Chapter 4: Process

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

In 2020, the City of Salem hired Verdis Group to lead the community through the climate action planning process. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the project was completed virtually. Most meetings and workshops were held via Zoom. Community engagement was conducted in person and virtually in the summer and fall of 2021.

The planning process included the following key steps:

1. Climate Action Task Force:

A Task Force of 35 members and 5 City staff representing a diverse cross-section of the Salem community was formed. This group participated in five virtual planning workshops.

2. Advisory Group:

A group of 13 City staff was created and provided technical input and advising throughout the process. Some members of the City Staff Advisory Group also served on the Climate Action Task Force.

3. Consumption-Based Emissions Inventory:

An analysis of the GHG emissions associated with the products and services that Salem residents purchase and consume was completed.

4. Public Engagement:

Stakeholder mapping and analysis helped inform representation on the Task Force as well as the creation of a Public Engagement Plan, which outlined approaches and strategies for engaging the public in the climate planning process. A website was created to serve as a hub for information and community engagement related to the Climate Action Plan. At the outset of the project, a survey was conducted, gathering input from 499 community members regarding their views on climate change, characteristics of Salem, and the planning process. Community partners and Task Force members were asked to share requests for public input to their networks at various stages. Specific public engagement activities are included in the steps below.

5. Visioning:

Nearly 75 community members and Task Force members contributed 221 ideas to identify a vision for a resilient Salem of 2050. These activities resulted in a set of visionary ideas categorized into eight main action areas.

6. Vulnerability Assessment:

Twelve interviews were conducted with 23 stakeholders and subject matter experts to ascertain the ways in which climate impacts have already affected Salem, how some residents are and may be disproportionately affected by climate impacts, and the kinds of climate hazards that residents may experience in the future. Discussions were held on topics like water quality, stormwater management, fire risk, homelessness, emergency management, and equity. From the information gathered during interviews and through supplemental resources shared by interviewees, a methodological assessment of the climate risks Salem faces was conducted to identify the greatest threats to the community and how these climate-related threats interact with existing vulnerabilities. (See Climate Vulnerability Assessment chapter for details.)

7. Strategy Development:

Members of the Task Force and community members were invited to submit their ideas on an online activity about the ways in which Salem could reduce GHG emissions and increase climate resilience. Nearly 250 individuals contributed ideas or comments. Next, additional strategies and best practices were generated by the consultants, ultimately leading to a list of over 200 ideas. A survey was conducted in which the Task Force and community members were asked to express their degree of support for each idea. The strategy ideas then went through a rigorous refinement process in which dozens of subject matter experts were consulted and strategies were refined in order to ensure relevance and specificity.

8. Benefit-Cost Analysis:

A benefit-cost analysis was performed by Ecotone Analytics on 10 strategies selected by three Salem City Council Task Force members. The analysis is different from a usual benefit-cost analysis in that it takes a broader view of impacts to account for social, environmental and economic valuations that can come from each strategy. A series of interviews with 29 subject matter experts in local and regional agencies was conducted to inform the analysis, in addition to extensive research (see Appendix 6).

9. GHG Forecasting and Planning:

An in-depth analysis of Salem’s GHG reduction potential over the next 30 years was performed. Three separate business-as-usual forecasts were prepared, along with three separate forecasts showing the potential reductions Salem could make with ambitious climate action. Ten target scenarios, or assumptions about future GHG reductions, were modeled to show results by 2035 and 2050 (see Chapter 7).

10. Community Engagement:

Gathering perspectives and expertise from the Salem community was an essential part of creating a climate action plan tailored to the unique needs of the community. Throughout the Salem Climate Action Plan preparation process, the public provided input through online activities, community meetings, surveys, and by commenting on the draft plan (see Appendix 7). Public input from each phase of the process framed the next phase — feedback from the public was discussed by the project team and incorporated into the visioning, vulnerability assessment, strategy development phase, and finalization of the plan.

11. City Council Work Session:

The Salem City Council received a briefing on the Climate Action Plan and discussed next steps at a Work Session on September 20th, 2021.

12. Implementation Planning:

Task Force members and City Staff were engaged in creating a prioritized Implementation Plan.

13. Final Review and Approval:

Text TBD

The climate action planning process was coordinated with “Our Salem,” the City’s project to update the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan. Climate action strategies will achieve multiple and overlapping community goals and thus many strategies in this plan, particularly those related to land use planning, are applicable to Our Salem as well. Including these climate-friendly strategies in Salem’s comprehensive plan will ensure that the City will be able to make progress toward its climate goals over the next several years.

