2022 State of the City

​​En español

​2022 State of the City Address

Read the 2022 transcript.

GOOD AFTERNOON AND WELCOME TO MY SIXTH AND FINAL STATE OF THE CITY REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY.

I FIRST WANT TO THANK THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, CITY CLUB AND ESPECIALLY THE ROTARY CLUB OF SALEM AND PRESIDENT CHANE GRIGGS FOR YOUR INTRODUCTION AND AGAIN SPONSORING THIS EVENT. AND THANK ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING ME HERE AT THE SALEM CONVENTION CENTER.

I WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE THE CITY LEADERSHIP (CITY COUNCILORS JOSE GONZALEZ, VIRGINIA STAPLETON AND JIM LEWIS AND CITY DEPARTMENT HEADS – CITY ATTORNEY DAN ATCHISON; EMPLOYEE, ENTERPRISE AND TECHNOLOGY KRISHNA NAMBURI; FIRE CHIEF MIKE NIBLOCK; POLICE CHIEF TREVOR WOMACK; PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR PETER FERNANDEZ AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR AND SOON TO BE ACTING CITY MANAGER KRISTIN RETHERFORD; AND STEVE POWERS CITY MANAGER. 

OVERALL, I CAN REPORT TO YOU THAT THE STATE OF THE CITY IS GOOD. OUR ECONOMY IS BOOMING, OUR TAX BASE IS GROWING, WE HAVE ESSENTIALLY FULL EMPLOYMENT, PROJECTS WE OUTLINED LAST YEAR ARE EITHER UNDERWAY OR COMPLETED AND, FOR GOOD OR ILL, THE LEGISLATURE IS IN SESSION.

WE ALSO FACE SERIOUS CHALLENGES AS A CITY AND AS A COMMUNITY. HOMELESSNESS REMAINS THE OVERRIDING ISSUE TROUBLING OUR COMMUNITY AS IT IS FOR NEARLY EVERY CITY IN OREGON AND NATIONALLY. EACH YEAR WE ASK RESIDENTS WHICH ISSUES THAT CONCERN THEM MOST AND FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, HOMELESSNESS HAS TOPPED THAT LIST.

SALEM IS OREGON'S SECOND LARGEST CITY AT NEARLY 178,000 RESIDENTS.THAT GROWTH HAS NOT BEEN SUPPORTED WITH INVESTMENTS IN OUR PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICES – POLICE AND FIRE. SALEM CONTINUES TO BE WELL UNDERSTAFFED IN BOTH POLICE AND FIRE AND THE RESULTS ARE NOTICEABLE. EQUIPMENT NEEDS ARE CRITICAL.

SALEM'S ECONOMY IS STRONG AND GETTING STRONGER AS A RESULT OF BOTH PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INVESTMENT.

DEMAND ON OUR CITY'S BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE, WATER, SEWER, STREETS, BRIDGES, SIDEWALKS, BIKE WAYS GROWS WITH OUR POPULATION AND CENTRAL ROLE IN THE MID-WILLAMETTE VALLEY ECONOMY.

IN RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGES GROWTH POSES, THE CITY HAS LAUNCHED AND NEARLY COMPLETED ITS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN UPDATE THAT WILL SET THE LAND USE FRAMEWORK FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS.  THE PROCESS HAS ENGAGED HUNDREDS OF RESIDENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS AND WILL LIKELY BE ADOPTED SOMETIME THIS YEAR AFTER MORE PUBLIC REVIEW AND COUNCIL ACTION.

I WOULD LIKE TO GO INTO DETAIL ON THE NUMBER OF THESE AND OTHER ISSUES TO PROVIDE YOU WITH UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION AND A CLOSER LOOK AT THE VARIETY OF CITY-LED INITIATIVES.

Homelessness

NO ISSUE RISES TO THE LEVEL OF PUBLIC CONCERN IN SALEM AS DOES HOMELESSNESS AND ITS HUMAN AND COMMUNITY IMPACTS.

THE CITY'S APPROACH IS AIMED AT MANAGING OUR PUBLIC SPACES TO STANDARDS THAT ARE SAFE AND HYGIENIC FOR ALL OF OUR RESIDENTS INCLUDING THE UNHOUSED. AT THE SAME TIME, WE HAVE LED THE EFFORT TO COORDINATE OUR RESPONSE TO THE SOCIAL, MEDICAL AND ECONOMIC ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH HOMELESSNESS. COORDINATING THIS EFFORT ARE OUR REGIONAL PARTNERS ORGANIZED AS THE MID-WILLAMETTE VALLEY HOMELESS ALLIANCE.

