The City is in the midst of a multi-year project to update the
Salem Area Comprehensive Plan, which guides development in the Salem area. As part of the first phase of the
Our Salem project, we examined the existing conditions of our city—our vital signs. Specifically, we looked at how we’re doing today in 20 key "indicators" that community members helped select. Then we looked at our future to see how we’ll be doing if we keep growing the way we’re growing.
The results of this analysis has been summarized into a Report Card. It helps answer the question, “Are we heading in the right direction?” The Report Card will inform future work on the Our Salem project, including community-wide visioning.
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Salem’s percentage of average monthly household income used for housing, transportation, and energy expenses is below the national standard, which is 45%. This remains largely the same in the future.
Housing prices in Salem are below our Corvallis, Eugene, and Portland Metro area neighbors. The percentage of average monthly household income used for housing is rising, similar to regional and national trends.
A “complete neighborhood” means people live within walking distance of parks, schools, grocery stores, businesses, transit. Today, 65% of our households are in “complete neighborhoods” today, while Portland is only at 50%. Our percentage, however, drops in the future because many new households will be built further from existing amenities.
We looked at how close our housing in Salem is to existing parks. Today, many of us live near a park. However, the percentage of households living within a half-mile of a park drops in the future, as new development is built further from existing or planned parks.
We calculated the number of housing units that have been and will be created from in fill and redevelopment by looking at building permits since 2014. About a third of new housing development today is from recent infill or redevelopment. This will increase in the future. That aligns with existing policies that promote infill and redevelopment.
More than a third of our households are within 1/4 mile of frequent bus service. Looking forward, it is our adopted goal to have at least 10.5% of new housing units within 1/4 mile walking distance of a Cherriots bus stop with 15-minute service. If growth and development trends continue on the edges of the city, access to transit goes down for new households. If we develop more densely, we exceed our goal.
Salem has adopted targets to increase walking and biking trips. By 2020, we aspire to have 3% of our trips to work 5% by bike and 11% by foot. By 2030, we are aiming for 5% by bike and 11% by foot. We are not on track to meet these goals.
The walk and transit friendliness score is based on ease of walking, access to transit, proximity to a variety of land uses, and other factors that allow for a range of travel choices. The score is between 0 and 100. A higher score means non-drivers—which may include seniors, youth, or mobility-challenged residents can safely access the places they need to go. Due to our development trends, we expect to stay the same. Many cities are st riving to improve.
Office uses make up the largest proportion of jobs in Salem today, and are expected to make up a slightly larger share in the future. The percentage of jobs in retail, industrial, public sector, and education remains fairly steady in the future. Overall, we have a greater share of public-sector jobs than many of our peer cities.
Workers in similar-sized Oregon cities earn more money than us, but our cost of living remains lower. Based on today’s economy and expected population and job growth, average annual wages per job continues to increase in Salem. Wage projections are shown in today’s dollar.
As our population grows, the number of new jobs also grows. A jobs-to-housing-units ratio of 1.5 jobs to 1 household is recommended by planning scholars. That is roughly the ratio in Salem today, and it remains unchanged across scenarios in the future.
With more development in the future, the City can expect more revenue. However, costs also increase over time. The average annual revenue and expenditures per capita stays about the same. As costs for goods and services increase, however, we are able to get less with our expenditures. This is a common problem everywhere.
Projected property tax revenue will increase with more development. This isn’t good or bad – it just reflects our property tax system. Development of vacant land and redevelopment generally means more property tax revenue per acre. This is typical across the state. Higher rates of redevelopment in the zoning buildout scenario therefore results is higher revenues per acre.
Salem has a policy of adopting a structurally-balanced budget, which is a 1:1 ratio (revenue to cost). To see how we fare, we looked at the cost of providing infrastructure, such as pipes and roads, to each person today compared to more people in the future. It generally costs more to extend infrastructure and services to more properties than it is to make more use of existing infrastructure. Our revenue-to-cost ratio looks to be holding steady in the future.
With continued demand for new housing and jobs in the future, development in Salem will increase on environmentally-sensitive areas such as on steep slopes, in floodplain s, or in riparian (streamside) areas. A lot of new housing will occur on steep hills in West and South Salem in the future.
Our target for tree canopy coverage is 23% of our land within Salem city limits. Trees provide environmental and quality-of-life benefits. We currently don’t meet our target, and we expect to lose some tree canopy in the future as land continues to get developed. Tree canopy today: 19%; Target: 23%.
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are known to pollute the air and cause long¬term changes to climate. Total emissions will increase in the future under either growth scenario. That’s because the sources of emissions remain the same— such as electricity use in buildings and car—and there will be more buildings and vehicles in the future if current development and transportation trends continue. Compared to other major cities in Oregon, though, Salem's GHG emission per capita today is among the lowest.
The total volume of carbon dioxide to cars - more cars - will increase under each future scenario. Cities around the world are looking to reduce air pollution.
Our goal has been to reduce crashes involving pedestrians by half and to have zero traffic fatalities by 2030. Based on County and national data, the number of injury and fatal crashes is expected to rise in Salem. While the number is less per capita in the future, unfortunately, more people means more crashes.
Exercise experts measure how active people are in metabolic equivalents, or METs. A minimum of 70 daily METs are recommended. We looked at our activity levels by only measuring METs used to get to work.
The background color for each heading indicates how we think we’re doing.