Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Urban Farming open house for Spokane

In response to increasing local interest in Urban Farming, the City Council and Planning and Development Services Department are leading an effort to research, evaluate and develop a system to better support and provide regulations for Urban Farming.

Image courtesy of Project Hope Spokane, one of our best examples of urban farming. 

The workshop will be for the purpose of discussing ideas and generating comments on possible changes to City code that could create a more consistent, predictable and stream-lined system for Urban Farmers.

Proposed ordinance to better manage stormwater heads to Spokane Plan Commission

The City of Spokane is working on a proposed ordinance that would encourage property owners and developers to use low impact development to manage stormwater as part of their development or redevelopment projects.

Tomorrow at 3pm in the City Council Chamber in the lower level of City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., the Spokane Plan Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance.

Low impact development is an emerging practice that mimics nature’s management of stormwater. It emphasizes site conservation and uses natural landscaping features to filter and retain stormwater close to where it falls. The rain gardens on South Lincoln Street and the stormwater planters and pervious pavement on West Broadway Avenue are examples of low impact development.

“We are committed to improving the health of the Spokane River,” says Rick Romero, the City’s Division Director of Utilities. “Low impact development captures stormwater—which carries pollutants—and keeps it from flowing into the Spokane River.”

Open position for Transportation Benefit District board

Are you interested in helping maintain the City’s streets and sidewalks? Well, here's a great opportunity! The City of Spokane’s Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board is seeking applicants to fill a vacancy on the citizen advisory board that helps determine priorities for TBD funding.

The vacancy is for an at-large position with a term ending Nov. 11, 2013 and the chosen applicant can seek reappointment at the end of the term.

Spokane’s Transportation Benefit District is an independent taxing district created in October 2010 to help the City better maintain its street system and pedestrian infrastructure. The City Council serves as the TBD governing board separately from their Council duties.

Spokane businesses recognized for wastewater management

The City of Spokane is recognizing businesses that have excelled in the management of wastewater generated as part of their processes.

“We want to recognize these businesses for being good stewards of the environment and helping the City operate its wastewater treatment system efficiently,” said Rick Romero, the City’s Utilities Director. “We appreciate all the work that has been invested in these efforts.”

They achieved 100 percent compliance with requirements in their industrial wastewater discharge permits for 2012. Businesses are required to have such permits either because of they produce a large volume of wastewater or because they discharge pollutants that can disrupt wastewater treatment processes.

Open house for Division Street Gateway Project

The City of Spokane is working to implement the community’s vision for the Division Street corridor through Downtown and the University District and will host a community workshop on Tuesday, June 25th to discuss corridor design concepts.

The workshop is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the WSU Phase 1 Classroom Building Room 122 (Auditorium), 668 N. Riverpoint Blvd.

The Division Street Gateway project identifies streetscape and motorized transportation improvements throughout the Division Street corridor which are intended to improve aesthetics, functionality and safety of multi-modal transportation, and support private investment. Such improvements will provide an “entrance” statement into the downtown and strengthen linkages to east-west access between Downtown and the University District.

City releases drinking water quality report

Sorry in advance to say there was no mention of fluoride but the City of Spokane released its required annual report on the quality of drinking water provided by the City’s Water Department. Good news: For 2012, as in previous years, the City met or exceeded all federal and state drinking water standards.

The City operates the third largest water system in the state of Washington. Only Seattle and Tacoma have larger systems. Beneath the city streets lies a network of water pipes that delivers water from wells to every home and business within the current water service area. The City maintains about 1,000 miles of water mains and smaller water lines.

The City’s Water Quality Report for 2012 is available on line at www.spokanewater.org/water-quality/. Citizens may request a mailed copy by calling the Water Department at 625-7800 and providing a current address.

Urban design awards call for entries begins

The City Of Spokane is currently seeking applications for the 2013 Mayor’s Urban Design Awards. The program began in 2007 and it's intended to recognize and thank people who contribute to Spokane’s quality of life and help implement the City’s Comprehensive Plan through good urban design.

