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 »
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 »
At last night’s council meeting, we adopted updates to the City’s Comprehensive Water System Plan on a vote of 5-1 (with Councilmember Fagan voting against). I worked on this issue with Councilmember Mumm, Councilmember Waldref and staff for the last year to ensure that the plan was a significant improvement over our current 6-year plan, and includes a stronger framework for conservation of water and ways to address water system loss that results in billions of gallons lost every year due to aging infrastructure. Conservation efforts and proactive system loss measures are critical to the health of the Spokane River and the Spokane-Kootenai County Aquifer. Everyone who contributed to the H2KNOW campaign played a huge rule in this improved plan as well. You can read more about H2KNOW here. This plan is a great start but we still how much work to, especially since we are looking at the possibility of two years in a row of drought in our area. The Water Plan will now be submitted to the Washington Department of Health and will be adopted pending their review. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night’s council meeting was a short one: we had two items on the agenda. The first was a resolution authorizing the sale of surplus property owned by the City of Spokane. The Community, Housing and Human Services Department will seek qualified buyers to redevelop the land. This item was unanimously approved. The other item was a first reading ordinance relating to the vacation of a portion of Pearl Street from the north line of Sharp Avenue to the south line of the alley between Sinto and Sharp. Final action will be taken on the vacation on a later date.
To see what’s on next week’s Council agenda, click here.
In an unusual night every vote except one was a split vote. The Council started off with a vote on a Spokane Investment Pool self-loan for the fleet department which will save us money by pushing forward upgrades for equipment in regards to the Nelson Service Center now, instead of waiting for a few years. In a low interest rate environment this makes sense instead of using reserves. The vote was 4-3 with Stratton, Fagan, and Allen voting against.
We were set to vote on an action to sell some surplus houses that were purchased with federal funds, but the Council voted 6-1 to defer for a week. I was the lone vote against as I saw no reason to delay this. There was also a split vote on a labor standards ordinance that would make easier for the City to avoid contractors who have violated labor law in other states. This passed 6-1. Councilmember Fagan, who has been a reliable vote against actions that support labor or working families, was the lone vote against.
As you may have heard I have brought forward an ethics complaint against Councilmember Fagan for revealing some of the contents of a confidential legal opinion regarding a recent anti-immigrant initiative. The Ethics Committee requested a viewing of the confidential document in order to process the complaint, which meant the Council had to vote to allow them to view it. This passed 5-1, with Councilmember Fagan voting against and me abstaining (for the first time ever) because I made the complaint. You can see the full complaint linked here.
The only unanimous action last night was the passage of the fee structure for the short term rental ordinance.
This year’s drought conditions have seriously impacted more than recreational life in the Inland Northwest. Tourist dollars are down in communities that rely on those recreational visits. Crop damage and dry pastures are harsh realities for agriculture. Smoke from various wildfires keeps those with asthma indoors. And many climate specialists believe this is only the beginning of our water-related problems.
Spokane Public Radio will explore what the region-wide drought means for our communities now and in the future at “SPR Talks: Our Water, Our Future.” This community forum takes place today in the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Pannelists for this forum include:
Jon Snyder, Spokane City Councilman
Guy Gregory, Washington Dept. of Ecology Water Resources Program
Rob Lindsay, Spokane County Water Resources Manager
Rachael Paschal Osborn, Center for Environmental Law Senior Policy Adviser
Rick Romero, City of Spokane Utilities Director
For more information about the event and the panelists, click here.
Last night there was an attempt to overshadow the City Council’s Town Hall meeting of Northeast Neighborhoods by anti-Muslim activists. Efforts to disrupt the meeting failed and supporters of Muslim families who came for a salutation honoring the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) gave these community members an ovation for being brave enough to run the gauntlet of right-wing activists demonstrating against Muslim-Americans in front of the community center. I have received some of the most vitriolic and bigoted emails in my years on Council in relation to the CAIR salutation yesterday. On the flip side I can only confirm one of these emails actually came from Spokane. As you may recall the salutation we gave was in response to a hate crime committed against the Bosnia Herzegovina Heritage Association Center. You can read more about that here.
After hearing from North East neighborhood council we had two legislative agenda items. The first was a resolution forming a advising committee for the Central City Line. This passed 6-1. Mike Fagan was the sole vote against. My has been a dependable vote against busses and transit since joining the Council and tonight was no different. He has even voted against improving transit in his own district where it is desperately needed. The second item was a neighborhood notification ordinance that aims to improve communication with neighbors regarding upcoming developments. The system is notoriously arcane now and often leads to mis-communication and misunderstanding. This item passed 5-2 with Councilmembers Allen and Fagan both voting against the process improvements.
Tomorrow from 1-5pm is the 9th Annual Lower South Hill Neighborhood Block Watch Party and Potluck. There’ll be live music, activities for kids, food and a silent auction. See the poster above for more information!
Monday, September 21 at 1:30pm – Public Safety Committee – Council Briefing Center in the lower level of City Hall (808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd).
Monday, September 21 at 6pm – City Council Town Hall – Northeast Community Center (4001 N. Cook Street).
Tuesday, September 22 at 6pm – Pedestrian, Transportation and Traffic Committee – West Central Community Center (1603 N. Belt Street).
Wednesday, September 23 at 2pm – Plan Commission Hearings (Pedestrian Plan and Mobile Home Park Comp Plan Amendment) – Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall.
Wednesday, September 23 at 5pm – Riverside Neighborhood Council – Downtown Library
Thursday, September 24 at 3:30pm – City Council Study Session – Council Briefing Center.
In July of this year, streets of downtown Spokane were closed off with signs that suggested something was being filmed here. At first we weren’t sure what it was; then news came out that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were filming something. Fastforward two weeks later, and we finally got to see what they were doing: shooting their music video for their new song “Downtown.” If you haven’t seen this video by now, check it out and see how many locations you can name. There’s also a great photo slideshow that went up on Vanity Fairs website by Seattle based photographer Zoe Rain that you can look at here.
With over 15 million views since its release two weeks ago, the video is showing parts of our great city to tons of people across the globe who have yet to experience what downtown Spokane is like. Let’s hope it inspires some of them to come and see what more our city has to offer. Thanks to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for coming to Spokane to film this!
At last nights council meeting, the Council unanimously voted to approve a partial vacation of Pearl Street between Sharp and Sinto, and Sinto and Mission. The vacation was partial to preserve neighborhood connectivity. Council also unanimously adopted amendments to the City of Spokane’s Economic Development Strategy, which was a collaborative effort between staff, the Mayor and Council to solidify the city’s economic development incentives and strategies. You can read the original resolution establishing our economic development strategy here.
Other items the council approved include an emergency budget ordinance to create an additional accounting position in the Parks Department, an emergency budget ordinance for positions to help implement next level of treatment projects at Riverside Park Wastewater Reclamation Facility, a resolution establishing a regular meeting time for the City Council Community, Health and Environment Committee, a resolution approving the appointment of Katherine Miller as Director of Integrated Capital Management, a sole source contract with Branom Instrument Company to purchase IT gas monitoring system components, a resolution setting a hearing to vacate a portion of Grandview Ave and a resolution expanding the function of the Citizen Transportation Advisory Board. All of these items were approved unanimously.
Two items from last week were deferred to an upcoming council meeting: a resolution regarding a $5 million Spokane Investment Pool (SIP) loan to make capital expenditures for the Spokane Central Service Center and a resolution regarding a “in camera” review of confidential attorney-client communication by the Ethics Commission.
At next weeks meeting, council will be voting on Council President Stuckart’s neighborhood notification ordinance. To read about it and other items on next weeks agenda, click here.