Slide Show Of Jon Snyder

City Council AM Recap 1/12/15: Earned Sick and Safe Leave

Over one hundred people packed the chambers, and seventy-two people signed up to testify. A vast majority of them were for one thing: an earned sick and safe leave policy for the City of Spokane. After two years of work, and a couple of revisions and amendments, the council adopted an earned sick and safe leave policy on a 6-1 vote that gives employees at firms with ten or fewer employees twenty four hours of earned sick and safe leave, and employees at firms with ten or more employees forty hours. While it is not as strong a policy as I advocated for, I am proud of the work Council did on this and believe that this ordinance will have positive impact on the health, economic security and safety of our community. With the adoption of this policy, Spokane joins twenty four other cities in the country who have passed an earned sick and safe leave policy.

Councilmember Lori Kinnear sponsored the first resolution of her term asking the State legislature for funding to replace some of the public trees lost during the horrible wind storm we experienced a few weeks ago. I want to thank her for bringing this forward and working with Angel Spell (our Urban Forester) and Senator Billig on this resolution; as public trees remain a critical asset for our communitys health, well-being and resilience. Council passed this unanimously.

Council also considered a resolution I sponsored to support a ballot proposition for the general election of 2016 for the purposes of funding the Central City Line and other Spokane Transit Authority Projects in the Moving Forward Plan within the City limits. I brought this forward because I feel it is critical to the economic vitality of our community that our city maintain and improve our public transit system. It is my hope that the Spokane Transit Authority Board will move forward with a ballot proposition that is system wide so we will not have to go it alone; but if they are not able to, the citizens of the City of Spokane, who voted in favor of Proposition 1 back in April by quite a margin, deserve an opportunity to have their calls for an expanded transit system within our city limits heard. This resolution passed on a 6-1 vote.

Also on the agenda last night was a resolution approving the process to fill the council vacancy in District 2, a resolution I sponsored for request for responses (RFP’s) for proposals for affordable housing projects at select locations where combined sewer overflow facilities will be constructed, a resolution approving the appointment of Lisa Key as the New Director of the Planning Department, and an emergency budget ordinance to refinance bonds that will save the city and citizens of the City of Spokane money. All of these items were passed unanimously.

Council Recap 1/5/2016: Independent Investigator Contract and Open Forum Changes

Two items on our agenda last night were not passed unanimously. The first item was a contract to hire an outside an investigator to inquire about the handling of the Cotton-Straub incident. A group convened by the Council and the Administration accepted applications for an investigator and agreed upon hiring former federal prosecutor Kris Cappel with the Seattle-based Seabold Group. Councilmember Fagan was the only vote against the contract. The second item was a change to the Council rules brought forward by Council President Stuckart that limits the amount of times someone can speak at open forum to once a month. I supported this change for two reasons: First, because I’m hopeful it will provide others a chance to speak at open forum who may not feel comfortable doing so given the dynamics of open forum in the past, and second, because it only limits the amount of time a citizen gets to speak on television, not the amount of time or various avenues they have to contact their councilmembers directly. The change to the rules passed on a 5-2 vote, with Councilmembers Fagan and Stratton voting against.

We also took action on three items relating to street vacations last night. We unanimously voted to amend an ordinance relating to the vacation of Carlisle Avenue in the Logan Neighborhood, amended an ordinance vacating a portion of Marietta Avenue in the Logan Neighborhood and amended an ordinance vacating Buckeye Avenue from Standard St. to Dakota St.; also in the Logan Neighborhood.

At next week’s meeting, Council will be considering an ordinance for a citywide earned sick and safe policy. To learn more about what is included in the current ordinance, click here.

Council AM Recap 12/15/16: Street Vacation and Independent Investigation Scope

Thank you to the Spokane Hmong Association for inviting me to Hmong New Years Celebration on December 5, 2015.

Thank you to the Spokane Hmong Association for inviting me to Hmong New Years Celebration on December 5, 2015.

One of the major items at our last meeting of the year involved the closure of Madison between 3rd Avenue and Freeway Avenue on behalf of Larry H. Miller, who has been engaged in substantial work to turn the current car lots into a campus. The resolution failed on a 4-3 vote. I was one of the Councilmembers who voted against. My concern with the request from day one was what it would do street connectivity in West Downtown. Losing even a small portion of our streets could create a significant impact on our system. Council also voted 5-1 (with Councilmember Fagan voting against) to approve the terms and scope of the independent investigation that will look in to how the administration handled the situation regarding Cotton and Straub. Councilmember Stratton abstained from voting due to the fact that she was selected by Council to be a part of the committee that will oversee the investigation.

