Last week, the City Council approved a contract for a bid that will extend a portion of the Centennial Trail from Bridge Avenue to Boone Avenue, providing better access to Kendall Yards and other areas of town for pedestrians and bicyclists. KXLY Channel 4 ran a news item on the trail extension that features Councilman Jon Snyder talking about what this extension means. Check out the video here.
All actions last night passed unanimously on 5-0 votes (councilmembers McLaughlin and Allen were absent.) Lodging tax grants for events and organizations that are working to increase hotel stays in Spokane were approved. You can see the list of successful awards at the end of this post. I have requested that the PFD increase the amount available for allocation next year. The City’s 2014 legislative agenda was also approved. We removed one item regarding a request of the state to ratchet up a crime to a class C felony. While this may be a good idea, the City needs to get our own house in order as far as the reforms suggested by the Criminal Justice Commission before we start creating new felonies to be dealt with by the County court system. The list of legislative priorities is also at the end of this post. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, Governor Jay Inslee ordered several State agencies to join an appeal of Spokane County’s Urban Growth Area expansion brought forward by neighborhood and advocacy groups in Spokane. The matter was heard by the Growth Management Hearings Board on Tuesday and the Board has ordered the county to fix flaws in the commissioners’ deliberations over the 4,100-acre expansion. The Board found that the County did not seek adequate public input when it expanded the population projections for the County over a 28 year time frame.
The County now has until June 4 to comply with the Boards ruling, and the Board has scheduled a compliance hearing on July 24 to ensure that the County has actually complied with the ruling. To read more about the Board’s ruling, click here.
Last night the 2014 budget passed unanimously before Thanksgiving. That’s a sentence I’m not sure I’d ever write. This budget isn’t perfect. There are positions lost that could have been retained and other positions retained that I think we could have cut. There are still big issues with capital funding needs, especially for streets and fire. There are different directions I think we could be going with some of our economic development funding. I am also accepting on faith that the administration will keep to it’s word and evolve the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator position into something better and more effective. But despite all of that this budget is much, much better on public safety than last year’s budget and that’s why I voted for it. Last year’s cuts to police positions and fire positions were way too deep and I did not support them. To his credit the Mayor has heard those concerns and delivered a budget that beefs up public safety staffing. We still have a way to go, especially with fire staffing but this budget is a good step in the right direction. Read the rest of this entry »
Last evening, KHQ did a great story on an 8-year old Transgender girl named Aya and what her family is doing to support her. You can read all about Aya and her family here. I highly recommend reading the article and watching the video.
On a somewhat related note, today is the National Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is an annual event that memorializes those who have been killed as result of anti-Trans* violence. This day is a solemn reminder of the many lives that have been lost at the hands of prejudice and hatred; and of the continued work we need to do to make our communities safe and welcoming for everyone. If you want to show your support for the Trans* Community in Spokane, the local group Spokane Trans* People will be holding their Trans* Day of Remembrance event on November 23rd at 5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church.
If you would like to learn more about Trans* issues, click here for some great resources.
At yesterday evenings Council meeting, we voted on several items related to the raising of utility rates in the City of Spokane. I cast the only no vote on the Council (Council President Stuckart was absent). I voted against these increases for the same reason I voted against them last year: 1) I believe we need a public utility commission where we can get input from a variety of customers to set rate policy, 2) We need multi-year rate ordinances for stability, and 3) we need to make sure our rates aren’t disproportionately impacting our lowest income, lowest volume utility customers. We attempted a graduated rate for wastewater this year that would have ben more equitable, but were unable to complete it. I support the Mayor’s push for an integrated approach to our utility infrastructure needs and I also support the current leadership of the utility department. I think in many ways we are moving in the right direction, but I could not support the ordinance before us last night. Read the rest of this entry »
Starting today, citizens in Washington State can apply for I-502 producer, processor or retailer licenses at the Department of Revenue’ Business Licensing Services website. The Liquor Control Board will begin processing applications starting November 20th. Anyone wishing to apply will have to do so before December 19th, as that is the day that the application window closes. Any applications recieved after December 19th will not be considered.
For more information on the application process, associated fees and other general information, click here.
The administration and the Police Guild have spent almost two years trying to negotiate a new contract that includes new financial terms as well as language that increases the authority of the Office of Police Ombudsman to fulfill the requirements of Prop 1. A tentative agreement was reached a couple weeks ago. Yesterday afternoon that tentative agreement was rejected unanimously by the Council. While it got us closer to the police oversight we need the Council did not believe it fulfilled the requirements of Prop 1 for independent investigative authority. It is clear that there may be more than one interpretation about how to fulfill Prop 1 but the current tentative agreement needs to go further than it does. Since police and fire employees are not allowed to strike in the state of Washington, the next step will be to re-open negotiations with the Guild or request that the contract be certified for binding arbitration. Read the rest of this entry »
We had another relatively succinct meeting this Monday. Council approved all items brought forward unanimously. The biggest item on our agenda for the night was a grant from the Department of Justice that totaled almost $150,000 with the City recieving just over $80,000 (the County will be recieving around $66,000). The funds for the City will be used to purchase automated license plate readers for our Police Department. These readers will better help police recover stolen vehicles and apprehend suspected car theifs.
Other items that were passed Monday night included adding the Ridpath Hotel to the Spokane Register of Historic Places, approving some claims, setting the assessment roll hearing for the Downtown Parking and Business Improvement Area and approving two street vacations on Euclid Avenue (from the east line of Ferrall Street to the west line of Freya Street) and Dakota Street (from the south line of Sharp Avenue to the south line of Boone Avenue).
On Wednesday November 13 at 6:30pm there will be an open house regarding the upcoming construction project on Grand Boulevard/McClellan Street from 14th Avenue to 8th Avenue. It will be held at Roosevelt Elementary School (333 West 14th Avenue). The City of Spokane is planning to grind and overlay Grand Boulevard/McClellan Street from 14th Avenue to 8th Avenue. As part of the project, a water main will be replaced in 9th Avenue and McClellan Street, and a portion of the sewer will be replaced in 9th Avenue.
During the Open House, staff will give information as to the scope of the project, estimated start date and duration of the project and traffic detours and access during construction. For more information click here to download the PDF of the Open House announcement.