Salem gathering data for snapshot into future growth

The lobby of Salem City Hall. (Salem Reporter files)

As Salem plans for the future, staff are undertaking a data project to be a sort of statistical crystal ball.

The city’s Community Development Department on Wednesday released a list of 20 facets of life in Salem it will measure and extrapolate for the years ahead for a glimpse of the city’s future.

By projecting the city’s growth with those 20 facets, or indicators, city planner Eunice Kim said Salem residents and leaders will get a sense of changes they might want to make.

“The whole idea is not so much to say ‘Hey, this is how the city is doing. Period.’ But to say ‘These are some general trends where Salem is going in the future, what do you think?’” Kim said.

Kim said there are about 80 indicators that planners and a consultant, Fregonese Associates, are calculating. The city will release the findings of all, but include only 20 in an easily digestible guide.

“It will come in a report card that will help the community, the (Salem City Council), everyone decide where we go from here,” she said. “Do we like where we’re headed? Or should we make some changes to our comprehensive plan policies.”

“We’re not throwing away any of the ideas people added to that long list in the public workshop,” she said. That data will be available to the public, Kim said, and those data points can be viewed on the city’s website.

The top indicators, listed below, will track things like employment mix, average wage, tree canopy, traffic and pedestrian actions, proximity to parks and trails. They were chosen based the city’s meetings with two advisory groups respectively comprised of politically active citizens and technical professionals. The city also hosted a public workshop.

Crafting the report and delivering it will end phase one of the comprehensive plan update, also known as “Our Salem.” The update, which guides everything from where homes are built to how parks are managed, was funded by Salem City Council in 2017.

The next phase, according to Kim, will have a yet-to-be-hired consultant take policy ideas to show how the data – the city’s projected future – would change.

“Phase two people could say ‘I think we should focus on this different area. We should do higher density here, lower density here, mixed-use here, protect more trees. Or, you know, not develop in the floodplain,” Kim said.

Dates for the report have not been finalized, Kim said. She said planners could show stakeholders by April and city council by June.

Top 20 indicators:

Welcome and Livable Community


Housing affordability

Complete neighborhoods

Proximity to parks and trails

Infill development / redevelopment

Safe, Reliable, Efficient Infrastructure

Walk and transit friendliness

Access to frequent transit

Bicycle and pedestrian use

Strong and Diverse Economy

Employment mix

Average wage

Jobs/housing balance

Good Governance

Revenue-to-cost ratio

Annual level of service

Property tax revenue

Natural Environment Stewardship

Tree canopy

Development in environmentally sensitive areas

Total greenhouse gas emissions

Air pollutant reduction

Safe Community

Traffic/pedestrian accidents

Active transportation

Have a tip? Contact reporter Troy Brynelson at 503-575-9930, [email protected] or @TroyWB.

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