Echoing a Who song: Salem, let's not get fooled again. In the early 2000s a pioneering, far-reaching, creative Salem Futures project was killed by clueless conservatives. Our town has been paying the price ever since, as I'll discuss below.
Here's how someone active in land use issues at the time recently described to me the ax'ing of Salem Futures. (Note: LCDC stands for Land Conservation and Development Commission. It oversees the Department of Land Conservation and Development, DLCD.)
Mayor [Janet] Taylor killed the Salem Futures project after almost two years of work and a million dollars. LCDC was giving Salem grants to create a model comprehensive plan for the State.
Taylor decided to have a public meeting prior to the public hearing. Some property owners had heard about a proposal to do an overlay zone not unlike what just recently was recommended for the State Street area.
She went in unprepared. She did not lay the groundwork with staff. The business people got upset after they felt blindsided. Too much seemed predetermined to them and she did not handle the meeting well. She got into a shouting match with a couple of big owners and then she stormed out of the meeting. I think there was a newspaper article at the time.
Download Salem Futures:Phase_1_Report_Community_Profile_Vision_Statement_Conceptual_Alternatives
And here's another 2009 document that summarizes the Salem Futures project in eight pages.
I said let's not get fooled again because the City of Salem is embarking on another effort to update the Comprehensive Plan that guides land use patterns and future development in Salem. This time the project is being called Our Salem: Planning for Growth.The first meeting of a Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting is next Monday.
Already there are danger signs about how the Comprehensive Plan update will be conducted.
As noted in this post, the membership of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee has come in for well-deserved criticism. It is stacked with members of the Powers That Be, who tilt toward making Salem comfortable for special interests rather than making our town livable for everybody.
Astoundingly, there may never be a Phase 2 that examines the community's vision for future growth and development. And there may never be a Phase 3 that updates the Comprehensive Plan to implement the community's vision. Instead, this plan indicates that the Our Salem project could only look at current growth patterns, and apparently leave the current Comprehensive Plan as is, with no update.
This is astoundingly short-sighted and limiting.
In contrast with the current Our Salem project, Salem Futures started with both a baseline look at current growth patterns, and alternative growth scenarios. Here's screenshots of the alternatives. I haven't shown the maps and photos that accompany the discussion of each alternative.
The degree of community involvement in fashioning Salem Futures seems to have been markedly greater than what is planned for the Our Salem project. Here's an excerpt from the Salem Futures document.
The project began in late-November 1998 with a public lecture by Gordon Price, Vancouver B.C. City Councilor and noted lecturer on urban affairs and design. Councilor Price presented a talk titled “Vancouver BC and Lessons for the Future of Salem”.
This talk was followed by three Community Forums to discuss what makes Salem a unique place and what should be the guiding principles for future growth. During this time, the Statesman Journal published a Community Questionnaire as another opportunity for citizens to express their views about the future.
The CAC [Citizens Advisory Committee] used this public input to draft a Vision Statement. In January, 1999, a town hall meeting was held to discuss the draft Vision Statement.
Since then, the Vision Statement has undergone numerous refinements to ensure it reflects what is important to Salem’s quality of life, such as a vibrant downtown, safe and friendly neighborhoods, and the preservation of the natural environment. It also addresses future change, such as ensuring quality design for new development, saving mature trees, and making it easier to walk, bicycle or ride transit.
At 0900 hours Saturday 28 September 2002, the Progressive Liberal Democrats, Greens, Socialists, and Communists will launch an attack on unsuspecting citizens in cities throughout America. Their objective is securing the signatures of millions of Americans endorsing the Earth Charter Initiative.
Their purpose, abdicate individual freedom and the Nation/State that made America one the greatest Nations in history.
In a desperate last ditch effort the Democrats hope is to garner the signature and votes of millions of unsuspecting Americans who do not have a clue that the Earth Charter is a declaration designed to destroy America and supersede the Declaration of Independence signed in 1776.
...The proponents of the Earth Charter fail to disclose that the authors of the Earth Charter are in fact representatives of the United Nations. The Earth Charter Summit propaganda proclaims:
The Earth Charter is an international people's (not governments, UN or organizations) agreement for a compassionate, just and sustainable world that was written by thousands of folks in 78 countries over the course of 12 years and was launched at The Hague Peace Palace in June 2000. It has the core value of interdependence and calls for economic and social justice, peace, democracy and ecological integrity.
...All across the Nation the Trojan horse for the Earth Charter campaign is buried in the Smart Growth program that encourages cities and counties to foster land use planning programs that reach into neighborhood watch organizations. Federal dollars from the Clinton-Gore administration funded local initiatives for livability and transportation. Professional land use planning organizations were co-opted and facilitated the movement using tax payer dollars for a political purpose.
A beachhead was secured in Oregon, when on July 3, 2001, the Oregon Legislature adopted the Oregon Sustainability Act.
In Salem, Oregon Mayor Mike Swaim is rapidly moving the implementation of the Sustainable Development program through a project called Salem Futures and in the Willamette Valley the program is known as the Willamette Valley Livability Project. The Mayor and a committee of the League of Oregon Cities drafted a Template for Local Government Sustainable Development Initiatives.
...In Salem the Progressives or their sympathizers dominate (66 percent) of the Salem Futures Citizen Advisory Committee. On Saturday 28 September 2002 the Progressives are sponsoring through the Oregon Peace Works a program titled "ALL ABOARD THE LIVABILITY EXPRESS!" The focus is to create a community-wide democratic platform so that "We the People ... " can focus and direct "the Will of the People" into our City government.
OMG! Salem Futures wanted to represent the Will of the People! That sounds... um... WONDERFUL. We can only hope that the Our Salem project has a similar aspiration, even though like I said, it doesn't look that way at the moment.