.
  
A majority of the respondents (97%) have lived in Salem at least a year, and 67% have lived here more than 10 years. Almost half (49%) live or work in downtown.
Before moving to Salem, our respondents lived in Mexico, Chile, Germany, England, Finland, Shanghai, Idaho, Indiana, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Illinois, Kansas, South Dakota, Utah, D.C. and Oregon, in rural areas and cities that included most of Oregon, as well as Memphis, San Fran, Sacramento, Santa Maria, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Baltimore, Richmond, Alexandria, Reno, Detroit (MI), Vancouver (BC), Philadelphia, Montgomery (AL) New Orleans, Bristol (CT), Brookline (NH), Honolulu, Missoula, Winston-Salem, and Anchorage.

By far (70%), the greatest concern is pedestrian and bike safety, followed by safe/sanitary streets and parks (47%), followed by "quality of life" concerns (43%).  Of less concern, but still in the top four, was "car clouts" (car break-ins) (27%).  Survey results can also be viewed here, on the Survey Monkey site, at least for awhile.

We also asked respondents if they had any thoughts they'd like to share with CANDO or with the MCPSCC, not necessarily relating to public safety.  Here's what they wrote:

"Right now, it's illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalks. Some streets are just too narrow for bikes to ride safely in them. They need to be able to ride on the sidewalks when necessary."
 
"Reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on all city streets."
 
"We need to reduce the number of homeless people wandering through the Court-Chemeketa district. We have seen an increase in thefts from porches and driveways. Also, we need a better plan/program to reduce/eliminate the increasing tagging phenomenon throughout the Court-Chemeketa district."

"Cell use while driving, lack of use of signals when turning (very often) and a lot
of other poor driving habits all over the city."

"The amount and quality of transient traffic in the neighborhood is always a concern as is the lack of respect for the property rights of others."

"I live in Grant two blocks from Cando, and i work in the capitol mall area. So I live, work, play centrally. Love it. Ped and bike safety is getting worst. Street people also need better solutions."

"Our streets would be safer if they weren't designed purely to move vehicles fast. Plus it would improve the attractiveness and economy of the downtown."

"Thank you for doing this!"

"The traffic patterns in Downtown detract from livability. What ever happened to the viability studies that were done (@3years ago)looking at changing this? Cars are encouraged to rush through downtown and little is done to encourage pedestrian access-case in point, there are many vehicle-pedestrian accidents and close calls all the time. There is potential for downtown to be vibrant-especially as PDX becomes increasingly crowded and less attractive-but the frustration is that the city doesn't appear to care, doesn't allocate money for this, or doesn't have the "cahones" to make significant, visionary changes on a scale that leaves a legacy. Doing a survey is great, but what is the follow up plan?"

"[Do something about] UNSAFE bike riders who don't follow traffic laws!!"

"The presence of parking officers is incredible. Literally every time I'm downtown I see multiple parking officers walking along, writing down car information and giving tickets. Usually as soon as I pull into a space someone
writes my info down to make sure I don't go over. It seems almost predatory, as if their very livelihoods depend on making money off the people who spend money downtown, and it makes me want to shop, eat and play elsewhere."

"I really like downtown Salem and I am very pleased to see a nice mix of new business coming to downtown."

"The downtown is vibrant and livable, but no one properly markets it or communicates this to the public. Previous efforts were dismal. Oh, and please don't allow for negative voices to be representative of the whole."

"Research has proven there is a correlation between crime and traffic safety. Reducing injuries related to speeding and impaired driving (alcohol and/or drugs) is important for Salem and also makes walking and biking feel safer. Having Salem PD bike downtown during the summer is both a great deterrent for drinking and driving and great PR for the agency. Parking changes are needed to get more bike traffic downtown."

"There are a number of creative ways that cycling safety could be increased in Salem. Having cycles share main arterials in not one of them."

Scheppke's FBI Data Charts
"There is data that is collected annually on crime in Salem that is reported to the FBI by the SPD. There is good data going back about 20 years. I hope there can be actual analysis of data, and not just anecdotal information gathered from surveys and word of mouth, that can be very unreliable. I have looked at the data and some types of crime are down fairly dramatically in Salem in the past 20 years, despite what you might hear. Falling crime rates are a national and international trend. Salem is no different. Jim Scheppke"

"I walk my dog in the dark. I'm concerned about the brightness and number of street lights on the streets where I walk."

"The most dangerous thing in the downtown area is crossing the street. I am a frequent visitor to downtown, at all times of the day, and have never felt threatened or unsafe. The homeless are simply reminders of how ineffective our community is in providing housing and services. They have never bothered me."

"Salem had more pedestrians killed by cars in 2015 than we had homicides. Our street design for bikers and walkers is poor."

"More enforcement of speeding and distracted drivers (i.e. cell phones)."

"Just to explain my write-in answer to the safety question, I think it's unbalanced to talk about pedestrian and bike safety without acknowledging the risk they pose to driver safety -- all three groups, pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists, need to work together to safely share the streets/roads."  

