At last nights council meeting, every agenda item passed unanimously except for one: Councilmember Allen brought forward a resolution stating that the City of Spokane will not require new single family-residential properties or townhomes to have fire supression systems (fire sprinklers) installed. The State Building Code Council adopted a provision in 2008 that would have required statewide adoption of this requirement, but amended the code in 2009 to give local jursidictions the option of approving the requirement. The resolution was passed on a 6-1 vote, with Councilmember Mumm voting against. Read the rest of this entry »
A Sidewalk Summit will be held tomorrow, August 25, 2015 at 2pm at Spokane City Hall in the Council Chambers. It is open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend.
The purpose of the summit is to provide information on the obstacles and barriers that people with limited or impaired mobility face due to the current condition of many sidewalks in the city, and come up with strategies to address how the city currently designs, constructs and maintains sidewalks.
The summit is a joint effort between Councilmember Jon Snyder and Access 4 All Spokane, a group dedicated to celebrating and encouraging accessible and disability friendly places, services and events in Spokane County.
For more information, click here.
The World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, has landed in Spokane this year. The event will take place from August 19th through August 23rd at the Spokane Convention Center. Worldcon was started in 1939 in New York City and has been all over the world since then; drawing thousands of authors, gamers, artists and science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. Information about all the festivities, which includes author readings, art and writing contests, live music, games and so much more, can be found here. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, consider swinging by Worldcon for all the fun. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night all Councilmembers were present and all actions were unanimous. We had one emergency ordinance regarding the extension of the Cell Tower Moratorium. We are making good progress on an improved ordinance that balances aesthetic concerns with connectivity, but we still need a bit more time. We will likely wrap this up early in the fall. We also made a few additions to the Planning Commission work-plan which included a review of the Cell Tower Ordinance.
Other actions included a change to minor architect and engineering contracts, a change to landscaping requirements, direction to the salary commission as a result of the recent public vote, a street vacation on a portion of Calispel street, and a change to solid waste statutes regarding tires.
One thing that was added to our agenda late was approval for $300K of lodging tax money for a bid for another major ice skating event, the inaugural Figure Skating Team Challenge Cup, which would be an international event. This also passed unanimously.
Last nights council meeting had a packed agenda. The Council voted 6-1 (Councilmember Fagan against) for an Emergency Budget Ordinance to fill the position of Education Coordinator for the Water Department. This position will inform water customers about ways they can conserve water. We also voted 6-1 (Councilmember Fagan against) for an ordinance that makes wage theft a gross misdemeanor and gives the city the ability to revoke or refuse to issue business licenses for businesses found guilty of wage theft. I was happy to support both of these ordinances, as they address critical issues facing our community and the city right now.
I brought forward a resolution that allows the City to use excess photo red funds to bond out for $1 million and find matching funds for the completion of the Mission Street Gap Bridge. If the City cannot find matching funds for the project, then the money goes back in to the Traffic Calming fund. This project has been in the works for several years due to the vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian safety issues that arise with the Centennial Trail at street level near Witter Pool and the Avista Campus. The resolution received letters of support from the Friends of the Centennial Trail and Spokane Bicycle Club, as well as a near unanimous vote from the Community Assembly. It was passed by Council on a 5-2 vote (with Councilmembers Allen and Fagan voting against).
Several items passed unanimously. These items included a resolution establishing an economic development strategy for the city, a resolution acknowledging the completion of Northeast Public Development Authority development strategy and brownfield business plan, Hillyard Infrastructure Assessment and Needs Analysis and the YARD Heavy Freight User Analysis, a resolution approving the settlement of a claim, a resolution relating to the Airport Board’s acquisition of 10.39 acres of unimproved land for long-term aviation development and approach protection, and an ordinance that amended the Spokane Municipal Code language on infraction penalty amounts to reflect changes made at the state level.
The Council deferred an ordinance relating to labor standards and city procurement of goods, services and works, and an ordinance that would amend the process for filling vacancies in the position of Police Ombudsperson.