THE CITY WORKS CLOSELY THROUGH THE SALEM HOUSING AUTHORITY AND WITH A WHOLE RANGE OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS ADDRESSING THIS PROBLEM. I'M ESPECIALLY GRATEFUL TO UNION GOSPEL MISSION, CHURCH @ THE PARK, NORTHWEST HUMAN SERVICES, AND ESPECIALLY THE WILLAMETTE VALLEY COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY FOR THEIR COOPERATIVE PARTICIPATION AND LEADERSHIP IN THIS EFFORT.

OUR FOCUS THIS YEAR WILL BE TO HAVE EVERYONE LIVING IN SAFE APPROPRIATE HOUSING – NOT ON OUR STREETS, NOT OUR SIDEWALKS AND ESPECIALLY NOT OUR PARKS. WE'RE ON A THREE-STEP PLAN TO GET THERE:

  • ADDING MORE BEDS AVAILABLE TO WOMEN, WHO MAKE UP ALMOST HALF OF OUR HOMELESS POPULATION.
  • ADDING MORE TO OUR RAPID RESPONSE SERVICES – WE NEED DEDICATED RESOURCES TO MORE QUICKLY RESPOND WHEN ILLEGAL CAMPS BEGIN TO GROW.
  • OPENING THE NAVIGATION CENTER, THE CITY'S LOW- BARRIER CENTER THAT HELPS PEOPLE COMING IN OFF THE STREETS TO STABILIZE AND TAKE THE NEXT STEPS TOWARD EXITING THE SITUATION THEY ARE IN.

THIS IS A REGIONAL CHALLENGE. IT WILL REQUIRE MEETING OUR HOMELESS RESIDENTS WHERE THEY ARE AND PROVIDING THE APPROPRIATE SERVICES. THIS IS NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL SITUATION.

  • YES, SOME NEED MORE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THEIR BEHAVIORS AND WE MUST ENGAGE THEM AND NOT ENABLE THEM.
  • SOME NEED TO ACCESS WHAT HAS BECOME A DIMINISHED IN-PATIENT MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM.
  • MANY NEED MORE, ACCESSIBLE, EFFECTIVE CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY SOLUTIONS.
  • AND OTHERS JUST NEED SHORT-TERM, AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS UNTIL THEY CAN GET BACK ON THEIR FEET.

ALL OF THIS TAKES TIME. WE KNOW THAT ADDICTION AND MENTAL HEALTH CRISES ARE GROWING SITUATIONS IN OUR SOCIETY.

DESPITE OUR INVESTMENTS, THE FORECLOSURE AND EVICTION NUMBERS SUGGEST WE WILL SEE AN INCREASE IN PEOPLE WHO ARE ECONOMICALLY UNSHELTERED.

I WANT TO OFFER A HUGE THANK YOU TO MY FRIEND HAZEL PATTON AND HER TEAM. THEY ARE DOING AMAZING WORK AND HAVE GENERATED CONTRIBUTIONS FOR 127 MICRO-SHELTER UNITS AT OVER $5,000 APIECE. THE SHELTERS ARE BEING ORGANIZED BY THE CITY AND CHURCH @ THE PARK INTO SMALL VILLAGES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE CITY. THIS MANAGED, SECURE, AND SAFE SHELTER PROGRAM HAS ALREADY SEEN 37% OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS SERVED EXIT TO A POSITIVE DESTINATION AND THE SITE SERVING FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN IS SEEING AN IMPRESSIVE 72% EXITING TO MORE PERMANENT HOUSING.

LAST WEEK, WE BROKE GROUND ON YAQUINA HALL, THE FORMER NURSE'S QUARTERS ON THE NORTH CAMPUS OF THE STATE HOSPITAL. IT WILL CONSIST OF 51 ONE-BEDROOM UNITS AND A STUDIO APARTMENT. IT WILL INCLUDE PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING AND UNITS WITH RENTS BASED ON INCOMES THAT ARE 60% OR LESS OF MEDIAN INCOME.

SOUTHFAIR APARTMENTS IS AN EXISTINGS SALEM HOUSING AUTHORITY PROPERTY BEING RENOVATED TO INCLUDE 2 NEW ONE-BEDROOM UNITS, BRINGING THE TOTAL UNITS IN THE PROJECT TO 42. THE REMAINING UNITS ARE ONE, TWO- AND THREE-BEDROOM APARTMENTS. AGAIN, ANY UNITS RENTED WILL BE TO THOSE WITH LESS THAN 50% OF MEDIAN INCOME.

SEQUOIA CROSSINGS ON BROADWAY WILL CONSIST OF 30 ONE- AND TWO-BEDROOM UNITS OF PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING. IT'S SCHEDULED TO OPEN IN 2023.

I'M PARTICULARLY PROUD OF THE HOUSING RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM I PROPOSED IN MY FIRST STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS 5 YEARS AGO. WE HAVE REACHED AN ALL-TIME HIGH RETENTION RATE OF 89%, AND SINCE THE INCEPTION OF THE PROGRAM WE HAVE HOUSED 370 HOMELESS PEOPLE. ITS SUCCESS HAS BEEN THE RESULT OF CLOSE COLLABORATION WITH ARCHES, SALEM POLICE DEPARTMENT, BE BOLD MINISTRIES, AND CHURCH @ THE PARK.

SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL SUPPORT HAS COME FROM THE OREGON STATE LEGISLATURE AND STATE HOUSING PROGRAMS FOR THESE PROJECTS AND OTHERS, LIKE THE CREATION OF ARCHES INN ON HAWTHORNE AT THE OLD SUPER 8 MOTEL THAT WILL HOUSE OVER 150 HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS.

AT THE SAME TIME, THE CITY IS PROPOSING A RAPID RESPONSE TEAM THAT WILL QUICKLY RESPOND WITH POLICE AND PUBLIC WORKS STAFF TO CLEAR AND CLEAN UP ILLEGAL CAMPING SITES AROUND THE CITY.

Police

AS I BEGIN THIS DISCUSSION OF PUBLIC SAFETY IN SALEM AND THE FOCUS ON THE POLICE, I WANT TO CALL OUT OUR POLICE CHIEF TREVOR WOMACK AND CITE THE TREMENDOUS JOB HE AND HIS DEPARTMENT ARE DOING TO KEEP THIS COMMUNITY SAFE. AND DOING THAT WITH A STAFF THAT HAS EPITOMIZED THE DOING MORE WITH LESS CATEGORY.

THE REALITY IS THAT OUR CITY'S POLICING NEEDS ARE INCREASING AS THE CITY HAS GROWN BEYOND SMALL TOWN PROBLEMS TOWARD A BIG CITY WHERE CRIMES ARE TIME AND STAFF SENSITIVE AND FAR MORE COMPLEX.

CRIMES HERE INCLUDE CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS, HOMICIDE, GUN VIOLENCE, AND A GENERAL INCREASE IN OTHER SERIOUS CRIMES. FOR EXAMPLE, IN 2021, WE SAW A 25% INCREASE IN CONFIRMED SHOTS FIRED CALLS HANDLED BY THE PATROL FORCE AND 220 CASES INVESTIGATED BY SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT DETECTIVES. AND SADLY, 83% OF THOSE CASES INVOLVED CHILDREN.

THERE IS A MUCH BROADER IMPACT ON OUR RESIDENTS FROM THE OFFICER SHORTAGE AS POLICE ARE PULLED AWAY FROM DEALING WITH THE FAR MORE COMMON CRIMES OF STOLEN VEHICLES, BURGLARIES, AND THEFT IN ORDER TO ADDRESS THESE MORE SERIOUS CRIMES.

A RECENT INDEPENDENT STUDY CALLED OUT OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT'S STAFF SHORTAGE. IT'S CLEAR THAT WE NEED TO ADD AT LEAST 60 NEW OFFICERS TO OUR FORCE TO MEET THE DEMANDS OF A CITY OF NEARLY 178,000. WITHOUT THIS KIND OF INVESTMENT -- TIME FOR OUR OFFICERS TO DO PROACTIVE, SELF-INITIATED WORK IN THE FIELD, INCLUDING NEIGHBORHOOD-BASED PROBLEM-SOLVING AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT JUST WON'T EXIST.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE DEPARTMENT DOESN'T HAVE SUFFICIENT OFFICERS TO FOCUS ON PRIORITIES LIKE TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY. IN 2021, THE SALEM POLICE TRAFFIC TEAM COMPRISED OF 7 OFFICERS ON MOTORCYCLES WERE DEDICATED TO TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT IN THE CITY. THE TEAM INVESTIGATED 28 SIGNIFICANT CRASHES IN WHICH 54% RESULTED IN FATALITIES AND THE REMAINING RESULTED IN INJURY. SPEED AND DUII PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE.

IN 2021, THE PATROL DIVISION HAD 114,472 CALLS FOR SERVICE. ONLY 23% OF THOSE WERE OFFICER INITIATED. THE AVERAGE CALL TIME FOR PRIORITY 1 AND 2 CALLS IS 6.75 MINUTES. THERE ARE CALLS FOR SERVICE THAT MAY NEVER GET ANSWERED.

I ALSO WANT TO QUOTE FROM THE CHIEF'S STATEMENT IN THE JUST RELEASED STRATEGIC PLAN:

"WE ARE NOW GUIDED BY A REFRESHED SET OF MISSION, VISION, AND VALUE STATEMENTS AS WE PURSUE THREE OVERARCHING STRATEGIC PRIORITIES:  SAFETY, LEGITIMACY, AND EXCELLENCE. SAFETY INCLUDES A FOCUS UPON BOTH COMMUNITY AND EMPLOYEE WELLBEING. LEGITIMACY REFLECTS OUR EFFORTS TO ENSURE OUR COMMUNITY VIEWS THEIR POLICE DEPARTMENT AS COMPETENT, CAPABLE, EFFECTIVE, AND TRUSTWORTHY.