Projects must be completed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Aug. 1, 2013. They will be judged against 15 qualities of good urban design in Spokane that are consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan objectives. Award applications are due by noon on Thurs., Aug. 1.

How would Sonnelands’ South Hill property look if it was fully developed?

Earlier on Wednesday we ran a map with an item on the proposed amendment request submitted on behalf of the family of John and Holly Sonneland. That earlier printed map is the existing land use for the 30 acres the Sonnelands own on Spokane's South Hill.

Here is another map from the city that shows the proposed, requested uses for the same property. The large purple block would be centers and corridors designated for mixed use. The darker yellow area to the left and below, bordered with purple lines, would remain residential, but it would change in nature.

As our other SR news story (ran on May 22) reported, the Sonnelands say they didn't submit the full 30-acre rezone request. They say a local developer, Steve Schmautz, went forward for a full rezone, rather than what the Sonnelands wanted, a smaller, less-than-eight-acre rezone of their property.

This map shows that if the full project moved forward, one request to the city would change the residential parcels, currently zoned single-family residential, to R15-30, allowing for up to 30 units per acre.

The original documents accompanying the request did note that the project, if developed, would not build apartments at that density, but closer to 10 units per acre. The Sonnelands, again saying that type of development is several years off, if at all, say they don't want a high-density residential development.

Want more answers on the Sonneland property rezone request? Here’s a link

This is one of those tales that never quite answers all the questions it raises. The Sonneland family, a fixture for decades on Spokane's South Hill, has more than 30 acres that will eventually go through some development. The first part of the plan is the existing Quail Run commercial cluster on 29th Avenue near Southeast Boulevard.

Today's story summarizes the confusion and attempted fix after a developer submitted a request to amend the Spokane Comprehensive Plan and allow mixed-use development on many of the still-undeveloped acres the Sonnelands have.

The property iincludes the last significant green belt of natural land sitting atop Spokane's South Hill.

The upshot: while the city is still reviewing the request for rezoning all 30 acres, the family now says they're not ready to move forward with that size of project. Instead, with the help of a local developer, they're more focused on making a zone change happeon on the northeasternmost 6 acres or so of the property.

To grab more information about the project, on the city's planning department site, go here. Scroll down to the specific link for the Sonneland project.

West Plains workshop focuses on transportation projects

Citizens are encouraged to attend a workshop to discuss alternatives for an updated arterial plan that would coordinate transportation improvements connecting the various jurisdictions that make-up the West Plains area of Spokane County. The workshop is set for this Thursday, May 16th, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the library at Sunset Elementary School, 12824 12th Ave. in Airway Heights.

This workshop will be the second workshop included as part of a larger effort to identify and plan for the infrastructure needed to support growth and development on the West Plains. The City of Spokane is leading a multi-agency effort to explore these issues. The resulting arterial plan will be used to prioritize transportation projects and will be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plans and other planning documents of the City and its many partners.

Besides the City, the project’s partners include Spokane County, the Spokane International Airport, the City of Airway Heights, WSDOT, Fairchild Air Force Base, the Spokane Tribe, the Kalispel Tribe, Spokane Transit Authority, the City of Cheney, the City of Medical Lake, Cheney School District and others.

SCAFCO’s changes at the old race track are needed, and significant

The term "primary industry" and primary jobs came to mind when I wrote the story last week on the evolution of the former Playfair Race Course into Playfair Commerce Park.

A primary industry is a good thing. It's a company that sells its products or services outside the region, thus importing dollars into the local economy.

SCAFCO, the company that acquired the former racet rack, is the quintessential Spokane primary industry. And its ongoing success in selling its steel studs and steel storage tanks is the key reason SCAFCO could buy the old abandoned track and spend a lot of cash improving it.

The photo above is an example of the kinds of changes SCAFCO has made on the 48 acres that are the new commerce park. Provided by Bruce Katahira of SCAFCO, it shows the before and after changes for Olive Street, in the park.

Hats off to SCAFCO. The park has a strong future. The map here also shows the general layout of the property.

