City News

YOUR GOVERNMENT: Council to consider developing paid parking plan downtown

The Salem City Council meets Monday, Feb. 27, to consider grant funding to provide people who are homeless with rental assistance, and to hear a first reading on an initiative to designate the Salem Civic Center as a local historical resource.

Mayor Chris Hoy will also present a motion asking staff to develop a plan for paid-parking downtown.


The meeting starts at 6 p.m., and will be both in-person at the council chambers and available to watch online.

To comment remotely, sign up on the city website between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city of Salem YouTube channel, with translation to Spanish and American sign language available.

For written comments, email [email protected] before 5 p.m. on Monday, or on paper to the city recorder’s office at the Civic Center, 555 Liberty St. S.E., Room 225. Include a statement indicating the comment is for the public record.

Rental assistance grant

Councilors will vote on whether to approve a grant with the city’s housing authority to provide $630,000 for the Homeless Rental Assistance Program. 

The funding would support the housing authority’s efforts to place people in transitional housing and provide wraparound services. The money is also intended to help remove people’s barriers to housing, including security deposits, document retrieval and employment readiness.

An estimated 1,000 to 2,000 people are homeless in the Salem area, according to the staff report. Of those, 500 people are categorized as the most vulnerable and hardest to house, and would be given priority under the grant, according to data from the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency.

Paid parking downtown

Mayor Chris Hoy will present a motion directing staff to develop a plan for paid on-street parking in the downtown parking district, and phase out the parking district tax. 

According to the staff report on the motion, the downtown parking tax has not kept up with inflation, and the fund has lost revenue due to department store closures downtown.

Local historic resources

The council will be doing a first reading to consider designating the Salem Civic Center as a local historic resource.

The civic center, located at 555 Liberty Street S.E., is eligible as an example of Brutalist architecture. A 1973 edition of “Tone” magazine described the newly built concrete building as having an “airiness that orients beautifully with the open spaces of the twelve-acre park-like setting,” according to a recommendation from the city’s historic landmarks commission.

The designation would add preservation and maintenance ordinances to the structure. Following the first reading by the city council, the decision will go to public hearing.

The council will hear a report from the Salem Historic Landmarks Commission, highlighting its work in 2022 and its plans for the next year.

Its goals for 2023 include improving community engagement, social media and educational programing, and providing workshops on topics like seismic retrofitting and window repairs. 

Workers compensation claim

The city will also vote on whether to settle a workers’ compensation claim filed by Brandon Howe, pay him $120,000 of taxpayer money and waive the recovery of over $60,000 in temporary partial disability overpayment. The payment would come from the city’s self-insurance claim fund. 

According to the staff report, Howe has permanent restrictions and his condition is not expected to improve.

Polk County levy, public right-of-ways

Polk County Sheriff Mark Garton will ask the council to support an increase in the public safety operating levy in Polk County, where much of west Salem lies. County residents will vote on the levy in the May 2023 election. 

Garton’s presentation cites a loss of federal timber payments and limited working hours in his agency.

The proposed levy would cost 49.5 cents per $1000 of property value, a 7-cent increase, according to the presentation. In a $250,000 assessed value home, this would be a $17.50 increase per year. 

Monday’s agenda also includes several votes designating spaces on Southeast Salal Street and Southeast Teal Drive as public right-of-ways. One vote would dedicate Southeast Truax Drive between Aumsville Highway and Mill Creek Drive. The moves would add public street access in the city.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.