"EXCELLENCE ENSURES WE ARE CONTINUALLY LEARNING AND IMPROVING AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS AN ORGANIZATION. THE SUCCESS OF EACH PRIORITY IS DRIVEN BY SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES, STRATEGIES, AND METRICS. TOGETHER, THESE PRIORITIES SUPPORT OUR MISSION, SET A CLEAR PATH TO ACHIEVING OUR VISION, AND REFLECT OUR CORE VALUES. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF A NEW ERA IN POLICING AND YOUR POLICE DEPARTMENT IS COMMITTED TO REMAINING AT THE FOREFRONT OF INNOVATION AND CHANGE.

"OUR STRATEGIC PLAN PROVIDES THE LENS THROUGH WHICH WE MAKE DECISIONS—INFLUENCING POLICY, PRACTICE, TRAINING, AND CULTURE. I AM CONFIDENT WE ARE HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND EXCITED TO CONTINUE BUILDING UPON THE SALEM POLICE DEPARTMENT'S LEGACY OF SUCCESS." 

Fire Department

2021 HAS BEEN THE BUSIEST YEAR IN THE SALEM FIRE DEPARTMENT'S 160-YEAR HISTORY. CALL VOLUME GROWTH INCREASED BY DOUBLE DIGITS FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW – A 16.9% INCREASE – 30,232 CALLS FOR SERVICE. BOTH ARE HISTORIC HIGHS FOR THE ORGANIZATION.

SALEM'S POPULATION HAS RISEN 13.5% SINCE 2010, AND THE CALL VOLUME FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OVER THE SAME TIME PERIOD HAS EXPLODED BY 80%. AND THAT INCREASE IS BEING HANDLED WITH NO NEW RESOURCES TO KEEP UP WITH THE INCREASE IN POPULATION OR CALLS.

THE CITY COUNCIL HAS MANDATED A RESPONSE GOAL OF DELIVERING EMERGENCY SERVICES WITHIN 5.5 MINUTES 85% OF THE TIME. LAST YEAR, THE DEPARTMENT WAS ONLY ABLE TO MEET THAT STANDARD 61.6% OF THE TIME. THAT TRANSLATES TO OVER 5,126 PEOPLE IN 2021 THAT EXPERIENCED A CRITICAL, LIFE-THREATENNG EMERGENCY AND HAD TO WAIT LONGER THAN 5.5 MINUTES FOR EMERGENCY RESPONDERS TO ARRIVE. IF THAT EMERGENCY IS A HEART ATTACK, THE WINDOW FOR SERVICE TO SAVE YOUR LIFE BECOMES ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL AT 6 MINUTES.

PUT VERY SIMPLY, WE NEED MORE FIREFIGHTER/EMTS TO KEEP UP WITH THE INCREASING DEMANDS FOR SERVICE. THIS IS A CORE SERVICE THAT IS ONLY GOING TO GET MORE IMPORTANT AS OUR POPULATION CONTINUES TO AGE.

THE FIRE CHIEF HAS SOUNDED THE ALARM THAT SALEM IS RAPIDLY FALLING BEHIND IN ITS OBLIGATION TO MEET SAFETY STANDARDS FOR EMERGENCY HEALTH AND FIRE RESPONSE TIMES AND WITH THE RELIABLE EQUIPMENT TO MEET THE NEEDS THEY FACE. I STRONGLY URGE THE COUNCIL AND BUDGET COMMITTEE TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO REVERSE THIS DANGEROUS TREND WITH A FIVE-YEAR REINVESTMENT PLAN IN OUR EMERGENCY SERVICES, INCLUDING A BOND MEASURE TO REPLACE OUR SERIOUSLY AGING RESPONSE EQUIPMENT.

COUNCIL ALSO NEEDS TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO MEET OUR STAFFING NEEDS IN THIS CRITICAL AREA. TO MEET OUR COUNCIL-ADOPTED RESPONSE TIMES, THE CITY IS GOING TO NEED TO ADD TWO NEW FIRE STATIONS WITH 24/7 STAFF OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS. THAT IS 10 NEW ENGINE COMPANIES AND 111 NEW FIREFIGHTERS WITH AN ONGOING OPERATING COST OF $25 MILLION.