Free compost fair this Saturday

 The Spokane Master Composters/Recyclers will host the 34th semi-annual Compost Fair at the Finch Arboretum this Saturday, April 27th.

The Fair is being held as part of the Arbor Day Celebration and starts at 11 a.m. Attendees must arrive by 1:30 p.m. to complete all of the compost activities by the 2 p.m. close.

Participants will learn how to turn into compost the “clean green” materials that result from their spring yard work and landscape trimming. Activity stations will provide hands-on experience and lots of information on the materials that can be composted, types of bins to use, and how to build and turn a pile. The finished compost is excellent material to recycle back into yard and gardens.

The Fair is free and open to everyone. Spokane County attendees, with identification verifying residence, can receive a free plastic compost bin after completing the activity stations. There is a limit of one bin per household. The bins are provided by Spokane Regional Solid Waste System and grant funds from Washington Department of Ecology. The Master Composters/Recyclers are volunteers sponsored by the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System. Since the Compost Fair started in 1996, just over 10,000 compost bins have been provided to county residents – contributing to an estimated 2,000 plus tons of compostable material that was dealt with at home in the last year alone.

Inland Northwest New Economy Summit begins tonight!

The Inland Northwest New Economy Summit starts tonight and extends through Saturday. The Summit will focus on promoting ideas and strategies for a stronger and more sustainable regional economy, discussing local development opportunities and renewable energy strategies.

“Policy changes at the state level could incentivize the use of energy created by our Waste to Energy facility to help build our local economy,” Spokane City Councilmember Amber Waldref said, a featured speaker at the event. 

The event includes workshops covering topics from scaling sustainable agriculture, green building, alternative energy, green businesses job creation and leadership in the new economy.

There will also be a business pitch competition with cash prizes of up to $1000. Tonight's event will be held at the Gonzaga University Jepson Center, in the Wolff Auditorium from 6-9pm. Saturday participants will reconvene at 9:30am at the EWU Phase 1 Building, 668 N. Riverpoint Blvd.

Register HERE and a shout out to Joel, Jessica, Beth, and Kate for their hard work in putting this together.

Comprehensive Plan open house on Wednesday

The City of Spokane’s Plan Commission will host an open house to gather input from citizens on the 2012-2014 Comprehensive Plan Review and Update this Wednesday.

The open house will begin with a presentation - at 5:45 - on the background of the Comprehensive Plan and the update process. Here are the details:

Wednesday, March 13 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
City Council Chambers and Chase Gallery
Lower Level, Spokane City Hall
808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The City has been working on this Comprehensive Plan update for a number of months. The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range 20-year plan that sets the framework for the physical, social, and economic development of the City. 

No big deal if you want to have a say in what your City looks like, right?

Guide to stormwater in Spokane available online

The Spokane River Forum, Spokane Riverkeeper, the City of Spokane and Gonzaga Environmental Law Clinic have all collaborated to create Spokane’s first definitive stormwater permitting guide. It's called Understanding Stormwater Permitting in the City of Spokane and it's a must-read for anybody who wants to learn more about dealing with the greatest soruce of pollution in the Spokane River.

Right now, a third of stormwater is left untreated, washing contaminates into the river. “In the past, we kept hearing from builders that it was just too complicated, that the information was too spread out," Bart Mihalovich, the Spokane Riverkeeper, told River Forum. "Now there’s no excuse; everything is in one place.”

The project was funded from the 2011 settlement between the City of Spokane and Spokane Riverkeeper regarding PCB discharges into the Spokane River.

Check it out HERE

Curbside yard and food waste collection returns

It's almost time for Spring cleaning and the City of Spokane has got your back. They will resume curbside yard and food waste pickup on Monday, February 25th.


The optional City service runs from March through November. You can order a 96-gallon green yard waste cart that can be filled with all manner of yard waste—grass, leaves, pine needles, pine cones, weeds, vines, thatch, plant trimmings, small amounts of sod, and branches.

