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March 16, 2016


This post is basically the long form version of the answer I gave to the first question of the Salem Police Facility Survey; there is no articulated vision for what Salem is supposed to be or what its citizens are supposed to aspire to as a community. If there is and I happened to have missed it, then there has not been focused, inclusive leadership driving that agenda.


Salemites might start with some of the unsung but great stuff it DOES have. One small example: In the 8 years I lived there, seemingly nobody but me noticed how great it is that downtown businesses all have sidewalk awnings or overhangs. This enables pedestrians to do a ton of errands and shopping in a place where it rains 300 days a year without the bleak, windy, soggy walk that would be necessary at, say, Keizer Station.

Salem has a funky, accessible quality that contrasts sharply (and not in a good way) with the *VERY* expensive housing. The city might want to stop courting monstrous shopping developments on the edge of town and suburban-ish sprawl in general and come up with ways to ease the path of people who actually want to live downtown or in other close-in neighborhoods but aren't millionaires.

The most recent deceptive campaign to defeat yet another plan to expand the otherwise excellent Cherriots bus service for evenings and weekends is a perfect example. How weird is it that The Powers That Be have no problem permitting an endless series of "assisted living centers" and the like? Yet, when operating, these places must be staffed 24/7 and pay very little. If more workers could commute by bus, they'd have much more of their income to spend in local stores, which would be more helpful to the tax base than paying out-of-town consultants to come up with plans to beat back transit, over and over.

In general, I can't imagine that these planners actually WANT to spray the place with Millennial Repellent, yet that's what they do. They seem absolutely disconnected from everyday life in the city and communicate a condescension and contempt for ordinary citizens that's really quite startling in contrast with many other places--including those with even greater problems than Salem has.

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