Slide Show Of Jon Snyder

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday AM Council Recap 6/2/15: Wall Street Vacation and STA Letter

We decided to defer almost as many things as we decided last night. The vote on an emergency budget ordinance to approve money from Spokane Public School to oversee their armed security officers was not added to the agenda last night because of unresolved collective bargaining issues. The sponsors of an ordinance to add clarification to the City’s indecent exposure laws asked that the ordinance be delayed in order to improve it. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday AM Council Recap: Medical Marijuana Emergency Ordinance & Street Vacations

At last night’s council meeting we voted 6-0 (with Councilmember Stratton abstaining) on an emergency ordinance regarding city regulations of medical marijuana collective gardens. The ordinance repeals city regulations for medical marijuana collective gardens on July 1, 2016. I brought this ordinance forward because the state recently passed a law that will repeal all state statutes relating to collective gardens on July 1, 2016, and bring medical marijuana under the I-502 system. Council voted 6 to 1 (Councilmember Fagan voting against) to establish a Gender and Race Pay Equity Task Force that will study the gender/race pay gap in the public and private sector and make recommendations based on that research.

Several votes last night were unanimous. We unanimously voted to support the establishment of the Hillyard Industrial Area Brownfield Opportunity Zone, to help with redevelopment of potentially polluted areas in the neighborhood. We also voted for a modification to the City of Spokane’s Retail Water Service Area to include land that Mead School District has the option to purchase for siting of a new school. Council voted to approve two vacations in their entirety: the vacation of an alley between 4th and 5th Ave between Washington and Bernard, and the vacation of a portion of Calispel Street and the alley bordered by Mission Ave and Washington Street. On the final street vacation for an alley between 2nd and 3rd Ave and a portion of Madison between 2nd and 3rd Ave, council approved the approved the vacation of the alley but deferred the vacation of Madison for a month due to concerns brought forward by neighboring businesses and residents. I oppose the vacation of Madison due to the potential loss of connectivity.

Council Recap 5/12/15: Interim Ombudsman Resolution & Respect For All Neighborhoods

You know it’s a slow news night when this story leads a local news broadcast last night. For the record the Council has not taken a vote to ban any words from Council meetings. Part of the responsibilities of the Council President is to ensure decorum. Last week the Council President, at the request of Councilmember Stratton, asked that a citizen refrain from using the term “Hookerville” to refer to the East Central neighborhood. I support Council President Stuckart. This was a simple matter of respect. No neighborhood should have to listen to citizen call them derogatory names on City Cable 5. Read the rest of this entry »

Council Recap 5/5/15: 2016 Budget Priorities and Earned Safe & Sick Leave Stakeholder Group

Most of the items on yesterday’s agenda were passed unanimously by the council. These items included an update to our water retail service area for Sundance Golf Course, setting a hearing before council on June 1st regarding a vacation of part of Wall Street, a resolution and two ordinances to hold a special election on August 4th for amendments to the Spokane City Charter regarding the Mayor’s salary and the municipal court. The last unanimous item was an ordinance that adds regulations for short term rentals in the City of Spokane.

Two items on last night’s agenda did not pass unanimously. The first was a resolution establishing a stakeholder group on Earned Sick and Safe Leave in the City of Spokane. It passed on a 5-2 vote, with Fagan and I voting against the resolution. I voted against it because an amendment was brought forward to add a member to the stakeholder group, which I felt was already balanced and diverse in perspectives and representation. Finally, we voted to pass a resolution outlining our 2016 budget priorities on a 6-1 vote, with Fagan voting against.