Our Salem: Planning for Growth

Aerial image of downtown Salem with a mountain the background.

Salem is growing, and that presents both the need and opportunity to better guide and plan for how and where the city will grow. Sign up to get email updates about the project.

What's our vision for the future?

How do we want Salem to grow and develop? What goals do we have? How can we improve our community?

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. This is a big project, so it has been broken into phases.

The City has wrapped up the first phase and is now conducting community-wide visioning. Since the summer of 2019, City staff has been out and about, talking to the community about future growth and development in Salem. What thoughts, concerns, and ideas do you have for the future?

The City expects to engage the community in a variety of ways, including public workshops, outreach at community events, stakeholder interviews, surveys, and more.

In June, we had a Facebook live event on the City's Spanish Facebook page where we answered questions about the Our Salem project in Spanish. You can watch the video here.

Sign up to get email updates about the project and learn about opportunities to get involved.

April 2020 Webinar

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Our Salem Webinar on scenarios for future growth in April. If you couldn’t join us, you can watch a recording of the webinar online. You can watch a video about the scenarios in Spanish here.

You can also view webinar the presentation slides in English and Spanish online. To tell us what you think about the scenarios, please complete our new survey, which is in English and Spanish.

We've heard a variety of questions about the scenarios, so we've created a webpage to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

More information about the scenarios can be found under “Project Documents” below. 

What did we do in the first phase?

The first phase, Our Salem: Today, focused on examining the existing conditions of the city – our vital signs – and evaluating difference scenarios for how Salem could grow under current policies. Check out this story map to see what we did and what we learned.

The first phase resulted in a report card that evaluates whether we're heading in the right direction given current policies. It also resulted in a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. All this work is informing critical discussions and decisions about future growth in the city.

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Development Types (English)5518 KB4/8/2020
Development Types (Spanish)9876 KB4/8/2020
Draft Guiding Principles (English and Spanish)1121 KB4/8/2020
Indicator Results for Scenarios (English)1183 KB4/8/2020
Indicator Results for Scenarios (Spanish)1489 KB4/8/2020
Scenarios April 2020 (English)10481 KB4/8/2020
Scenarios April 2020 (Spanish)10482 KB4/8/2020
Webinar Presentation April 2020 (English)14372 KB4/8/2020
Webinar Presentation April 2020 (Spanish)14063 KB4/8/2020
Our Salem: Fall 2019 Input - What we heard1081 KB3/20/2020
Visioning Workshop and Online Results 201910863 KB1/6/2020
Visioning Workshops Summary October 2019211 KB10/31/2019
Chip Menu for Online Mapping3060 KB10/15/2019
Chip Menu for Online Mapping - Spanish3083 KB10/15/2019
Visioning Workshop Map26222 KB10/15/2019
Visioning Workshop Presentation October 20195727 KB10/15/2019
Community-Scale GHG Emissions Inventory Methodology Report1081 KB6/10/2019
Final Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory6721 KB6/10/2019
Final Our Salem Report Card3379 KB6/10/2019
Draft Community Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory6753 KB5/8/2019
Our Salem Draft Report Card4328 KB5/8/2019
Our Salem Stakeholder Advisory Committee Presentation for April 3, 20198218 KB4/3/2019
Top Indicators (English and Spanish)77 KB1/28/2019
Top Indicators79 KB1/15/2019
December 5 Public Workshop Existing Conditions Maps8989 KB12/5/2018
December 5 Public Workshop Trends and Indicator Posters630 KB12/5/2018
Our Salem Online Survey Results544 KB12/5/2018
Spanish-translated December 5 Public Workshop Indicator Posters591 KB12/5/2018
Our Salem Advisory Committee Indicator Posters110 KB11/7/2018
Existing Plans Audit Memorandum655 KB11/5/2018
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Stakeholder Advisory Committee

stakeholder advisory committee is advising staff. It has 15 members. The committee consists of Salem officials and representatives from partner jurisdictions, neighborhood associations, and organizations with which collaboration and coordination is critical to the success of the Our Salem project.

  • Elected officials: The committee includes two Salem City Councilors appointed by the Mayor, two Salem Planning Commissioners appointed by the Planning Commission President, and one elected official each from Keizer, Marion County, and Polk County. The officials from Keizer and the two counties were selected by their own jurisdiction. We have included them because this project covers Salem's portion of the urban growth boundary, which goes beyond Salem city limits. Changes to the Comprehensive Plan impact the broader area, so coordination is important, and in some cases, required. 
  • Neighborhood associations: Land use chairs from three neighborhood associations are on the committee. The neighborhoods are located in southeast, northeast, and inner portions of Salem. These are areas that are not represented by the two City Councilors on the committee, which generally represent West Salem and South Salem. We selected the neighborhood representatives to try to achieve geographical representation in the city after the Councilors were selected.
  • Agencies and organizations: The committee includes representatives from several agencies and organizations, including Cherriots, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association of Marion and Polk Counties, Salem 350, and Enlace Cross Cultural Community Development Project. Most of the representatives were selected by their own organization or agency.

