Neighbors living in Salem’s Gaiety Hill Historic District are expressing concern that a proposal for a de facto hotel would harm livability and increase traffic congestion.

At issue is a request to convert the single-family historical residential property on the 700 block of High Street into a short-term rental, in an area that already experiences bottlenecks and street-clogging, especially near Mission Street.

A hearing to consider the Conditional Use and a Class 2 Adjustment (CU-ADJ18-07) will be held on July 25 at City Hall at 5:30 p.m. before an administrative Hearings Officer.

“I have seen many accidents at the intersection of Leslie and High,” says Carol Mitchell, former SCAN President. “Drivers come over High Street hill too fast.  They have taken out trees and fences.”

Neighbors are seeking a full review at City Council following the Hearing Officer’s decision. “This needs to be called up to Council for a de novo review,” says Carlene Benson. “At risk is a unique residential neighborhood, key to the identity of the city. The proposed location is on one of the most congested streets and intersections in South Central Salem, with restricted and already insufficient parking.”

The neighborhood is a remarkable one. In 1986 it was designated Salem’s first residential National Historic District. Located just south of Pringle Creek and SAIF, and immediately west of Pringle Park, it comprises primarily single-family residences dating from 1878 to 1938.

Part of the original Salem Plat, notables who lived in Gaiety Hill area include Oregon Governor Lafayette Grover, pioneer landscape architects Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, and the engineering genius Conde McCullough, who designed Oregon’s famous Coastal Bridges.

CANDO Land Use Chair Bruce Hoffman, who lives nearby, comments, “This is one of the best neighborhoods in Salem,” and allowing “a motel … is wrong on every level. It’s not in keeping with the preservation of this neighborhood.”

“It saddens me to think this is even being considered,” says Sylvia Strand, who lives around the corner and resided in the Lord & Schryver Conservancy house for 28 years. “We rely on the integrity of those making decisions for the neighborhood.”