SARP experience wearing, demeaning
I have had an extraordinary opportunity over the past few years to observe our Spokane Valley city government and take part in the public process surrounding the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan (SARP). It has been a fascinating lesson in civics and power gone awry as well as a study in the erosion of property rights and free speech.
The council lectures the county on customer service yet abuses its own citizens with a gauntlet that is designed to wear them out, deplete their resources and silence dissent. Oblivious to shame, they continue to pat themselves on the back at every opportunity. Their latest opinion piece on the SARP extolled the council’s responsiveness to citizens’ concerns and provided a litany of happy endings.
It is interesting to note that in the case of the Lark Inc. property, as well as others, the concerns and property rights issues expressed by those landowners were never directly addressed. After years of jumping through contrived procedural hoops, hours of research, meetings, letters and lobbying, not to mention thousand of dollars to attorneys, the city in the final hours decided to remove those “troublemakers” from the plan. Not because of the “excessive rhetoric” but because it finally “just made sense.” While thankful to be released from the sentence of the SARP, these property owners know it is just a matter of time before they will again face this battle as the plan is expanded.
Glossed over in the litany as “changes too numerous to mention” were the changes that occurred outside the public process. Perhaps the good councilman was unaware or just too modest to mention the changes that benefited those other properties who had their issues addressed quickly and quietly away from public view and were spared the burden and stress of repeated public hearings and deliberations. The public should be outraged at this tiered access to government.
Maybe disincorporation isn’t such a bad idea.