Making Democracy Work

Social Policy

Acceptance of Diversity (1996)

Based on in-depth interviews with 41 local people of color, the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties is aware that racism is widely experienced in the Salem area. Each person we interviewed told of incidents they had experienced personally, and how these experiences had impacted their lives. Common situations in which discrimination was experienced involved stores, restaurants, job, school and law enforcement agencies.

In order to help create a "Climate of Acceptance" in our area, LWV/MPC is committed to pursuing several approaches:

Support existing Civil and Human Rights laws, regulations and policies by pressing government, business, schools, employers, law enforcement and others to be accountable for enforcing these laws; Support victims of racial discrimination in trying to get fair treatment; Support the work of the Salem Human Rights and Relations Advisory Commission and other groups committed to cultural awareness and upholding everyone's human rights; Insure that human rights groups have sufficient authority to protect human rights; Encourage full representation of people of color on the Human Rights Commission and other related agencies; Support and/or initiate efforts to raise awareness about the wide extent of racist behavior and the impact this has on individual lives; Support and/or initiate efforts to raise awareness of the wide range of cultural and racial diversity in our community and foster an atmosphere of Acceptance; Explore new approaches to resolving racism.

Aquatics Facilities (2001)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties believes that the present public aquatic facilities in our community, consisting of one covered and one uncovered pool, are inadequate to meet the needs of our population. We support maintaining and upgrading existing public facilities as well as adding facilities as need increases and finances allow.

We support year-round programs which include instruction, therapy, recreation and competitive swimming. Community programs should include the lifetime skills of swimming and water safety and should be both affordable and accessible for all members of the community.

We support the following options as potential sources of revenue for construction, land purchases and refurbishing public aquatic facilities:

a. Bond measure

b. Private funding/grants

c. State and federal funds, e.g., Urban renewal funds, Lottery funds, Measure 66 funds, Land Water and Conservation funds, Community Development Block Grants

d. Systems Development Charges

We support the following options for funding the operation and maintenance of public aquatic programs and facilities:

a. User fees

b. Local government funds gained through careful examination of budgets for other local government services

c. Private funding/grants

d. Other revenue sources, such as a dedicated tax

The following public or private jurisdictions may be appropriate to manage the ongoing operations of aquatic facilities and its programs:

a. Parks and Recreation Department/City of Salem

b. Salem-Keizer School District 24J

c. Marion and Polk Counties

d. Chemeketa Community College

e. Public agencies sharing financial responsibility

f. A regional Aquatic District that may be created

g. Public-private management partnership between local government and a non-profit organization

Health Care--Access to Maternity Care (1991)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties understands that there are a number of barriers to adequate perinatal care in Salem and in Marion County. Community efforts are needed to help resolve shortages of funding, information and professional caregivers. Priority should be given to increasing the availability of providers. Efforts to remove other barriers which limit a woman's access to care are also needed.

The League supports:

1. Increasing the number of providers of maternity care to give all pregnant women access to care early in pregnancy.

2. Expanding opportunities for certified nurse midwives to provide perinatal care, including delivery services.

3. Comprehensive county-wide planning for maternity care services.

4. Utilizing resources most efficiently by encouraging public and private sector partnerships.

Housing: Multi-Family Housing (1982)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties supports a mix of housing throughout all areas within the Urban Growth Boundary, consistent with our position on Capital Improvements Financing. (October 1979)

League members support site review as a part of the City of Salem's approval process for multi-family housing. We support opportunities for public input in the development of clear, concise standards for site review.

The League supports efforts to meet the need for affordable multi-family housing in Salem. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

a. New multi-family housing starts;

b. Upgrading existing multi-family housing;

c. Incentives for private enterprise;

d. Rent subsidies.

Housing: Manufactured Housing (1983)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties supports allowing sub-divisions of manufactured housing; the sub-division need not be limited to three acres.

The League supports an ordinance requiring a written rental agreement between mobile home park owners and tenants. The agreement must include a clause informing the tenant that the mobile home park may be converted to another use, in which case the tenant will be given at least six months notification.

Housing: Special Needs Housing (1984)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties endorses programs for special housing for the elderly, the handicapped, and the low-income.

The League supports a mix of funding programs for such housing, including: direct subsidies to renters (primary emphasis); low interest loans to developers; income tax credits or deductions for developers, owners and/or renters; property tax deferrals or defrayment for developers, owners and/or renters (less emphasis); alternate sources of financing such as government grants and private funding. Quality controls for the various funding programs are necessary.

The League supports a mix of housing programs for Special Needs Populations, including: government-owned or operated; HUD Section 8; Housing Allowance; experimental housing such as ECHO or shared housing; both single and mixed-type units. Local control for these programs is desirable.

The League should support efforts to eliminate barriers that exist in providing special housing. These include: educating developers, realtors, the general public, and the targeted populations about housing needs; changing zoning laws and building codes to allow more flexibility in providing special housing; studying the "granny flat" or ECHO housing concept for adding supplemental housing stock.

Juvenile Justice (1979)

The League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties supports:

1. The provision of services to prevent and deal with delinquent and dependant/neglected children is, in part, a responsibility of government.