More Than a Century of Winter Fun at Manito Park

   The morning after the season’s first snowfall, as I worked at my computer I could look out the window and see a steady parade of people heading down my street toward Manito Park.
Parents towed toddlers on sleds and teenagers laughed and pushed and punched one another as they trudged to the traditional sledding hill at the edge of the park. I couldn’t help myself. I had to smile. Welcome to winter in the heart of Spokane.

   I stopped typing and watched another family as they walked past my window and, not for the first time, I appreciated the direct link to the past this park provides. Each winter, for more than 100 years, the view has been essentially the same. Snow falls and people come out to play.

   I moved to Spokane in 1999 and for several years we lived outside of the city, north toward Green Bluff and near the shallow, curving Little Spokane River. But in 2006, when I realized we were spending a big part of each day driving to and from the city, we sold the big house with the big yard and moved into a little cottage around the corner from Duncan Gardens. My surroundings changed from sprawling suburbia to the intimacy of an old neighborhood with a big park next door.

   We’d visited Manito Park from time to time, but after the move the 90-acre oasis became more than a place to visit. It became a seasonal marker for my days. In the spring we watch the tender green buds unfurl and dress the gardens. In the heat of summer I walk through the rose garden at the end of the day and the air is sweet with the scent of a million blooms. In the fall, the park glows with golden leaves.

    Every day, in every season, people come to the park. But there is a subtle shift in winter. This time of year Manito is a more solitary place. Icy mornings bring out only the most diehard walkers. And night comes too fast.

    But after a fresh snowfall, it’s as if the park sends an invitation to a party. Just as it has been since 1903, the sledding hill is crowded with people and laughter fills the air.

    Several years ago, after recording my weekly public radio program in the studio upstairs, I stopped by Vintage Rabbit Antiques on Monroe.  One of the dealers had a box filled with vintage postcards and I pulled out one that showed a crowd ice skating on the pond at Manito Park. I loved the slice of life captured in the photograph, with men, women and children celebrating the simple pleasure of  skimming over a frozen pond, cold air biting at faces, the wind stinging hands and ears.

   I bought the postcard, scanned the card and keep it on my computer; a wintery moment frozen in time, linking me to both the past and the present in a place I’ve grown to love.


Note: This column was featured in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Nostalgia Magazine

Cheryl-Anne Millsap blogs about antiques and collectibles at The Spokesman-Review. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Comprehensive Plan needs your input

The City of Spokane Planning and Development Services Department will host two more public meetings to gather input from citizens on the 2012-2014 Comprehensive Plan Review and Update.

Each meeting will begin with a presentation on the background of the Comprehensive Plan and the update process, followed by an interactive survey and activity stations. The presentation will begin at 5:45 p.m. at each meeting.

Image courtesy of Emerson-Garfield Neighborhood Council. It appears they're going with the Bluthton plan.

The meetings are as scheduled:

Council District 3
Tuesday, Feb. 19
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Shadle Public Library
2111 W. Wellesley Ave.
STA Route 20/33


Tuesday Video: Don’t mess with Spokane?

I always love how the phrase "Don't Mess with Texas" started as a trademark of the Texas Department of Transportation to reduce litter on roadways. Their commercials seemed like fodder for a Simpsons parody but it worked! Litter decreased 72 percent in just four years after launching in 1986.

Now, we have Spokane's "Report Litter" video. It really dives into the process of how the City Of Spokane deals with refuse but it's missing - as George W. Bush couldn't say - a certain je ne sais quo. Perhaps it's the narration or the music. I think it's missing Mayor David Condon in a B-17, sneaking up on an unsuspecting litter bug. Come on Spokane, let's go big or go home!

New zoning in Logan Neighborhood could increase pedestrian activity

The Logan Neighborhood Stakeholder Committee and City of Spokane Planning and Development Services will host an open house on Wednesday, Feb. 6, to gather input from citizens on new zoning and street design standards proposed for the Hamilton corridor between Desmet and Nora.

The open house will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with a presentation at 6 p.m., at the Gonzaga University Plant Services Building Training Room, 1004 N. Ruby Street (access via Desmet).