THERE ALSO IS GOOD NEWS IN EMERGENCY SERVICES. THE CONCERTED EFFORT OF OUR FIRE DEPARTMENT COMMUNITY TRAINING EFFORTS, PARTICULARLY IN OUR SCHOOLS HAS RESULTED IN OVER 47% OF THE TIME DURING A SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST IN SALEM, A BYSTANDER WILL PERFORM CPR AND 30% OF THE TIME THEY WILL USE A PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE AED, A DEFFIBRILATOR, TO SHOCK THE VICTIM, TRIPLING THEIR CHANCE FOR SURVIVAL. OUR OVERALL SALEM AREA SAVE RATE WAS 60%, WHICH IS PHENOMENAL WHEN COMPARED TO THE NATIONAL AVERAGE OF 25.5%. THE INCREASE IN AEDS IN SALEM AND KEIZER INCLUDES THE DECISION TO PLACE THEM IN ALL SALEM AND KEIZER POLICE VEHICLES AND HUNDREDS OF LOCAL BUSINESSES. ALL OF THIS IS THE RESULT OF WORK DONE BY OUR FIRE FOUNDATION. MORE THAN 3,500 8TH GRADERS EACH YEAR ARE TRAINED BY THE FOUNDATION IN CPR AND AED USE.

Economy

PERHAPS THE BEST NEWS THIS YEAR IS THAT DESPITE THE HEADWINDS WE FACE FROM THE NATIONAL ECONOMY, COVID PANDEMIC, AND SUPPLY CHAIN INTERRUPTIIONS, OUR LOCAL ECONOMY HAS BEEN ROBUST AND RAPIDLY EXPANDING.

THE MOST VISIBLE DEMONSTRATION OF SALEM'S ECONOMIC VIBRANCY HAS BEEN IN OUR DOWNTOWN, WHICH IS UNDERGOING ITS FIRST MAJOR RENONOVATION IN 50 YEARS. CITY URBAN RENEWAL STRATEGY HAS CONTINUED TO BE A MAJOR FACTOR IN ENCOURAGING THE DYNAMIC PRIVATE INVESTMENT WE HAVE SEEN.

INVESTMENTS UNDERWAY IN DOWNTOWN TOTALING $90 MILLION WILL SHAPE ITS FUTURE, ATTRACTING ADDITIONAL DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS AND OVERNIGHT GUESTS. HERE'S AN OVERVIEW OF THE ACTIVITIES:

  • A $38 MILLION INVESTMENT IN CONSTRUCTION OF A NEW SEVEN-STORY, 129-ROOM HILTON TAPESTRY HOTEL AT THE SITE OF THE FORMER MARION STREET GARAGE ACROSS FROM THE CONVENTION CENTER. ABOUT A QUARTER OF THE ROOMS WILL INCLUDE KITCHENETTES FOR EXTENDED STAY GUESTS. IT IS EXPECTED TO OPEN IN 2023. 
  • THE FORMER NORDSTROM BUILDING IS SLATED FOR DEMOLITION AND REPLACEMENT BY A FIVE-STORY MIXED- USE BUILDING WITH APPROXIMATELY 162 APARTMENT UNITS AND SMALL RETAIL BUSINESSES. IT'S ESTIMATED NOW TO BE A $25 MILLLION INVESTMENT IN DOWNTOWN AND IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED IN SPRING 2023.
  • THE JC PENNEY DEPARTMENT STORE WAS RECENTLY SOLD TO A PORTLAND BUYER WHO PLANS TO REDEVELOP THE SPACE FOR RETAILERS NEEDING 5 TO 10 THOUSAND SQUARE FEET.
  • IN THE PAST YEAR, WE SAW COMPLETION OF THE 990 BROADWAY BUILDING, A MIXED-USE PROJECT THAT INCLUDES 23 RENTAL UNITS AND GROUND FLOOR COMMERCIAL SPACE.
  • THE 148 MICRO-UNIT KOS APARTMENT BUILDING ON THE SITE OF THE FORMER MCMAHONS FURNITURE STORE HAS BEEN BUILT AND LEASED.
  • UNION GOSPEL MISSION'S NEW FACILITY WAS COMPLETED IN JULY ACROSS FROM THE NEW POLICE STATION ON COMMERCIAL STREET. THE CITY'S URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY PURCHASED THE 13 LOTS, INCLUDING THE FORMER UGM BUILDING AND ADJOINING PROPERTIES, INCLUDING THE FORMER SAFFRON BUILDING AND PLANS TO PREPARE IT FOR DEMOLITION THIS SPRING. THE AGENCY WILL BE SEEKING DEVELOPMENT INTEREST IN THE BLOCK. A PORTION OF THE PROPERTY IS SET ASIDE FOR AFFORDABLE AND WORKFORCE HOUSING.
  • WESTERN OREGON UNIVERSITY PURCHASED THE VICK BUILDING DOWNTOWN JUST PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC AND COMPLETED A SERIES OF IMPROVEMENTS. IN- PERSON CLASSES ARE UNDERWAY AND FEATURE TWO DEGREE PROGRAMS IN LIBERAL STUDIES AND ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP.

