March 20, 2010 in Washington Voices

SARP still needs work, but it’s a good roadmap

Dick Behm Special to Voices

In 2003 the Spokane Valley City Council asked the citizens what their vision of Spokane Valley was and which direction they wanted their brand new city to go. How was this done and what were the results?

The City Community Development Department contracted with Clearwater Research to conduct a Community Preference Survey. The survey was designed to gauge the public’s views on issues such as transportation, urban design, city identity, growth and development. The final results were presented to the city in April 2004.

Those results were used to develop priorities in the new Spokane Valley Comprehensive Plan by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is made up of citizen volunteers who have spent thousands of hours working on how to make our city a better place to live and work. The result was a new Comprehensive Plan to replace the one established by Spokane County. It has been tweaked and amended by the City Council many times, as situations and priorities change.

So what about the Sprague Appleway Revitalization Plan? Well, SARP is a part of the Comprehensive Plan and it reflects the direction the citizens said they wanted the city to go.

When citizens were asked how important it was to the future of Spokane Valley to have an area of the City that is recognized as a city center or downtown, 61 percent said it was very important or somewhat important.

The question was also asked where the City Center should be located. The choices submitted by citizens were Evergreen and Sprague, Pines and Sprague, Mirabeau Point, University City and Other. The University City area was the overwhelming choice, receiving 52 percent of the total vote. Mirabeau Point was second with 18 percent.

Respondents were also asked how supportive they would be of Spokane Valley officials spending public money to promote the creation of a city center.

Three-quarters of the respondents (75 percent) indicated they were either somewhat or strongly supportive of Spokane Valley officials spending public money to create a city center.

Seventy-six percent reported that having a community identity was very or somewhat important to the future of Spokane Valley.

So following the desires of the citizens, the city hired a consultant to help plan a city center and suggest a plan to revitalize Sprague Avenue. Sixty-four public meetings and workshops were held. Hundreds of Valley citizens attended with a desire to help plan their new city’s future. Their viewpoints were heard and incorporated into the plan. SARP was born.

Is SARP a bad plan? NO! Is it a good plan? NO! SARP is a plan in progress. It is a 20- to 30-year plan. It needs tweaking and changes, but it does reflect the direction that the citizens said they wanted the city to go.

We would ask the new Spokane Valley City Council not to throw the baby out with the bath water and act in haste. The new members on the council should do their due diligence and research. Identify those areas that they think need change and ask the citizens for their opinion. The council should study the Clearwater Research Report filed April 28, 2004, and read all the results of the study.

Dick Behm lives in Spokane Valley. He can be reached by e-mail at

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