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.

The item that brought the most people to the chambers last night was a Comprehensive Plan text amendment related to the preservation of mobile home parks within the City of Spokane. Council approved this item on a 5-2 vote (with Councilmembers Allen and Fagan voting against). I brought this forward last year for inclusion into this year’s Comprehensive Plan amendment cycle, and Council supported putting it through this process. The impetus for bringing this forward is the fact that Spokane currently has an affordable housing crisis, and mobile home parks provide affordable housing to many seniors in our community. Data from Spokane County shows that nearly 24% of manufactured homes are occupied by someone over the age of 61 with a household income of less than $35,000. While this text change won’t solve the affordable housing crisis, I believe it is critical for us to recognize mobile homes as a source of affordable housing. Contrary to some of the testimony, this amendment does not impact a landowners ability to sell. Right now, it only adds the language into our Comprehensive Plan. In order to create any zoning regulations around these mobile home parks, we will need to go through another intensive public process.

A second Comprehensive Plan amendment dealt with a parcel on 1414 East 10th in the South Perry Neighborhood. The applicant requested a change from Residential Single Family to Centers and Corridors Type 1. Council passed this amendment 61, with me voting against. I voted against this because I didn’t see how rezoning single family homes that don’t front an arterial street to commercial parking lots uses is justified when this city center still has vacant lots and under-developed land on its major arterial.

Other items that passed unanimously included a resolution recognizing the Grandview/Thorpe Neighborhood Action Plan, the Ethics Commission’s Policy and Procedures Manual, an ordinance related to pull-tab games operated by non-profit corporations, an ordinance updating our public works procurement standards, a Council Action Memorandum setting hearings for the 2016 City of Spokane budget, a Comprehensive Plan Map change at 2829 North Market from Residential Single Family to General Commercial, a Comprehensive Plan Map change at 4610-4618 North Maple from Residential Single Family to Office-35, and an emergency ordinance related to the siting of cell towers.

Council recap

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