The big loser in the current debate over Envision Spokane’s Proposition 4 is the Comprehensive Plan, an outstanding document that neither side seems to respect.
If Proposition 4 loses, we go back to business as usual, which means that every time a developer wants to bypass the Comprehensive Plan, the city government rolls over. If Proposition 4 passes, small groups of citizens will be empowered to veto any developments they do not like in their neighborhoods, whether they conform to the Comprehensive Plan or not. Thus, Proposition 4 would simply empower the NIMBY (not in my back yard) and undermine the Comprehensive Plan just as effectively as “spot zoning” and other favorite City Council gifts to developers.
Spokane’s city government deserves Proposition 4, because public anger over its failure to enforce the Comprehensive Plan is one of the factors that enabled Envision Spokane to gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot. The Comprehensive Plan was written by extremely capable professional planners who have listened to the public intensively and are not in the pockets of developers. It should be given the force of law. Will we ever have the courage to do so?