The City's published a new draft vision and proposed map for the update to the Comprehensive Plan, Our Salem.
They plan on presenting it to the Planning Commission on the 9th and Council on the 22nd.
But the Climate Action Plan is still very much in the early phases, and since that will feed back into the Comprehensive Plan, increasingly it seems premature to finish the Comprehensive Plan update right now. Why are we rushing it?
As for the revisions since September, the City says
We have used your input since the fall to update the draft vision. For example, we have added more mixed-use areas as well as more neighborhood hubs and live-work opportunities across Salem.
|Map changes summary Feb 2021|
More new single family zones in yellow
I guess there's a few changes here, but in a zoomed-out view they don't alter the tonal shape and weight of the map. They added a few more mixed use areas and hubs.
The changes mostly appear minor and incremental.
One thing new, and on the surface in the wrong direction, is a retrenchment in yellow, a renewed commitment to "single family residential." Shouldn't we just abandon that category now, especially with the smallplex legalization underway? Not expand it anyway. We don't need more of it.
|Map changes summary Sept 2020|
But even more, there's no new emissions assessment, and no attempt to plan for greater emissions reductions.
|Aside from these words, it's not spelled out|
While the document includes the words "reduce Salem's greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent...by 2035," it contains no assessment or analysis that the plan actually achieves this reduction. You'd think there would be a new chapter that discusses in detail how each part of the proposal contributes to the City's reduction goal. But no. It remains vaporous and aspiration. It does not seem very serious.
The City and consultants refused the opportunity to rethink and rewrite the plan, and they did not respond directly to the comments offered by our 350.org chapter nor show very much indirect evidence of responsiveness.
Later on after a closer reading there might be more to say. Maybe others will find these impressions are in error and correct them. But three general things seem true on a first impression:
- We should strongly consider deferring adoption of the Comprehensive Plan changes until we are further along in the Climate Action Plan.
- Apart from that, this new revision is not very much changed from the initial version from September, and does not represent much of a re-thinking.
- We should not get attached to any plan until we see a realistic analysis that it accomplishes what we say we want to accomplish, like a 50% reduction by 2035. If it turns out it will not accomplish what we want it to accomplish, then that is evidence we need to revise it until it does accomplish what we want to accomplish.