THE URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY HAS ALSO MAINTAINED A VIGOROUS PROGRAM FOR EXISTING BUSINESSES FACING IMPACT FROM THE COVID REGULATIONS AND OTHER NEEDED ASSISTANCE. THERE ARE GRANT AND LOAN PROGRAMS IN THREE OF THE URBAN RENEWAL AREAS, INCLUDING NORTH GATEWAY, WEST SALEM, AND DOWNTOWN. SINCE JULY, THE CITY HAS APPROVED $1.5 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR PROJECTS TOTALLING OVER $3.6 MILLION IN THE RIVERFRONT DOWNTOWN, WEST SALEM, AND NORTH GATEWAY PROJECT AREAS. AN ADDITIONAL STRATEGIC GRANT PROGRAM IN THE NORTH GATEWAY AREA WAS RECENTLY APPROVED TO PROVIDE FUNDS FOR PROJECTS SPECIFICALLY AIMED AT BUILDING AND PROPERTY SAFETY AND SECURTY.

INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY REMAINS VERY STRONG ALONG THE WEST COAST, INCLUDING SALEM. THE CITY'S MILL CREEK CORPORATE CENTER AND SALEM BUSINESS CAMPUS REMAIN VERY ACTIVE WITH NEW AND PROSPECTIVE PROJECTS BEING DEVELOPED. THE 19 REMAINING ACRES ARE UNDER CONTRACT FOR PURCHASE. PACIFIC NW PROPERTIES HAS NEARLY COMPLETED CONSTRUCTION ON 70 THOUSAND SQUARE FEET OF SPECULATIVE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE NEARBY FAIRVIEW INDUSTRIAL PARK AND INTENDS TO HAVE 12 NEW TENANTS IN THE TWO BUILDINGS.

IN ADDITION, THERE ARE MULTIPLE PROGRAMS AVAILABLE TO SMALL BUSINESSES AND NON-PROFITS IMPACTED BY COVID AND A RANGE OF ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR LOCAL INVESTORS AND START UPS THROUGH THE MID-VALLEY ANGEL FUND.

CITY COUNCIL RECENTLY APPROVED THE CITY OF SALEM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY AND COVID-19 RECOVERY PLAN. THE PLAN IS THE FIRST ONE DEVELOPED SINCE 2011 WHEN THE CITY POPULATION WAS 155,000. IT IS DESIGNED TO GUIDE THE DEPARTMENT'S ACTIVITIES AS WE RECOVER FROM COVID CONTAINMENT POLICIES GENERALLY SET BY STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS.

ALONG WITH COVID RECOVERY, IT WILL INCREASE COMMUNITY ACCESS TO SERVICES AND FOSTER HIGHER QUALITY ENGAGEMENT WITH UNDERSERVED BUSINESSES. THE PLAN LOOKS ACROSS ALL ECONOMIC SECTORS, ACCOUNTS FOR CHANGING RULES, REGULATIONS AND TYPES OF PAST AND CURRENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS TO HELP GUIDE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT AND POLICIES. KEY AREAS INCLUDE COVID RESPONSE; DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION; AFFORDABLE HOUSING; EMPLOYMENT LAND; BROADBAND INTERNET; SUPPORTING BUSINESSES; ENTRPRENERSHIP; WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; RECRUITMENT AND PROMOTING SALEM. AS THE CITY WORKS ON EACH OF THESE AREAS, IT WILL INCLUDE SUBSTANTIAL COMMUNITY INPUT.

THE CITY SAW A STALL IN NEW MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING IN THE FIRST SEVERAL MONTHS OF THE FISCAL YEAR. ULTIMATELY, THOUGH, THERE WERE PERMITS ISSUED FOR FOUR APARTMENT COMPLEXES WITH MORE THAN 514 APARTMENTS.

THE CITY ISSUED 453 SINGLE FAMILY AND DUPLEX PERMITS, 396 FOR MULTI-FAMILY PROJECTS, 19 FOR ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS AND 92 FOR COMMERCIAL PROJECTS. THAT'S A TOTAL OF 959 PROJECTS PERMITTED WITH A VALUE OF $585 MILLION.

AS I MENTIONED, A GREAT DEAL OF THE HOUSING ACTIVITY IS FOCUSED ON LARGE PROJECTS IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA AND SEVERAL HUNDRED UNITS OF MULTI AND SINGLE-FAMILY HOUSING BEING BUILT ON THE NORTH CAMPUS GROUNDS OF THE OLD STATE HOSPITAL BETWEEN D AND CENTER STREETS.

HOUSING CONTINUES BE A MAJOR POLICY ISSUE FACING THE CITY AND IT IS PART OF THE HUGE UPDATE OF THE CITY'S COMPREHENSIVE PLAN CALLED OUR SALEM. IT IS THE CITY'S VISION FOR GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT 20 YEARS AND IS SLATED FOR ADOPTION THIS YEAR. ALONG WITH THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN THERE WILL BE UPDATES TO THE ZONING MAP AND CODE. IT IS DESIGNED TO HELP THE CITY MEET THE CHALLENGES AHEAD, INCLUDING HOUSING AND REDUCING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS.

