Our Salem Report Card

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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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Welcoming and livable community 

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.

This chart shows the percent of income spent on housing, transportation, and energy. Today, the percentage is 36 percent. In 2035, it remains at 36 percent under the current trends scenario and is 37 percent under the zoning buildout scenario.

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.

This chart shows the trend of rising housing prices in terms of median single family homes. The chart shows the price in the Salem metro area as $227,000 in 2008 and $271,000 in 2018, in the Corvallis metro area as $292,000 in 2008 and $347,000 in 2018, in the Eugene metro area as $259,000 in 20078 and $286,000 in 2018, and in the Portland metro area as $315,000 in 2008 and $392,000 in 2018.

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 build furthr from existing amenities.

This chart shows the percent of households in complete neighborhoods. It shows that today, 65 percent of all households are in complete neighborhoods. In 2035, that percentage goes down to 60 percent under the current trends scenario, with 23 percent of new households being considered in complete neighborhoods. Under the zoning buildout scenario, the percentage is 62 percent of households, with 44 percent of new households in complete neighborhoods.

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.

This chart shows the percent of people within a half mile of a park. Today, that percentage is 75 percent. In 2035, that percentage goes down to 73 percent under the current trends scenario and 72 percent under the zoning buildout scenario.

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.

This chart shows the percent of new housing through redevelopment and infill projects. That percentage is 31 percent today. In 2035, it goes up to 47 percent under the current trends scenario and 59 percent under the zoning buildout scenario.

Safe, reliablie, efficient infrastructure

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.

This chart shows scores for walk and transit friendliness on a scale of zero to 100. For today, the score is 3 for households and 22 for employment. In 2035, the score is 4 for households and 22 for employment under the current trends scenario and 6 for households and 25 for employment under the zoning buildout scenario.

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.

This chart shows the percentage of new households within a quarter-mile of frequent transit. In 2035, the percentage is 6 percent of new households and 31 percent of new jobs under the current trends scenario, and the percentage is 20 percent of new households and 47 percent of new jobs under the zoning buildout scenario. The chart shows that the City’s goal is 10.5 percent of new households.

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.

The chart shows the percentage of trips by bike or walking.  Today, the percentage is 3.2 percent for walking and 0.4 percent for biking. In 2035, it is 2.3 percent for walking and 0.4 percent for biking under the current trends scenario and 3.3 percent for walking and 0.4 percent for biking under the zoning buildout scenario. The chart shows the City’s bike goal of 5 percent and walk goal of 11 percent.

Strong and diverse economy

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.

The chart shows a breakdown of employment in Salem by retail, office, industrial, public/civic, and educational jobs. Today, the employment mix is 17.6 percent retail, 48.3 percent office, 13.3 percent industrial, 14.5 percent public/civic, and 6.4 percent educational. In 2035 under the current trends scenario, the mix is 17 percent retail, 50 percent office, 13 percent industrial, 14 percent public/civic, and 5 percent educational. In 2035 under the zoning buildout scenario, the mix is 16 percent retail, 52 percent office, 13 percent industrial, 15 percent public/civic, and 4 percent educational.

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.

This chart shows the average wages based on today’s economy and today’s dollar. The average wage is $37,808 today. In 2035, it is $39,638 under the current trends scenario and $40,365 under the zoning buildout scenario.

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.

This chart shows the ratio between new housing and new jobs. Today, the ratio is 1.6. In 2035, it remains 1.6 under the current trends scenario and is 1.5 under the zoning buildout scenario.

Good governance

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.

This chart shows the ratio of revenues to costs. The ratio is 1.02 today, 1.01 in 2035 under the current trends scenario, and 1.03 under the zoning buildout scenario.

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.

This chart shows revenues and expenses per capita. Today, the revenue per capita is $1,284 and the expenditures per capita is $1,262. In 2035 under the current trends scenario, the revenue per capita is $1,377 and the expenditures per capita is $1,298. In 2035 under the zoning buildout scenario, the revenue per capita is #1,370 and the expenditures per capita is $1,276.

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.

This chart shows annual property tax revenue, existing plus increment. Today, the amount is $68,800,000. In 2035, it increases to $102,100,000 under the current trends scenario and $124,000,000 under the zoning buildout scenario.

Natural environment stewardship

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.

This chart shows the percentage of development in environmentally sensitive areas. Today, the percentages are 44 percent for households and 40 percent for employment. In 2035, the percentages are 52 percent for households and 40 percent for employment under the current trends scenario. In 2035 under the zoning buildout scenario, the percentages are 54 percent for households and 38 percent for employment.

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%.

This chart shows the percentage of tree canopy. Today, the percentage is 19 percent. In 2035, it decreases to 18 percent under the current trends scenario and 18 percent under the zoning buildout scenario. The charts shows the City’s goal of 23 percent tree canopy coverage.

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.

This chart shows the annual amount of metric tons of CO2e or carbon dioxide equivalent. Today, the amount is 424,000 metric tons from electricity use and 939,000 metric tons from auto travel. In 2035 under the current trends scenario, it is 537,000 metric tons from electricity use and 1.3 million metric tons from auto travel. In 2035 under the zoning buildout scenario, it is 600,000 metric tons from electricity use and 1.4 million metric tons from auto travel.

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.

This chart shows the annual amount of metric tons of CO2e or carbon dioxide equivalent caused by vehicles. Today, the amount is 939,000 metric tons. In 2035, it is 1.3 million metric tons under the current trends scenario and 1.4 million metric tons under the zoning buildout scenario.

Safe community

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.

This chart shows the number of annual traffic crashes, both injuries and fatalities. Today, the numbers are 1,322 injury crashes and 18 fatal crashes. In 2035 under the current trends scenario, the numbers increase to 1,734 injury crashes and 24 fatal crashes. In 2035 under the zoning buildout scenario, the numbers increase to 1,884 injury crashes and 25 fatal 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.

This chart shows the per capita amount of daily METs or metabolic equivalents spent in active transportation to work. Today, the amount is 11.01. In 2035, it is 8.47 under the current trends scenario and 11.21 under the zoning buildout scenario. The chart shows the total daily goal of 70.

Scenario planning key indicators

The background color for each heading indicates how we think we’re doing.

​​Green check mark ​We seem to be heading in the right direction. We are meeting goals or targets we set in the past.  We are comparable with other cities or are meeting national standards.
Yellow question mark ​Is this the right direction? We do not have targets established in this area, and we are not sure where the community wants to go.
Red x ​We are not meting targets we set for our city. We are falling behind other similar cities in this area. We see to be moving in the wrong direction.

Contact us

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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