(To read the full text of the resolution regarding funds for the Centennial Trail Mission Gap Bridge, click here)
Spokane Police Department is hosting a training that you might be interested in: “Force Encounters Analysis for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.” The class is about the investigation of use of force and deadly force incidents, considering the latest research in stress, performance, and officer decision making.
On Friday January 22, 2016, the California Training Institute will deliver an 8-hour workshop for citizen review/oversight boards, responsible for oversight of law enforcement. The format is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation with ongoing interactive discussions, videos, and case study.
To sign up, please contact Kim Anderson at the SPD Academy: 509-742-8100. Or email Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our three and a half hour meeting last night was packed with decisions, many of which elicited lots of public testimony. An extension of our contract with Uber and Lyft had both taxi drivers and rideshare drivers speak out in favor of their industry sector. This 18 month contract extension ads new background check requirements for rideshare drivers and institutes a new complaint protocol. It passed 6-1 with Councilmember Stratton voting against saying she was concerned that the new agreement still did not level the playing field between taxi drivers and rideshare companies.
We had one emergency ordinances that was not on the agenda last night: this ordinance now requires Alternative Response Units, ARU’s, to have two firefighters on board instead of one. We heard numerous concerns about how angle-person staffing had put firefighters in jeopardy and possibly lowered the quality of patient care and we felt compelled to act. The ARUs were always meant to be a pilot program that would be evaluated by Council. When the Mayor and the Fire Chief did not provide Council with evaluation data the Council then requested that data at the June Public Safety meeting. That same month the ARU program was suspended for safety concerns. Evaluation data was supposed to be presented by the Chief at the July Public Safety meeting. When the Chief requested that the data be delayed until August I granted that request as Chair of Public Safety. But late last week some Councilmembers learned that the ARU program was to be resumed in a matter of days without presentation of the evaluation data and a chance for Council to look at the safety issues. This is a complete violation of the spirit of the pilot program that was presented to us by the Mayor and the Chief. ARUs were supposed to either save the City money or improve service delivery—hopefully both. Without any analysis it is unclear whether they have met either objectives. The emergency ordinance passed 5-2 with Councilmembers Allen and Fagan voting against.
The next big item was the latest Envision Spokane Worker Bill of Rights initiative. The initiative has had its signatures validated and by the County and passed the minimum threshold. The Council voted unanimously to put the initiative on the November 2015 ballot. But there was a split vote on a subsequent action to add two advisory questions to the measure. Even though I do not support the Envision Spokane initiative, I feel the advisory questions are unnecessary and prejudicial. I don’t think the Council should be playing favorites with the initiative process to influence the outcome. This has been my position in the past and it remains my position. The advisory questions passed on a 4-3 vote with Councilmembers Waldref, Mumm, and myself vote against.
In a related action that was not on our agenda Councilmember Fagan requested that we send the Anti-Immigration initiative that failed to get enough signatures back to the County to be checked again. But Fagan prepared no wording before hand and could not articulate actually what he wanted us to ask the County to do. Was it just to recount signatures that could not be verified? Was is to recount and re-verify all 3,000 signatures again? For lack of direction from Fagan this was deferred to Thursday.
Council also approved a new County way-finding and signage system. I voted against this because no one could give me a good. answer as to way bicycle signage was omitted from this system. I was the only vote against.
Our unanimous decision including a resolution honoring the life and contribution of late WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd, appointment of Scott Simmons as Business and Development Services Director, creation of a new Neighborhood Council in the northwest district (Downriver), and approval of the City’s Human Services grant funding priorities.
Next week there is no Council meeting. See you in two weeks.
At Mondays Council meeting, we unanimously approved two emergency budget ordinances: one that moved $2.5 million in appropriated reserves to the street maintenance fund for arterials, and another that moved $9,000 from unappropriated reserves to the Parks Department to fund an increase in work hours for a Clerk III position. We also unanimously approved the appointment of a Director to the Accounting Department at the City, an ordinance relating to animal cruelty that syncs our municipal code up with new changes in state law and an ordinance that enhances penalties for violations of parking in taxi stands.