The committee is a non-voting committee. It provides a forum to understand differences and shared values among the participants for mutual gains. The public will be invited to attend and participate in all committee meetings.

Technical Advisory Committee

A technical advisory committee is also advising staff. The committee has 15 members. The committee includes staff from City of Salem departments, area jurisdictions, and partner agencies.

The committee will provide technical expertise on project deliverables and guidance on work tasks. The committee is responsible for representing and relaying information about the project to their respective City departments, jurisdictions, or agencies. The committee is expected to meet twice during the first phase of the Our Salem project.  


There are many different ways you can participate in the community-wide visioning phase of the Our Salem project. We will host public workshops, have tables at community events, conduct stakeholder interviews, send out surveys, and partner with local organizations.

If you want us to attend your neighborhood or organization’s meeting or event, please contact Eunice Kim at [email protected] or 503-540-2308.  You can also sign up to get project updates via email.


A consultant team led by Fregonese Associates is providing technical expertise.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range plan for future growth and development in the Salem area that aims to meet the needs of current and future residents.

The plan has goals, policies, and maps that shape everything from where multifamily housing is built to how our street system is designed to how our natural resources are protected.

Simply put, it represents the community's vision for future growth.

Why is the City doing this project?

The community identified a need to develop a vision for growth and development as part of the strategic planning process in 2017.

The Comprehensive Plan has not been updated altogether in decades. It may not reflect the community's vision for the future. This project is an opportunity to better understand Salem and how the community wants to grow over the next couple decades.

The City Council approved funding for this project in 2017.

What happened during the first phase of the project?

A lot happened but not visioning. The first phase focused on data, indicators, and scenarios.

  • Data: We worked with a consultant team and others to collect and analyze information related to the built environment. This included looking at our housing stock, parks, jobs and businesses, development patterns, streets, and more. We also completed a greenhouse gas inventory to better understand the community's impact on the environment.
  • Indicators: Using all of this data and input from the community, measures – or indicators – were selected to evaluate the current state of Salem. We answered questions like: How livable are our neighborhoods? How strong is our economy? How sustainable is our community? Indicators included things like housing affordability, proximity to parks, average wages, tree canopy, and bicycle and pedestrian use.

  • Scenarios: Once we knew how we were doing now, we created different scenarios for how Salem could grow over the next 20 years under current policies. We used the same indicators to evaluate and compare these future scenarios. We created a report card to help answer the question: Are we headed in the right direction?

The results of the first phase of work will inform the next phase, community-wide visioning.

If phase one – Our Salem: Today – did not include visioning, what decisions were made during the first phase?

There were two decision points during phase one. At both of these points, we asked the public for input.

    1. What indicators should we use to evaluate the city? We asked the community to select indicators to evaluate Salem as it is today and as it could be in the future under our existing policies.
    2. Given the results of the analysis, is Salem heading in the right direction? At the end of this first phase, we brought the results of the evaluation to the community and City Council. The results were in the format of a report card and helped answer the question:  Are we heading in the right direction?

Is the City developing a climate action plan as part of this project?


The 2017 Strategic Plan recommends developing a climate action plan, but was not funded as part of the Our Salem project. The City Council voted in June 2019 to provide $50,000 for work on a climate action plan.

  • Greenhouse gas inventory: The City developed a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, as called for in the 2018 Council Policy Agenda. This inventory was incorporated into the first phase of the Our Salem project. We did this because the built environment – buildings, related transportation networks, etc. – affects GHG emissions, and the results of a GHG inventory can and should inform larger discussions about how and where Salem should grow in the future.
  • Goals and policies: We expect to update the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan as part of the Our Salem project. The GHG inventory will help us understand how the updated goals and policies impact GHG emissions. Environmental actions that are not related to the built environment fall outside of the purview of the Comprehensive Plan.

We want your input 

Queremos sus sugerencias

We have heard a lot of support for creating neighborhoods hubs in Salem. Please take this new survey, and help shape where they go and what they look like!

Neigbhorhood Hub Survey (English)

Encuesta Sobre los Centros Vecinales(Español)

Project phases 

​Phase 1

Evaluate existing conditions and how Salem could grow


Phase 2

Establish a community vision for future growth


​Phase 3

Update the Comprehensive Plan to implement the community’s vision

If you haven’t already, please take our Spring 2020 survey to let us know what you think about different priorities for how Salem should grow.

Spring Survey (English)

Primavera Encuesta (Español)

You can also take our scenarios survey to weigh in on different options - or scenarios - for future growth in the Salem area.

Scenarios Survey (English)

Encuesta sobre los escenarios (Español)

What we've learned 

Our Salem Report Card

Contact us

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