Mayor Chris Hoy on Wednesday, March 22, provided the community a report card on what city government has accomplished – and challenges ahead.
He gave his State of the City address before a noon lunch crowd at the Salem Convention Center.
Read our in-depth reporting on his remarks here.
READ IT: State of the City
Here are excerpts of his speech:
“We continue to grow as new residents and new businesses make their way to our beautiful valley. We are making strides in all areas of our strategic priorities: responding to our sheltering crisis, planning for our future, engaging our community, and sustaining infrastructure and services.”
“Our council will continue to prioritize our response to the homelessness crisis and increase the supply of affordable housing in the city. Like much of the United States, and in every corner of Oregon, Salem has seen a rise of individuals experiencing homelessness and of affordable housing needs.”
Life on the streets:
“You can’t find a job, or go to school, care for a loved one, or recover from illness, if you don’t have a home. It’s a place that we all deserve. At the end of the day, we all want a place to go home to. For too many Salem residents their home may be a tent on the side of a road, a mattress in a warming shelter, or the cold fear of staring into the darkness with nowhere to go.”
“Our microshelters give people a place to feel secure because the door locks. People living in our microshelter communities don’t have to worry about their belongings being stolen when they look for work. They don’t have to worry about being kicked out of their resting place. They don’t have to worry about being victimized.”
The city’s Homeless Services Team:
“Enforcement is not the priority. Instead, they are focused on building relationships with both the unsheltered community and the various local service provider organizations. Developing relationships can build trust in the police to encourage the reporting of crimes which, in turn, can reduce victimizations within the encampments. Arrest is always a last resort and in limited situations.”
Homes in Salem:
“Housing construction in Salem remains strong. Subdivisions and large multifamily complexes have been robust. There was an increase in formal inquiries about multi-family developments last year compared to 2021. Of the approximately 1,700 unit permits that were received in 2022, 575, or about one-third of these units, are reserved as affordable housing.”
“Our downtown business owners, workers and patrons have asked us to fix the parking situation. So that’s what we’re doing. We recently instituted 24×7 security in all downtown parking garages. We have made Marion Parkade safe again by removing residents from stairwells and elsewhere, and staff is working on a proposal to institute paid parking downtown.”
“At the airport, city council has unanimously approved funding to prepare for commercial passenger air service. We’ve pushed staff and the community to make this happen. And now we are in the process of signing a contract with the first airline, which will initially serve the Los Angeles basin, with flights expected to start soon.”
Salem Police Department:
“In January, the department launched an online transparency portal to increase trust and legitimacy with the community. By openly sharing data, policies, reports, and other information that directly impacts the public, the department strives to engage residents in knowledge-sharing, while demonstrating openness and accountability.”
Salem in transition:
“Salem has a small town feel that is integral to our culture, but we must also face the reality that we cannot stay a small town forever. As the state’s capital and its second largest city, it is inevitable that we evolve.”
“Change can be a difficult thing, but it also provides an opportunity to adapt and to grow. If we choose to harness this momentum, we can shape it to create the change that we’ve always wanted. If we condemn hate and embrace equality, if we condemn ignorance and celebrate reason, and if we reject divisiveness and demand a return to civility, then our city will bloom.”
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Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.