INDEPENDENCE — The start of the 2020 lockdown is now over two years old, as are some of the changes that began then – changes that now seem unrelated to any health risk from covid. The trends that have emerged could have a significant effect on city services, even in a city that has officially just passed a population of 10,000.
Labor shortages and “The Great Resignation” impact the Independence Police Department’s traffic safety program. Environmental issues ranging from an invading insect to the availability of psilocybin are being resolved. In addition, Independence recently launched a Housing Needs Analysis to assess the impact of rising house prices on residents.
All appear to be potential priorities as the city heads into late 2022.
With just a dozen speeding tickets issued in the past roughly month-long period, Independence Police Chief Robert Mason confirmed that citations for exceeding the speed limit have plummeted in a spectacular way. Said the numbers appear to have dropped 50% from previous years, Mason called that percentage a “safe” estimate.
“It might be a little worse than that,” he said.
The data was presented at last week’s road safety meeting. As well as having two vacancies at the IPD – and a freshman at the academy – the staff has also shrunk, Mason said.
“We’re also missing our half-time traffic position, so we’re definitely working with fewer people, and no one currently dedicated to traffic enforcement,” he said.
While recruiting qualified candidates to fill these vacancies is a high priority, these positions are proving difficult to fill. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and other police departments across the state have reported similar shortages. The losses were attributed to fewer entries into law enforcement, exits from the profession for higher salaries elsewhere or departures to pursue other career opportunities, as well as the increase applications for the employment of officers to meet mental health needs, such as those which may affect the homeless.
“I’ve also tried to implement non-enforcement strategies to try and slow down speeds, especially the four speed billboards we have in the community,” Mason said.
Recently, Independence placed a one-way stop intersection at 4th and C streets, to help control the traffic problem seen in the mornings and afternoons at Independence Elementary School, during drop-offs and pick-ups. in charge of the children. This seems to not only help car traffic, but also improve pedestrian safety.
“We did everything we could from a technical standpoint,” said Independence Public Works Department Manager Gerald Fisher.
The emerald ash borer, an insect with metallic green wings as adults, has now been detected in Oregon. At a booth at the Community Fiesta event last weekend, representatives from the Luckiamute Watershed Council (LWC) and the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District were handing out information on how to spot it.
It’s probably ‘just a matter of time before he shows up here,’ said LWC executive director Kristen Larson, referring to the mid-Willamette valley where the typical target ash tree is plentiful. .
The emerald ash borer, the size of an average thumb, has already killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in other parts of the country. Telltale signs include D-shaped holes in tree bark and woodpecker activity that give tree trunks a mottled appearance.
Anyone who thinks they’ve seen this six-legged menace is encouraged to photograph the tiny creature and contact the Oregon Invading Species Hotline at 1-866-INVADER.
In another nature-related issue, work is likely needed to preserve sections of Ash Creek, which has undergone at least one substantial alteration since the onset of covid – along a paved path in Riverview Park . The embankment was dug out by torrential waters, leaving it close to the sidewalk and requiring temporary fencing.
Willow cuttings planted in the creek bed to stabilize the soil appear to be thriving, according to city staff. The action provides more time and opportunity to agree on a strategy for erosion that may occur along the waterway, according to reports made over the past few months at board meetings. Ash Creek Water Control District Administration.
Additionally, a decision on the sanctioned commercial use of a medicinal mushroom, psilocybin, was recently made by city councilors in a 4-2 vote, with Mayor McArdle breaking the tie. The issue, by order, will be returned to voters in the November general election.
As median home prices rise in Independence, the city is conducting a needs analysis for a future in which 7,400 new residents are expected over the next two decades.
Currently, three of the city’s four households earn less than 80% of the region’s median income, according to a local study that was discussed during a working session on the issue at a joint meeting of the Planning Commission. of Independence and of the Municipal Council of Independence.
Oregon cities with more than 10,000 residents are now required to conduct this type of analysis, to gauge potential resident preferences for meeting new housing demand.
The survey is available on the city’s website. It offers multiple-choice options for housing in future years.
Recently, the city held a public hearing on a proposal to remove the requirement to build garages in new single-family homes and duplexes. Currently, the city is determining garage “alternatives” for these new units; The change should be incorporated into the Independence Development Code.
(Trammart News Service, of Trammart Inc., is solely responsible for the style and content of the news reports it provides.)
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