The City of Salem completed a study called the
Salem Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) in December 2014. It examined if there was enough land within Salem’s portion of the Urban Growth Boundary to meet anticipated housing needs over the next 20 years.
The study determined that there is a projected deficit of 207-acres of land for multifamily housing. This deficit must be addressed so the City can ensure there is enough housing for residents. One of the ways the study recommended meeting this deficit was to lower barriers to multifamily development by revising the City’s design standards.
In February 2016, the City Council directed staff to begin working to address Salem’s projected deficit of multifamily land as outlined in staff’s
work plan. The City has completed the first task on the work plan, which was allowing
accessory dwelling units in Salem.
This project is identified in phase 2 of the work plan. Specifically, the work plan states that staff will explore creating a menu of design standards options for multifamily housing.
The City’s existing regulations require multifamily development - three or more housing units - to go through
multiple family design review (Salem Revised Code Chapter 702). Such development must meet a list of design standards, which address everything from landscaping to building design to pedestrian access. If just one standard cannot be met, the project must go through a public hearing process for approval. This has been identified as a potential barrier to the development of multifamily housing in Salem.
The existing design standards are generally geared toward large, suburban-type projects and are therefore not well suited for smaller multifamily housing projects. The standards have thus been identified as potential barriers to development.
Assistance and funding
The City is working on this project with a consultant,
3J Consulting, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) through its new Oregon Housing Planning Project. The state project provides local governments with technical assistance to promote housing availability and affordability. The state legislature appropriated funding for the work during the 2018 legislative session.
The City applied for technical assistance through the Oregon Housing Planning Program during the summer of 2018.
DLCD selected the City to receive the assistance in the fall.