New mixed-use areas topic of public meeting

People on pedestrian crossings, on foot and by bicycle

The planning directors of Keizer and Salem joined with representatives of Oregon’s Land Conservation and Development Commission  (LCDC) to host a public virtual meeting to explain new Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) rules and describe what walkable,mixed-use areas are.

A climate-friendly area is an area where residents, workers, and visitors can meet most of their daily needs without having to drive. Walkable mixed-use areas would contain a greater mix and supply of housing, jobs, businesses, and services. These areas would be served, by high quality pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure to provide frequent, comfortable, and convenient connections to key destinations within the city and region.

Shane Witham, Keizer’s planning director and  Eunice Kim Long Range Planning Manager for Salem, discussed how the rules are expected to be implemented in their communities.

In 2007, Oregon legislators adopted a policy and goal to reduce Oregon’s climate pollution by 75% by 2050. That’s what the new rules call for, if the state is going to avoid impacts to the environment, communities, and economy.

The impetus for the CFEC rules is to reduce, in part,  vehicle pollution.

Fifteen years later, the state is already experiencing real-world impacts of climate disruption, with increasing wildfires, in size, severity, and timing, and record heat waves that have cost Oregonians their homes, and their lives.

The Land Conservation and Development Commission said the state is off-track in reducing pollution from transportation, responsible for about 38% of Oregon’s climate pollution. On the current path Oregon will only reduce transportation pollution by about 20% by 2050.

Keizer falls in one of two population designations for what is required—cities with more than 50,000 people and those with a population of 25,000 to 49,000. Options for Keizer are 20 dwelling units per acre and a maximum height of 60 feet for buildings.

Eight metropolitan areas in western Oregon will be under the new Climate Friendly and Equitable Cities rules, ranging from the Rogue Valley, Lane County, Portland and Salem-Keizer among them.

Among the questions regarding Keizer asked by attendees of the virtual meeting were about mid-block crosswalks on River Road and about bike lanes that are separate from pedestrian sidewalks and vehicular traffic.

Witham said that mid-block crosswalks on River Road has been a wish for many years. They may come to fruition with any walkable mixed-use proposals.

There will be public open house in Keizer this spring to gain input from the community about how the city will plan for walkable mixed-use areas.

“We want to learn if our reasoning is sound and on track with what Keizer residents want,’ said Witham.