THIS YEAR, THE CITY IS IMPLEMENTING A NEW STATE LAW THAT ALLOWS DUPLEXES, TRIPLEXES, QUADPLEXES, AND OTHER TYPES OF WHAT IS BEING TERMED MIDDLE HOUSING TO BE BUILT IN SINGLE-FAMILY AREAS.

IT WAS A RED-LETTER YEAR FOR PUBLIC WORKS IN SALEM. IT BEGAN ALMOST EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO ON VALENTINE'S DAY WITH A HISTORIC ICE STORM THAT IS STILL BEING CLEANED UP AROUND THE CITY. THAT STORM CREATED THE MOST TREE DAMAGE SINCE COLUMBUS DAY 1964. MUCH OF THE CITY WAS WITHOUT POWER FOR SEVERAL DAYS. IN THE CASE OF THE BENNETT HOUSE, IT WAS ALMOST TWO WEEKS. CITY CREWS AND CONTRACTORS REMOVED OVER 18,000 TONS OF TREES AND WOODY DEBRIS DURING THE FIRST 45 DAYS OF CLEAN UP. AFTER A MONTH OF OPERATION, MORE THAN 31,000 CUBIC YARDS OF WOODY DEBRIS WAS RECEIVED FROM RESIDENTS AND TRANSPORTED TO BROWN ISLAND DUMP SITE FOR CHIPPING AND RECYCLING. THE CITY AND CONTRACTORS ARE STILL AT WORK ON A STORM THAT WILL HAVE COST $6.75 MILLION – $2.5 MILLION COVERED BY INSURANCE AND $3.2 MILLION BY FEMA.

AT THE SAME TIME, THE DEPARTMENT HAD A BANNER YEAR OF ACTIVITIES INCLUDING THE IRONMAN 70.3 EVENT THAT USED THE PUBLIC WORKS-MANAGED PARKS AND STREETS AND DREW MORE THAN 7,000 PARTICIPANTS TO TOWN WITH AN ECONOMIC IMPACT OF $10 MILLION. TRAVEL SALEM HOSTED THE EVENT AND REPORTED LAST MONTH THAT THE EVENT WILL BE HERE AGAIN THIS YEAR.

THE PARKS SECTION ALSO OPENED THE GERRY FRANK/SALEM ROTARY AMPHITHEATER AT RIVERFRONT PARK. IT WAS A FOUR-YEAR PROJECT FOR THE CITY AND ROTARY AND IS A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN OUR COMMUNITY ON FOUR ACRES OF UNDEVELOPED PARK LAND. IT INCLUDES ADDITIONAL PARKING, WALKWAYS, A VENDOR PLAZA, ELECTRICAL POWER, LIGHTING AND TURF. IT WAS DESIGNED BY SALEM BASED CB-TWO ARCHITECTS AND BUILT BY LOCAL FIRM DALKE CONSTRUCTION.

THE SALEM LIBRARY REOPENED AFTER 19 MONTHS OF CONSTRUCTION PAID FOR WITH A 2017 VOTER APPROVED BOND TO DO CRITICAL SEISMIC UPGRADES, ADA, AND BUILDING SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS, ALONG WITH NEW FIXTURES, WINDOWS, AND LIGHTING.

THE NEW FRANK MAULDIN OZONE WATER TREATMENT SYSTEM WAS COMPLETED AT THE GEREN ISLAND FACILITY. IT WILL SUCCESSFULLY GUARANTEE THE WATER QUALITY COMING FROM THE NORTH SANTIAM RIVER FOR DECADES TO COME. THE CITY AND STATE HAVE INVESTED OVER 445 MILLION IN THE PROJECT THAT GREW OUT OF THE ALGAL TOXINS THAT OCCURRED SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND INTERRUPTED THE CITY'S DRINKING WATER SUPPLY FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND HIGHLIGHTED THE SYSTEM'S VULNERABILITY. AN ADDITIONAL $12 MILLION IMPROVEMENT IN THE CITY'S AQUIFER STORAGE AND RECOVERY FACILITIES WENT ONLINE AT WOODMANSEE PARK. MORE THAN 700 MILLION GALLONS OF DRINKING WATER WILL BE STORED AND THEN TREATED USING THE UNDERGROUND AQUIFER. IT IS PRIMARILY USED TO MEET PEAK SUMMER WATER DEMANDS OR FOR EMERGENCIES.

THE PUBLIC WORK DEPARTMENT GOT THE PEDESTRIAN SAFER CROSSINGS PROGRAM UNDERWAY THIS YEAR AND COLLECTED RESIDENTS' SUGGESTIONS FOR 132 SEPARATE LOCATIONS. THE FIRST ONE PUT ONLINE OCCURRED AT 13TH AND MARION STREET IN NE SALEM NEAR NORTH SALEM HIGH. FUTURE ONES ARE BEING DESIGNED AND WILL BE BROUGHT ONLINE THROUGH THIS YEAR'S BUDGET AND THE 5-YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN.