Items that were passed unanimously at the Council meeting included a resolution setting a hearing for the vacation of an alley between Boone and Gardner Ave, a resolution formally appointing councilmembers to boards and committees for 2016, an ordinance that amends Golf Cart Zones to include alternative vehicles and an ordinance that made changes to the city’s foreclosed property process to ensure the city has a greater ability to handle foreclosed properties before they become a blight. The Council also unanimously approved two emergency budget ordinances for the Parks Department for windstorm expenses and a contract, and two Fire/EMS emergency budget ordinances for overtime pay and HazMat training.

Council does meet for the next two weeks due to Christmas and New Year’s. Our next meeting will be January 4, 2016.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 12/8/15: Electoral Reform Resolution

At last night’s meeting, Council President Stuckart brought a resolution supporting various electoral reforms, including a Constitutional amendment that explicitly states a right to vote, universal voter registration in Washington State, preregistration of 16 and 17 year olds and the Washington Voting Rights Act. This resolution passed unanimously. I was happy to support this resolution. The passage of reforms that expand access to voting and initiate voting behavior at a younger age is something I’m very passionate about. With voter turnout often hovering near 20% in primary elections and 40% in general elections, we can ill afford to do nothing.

The Council unanimously voted to approve the Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Action Plan that has been in the works for some time now. I want to thank everyone involved in the process for their hard work. We also unanimously approved the Six-Year Citywide Capital Improvement Program for 2016-2021. The Capital Improvement Program is meant to guide the city on prioritizing improvements and planning for funding projects on city owned facilities and equipment.

The Council also voted on a vacation to vacate an alley between Rowan Ave and Nebraska Ave from Julia Street to Myrtle Street, and we voted to defer action on the closure of Madison Street from 3rd Ave to Freeway Ave.

Council AM Recap 12/1/2015: Letter to the Mayor and Cincinnati Greenway Project

At last night’s council meeting, the council passed a letter asking the Mayor and Theresa Sanders to respond to questions we have regarding the handling of a complaint of sexual harassment against former the Chief of Police. As public records related to the incident have emerged in the last few days, serious questions have been raised as to the timing of their release of public records, what the scope of the investigation into the sexual harassment complaint entailed and what was done to ensure the safety and security of other potentially impacted employees during and after the investigation. The letter raises all these questions and further requests the Mayor to send a copy of the agreement between the City of Spokane and Judge Michael Hogan, who the Mayor announced yesterday as the independent investigator charged with looking into this incident, be made public. The council requested that the Mayor respond by December 11, 2015. The vote was unanimous. You can see the letter in full here.

The Council (as the Transportation Benefit District Board) also passed funding recommendations from the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) for street repair and maintenance. The TBD funds come from the $20 car tab fee instituted by council several years ago, and each year CTAB makes an annual report with recommendations for the next year. I made a motion to add one project to the list: $500,000 for the design and construction of the Cincinnati Greenway Pilot Project. This project has been in limbo for years despite the considerable work done in creating the proposals. The motion was approved and the full list of funding recommendations was passed on a 6-1 vote (with Councilmember Fagan voting against).

Other actions council took last night included: a resolution outlining traffic calming projects from our Photo Red program for the upcoming construction cycle, adding foster children to the definition of household under our municipal code to clarify and align our code with state and federa law, an ordinance amending the process of selecting an interim Ombudsperson, an ordinance relating to inclement weather centers for homeless individuals and families in the City of Spokane, an ordinance amending the boundaries of our Community Empowerment Zone and recommended allocations of lodging tax revenue to the Spokane Public Facilities district. All of these items were passed unanimously. The council also approved a right of way vacation in the Chief Garry Park Neighborhood on the condition that the developer include a traffic barrier that restricts to restrict turn movements on Mission for safety.

Council AM Recap 11/24/2015: 2016 Budget and City Legislative Agenda

Last night’s council meeting was budget night. After several months of hearings and collaboration with the administration on council priorities, the budget was passed 5-1 (with Councilmember Fagan voting against). In the 2016 budget cycle, council prioritized public safety funding, economic growth, fiscal health, maintenance and improvement of public infrastructure and the improvement of health and quality of life of our community. To that end, we requested funding for 12 hire ahead positions in the Fire Department, sustained funding of the COPS program, funding for the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council and increases in human service funding and neighborhood/business economic development. I specifically requested additional $100k in additional funding for homeless outreach after hearing from staff and service providers in the community about the need for better coordination and outreach; as well as $25K to plan for a future Emergency Medical Service levy and $25K for coordinated planning with Spokane Transit Authority. I want to thank Council President Stuckart for his hard work on coordinating budget priorities between council and the administration. In addition, the Council approved my request for $15k in matching funds for a cottage housing project that Transitions is currently planning. Read the rest of this entry »

Council AM Recap 11/17/15: KXLY Development and Veto Override

Councilmember Snyder with his Mom and Al Roker during his visit in Spokane.

