Slide Show Of Jon Snyder

Tuesday Am recap 7/28/15: Envision Spokane and Alternative Response Units

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.

Council Recap 7/20/2015: Centers and Corridors

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.

Tuesday Council Recap 7/14/15: Indecent Exposure and Anti-Immigrant Initiative

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.

Upcoming events 7/10/15 through 7/17/15

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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.

Council Meeting AM Recap 6/29/15: School Zone Speed Cameras

All but one item passed unanimously last night. There were three EBOs (Emergency Budget Ordinances): one for marketing for the golf fund, one to acquire land in the Hillyard industrial area, and one for a study on a route for an improved South Hill trail. You can read more about the trail project in this recent Spokesman Review piece.

We also approved a resolution by citizen request for segregating to lots involved in a LID (Local Improvement District). All these items passed unanimously.

We were set to vote on a new indecent exposure ordinance but a completely re-written ordinance was given to Council by Councilmember Fagan just a few hours before the meeting. It’s not clear whether or not this new version actually creates new restrictions on nudity relating to drive-through coffee shops OR if it actually loosens restrictions to allow this activity in more places. I joined Councilmembers Waldref, Stratton, and Mumm in voting for a deferral for two weeks to analyze the new language.

The only item that wasn’t unanimous was a change in the code to allow new school zone speeding cameras to increase safety at local elementary schools. The Council has been working with staff and Spokane Public Schools on this project for two years. Previous votes on these cameras have been unanimous, but last night Councilmember Fagan changed his and and was the lone vote against school zone cameras. Two of the three schools for the pilot project are in his district (Stevens and Longfellow) and the third is in District 3 (Finch). A child from Stevens Elementary was hit by a car on the way to school last year, which was one of the reasons I worked to add this location to the pilot project.

Health Experts, Event Organizers Offer Tips for Beating the Heat

From a press release via Spokane Regional Health District:

With extreme heat on its way, and large crowds of athletes and spectators expected in Spokane and northern Idaho this weekend for Hoopfest and Ironman Coeur d’Alene, health experts are warning the community that hot weather can be more than just uncomfortable—it can pose a threat to people’s lives.

Hoopfest staff ordered cool-air misters and fans for this weekend and organizers plan to have extra water for court monitors, who usually spend six to seven hours on the asphalt courts. Volunteer medical teams staffing Hoopfest will be prepared to treat heat stroke, heat exhaustion and sun burns. Ironman organizers will be providing specific tips to its athletes for avoiding heat-related illness at the pre-event athlete meeting and to its athletes and volunteers via email. Athletes who are exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion may also be asked to pause for health evaluation at check-points during the race. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday AM Council Recap 6/23/15: Parking Funds

Council had two items to vote on at last nights meeting. The first was a sole source contract with Huber Escamax to purchase, and have installed, replacement parts used to provide preliminary treatment screening of wastewater at Riverside Park Water Reclamation Facility. The contract was approved unanimously. The second item was a resolution approving projects recommended by the Parking Advisory Committee. The projects are paid for by parking revenue from downtown, and are selected by the committee to improve parking and enhance the urban experience in Downtown Spokane. The list of projects includes up to $60,000 for landscaping lighting and other aesthetic improvements on Main Ave between Browne and Division, up to $32,000 for street tree maintenance and illumination on Main Ave from Howard to Stevens, and $5,000 for off-the-shelf-bike racks in downtown. The resolution was passed by counil 6-1 (with Councilmember Fagan voting against).

An ordinance relating to the use of automated traffic safety cameras for school speed zones was deferred for a week to sync up our municipal code with recently changed language at the state level on the fee charge for an infraction. The Hearing for a street vacation on Madison Ave between 2nd and 3rd Ave was withdrawn at the request of the applicant, Larry H. Miller.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 6/16/15: Retail Parking Standards

At last nights council meeting, everything was passed unanimously with one exception: changes to the public works apprenticeship law that council passed several months ago. Councilmembers Allen and Fagan voted against the changes. The items that passed unanimously included three ordinance approving local improvement district assessments, a resolution voicing support for the City of Spokane’s administrative policy for urban utilities installation and an ordinance that changed our city’s parking requirements for certain sized businesses in a neighborhood retail zone. The ordinance relating to indecent exposure was deferred another two weeks.

The agenda for next weeks meeting can be found here. At the June 22 meeting, Council will be voting on the proposed street vacation of Madison between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, and a change to our municipal code regarding the use of automated traffic safety cameras for school speed zones.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 6/9/15: Council Town Hall

Four times a year the Council goes out into the neighborhoods for a town hall meeting to get a closer look at what’s going on in our neighborhood councils. Last night we went to the West Central Community Center and heard all neighborhoods in District Three, including West Central, Emerson/Garfield, Northwest, North Hill, Balboa/South Indian Trail, Five Mile and North Indian Trail. Not sure what your neighborhood is? Check this map. There was only one legislative agenda item: approving Ed Lukas as the new Director of the Asset Management Group. That item passed unanimously. Also, earlier in the day we deferred to one week the decision on the Madison Street road vacation request from the Larry H. Miller car dealership. That item is now scheduled to be heard June 22.

Dr. Steven Ghan to Give Talk on Climate Change This Wednesday

On Wednesday, June 10th from 7pm to 8:30pm Dr. Steven Ghan will be at the Spokane Valley Library (12004 East Main Ave) to discuss the impact of climate change on glaciers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Citizens’ Climate Lobby is hosting this discussion.

Mountaineer and renowned climate scientist Dr. Steven Ghan takes you on a visual journey along the crest of the North Cascades, where spectacular alpine scenery holds a disturbing truth: melting glaciers. He will show how this mirrors ice loss around the world, from the Arctic Ocean to the great continental mountain ranges, and how it relates to the repeated advance and retreat of global ice over the last 800,000 years. Dr. Ghan will explore the profound human impacts of the continued depletion of the world’s frozen water, discussing concrete and effective ways to stop it.

For more information, call 509-570-8485 or email dgcamp@hotmail.com.