AGENDA: City Council to Finalize Apartment Tax Relief Affordability Requirement

Salem city councilors will on Monday consider requiring developers to build affordable apartments in order to receive tax breaks from the city.


The board will vote on a resolution revise the standards and guidelines for the City’s Multi-Unit Tax Incentive Program.

The program provides 10 years of tax relief for new housing built in the city centre. Under the proposed changes, projects of 50 or more units should make 15% of those units affordable to people earning 80% of Salem’s median income.

Previously, the program did not require a specific number of affordable units to qualify.

Since 1976, 11 projects in Salem have qualified for the program, including the 157-unit building under construction on the former Salem Nordstrom site.

Councilors previously reviewed the changes at their Oct. 10 meeting.

Councilors will also hear an updated report on the minimum renovations needed to bring commercial flights back to Salem Municipal Airport. Previous city estimates these renovations cost more than $6 million, but a revised staff report says the airport can meet the Transportation Security Administration’s minimum requirements with $129,500 to $195,000 renovations.

These changes would not expand the terminal, which could create building occupancy issues, the staff report said.

“Managing admission to the building may be necessary to control the number of people in the waiting room as well as the baggage claim and security line areas, as too many people will create space conflicts and exceed the occupancy limits of these areas. This option may result in extended waiting times between flights to allow for passenger processing in a constrained physical environment,” the report states.

The city also plans to finalize an amendment to the city code this will make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the sale or rental of property, public accommodation or employment because of a real or perceived lack of accommodation.

The ordinance will make changes to the human rights section of the city code, adding housing status as a protected class. The order takes an education-focused approach and allows the commission to collect reports and educate business owners, but does not provide for fines for violations.

Councilors will also hold a public hearing on proposed zoning changes along Commercial Street Southeast. If approved, the changes would designate land along both sides of the thoroughfare as mixed-use, allowing for both commercial and commercial uses, as well as the construction of apartments.

Changes are part of the city recent revision of its overall plan, called Our Salem, which councilors adopted earlier this year. Councilors will finalize the rezoning of Commercial Street at an upcoming meeting.

How to participate : The Salem City Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 24. See the meeting on Youtube or watch on CC:Media Channel 21. Submit your comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. on the day of the meeting at [email protected] Commentary and public testimonials can also be provided during the meeting via Zoom. Pre-registration between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting at the following link:

Contact journalist Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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