Salem Climate Action Plan Strategies

10 Proposed Strategies for Benefit-Cost Analysis by Climate Action Plan Consultants

Submitted to Salem City Council by 350 Salem OR
April 11, 2021

On Monday the Climate Action Plan (CAP) consultants will meet with the three City Councilors on the CAP Task Force (Andersen, Nordyke and Gonzales) to decide on ten climate action strategies that will be analyzed with their Benefit-Cost tool.  The tool monetizes many of the environmental benefits that are sometimes ignored in B-C studies.

Below are 350 Salem’s ten proposed strategies that the consultants should use for their benefit-cost (B-C) analyses.  The reason for the lack of a transit-focused strategy and our overarching principles are below after the list of proposed strategies.

Strategies were picked that:

  • Would substantially reduce the city’s GHG emissions
  • Are mainly under the control of City Government
  • Are cohesive enough to be modeled by the tool
  • Might be somewhat controversial
  • Help or at least do not harm low-income households

350 Salem’s Recommended 10 strategies for B-C Analyses (roughly in priority order):

1. Have 50 percent of new housing and commercial development in compact complete neighborhoods between now and 2035,

(Compact and complete as defined by the Land Conservation and Development Commission.) This would include zoning for or providing incentives for six story and other vertical development within a quarter mile of the existing core transit network

2. Pass both a transportation fuel tax and a bond issue and use part of System Development Charges (SDCs) to fund complete bike paths and sidewalks city-wide.

Also prioritize state and federal funds for these purposes. Provide a complete network of sidewalks and bike paths within a mile of all transit  routes. The bond would be a renewal of the 2008 “Streets and Bridges Bond” when it’s paid off in the near future, but instead would be focused on sidewalks and bike paths.  All projects to be completed by 2030.

3. Transform auto-dependent low-income neighborhoods in north, northeast and east Salem.

Make these neighborhoods complete neighborhoods with walkable access to healthy food and other necessities, green spaces and city parks, and a branch library by 2030. Consult with community organizations and residents on needed services and facilities. Ensure that low income and BIPOC residents are consulted and their needs and concerns addressed. Fund with SDCs and other funds.

4. Make Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures mandatory for major employers including the City by 2025.

TDM would include:

  • Opportunities for teleworking
  • Prohibiting employers from offering free parking to employees making more than $50,000 per year
  • Cash payments to employees for car/van pooling as in the OHSU commute rewards program
  • Staggered work hours
  • Free transit passes
  • Emergency ride home
  • Secure bike parking onsite
  • Showers and lockers for bicyclists

5.  Provide the lowest carbon footprint for all City, police and fire vehicles

In purchasing vehicles for the police and fire department: Buy smaller fuel efficient vehicles. When purchasing City, police or fire vehicles; Buy electric vehicles (EVs) or hybrids wherever possible. The City, police and fire fleets would be 100 percent EV by 2035.

6.  Ensure broad availability of EV charging stations throughout the city by 2030

All charging stations would be at least level 2 smart chargers (220 volts).  Fund with SDCs, federal funds and general funds.

Elements would include:

  • Requiring all new large apartment buildings provide EV charging at cost.
  • Creating incentives for existing apartments and landlord and condo associations to provide EV charging.
  • Working with PGE and Salem Electric to provide ample charging stations for visitors and rental households, especially in residential neighborhoods with many rented houses, duplexes and smaller apartment buildings.

7. Increase the tree canopy in Salem by 50 percent by 2035.

Increasing the tree canopy will lower electricity use by providing shade in the summer and will also sequester carbon. This effort would include City mandates on private property and an aggressive tree planting program on City controlled lands. The City should protect trees over 25” in diameter from easy removal by requiring permits to remove and provide a “call before you cut” phone and web-chat service to reduce mistaken or illegal tree cutting.  Require or have the City provide buffer zones with trees and shrubs to protect children and families from heavy traffic areas and industrial pollution.  Fund with SDCs, state, federal and general City funds
 8. No more widening or adding lanes to existing roadways

There should be no widening or adding lanes to existing roadways, except where they improve bicycle and pedestrian safety or to improve transit flow. Expanding roadways only serves to induce more traffic, which increases vehicle miles traveled (VMT), fails to relieve congestion, and increases air and noise pollution.

9. Decrease unsafe driving and increase pedestrian and bike safety.

Safer streets will encourage more walking and biking instead of driving.  Lower speed limits throughout commercial and residential neighborhoods. Slower speeds increase the miles per gallon for vehicles. For streets where speeding is a problem, redesign roads, including fewer lanes, speed humps, traffic calming and other safety measures.

10. Provide for or require smaller, walkable urban-scale parks and open space city-wide by 2030.

Salem needs more parks and open space that can be easily reached by walking and biking and not by car. The city should update its park master plan to include small pocket parks, plazas, playgrounds or open spaces appropriate for walkable neighborhoods throughout the city.  Pay for with SDCs and other funds.

Note on lack of a transit-related strategy on the above list:

Because Cherriots is a separate organization from City Government, based on Principle 2 above, there is not a specific transit strategy.  Still the City and the consultants, working with Cherriots might want to conduct a B-C analysis of a cohesive transit strategy that incorporates coordinated actions by Cherriots and the City.  350 Salem did not attempt to prepare such a strategy.  

Overarching principles:

1. Address needs in low-income neighborhoods first

Salem’s climate action strategies should prioritize the needs of low-income neighborhoods. Strategies should be designed so that they undo historic patterns of disinvestment in Salem’s low-income neighborhoods by prioritizing public spending in those areas. The city should ensure residents of these neighborhoods are protected from potential harms of climate action, such as gentrification and displacement. Decision-making around how to invest and reduce emissions in these neighborhoods should be driven by the residents themselves to the greatest degree possible.

2. Prioritize reductions that will reduce emissions sooner rather than later

After decades of delay, the city (and the world) must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Salem’s climate action plan should prioritize strategies likely to meaningfully reduce emissions within the next 3-5 years.