Our Salem: Planning for Growth

We’re checking Salem’s vitals

How livable are our neighborhoods? How strong is our economy? How sustainable is our community?

The City has launched 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 three possible phases.

​Thank you for your input

More than 250 people responded to our latest survey. Check back soon for results and our next survey question.

We want your input 

How well does the Salem community protect the natural environment?

Submit your answer

The first phase, called Our Salem: Today, focuses on examining the existing conditions of the city – our vital signs – and evaluating difference scenarios for how Salem could grow under current policies. The City has hired a consulting team to work on the first phase and the first phase only.

The Our Salem: Today phase includes several tasks:

  • Review existing plans to identify City goals and priorities
  • Choose measures to evaluate the city
  • Conduct a greenhouse gas inventory to determine the community’s impact on the environment
  • Create and evaluate scenarios to illustrate how Salem could grow

The first phase is expected to take nine months to a year to complete. It will inform critical discussions and decisions about future growth in the city.

Future phases will be determined when the current phase is complete. If future phases are needed, they will follow the themes below:

  • Phase 2
    Our Salem: What’s Possible – Establish the community’s vision for future growth and development
  • Phase 3
    Our Salem: What’s Next – Update the Comprehensive Plan to implement the community’s vision
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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
Spanish-translated December 5 Public Workshop Indicator Posters591 KB12/5/2018
Our Salem Online Survey Results544 KB12/5/2018
Our Salem Advisory Committee Indicator Posters110 KB11/7/2018
Existing Plans Audit Memorandum655 KB11/5/2018
Our Salem Technical Advisory Committee78 KB9/26/2018
Our Salem Stakeholder Advisory Committee206 KB9/5/2018

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 committee is expected to meet twice during the first phase of the Our Salem project. 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.  


We expect to have two public workshops during the first phase of the project. The workshops will focus on the two decision points of the first phase: Choosing indicators and determining the focus of phase two, the visioning phase. The two workshops will be in addition to the meetings of the stakeholder advisory committee, which will be open to the public.

We will also have opportunities for people to provide input online and in-person at other events and meetings of different organizations and associations. Anyone interested in the project can sign up to get project updates via email.

The process is designed to provide the public with the same material and same opportunities as the stakeholder advisory committee. When combined, this information from all parties will be used to formulate a final report and presentation to the City Council at the end of phase one.


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 is happening during the first phase of the project?

A lot is happening but not visioning. This phase is focused on data, indicators, and scenarios.

  • Data: We are working with a consultant team and others to collect and analyze information related to the built environment. This includes looking at our housing stock, parks, jobs and businesses, development patterns, streets, and more. We will also be completing 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 – will be selected to evaluate the current state of Salem. We'll be answering questions like: How livable are our neighborhoods? How strong is our economy? How sustainable is our community? Indicators could include things like housing affordability, access to parks, employment availability, daily vehicle miles traveled, and transit ridership. We will create a report card to illustrate how we're doing.
  • Scenarios: Once we know how we're doing today, we will create different scenarios for how Salem could grow over the next 20 years under current policies. We'll use the same indicators to evaluate and compare these future scenarios. Will the community like where we are headed? 

If not, that's where visioning – phase 2 – comes in.

If phase one – Our Salem: Today – does not include visioning, what decisions will be made during the first phase?

There will be two decision points during phase one. At both of those points, we'll ask the public for input.

    1. What indicators should we use to evaluate the city? We will select indicators to evaluate Salem as it is today and as it could be in the future under our existing policies. For example, when it comes to livability and the environment, should we consider how many people and jobs are located near parks? Should we measure the amount of parks available per capita? When we think about housing affordability, should we measure how much housing is available at different income brackets? Or should we look at average rents and sales prices? These are the types of questions and discussions we'll have as we choose indicators.
    2. Given the results of the analysis, what should be the focus for phase two? At the end of this first phase, we will bring the results of the evaluation to the community and City Council. The results will be in the format of a report card. Then we'll ask, what do you think? Do you like where we're headed? If not, what should be the focus of phase two, the visioning phase?

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


The 2017 Strategic Plan recommends developing a climate action plan, but it has not been funded or assigned to specific staff. It is not part of the Our Salem project.

  • Greenhouse gas inventory: The City is developing a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory, as called for in the 2018 Council Policy Agenda. This inventory is incorporated into the first phase of the Our Salem project. We're doing 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 in future phases 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.

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

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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