Councilmember Snyder with his Mom and Al Roker during his visit in Spokane.

At last night’s council meeting, we had four items up for a vote and one council vote that was not on the agenda. These included an emergency contract with Owen Equipment to repair a hose reel assembly on a Vactor Truck in our fleet services department, a resolution setting the assessment roll hearing for the Downtown Parking and Business Improvement Area on December 14, 2015 and an ordinance that made slight changes to the make-up of the Parking Advisory Committee, which provides recommendations on the spending of parking meter revenue funds in the downtown core area. These three items passed unanimously.

Also passing unanimously was a sale agreement of city owned surplus property near the southwest corner of South Regal and the Palouse Highway. This property is desired by KXLY to develop their property south of the South Complex. In order to complete the sale the Park Board must approve an easement on their property and the Planning Commission and the City Council must approve a Comprehensive Plan Amendment to allow KXLY’s property to be re-zoned for commercial use. This is a multi-step process that requires coordination with the Southgate Neighborhood Council and will take a year to work out before the Comp Plan vote happens in October 2016. If all the steps aren’t completed successfully the sale agreement will fall through. The Council has specified that $300k of the sale proceeds be used to implement the Southgate Neighborhood Council’s connectivity plan. This was negotiated by Council President Stuckart. The Southgate Neighborhood Council has worked very hard to see that this development does not result in the sub-standard build out we have seen on previous Southgate developments. I’m hopeful we can get a good result from this process.

The only item that was not unanimous was a vote to override Mayor Condon’s veto of the mobile/manufactured home park comprehensive plan amendment. The Council passed this amendment on a 5-2 vote on November 2. The text amendment only adds language to our comprehensive plan that would enable us to designate appropriate areas for the preservation of mobile and manufactured home parks at a later date, after extensive public input. No zoning changes will result from this text amendment. The importance of this amendment is that it signals that the City of Spokane recognizes mobile and manufactured home parks as a source of affordable housing in our city. The Mayor vetoed the amendment Monday morning.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 11/10/15: Property Tax and EMS Tax Levy Update

Last night, Council had three items to vote on. The first two items were a resolution and an ordinance that increases the property tax levy and emergency medical services levy by one percent. These two items were taken together and passed on a vote of 5 to 1 (Councilmember Fagan voting against). The other item was an ordinance brought forward by Council President Stuckart to provide people charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana by the City of Spokane municipal court an opportunity to have the charge vacated. This ordinance was unanimously adopted.

At the end of the meeting, the council held a hearing to review the proposed 2016 budget for the City of Spokane. The budget will not be voted on until closer to the end of the month. To see what’s in the proposed budget and dig a little deeper, click here.

I was not at the meeting because I was supporting my wife at the Governor’s Arts and Heritage Awards where she recieved the Arts Education Award.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 11/3/2015: Spokane Finally has a Pedestrian Plan

The Council unanimously approved the Pedestrian Master Plan last night. This something that had been in the works several years ago, but kept getting shelved. Last year I authored an ordinance that removed millions of dollars of street money if the City failed to pass a Pedestrian Master Plan. I did this because I hear over and over again that people want a more walkable City. I did this because it was the one missing piece from our Complete Streets strategy. I did this because pedestrian safety in our City desperately needs to improve (five bike/ped traffic deaths this year so far.) It is crucial that our land use and planning strategies ensure pedestrian access across the city. This plan will give decision makers concrete guidance on where to prioritize pedestrian infrastructure based on criteria such as pedestrian safety. It also catalogues the current state of pedestrian infrastructure and where access is the most critical. I was happy to push this plan forward and will continue to make pedestrian access a priority. Special thanks to the Spokane Planning Department who far exceeded my expectations in creating the plan. Read the rest of this entry »

Council AM Recap 10/20/15: John Wayne Pioneer Trail Resolution

This map shows the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, and how it connects to Fish Lake Trail. (Click Picture for a Larger Image).

This map shows the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, and how it connects to Fish Lake Trail. (Click Picture for a Larger Image).

At last night’s Council meeting, we voted on a resolution in support of the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail that I sponsored. The trail is a 300-mile-long National Recreation Trail that stretches from the Cascades to the Idaho border, and provides a crucial connection to Columbia Plateau Trail and Fish Lake Trail along the way. Several weeks ago, it was discovered that the State was planning on closing the 130-mile-long section of the trail East of the Columbia River, which would have impacted recreation and tourism for the many people who utilize the trail and cut Spokane’s trail network off from the connection with Columbia Plateau Trail north of Sprague, Washington. Small towns such as Tekoa would have been adversely impacted as well, as the trail is one of the primary recreational trails in the area. The Council voted unanimously in support of this resolution. Read the rest of this entry »