Our Salem Draft Vision: Frequently Asked Questions

​The City is in the midst of a multi-year project called Our Salem to update the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan, which guides development in the Salem area. 

After more than a year of outreach, we have developed a draft vision for future growth and development in the Salem area. The draft vision includes goals and a map that reflect priorities we've heard from the community. (Visión preliminaria)

Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we've been hearing.

1.      Will the goals include a target for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction?

The draft Our Salem vision currently includes a broad goal to reduce GHG emissions as well as a more specific one about reducing GHG emissions from transportation.  In October, the City Council adopted the following goals as part of the City's Climate Action Plan :

  • By 2035, Salem's greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced to 50% of the citywide greenhouse gas emissions for the baseline year of 2016, and

  • By 2050, Salem should be carbon neutral.

We will incorporate those goals into the Comprehensive Plan, which is being updated in this Our Salem project. We will also reflect the goals in the revised vision.

2.      Why is there no goal about building another bridge across the Willamette River?

Last year, the City Council voted to not proceed with the Salem River Crossing project. The project, however, remains in the Salem Transportation System Plan (TSP). It is a Council decision whether or not to keep the project in the TSP or remove it. We anticipate updating the TSP after the Our Salem project is complete – in other words, after the adoption of an updated Comprehensive Plan.

The draft Our Salem vision is focused on high-level goals as well as a proposed Comprehensive Plan Map. The goals do not get to the level of detail of specific projects. The draft transportation goals speak to providing a comprehensive transportation system that serves all modes, supports commerce, and increases resiliency, among other priorities. In our outreach, we have heard concerns related to congestion over the river, and we have included it as an idea in Appendix A:

  • Congestion: Manage and improve the transportation system to relieve congestion and provide for the efficient movement of people, including across the Willamette River.

If you have questions about Salem River Crossing Project or future update to the TSP, you can contact Public Works at 503-588-6211.

3.      When will policies be developed?

We have started preparing draft policies, but they are far from done. So far, we've taken what we've heard from the community throughout this Our Salem project and turned them into draft policies and ideas. But we will do a deep dive into policies this spring after getting direction from the City Council on the higher-level goals.

Specifically, we plan to hold weekly public meetings (virtual) on different policy issues this coming spring. Through that process, we plan to update, revise, and add to the current list of draft policies and ideas. You can read the draft policies in Appendix A of the Draft Vision.

4.      What are the demographic trends that are influencing the proposed map changes?

You may have heard that roughly 60,000 more people are expected to live in the Salem area by 2035. That 60,000 number comes from the Salem Housing Needs Analysis (HNA), which was completed in late 2014. That study has a lot of information about trends that could impact the type of housing we need to plan for in the Salem area. Regional and local trends are found on pages 20 to 23 of the HNA, and demographic trends are found on pages 24 to 26.

The HNA and the Salem Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) form the basis of the update to the Comprehensive Plan. In other words, the update needs to accommodate the housing and employment needs in the two studies. For example, we need to ensure that changes to the Comprehensive Plan Map include enough land for multifamily housing to meet our projected deficit identified the HNA.

5.      Can you tell me more about the proposed Neighborhood Hub and Residential 4 (R4) zones?

We have put together overviews of the two proposed new zones. You can find them here: Neighborhood Hub Zone Overview and Residential 4 Zone Overview. The information in the two documents describes what is currently envisioned for both zones. The details are subject to change as the Our Salem project progresses. If you have comments or more questions, please contact Eunice Kim at [email protected].

6.      Is the preferred scenario the same as the Proposed Comprehensive Plan Map?

No. It is different. The preferred scenario is a best guess at what properties could develop or redevelop by 2035 based on the proposed Comprehensive Plan Map.

The preferred scenario picks specific properties for development that can accommodate the projected housing and employment forecasts from the HNA and EOA. For example, the proposed Comprehensive Plan Map shows much of Lancaster Drive changing to a Mixed Use designation, but the preferred scenario only shows some properties on Lancaster actually developing into mixed use.

We created the preferred scenario, so we could analyze how the Proposed Comprehensive Plan Map performed against the indicators that we have been using during this Our Salem project. (You can read about the indicators on this page.)

7.      Why are we not seeing a greater decrease in GHG emissions related to transportation based on the proposed Comprehensive Plan Map?

We used a transportation model to see how people would travel around the Salem area under the preferred scenario, and in turn, how GHG emissions related to transportation would change. The model was run by the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments (MWVCOG), and it has many different "levers" that can be pulled that impact how it projects people will travel around the Salem area (e.g., mode split).  

The lever that we pulled was changes in land use – housing and employment changes based on the preferred scenario described above. Based on conversations with MWVCOG staff, we learned that the model is not very sensitive to land use changes alone, particularly as those changes are incremental to our large existing base of housing and jobs.

There are levers that could have a more significant impact on how people travel around the Salem area and in turn, on our GHG emissions related to transportation. Other levers include:

  • Operational costs for each mode, including cost of parking and transit fares

  • Transit coverage and frequency

  • Time spent in vehicle for motor vehicle trips, including transit (responding to distance and speed, including impacts of congestion and available network)

It's important to note that the model does not respond to changes in the bicycle or pedestrian network. Bike/walk mode split is primarily based on household characteristics and household travel survey data. An enhanced bike and pedestrian network can influence trip choice, but it is not captured in the model.

The model also does not assume any changes to our transit network (or frequency of routes). Hopefully, there will be additional transit routes and increased frequency in the future, but for now, the model assumes today's transit service.

8.      Then what can we do in the Our Salem project to reduce GHG emissions more?

There are some changes that we could make at the Comprehensive Plan level (e.g., Comprehensive Plan Map, goals, and policies). Here are some examples:

  • Redesignate more land along Cherriots' Core Network to mixed use or R4 (e.g., more properties along Liberty Road S, Center Street NE, Market Street NE)

  • Add more/bigger neighborhood hubs throughout the Salem area

  • Add density (middle housing) around neighborhood hubs and mixed-use corridors

Other changes could occur at the zoning code level. We plan to propose changes to the zoning code after the higher-level proposed Comprehensive Plan Map and goals are accepted (if accepted) by the City Council. Code changes that could impact GHG emissions include:

  • Increasing densities in our mixed-use and/or multifamily zones

  • Abolishing minimum parking requirements (by use or all uses, by zone or all zones, etc.)

We continue to closely coordinate with the climate action plan work that has just started. We are going to look to that work to provide guidance on specific policies and actions needed to significantly impact GHG emissions. We will be incorporating that work into the Our Salem work, whether that comes in the form of targets, policies, or specific land use recommendations.

9.      What if I have other questions?

You are encouraged to call or email Eunice Kim at [email protected] or 503-540-2308.

10.      When is the City going to implement HB 2001?

In 2019, the State Legislature passed House Bill 2001, which requires large cities like Salem to essentially allow:

  • A duplex on any lot that is zoned for residential use that allows development of a single-family detached dwelling.
  • Up to four units in areas zoned for residential use that allows development of a single-family detached dwelling.

We plan to implement the bill's requirements as part of the Our Salem project . This work will include code changes that follow detailed rules that are being set by the State. We will provide more information on the State's rules when they are finalized.

We have until June 30, 2022 to implement the bill. If you have questions, contact Eunice Kim at [email protected]

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Eunice KimProject Manager
Monday–Friday
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 305
Salem OR 97301
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