Spokane has ended its nearly seven-month protest over the state’s changes to elevator safety codes.
The City Council this week agreed to update local ordinances to include the state-mandated changes, which officials say are mostly minor adjustments. Concerns raised by local building owners last fall over what appeared to be potentially costly new requirements were examined by city staff and determined to be less burdensome than originally believed.
“These codes are adding a layer of maintenance,” said Scott Chesney, city Planning and Development director.
State officials and others, however, say it’s simply clarifying maintenance expectations that already were required but often weren’t performed properly.
Nonetheless, city leaders statewide are pledging to take a more active role in elevator safety issues, Council President Ben Stuckart said.
“We need to be much more proactive on that,” said Stuckart, adding that a council-ordered analysis concluded the city would be better off adopting the new state requirements. “We need to make sure we’re working with state officials and do a better job of paying attention to how those things can change at the state level.”
Spokane and Seattle are the only cities in the state that operate their own elevator and escalator inspection programs.
State officials were threatening to revoke Spokane’s program and take over all inspections when the city refused to adopt the new standards that took effect Jan. 1.
“The state was pretty mad at us when we turned it down the first time,” Stuckart acknowledged.
City officials met with state regulators and members of Spokane’s legislative delegation in trying to work out a solution.