In 2020, the City of Salem hired Verdis Group to lead the community through the climate action planning process. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the project was completed virtually. Most meetings and workshops were held via Zoom. Community engagement was conducted in person and virtually in the summer and fall of 2021.

The planning process included the following key steps:

1. Climate Action Task Force:

A Task Force of 35 members and 5 City staff representing a diverse cross-section of the Salem community was formed. This group participated in five virtual planning workshops.

2. Advisory Group:

A group of 13 City staff was created and provided technical input and advising throughout the process. Some members of the City Staff Advisory Group also served on the Climate Action Task Force.

3. Consumption-Based Emissions Inventory:

An analysis of the GHG emissions associated with the products and services that Salem residents purchase and consume was completed.

4. Public Engagement:

Stakeholder mapping and analysis helped inform representation on the Task Force as well as the creation of a Public Engagement Plan, which outlined approaches and strategies for engaging the public in the climate planning process. A website was created to serve as a hub for information and community engagement related to the Climate Action Plan. At the outset of the project, a survey was conducted, gathering input from 499 community members regarding their views on climate change, characteristics of Salem, and the planning process. Community partners and Task Force members were asked to share requests for public input to their networks at various stages. Specific public engagement activities are included in the steps below.

5. Visioning:

Nearly 75 community members and Task Force members contributed 221 ideas to identify a vision for a resilient Salem of 2050. These activities resulted in a set of visionary ideas categorized into eight main action areas.

6. Vulnerability Assessment:

Twelve interviews were conducted with 23 stakeholders and subject matter experts to ascertain the ways in which climate impacts have already affected Salem, how some residents are and may be disproportionately affected by climate impacts, and the kinds of climate hazards that residents may experience in the future. Discussions were held on topics like water quality, stormwater management, fire risk, homelessness, emergency management, and equity. From the information gathered during interviews and through supplemental resources shared by interviewees, a methodological assessment of the climate risks Salem faces was conducted to identify the greatest threats to the community and how these climate-related threats interact with existing vulnerabilities. (See Climate Vulnerability Assessment chapter for details.)

7. Strategy Development:

Members of the Task Force and community members were invited to submit their ideas on an online activity about the ways in which Salem could reduce GHG emissions and increase climate resilience. Nearly 250 individuals contributed ideas or comments. Next, additional strategies and best practices were generated by the consultants, ultimately leading to a list of over 200 ideas. A survey was conducted in which the Task Force and community members were asked to express their degree of support for each idea. The strategy ideas then went through a rigorous refinement process in which dozens of subject matter experts were consulted and strategies were refined in order to ensure relevance and specificity.

8. Benefit-Cost Analysis:

A benefit-cost analysis was performed by Ecotone Analytics on 10 strategies selected by three Salem City Council Task Force members. The analysis is different from a usual benefit-cost analysis in that it takes a broader view of impacts to account for social, environmental and economic valuations that can come from each strategy. A series of interviews with 29 subject matter experts in local and regional agencies was conducted to inform the analysis, in addition to extensive research (see Appendix 6).

9. GHG Forecasting and Planning:

An in-depth analysis of Salem’s GHG reduction potential over the next 30 years was performed. Three separate business-as-usual forecasts were prepared, along with three separate forecasts showing the potential reductions Salem could make with ambitious climate action. Ten target scenarios, or assumptions about future GHG reductions, were modeled to show results by 2035 and 2050 (see Chapter 7).

10. Community Engagement:

Gathering perspectives and expertise from the Salem community was an essential part of creating a climate action plan tailored to the unique needs of the community. Throughout the Salem Climate Action Plan preparation process, the public provided input through online activities, community meetings, surveys, and by commenting on the draft plan (see Appendix 7). Public input from each phase of the process framed the next phase — feedback from the public was discussed by the project team and incorporated into the visioning, vulnerability assessment, strategy development phase, and finalization of the plan.

11. City Council Work Session:

The Salem City Council received a briefing on the Climate Action Plan and discussed next steps at a Work Session on September 20th, 2021.

12. Implementation Planning:

Task Force members and City Staff were engaged in creating a prioritized Implementation Plan.

13. Final Review and Approval:

Text TBD

The climate action planning process was coordinated with “Our Salem,” the City’s project to update the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan. Climate action strategies will achieve multiple and overlapping community goals and thus many strategies in this plan, particularly those related to land use planning, are applicable to Our Salem as well. Including these climate-friendly strategies in Salem’s comprehensive plan will ensure that the City will be able to make progress toward its climate goals over the next several years.

Page last updated: 15 November 2021, 15:07