THE NEW PUBLIC WORKS OPERATIONS BUILDING BEGAN IN EARNEST LAST MONTH WITH A GROUNDBREAKING. IT WILL BE LOCATED AT THE CITY SHOPS COMPLEX AND CONSTRUCTED WITH LOCALLY SOURCED MASS TIMBER FRAMING FROM FRERES LUMBER IN LYONS. IT WILL PROVIDE A MODERN, SEISMICALLY RESILIENT HEADQUARTERS FOR OPERATIONS AND ENGINEERING DIVISION, AND SERVE AS A HUB FOR THE DEPARTMENTS VITAL WORK DURING EMERGENCIES SUCH AS FLOODING, ICE STORMS, OR EARTHQUAKES. THE BUILDING WILL OPEN IN 2023.

PUBLIC WORKS ALSO INCLUDES CENTER 50+ THE CITY'S SENIOR CENTER. THE CENTER PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE MEETING THE NEEDS OF SENIORS HERE DURING THE PANDEMIC AND ICE STORM. THE NUMBERS WILL TELL YOU THE STORY:

  • DELIVERY OF OVER 8,000 FOOD BOXES DELIVERED
  • 1,200 SENIORS A MONTH GETTING A CALL OR PERSONAL LETTER
  • 300 SENIORS A MONTH WHO RECEIVED SERVICES THROUGH THE WELLNESS ON WHEELS PROGRAM
  • 400 SENIORS RECEIVED FIT AND FUND PACKETS
  • THERE ARE 60 LIFELONG LEARNING CLASSES BEING OFFERED VIRTUALLY
  • 30 IN-PERSON CLASSES NOW BEING OFFERED
  • 330 HEALTH AND FITNESS CLASSES OFFERED VIRTUALLY
  • 1,000 SENIORS LIVING IN COMMUNITY CARE SETTINGS RECEIVE MONTHLY LETTERS, WEEKLY PHONE CALLS, WINDOW PARADE VISITS AND SOCIALLY DISTANCED VISITS
  • 125 SENIORS RECEIVED DAILY OR WEEKLY REASSURANCE CALLS AND CHECK-INS
  • 200 'YOU ARE LOVED' SIGNS DELIVERED TO SALEM SENIORS

YOU GET THE PICTURE. I KNOW YOU UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT THIS SERVICE HAS BEEN TO OUR SENIOR CITIZENS OVER THE YEARS AND ESPECIALLY THE PAST TWO.

IF YOU LET ME, I'D GO ON FOR ANOTHER HOUR TELLING YOU ABOUT THE NEW YMCA BEING BUILT DOWNTOWN, ABOUT OUR LIBRARY AND ITS FANTASTIC PROGRAMS FOR EVERY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY, ABOUT THE NEW BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB ON LANCASTER, THE INSPIRATIONAL WORK BEING DONE WITH REFUGEES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. LET ME JUST SAY, THAT TRYING TO DO AN ANNUAL STATE OF THE CITY IS ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST DIFFICULT THINGS I DO AS MAYOR.

I DO WANT TO CLOSE WITH A PITCH AND AN ASK.

OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS, THE CITY IS GOING TO BE COMPLETING ITS WORK ON A PROPOSED $300 MILLION BOND MEASURE. IT IS DESIGNED TO MEET MANY OF THE NEEDS I TALKED ABOUT TODAY AND IT DOES IT WITHOUT RAISING YOUR TAX RATE. REALLY. IT WAS DESIGNED TO REPLACE THE CURRENT BONDS THAT ARE RETIRING. IT WILL FOCUS ON OUR FIRE DEPARTMENT, STREETS, SIDEWALKS, BRIDGES, AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND REINVESTING IN SOME OF OUR PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE. IF WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO GROW – AND WE ARE. IF WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO MEET THE SAFETY NEEDS OF OUR RESIDENTS – AND WE MUST. AND IF WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE THE MOST LIVABLE CITY IN OREGON, I HOPE YOU WILL LOOK CLOSELY AT THIS, SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH US AND IN THE END SUPPORT OUR SALEM FUTURE. YOU'LL HAVE YOUR CHANCE ON THE NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT.

THANK YOU. AND THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE 15 YEARS I'VE HAVE HAD TO BE A CITY COUNCILOR AND MAYOR DURING THSE MOST EXCITING AND CHALLENGING TIME IN OUR CITY'S HISTORY. I HOPE EACH OF YOU WILL LOOK AT PUBLIC SERICE WITH THE CITY OF SALEM AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE A GENUINE PLEASURE AND LIFE EXPERIENCE. IT HAS BEEN FOR ME.