2. Financing of juvenile programs is jointly a responsibility of federal, state and local governments:

a. Federal funds should be allocated through the state whenever feasible;

b. The state should require a basic standard of service;

c. Cooperative planning for the wise use of funds should involve participation among various levels of government and should include public input from the communities directly affected.

3. The League supports the concept of Community Corrections. We advocate attention to school districts since they have unique opportunities to reach all children.

4. We believe a broad range of services should be available to meet the needs of all delinquent/dependent youth.

5. We encourage well-planned, innovative services in the search for answers to juvenile delinquency

Public Transportation in Marion & Polk Counties (2013)

A metropolitan area the size of Salem-Keizer needs an integrated multi-modal transportation network to support the employment, education, commerce, civic, and social activities within the Urban Growth Boundary. An effective, efficient, accessible and safe transit system is a key part of such a network for the mobility of workers, students, seniors, shoppers, and visitors. This is especially true for low-income residents, persons with disabilities, and those who do not own or drive cars. Affordable transportation improves access to jobs, training, court and medical appointments, and social services (and thus can reduce costs of additional social supports).

Members of the League of Women Voters of Marion-Polk Counties believe an effective urban transit system should:

  • Serve residential, educational, business, and industrial areas
  • Be based on residential and employment densities and the location of schools and colleges
  • Be based primarily on usage but should include additional routes to currently unserved areas to promote ridership
  • Directly connect some origins and destinations in addition to routing through a central hub

Transit stops should be:
  • Safe (off roadway, lighted at night, accessible by sidewalk or pad and, wherever feasible, sheltered from weather)
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Preferably no more than mile from homes and destinations

Transit service should be available at least Monday through Saturday, including evenings. Service should be at frequent intervals, especially at peak commute times. Limited Sunday service would benefit many, but is a lower priority.

Multi-modal connections between Salem-Keizer and the other communities in Marion and Polk Counties are also very important for residents and visitors.

The League supports a network of routes outside the Urban Growth Boundary that:

  • Serves as many residential, business, educational, and industrial areas as feasible
  • Is coordinated with Cherriots schedules
  • Is scheduled to permit college students and workers to commute during reasonable morning and evening hours as well as provide adequate mid-day service to and from Salem

The League recognizes the range of federal, state, and local funding sources supporting the Salem-Keizer transit system today, as well as the competition for these current sources, the growing demand, and the rising costs of transit and other worthy public services.

In Salem-Keizer reliance on property taxes for much of the local share of transit places an additional pressure on property taxpayers who already fund most local government infrastructure and services as well as the local share of public education costs. Our high share of tax-exempt properties, limits on voter willingness to support levies, and other factors mean that our local property taxes generate less revenue for transit than payroll taxes, which are the funding base for other transit systems in the state. While property taxes are a relatively stable and dependable revenue source, transit funding is not keeping pace with need. Levy failures in 2006 and 2008 resulted in elimination of some routes and all of Saturday service. And limitations due to compression* will affect future property tax collections and levies.

Oregon has fewer options for revenue sharing with transit districts than most states due to lack of a state sales tax and a constitutional prohibition on use of the state gas tax for transit.

Currently none of the cities in Marion or Polk Counties provides any funds for the regional CARTS service or for Cherriots' regular route or paratransit service.

The League supports a mix of funding for transit operations that includes:

  • Property taxes
  • Passenger fares
  • Payroll taxes (requiring local vote)
  • Contributions by: Cities Counties The State of Oregon The federal government (especially adding funding for federally-mandated paratransit)
  • Sponsorships and public-private partnerships
  • Hotel/Motel taxes

The League supports publicly-funded single-use day passes for low-income persons (such as those currently provided by Cherriots and distributed by the United Way to non-profit service organizations) or, in the case of court litigants, potentially distributed by law enforcement.

The League supports the Cherriots employer pass incentive program to reduce traffic and parking pressure.

The League supports free or reduced-fare passes for youth to promote participation in before- and after-school activities as well as encouraging transit use.

Many large and mid-sized communities have combined federal and local funding to build streetcar or bus rapid transit lines, realizing economic development as well as transportation benefits. A 2005 Salem study found that a streetcar line would provide transportation and economic development benefits. Recent studies indicate that successful projects have required strong local leadership to develop community support and to obtain funding.

The League supports the pursuit of grant funding by Salem or Keizer and the Transit Board for efficient enhanced transit modes, such as bus rapid transit or streetcars. Funding for local construction match and ongoing operations of such a system should be identified in advance and could include a similar mix of the sources indicated above, with the addition of Local Improvement Districts, Urban Renewal Funds, or Transportation Systems Development Charges.

The League supports increased transit-oriented development and redevelopment to significantly improve the efficiency of public transit and increase ridership. The League also places a high priority on cities integrating transit access with the planning or permitting of any new construction or redevelopment. Failure to adequately consider bus access in the past has resulted in destinations with little or no transit availability.

Since all Cherriots regular-route buses are currently wheelchair accessible, improved sidewalk access to bus stops has the potential to reduce use of costly paratransit trips as well as greatly improve walkability in and between neighborhoods. The League supports a targeted sidewalk improvement program with priorities on corridors that enable access to transit stops.