From Spokane Planning: Situated close to the heart of Spokane, the Logan Neighborhood has developed as one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in the City. Platted and developed between 1884-1890 by Sylvester and Ida Heath and the Jesuits of Gonzaga College, the area developed as a “suburb” of downtown Spokane. The pattern of wide streets and boulevard landscaping was introduced by the priests as a reflection of the popular trends in Europe and cities of the eastern Unites States.

In that spirit, I'm geeking out that the city will now develop a model of "form-based zoning" that encourages an increase of pedestrian activity.





(Blame the hippies for wanting to walk to school.)

Open house to discuss Centennial Trail gap

Calling all Centennial Trail users: Here's a meeting you won't want to miss. The City of Spokane is conducting an open house to present seven preliminary alternatives to address a gap in the Centennial Trail as it crosses East Mission Avenue at North Perry Street. The open house is designed to gather public input and will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Stevens Elementary School in the multi-purpose room, 1717 E. Sinto Avenue.

The Centennial Trail runs along the Spokane River beginning at Nine Mile Falls, crossing over the Washington/Idaho state line, and ending at Higgins Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene. A number of gaps along the trail remain. This meeting will address a feasibility study for an improved crossing for pedestrians and bicyclists at Mission Avenue.

That crossing has never been an easy one. It's an extremely busy arterial with Perry and Upriver Drive connecting. Also, the BNSF Railway line running north of Spokane crosses Mission and the trail at Mission Avenue.

Council Member Snyder hosts Council Connection on coal trains, libraries

Have you ever heard of Council Connection? It's a monthly cable television program featuring Spokane City Council members as hosts. It's sort of like Wayne's World meets CNN, making Spokane the only place where you'll find such a program.

Photo by Ben Tobin.

The next episode will be shown live tonight at 6 p.m. on CityCable 5 and Council Member Jon Snyder, from District 2, will host. The program, which will look at two topics, the first segment covers the effects of the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal project. Guests will include Richard Burris, a retired railroad worker, and Bart Mihailovich, the Spokane Riverkeeper. Good timing too, after yesterday's well-attended hearing.

The second segment will cover the current state of the Spokane Public Library and the potential levy lid lift for libraries. Council Member’s Snyder’s guest will be Jack Fallis, Library Board Member and CEO of Global Credit Union. (Hey, going to the library is pretty green!)

“Vacant City, Sprawling County” photography show

Did you know that in Spokane County, 25% of growth in the last decade has happened outside our urban areas? Making matters worse, the Urban Growth Area itself has not reached the population it was planned to accommodate. Also, it was estimated that Spokane County is expected to grow by more than a staggering 150,000 people between now and 2031. It becomes obvious: Growth needs to be focused inside our cities and towns to keep them economically vibrant instead of making infrastructure investments for sprawl which increases costs to taxpayers and stretch our urban services so thin.  

Futurewise has done some great work in this area by ensuring a better quality of life for future generations. They are inviting you to "Vacant City, Sprawling County" featuring the photography of John Klekus in the Community Building lobby on December 5th at 6pm. Hilary Franz, the Executive Director of Futurewise will be in attendance.

Spokane celebrates America Recycles Day with student art reception

You don't want to be tardy to this party. 

The introduction this fall of the new single-stream recycling program using big blue carts was the inspiration for 288 children from 26 schools in Spokane County as they created hand-drawn posters for entry in the “America Recycles Day 2012” Spokane poster contest. This year’s theme was “Recycling: Bigger, Blue-er, Better!” The annual competition, open to students in kindergarten through grade 8, is sponsored by Spokane Regional Solid Waste System (SRSWS). All finalists will also be honored at a reception at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow in the Kress Gallery on level 3 of River Park Square, 808 W. Main. 

Image courtesy of Out There Monthly.

In addition, the finalists’ posters are on display at River Park Square through tomorrow. From that group, 17 posters have been selected to appear in the 2013 “Spokane Recycles” calendar, which will be available free of charge from the SRSWS main office, 625-6580, beginning in late December 2012.

Do you love those new blue recycling containers for curbside pickup?

Friday's a short snow day at Office Hours.