Two items at our meeting were not passed unanimously. The first was an ordinance amending design standards for Centers and Corridors, which had not been updated in 14 years. Councilmember Waldref spent several months working on these updates with a broad group of stakeholders and staff, and I want to thank her for her work. The ordinance was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Fagan and Allen voting against. The second item was a hearing on Envision Spokane’s “Worker Bill of Rights” Initiative. Like last week’s immigration initiative, the Council had to vote to send the signatures collected by initiative proponents to the county auditor’s office for validation. I supported sending the signatures for validation, as I have with all initiatives in the past, because I respect the process we have established and believe voters should have the opportunity to weigh in on these initiatives. Council President Stuckart voted against signature validation and Councilmember Allen abstained.
For the second time in two meetings Councilmember Fagan changed the language regarding Indecent Public Exposure (or the bikini barista ordinance) on the day we were set to vote on it. But that’s not the reason I voted against it. The City spent over 20 years and nearly a half million dollars defending its Adult Entertainment ordinance all the way to the 9th Circuit Court. If we pass Councilmember Fagan’s ordinance as currently written we will likely forgo our ability to regulate bikini baristas as Adult Entertainment. This could be a big problem. Councilmember Mumm made a successful case that these businesses are better regulated through zoning. I hope Councilmember Fagan will accept her offer to work on this issue with the codes we already have instead of adding a new constitutionally questionable regulation. The rest of Council agreed as the measure was defeated with Fagan being the lone affirmative vote.
Normally when we get an initiative that is submitting signatures it garners little testimony. The Council only has three options: 1) pass the initiative as written or send directly to the voters without signature verification, 2) Pass an alternative measure of the Council’s creation, or 3) send signatures to the Clerk for validation and placement on the ballot if verified. Since I’ve been on Council we have always verified signatures. This is only fair. Citizen initiatives, if at all possible, should be treated the same way regardless of content. Make no mistake, I think the content of the Anti-Immigration initiative is terrible. It would cost the City untold amounts in forced citizen votes, divert police from property crimes, and seriously degrade public safety by forcing undocumented immigrants to choose between reporting crimes such as domestic violence and human trafficking and being deported. I was proud to vote for the ordinance this initiative is trying to overturn, our bias-free policing statute.
Council President allowed testimony on the merits of the initiative, not just the choice of before us about verification. People testified for over three hours. Much of it was articulate and heartfelt. Some testimony was the most fearful and angry I’ve ever witnessed at Council. Much of the support for the anti-immigration initiative seems to come from speakers who lived outside the City of Spokane. (The initiative is being bank-rolled by a far-right wing group from Puget Sound.) In the end the Council voted 4-1 to send signatures for verification as we have previous initiatives. Councilmembers Waldref and Allen were absent from this meeting. Council President Stuckart was the lone vote against this action. He argued persuasively that the initiative had violated City rules. Even if that’s true—and I believe that is for a judge to decide—it doesn’t matter if they have failed to submit enough valid signatures. The last initiative submitted earlier this year, one regarding bikini baristas, fell far short of the necessary number of signatures.
Unanimous action last night included recognizing the North Hill Neighborhood Action Plan, preparing statements for the Propositions on the August ballot, and dedicating right-of-way from various City-owned parcels.
Next week: More initiative actions as we consider whether to send the new Envision Spokane measure for signature verification.
At the Spokatopia Outdoor Adventure Festival Saturday, July 11, you can try paddleboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, geo-chaching, SUP yoga, disc golf, rafting, enjoy live entertainment and check out over 40 outdoor recreation-oriented booths and free samples and demos at the festival exhibitor area. The event is sponsored by Spokane Parks and Recreation, Out There Monthly Magazine and Evergreen Mountina Bike Alliance. General admission is $5 per person, with an additional cost to sign up for outdoor activities/excursions. Event hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Register here.
Monday, July 13 at 10:30am – Finance Committee – Council Briefing Center in the lower level of City Hall (808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd).
Monday, July 13 at 1:30pm – Public Works Committee – Council Briefing Center.
Monday, July 13 at 6pm – City Council Legislative Session – Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall.
Thursday, July 16 at 3:30pm – Council Study Session – Council Briefing Center.
Thursday, July 16 at 5:30pm – Earned Sick and Safe Leave Open House – Council Chambers.