"I appreciate your efforts to improve the neighborhood."
 
"Any efforts to help the Downtown Salem Homeless Community is encouraged."

"Seems pretty safe. I'm not sure why this is on CANDO's radar."

"Non profit fundraisers on city sidewalks as well as national lemonade day and fundraisers for cub scouts troops as well as business locations and types in downtown area."

"Thanks for your work. After living in other cities Salem seems tame as far as some issues are concerned. The working poor and the homeless due to economic factors are consistently my concern. Salem is trying."

"I watched two cars almost crash at the corner of Trade and I think 20th with NO stop signs on either side of that intersection. It's happened more than once."

"I'd like see more and better integration of Riverfront Park with the Downtown."

"I've lived here about five months and I have no clue as to how to participate and learn about civic and community affairs that affect me and my neighborhood. I live near the Oregon State Hospital and I know Salem is home to several prisons. I would like to know if parolees are a big issue here, if they contribute to crime and if sex offenders here and if they are getting services they need. I see some mentally ill people in my neighborhood
and don't know if they are getting any services. I see a lot of poverty and sickness downtown. I have no clue if Salem has enough services or if they are poorly funded or mismanaged, how the county and state government fit into funding and responsibility for these agencies. I've attended a few neighborhood association meetings but I'm the only member of the public who is there who not a member of the board. I have no clue if there is strong civic pride here in Salem. I don't know who to contact about littering and graffiti. I don't see any state agencies or community groups picking up trash. I think pedestrian safety is a big concern mainly due to the safety aspect but also due to the fact that it seems many people don't want to walk around. I am concerned that in my neighborhood the
neighborhood association wants to fix all the broken sidewalks but that could easily lead to a lot of trees being cut down. I am really afraid of that. I want the trees to stay and for sidewalk repairs to be done in such a way that the new sidewalks accommodate the trees, not the other way around. I get the impression that city officials, the mayor and staff members don't listen to average members of the public, and that there is not enough vehicles for public comment and public buy-in. This is a big change from where I moved from. There public comment was an automatic given, automatically built into every workshop and session on every single issue. Pedestrian safety is raised a lot but I don't see what's being done about it. Why don't the police go out and issue tickets for drivers blowing through crosswalks when there is a pedestrian in them? Why aren't more speeding tickets issued? Why doesn't the city put up traffic calming devices on main streets like 17th and Market and Center."

"Basic tenet: we need to take care of each other and the place we live in. We have a way to go on both of those items. Salem needs a minimum living wage ordinance to start. We should stop relying on corrections inmates to do public works jobs -- we need permanent living wage jobs with benefits instead."

"Great job by the downtown police team."

4/20/16 Update:  The results of the survey were discussed at CANDO's Annual Meeting on April 19th.  All the comments concerned bike and pedestrian safety.  Here's some of what people said:

Rosa Leonardi: the speed limit downtown is 20 mph (it's often exceeded).

Diana Dettwyler: almost struck twice downtown at midday.

Rebekah Engle: it's not just the core that's dangerous.  Streets feeding the core bring in traffic moving at higher speeds (that doesn't slow to 20 mph when it reaches the core).

Woody Dukes: there are a lot of "almost hits" that of course aren't tracked.

Chief Moore: (noted all 2015 pedestrian deaths occurred during the hours of darkness, included many variables, SPD will be starting an education campaign)

Bruce Hoffman: feels safer on his motorcycle/scooter than on foot, is concerned about the speeds on Liberty at Leslie, and thinks a flashing crosswalk is needed there.

Chief Moore: (agreed the 3 flashing crosswalks work, but concerned they might work less well if there were many more of them) 

Michael Livingston: at some point, Public Works/the City Council need to look at street design, the platoon effect of four-lane roads, etc. (as a way to address safety issues)
 
Simon Sandusky: a UGM resident is hit every couple of months by traffic coming off the Center Street bridge at high speeds.  Moving downhill contributes to speed and there are no warnings to slow on the bridge.

Jan Kailuweit: in Europe, speed is limited by traffic lights, which default to red  and turn green only if approached at the limited speed (could that not be attempted here?).

Chief Moore: (as many will complain about slow speeds as are here tonight concerned about high speeds)

Rebekah Engle: CANDO/Salem has been talking for years about traffic calming measures (and she is ready to have the City do something).

Neal Kern: lived in Salem a couple of years now, has found the grid very challenging to navigate.  For instance, there are sidewalks, but not infrequently, a sidewalk will be closed on the opposite corner.

Jon Christianson: you are taking your life into your hands to cross Liberty near the library.

Bill Holmstrom: (explained standard traffic calming measures, such as lane narrowing, two-way streets, etc.)

Rosa Leonardi: (pointed out some downtown streets are state highways and not subject to such abatements by the City)   

Cara Kaser: (referred everyone to the Central Mobility Study for abatements the City has planned for, such as two-way streets, etc.)

Don Frederickson: (would see that the MCPSCC received CANDO's comments)

Chief Moore: (would see that the City Council received the comments as well)