So, do you love your new Blue Cart, the 62-gallon containers area cities are giving residents to recycle more of their household stuff?

You can learn more about what happens to all that stuff when it gets hauled out to the Waste Management facility that opened in October. Look for the Sunday stor on that new MRF (materials recycling facility) at Spokesman.com, on Nov. 11.

And let us add: Happy Holidays to all, even if it's way too early.

City Council considers Golf Cart Zone on Monday

On the agenda for Monday's Spokane City Council meeting: Golf cart zones in Northeast Spokane.

“The Greater Hillyard Neighborhood Planning Alliance identified a golf cart zone as part of its strategy to provide a wider range of mobility options for all residents,” said Council Member Amber Waldref, who sponsored the ordinance. “I’m happy to help implement this neighborhood-driven effort.”

According to the City of Spokane, the ordinance allows electric golf cart use within specified boundaries. (Check map.) The carts would be operated on streets in the zone with speed limits of 25 mph or less and a golf cart may cross a street with a speed limit greater than 25 mph when safe to do so at intersections.

In Spokane County, Cheney and Liberty Lake already have golf cart zones and there's been a shift to use the vehicles for more purposes than hitting the links. Could the golf cart ordinance be a gateway to more low-speed electric vehicles in the region? We shall see.

Open House to discuss closing a gap in the Centennial Trail

The City of Spokane is conducting an open house to present improvement options for addressing a gap to our regions recreational treasure: The Centennial Trail. The open house is designed to gather public input and will be held on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt St.

The Centennial Trail runs along the Spokane River beginning at Nine Mile Falls, crossing over the Washington andIdaho state line, and ending at Higgins Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene. There are a number of gaps along the trail but this meeting will focus on the completion of a trail segment from Bridge to Boone avenues adjacent to Summit Blvd. in the West Central area.

The City Of Spokane Announces 2013 Traffic-Calming Projects

Spokane is one of the only cities in the country where the revenue from red light camera infractions ("Photo Red") is allocated to traffic calming projects in your neighborhoods. Yesterday, the City of Spokane announced yesterday an extensive list of projects that will be funded by proceeds from the program. A grand total of twenty-one projects have been selected for construction, out of 74 applications, totaling around $485,000. The projects are scheduled to be built in 2013.

In the spring of 2012, neighborhoods were asked to identify and submit applications for projects intended to encourage motorists to adhere to speed limits to improve safety for pedestrian and bicyclists and improve the walking environment for residents. Eligible projects included, temporary and permanent speed indicator signage, curb bump-outs, traffic circles, crosswalk striping, pedestrian crossing signage, bike lanes, sharrows, street trees, sequence lights, and sidewalks.

City Of Spokane and Stickman Knows work on back to school safety

Mayor David Condon proclaimed September Back to School month and is partnering with the community on education and student safety issues throughout the month. The City, along with Stickman Knows, is asking for your help to keep children safe by slowing down around schools and look out for children crossing the street. 

Most vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur in crosswalks, marked or unmarked. By following the rules of the road, you can prevent most collisions. Motorists shoyld drive 20 miles per hour in school zones and stop for children at crosswalks. Pedestrians should cross the street on a “Walk” signal, and if there isn’t a signal look left, right, and left again before crossing at marked crosswalks or intersections.

Spokane launches single stream recycling collection in October

Good news from the City of Spokane: This fall, they will make recycling much easier with the addition of single stream recycling at the curb. The City is working to get citizens information they need now, in advance of the changes. This will allow City of Spokane Solid Waste Management customers to put all of their recyclables into a single large cart without sorting.

The new service also will allow for more products to be recycled, including office paper, junk mail, grocery bags, cereal boxes, aluminum foil, and plastics numbered 1 through 7. Batteries can be recycled if they are put inside a plastic bag and placed on top of the cart.

Within the City of Spokane, customers will start receiving new blue carts as part of the new service near the end of September. They can begin using those carts on October 1. Customers should use their smaller blue bins for recycling until they receive their carts. After the blue cart is delivered, the blue bin can be kept for use at home or it can be picked it up by the City.