Councilmember Snyder tours the location of the Spokane Central Service Center.
Three big meetings in a row. Last night over 60 people testified about the Vehicle Interference Ordinance. This item was brought forward in regards to Planned Parenthood and concerns they have about protesters blocking the driveway to their organization. Turns out we have a gray area in our local laws about whether it is legal or not to block business driveways. Last night we fixed that by adding 11 new words to city code: “or in a driveway located in the public right-of-way.” These words are content neutral. If you are blocking a fast-food restaurant, a gun shop, or a business using union replacement workers to break a strike you would be subject to these same provisions. You can’t simply block access to a business organization you don’t like—but you can feel free to protest on the sidewalk. Pretty simple. After almost three hours of testimony on both sides this action passed 6-1 with Councilmember Fagan dissenting. Mr. Fagan compared the new code to “Naziism,” said civil rights were being trampled and questioned another Councilmember’s Christianity for supported the ordinance. Really? Thank you to Councilmember Mumm for bringing this forward.
After two years of work the City’s first form-based codes were finally passed last night. The new overlay zone for the Logan Neighborhood now allows buildings to be classified by look and not just use. This is an innovative approach being used around the country to allow neighborhoods to mold their individual character instead of having a one-size-fits-all template in use for the entire City. Thanks to staff, neighbors, and property owners who all helped make this happen. Thanks also to Gonzaga University, who waited over four hours to testify in support. A special acknowledgement is due for the recently departed Jeannette Harras. Her strong support for the neighborhood and the form based codes plan will certainly be missed. Thanks to Councilmember Waldref for working on this.
The Council passed a new requirement for the City’s Planning Director to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to planning and also to be AICP certified. Councilmembers Allan and Fagan dissented saying asking for this level of qualification was unnecessary.
All other actions last night were unanimous, including: an emergency budget ordinance for accounting, and emergency ordinance related to recently approved bonds, approving new Council committee assignments, adopting the updated Commute Trip Reduction Plan, approving a application a VOA Housing First Project, a slight change to a past street vacation, an updated ethics code with new whistle blower protections, a new ordinance to help address prostitution in the East Sprague area, and housekeeping changes to our animal control ordinance.
The last item we voted on was a action requesting a street vacation on two blocks of North Pearl near Gonzaga University. This would have negatively impacted connectivity in the area and was unanimously turned down. You don’t see that too often.
No meeting next because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance. Have a great week.