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The week to come

Here's your Monday afternoon blog update and a quick look ahead at the week to come. Remember, there's no Spokane Valley City Council meeting tomorrow, Sept. 30.  the council will resume its regular meeting schedule with a study session on Oct. 7. At that meeting, city staff will present two ordinances aimed at regulating semi truck parking on residential streets. Look for a preview story about that issue in The Valley Voice on Oct. 2.  

On Sept. 30, I will have lunch with the Rotary Club of Spokane Valley at noon. The group's fashion show is coming up on Oct. 10, so look for a story about that next week. I'm looking forward to meeting the good folks at Rotary and would be happy to come meet with your Spokane Valley based community group as well. Just shoot me an email at piah@spokesman.com 

On Wednesday, Oct. 1, I will be at Forza Coffee Co. - 325 S. Sullivan Rd. - at around 9 a.m. for another round of Valley morning coffee. Please stop by and say hello and share a Spokane Valley story with me. 

City Hall Scoop: Domestic Violence and a New Councilwoman

Another Monday, another Spokane City Council meeting at which Councilman Mike Fagan speaks eloquently on the injustice of domestic violence.

Okay, so not every council meeting has Fagan on the dais, detailing the horrors of "Spokane's ugly, dirty little secret," telling attendees and viewers that domestic violence is not simply violent, but also "a crime of control, of coercion." He doesn't always read a list of crimes associated with domestic violence, or educate people that it can happen between more than man and wife, but between lovers, or friends, or inflicted by a parent or grandparent.

But it happened last night, as council members discussed amending city law as proposed by Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilwoman Amber Waldref to protect victims of domestic violence against discrimination, while also creating a fund to help prevent such violence and prosecute offenders. We covered the issue when it first arose.

True to his word, Fagan was "more than happy to vote in the affirm" and the ordinances passed 7-0, despite conservative gadabout George McGrath admonishing the council for letting government overreach to continue. McGrath did agree that domestic violence should be "contained (and) curtailed" but warned against overreaction, such as when a man flicks a toothpick at his wife. Councilman Mike Allen seemed to have had enough at that remark, tearing off his reading glasses and shooting an exasperated look to the council. Regardless, McGrath's three minutes soon were spent, he returned to his seat and the council carried on, as usual.

Continue reading, and see Fagan talk about domestic violence, after the jump.



How parking can save cities

Lots and lots of parking lots. That has been a major issue in Spokane as historic buildings have been razed in the past - just look back to the Spokesman's "Then & Now" on the Rookery Block. We know they create economic dead zones but it's slowly getting better since City Council passed a moratorium on open surface parking lots in the downtown core five years ago. 

While cities make efforts to manage parking differently, there's certainly a correlation between healthier and cleaner communities. This quick video by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) and Streetfilms explains the importance of the issue. It also reminds me of Schoolhouse Rock, so win-win. 

“Big Brother” arrives downtown, wants your quarters

Over the last month or so, high tech "smart" parking meters have appeared in downtown Spokane, equipped with coin slots and credit card readers.

But yesterday, workers began installing sensors that will detect when a car comes and goes, zeroing out the meter when it leaves and beginning a countdown when it parks. Though the technology will also allow people to add a few extra minutes from afar via a smartphone app, the sensors have caused a stir among parkers.

In an earlier story, two members of the City Council referred to the sensor technology as "Big Brother," but both said they supported the new meters.

The sensors don't look like much. They're just simple grey boxes strapped to the meter's post. But parkers beware: They're watching you. 

Saturday’s highlights

Ellin Schafer, 15, above, and her mother, Carolyn, assemble a quilt at their home in Spokane Valley on Tuesday. Carolyn Schafer is organizing a quilting drive for the members of Mason Flemmer’s unit. Flemmer, the orchestra teacher at Central Valley, is being deployed for the third time to Afghanistan. SR photo/Tyler Tjomsland

I invite everyone to take a look at today's Garfield comic strip. That sums up my approach to Mondays very well. With that said, it's time to take a look at some highlights from Saturday's Valley Voice. Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a story on the efforts by students and staff at Central Valley High School to create 140 quilts for the 455th Engineer Company in Afghanistan. CV orchestra teacher Mason Flemmer is part of the unit.The volunteers still need donations of material to make the quilts, volunteers to put them together and cash to ship them.

Correspondent Steve Christilaw has a story on new volleyball coaches at Central Valley High School and University High School. Both are from out of the area and have a good coaching track record. Correspondent Valerie Putnam has a report from Millwood, where the council recently voted to restrict parking on portion of Stout Road and Grace Ave. Residents have complained that employees from local businesses are parking there.

Being buzzed by a bee ended badly for one man recently when he and his tractor rolled down an embankment after he swatted at the insect. The man was seriously injured, but he also had the unfortunate luck to land on a dead porcupine. That call for help was one of hundreds responded to by Spokane Valley Fire Department crews in the last two weeks.

Sparse Parking, Scarce Shoppers

Lexi Carlsen, left, and Caitlin McHugh cross Sherman Avenue Friday while browsing Coeur d'Alene retail shops. (Coeur d'Alene Press photo: Shawn Gust)

Shopping in downtown Coeur d'Alene may have hit a bump in the road. And construction signs. And traffic cones. And congestion on the streets. The season is starting out a little bumpy because of restricted access and parking caused by road construction and improvements, which have various roads temporarily closed or fenced off. Shoppers, as well as store owners and employees, have mixed feelings about how the process is affecting business now that the peak downtown shopping time has commenced. "I think that the timing of which they're doing this is just very bad timing," said Charlotte Botelho, sales clerk at Lucky Monkey Trading Company/Devin Heilman, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Are you avoiding downtown this summer?

Parking in warm weather

At what temperature do you begin to implement your hot-weather parking protocols?

You know…seeking shade (even if it means parking far away), cracking the windows, putting up reflecto heat shields, et cetera.

In the “Parking Madness” bracket, it’s Spokane vs. Cleveland

Still angry over the Zags not advancing in March Madness? Did you really pick them to win it all in your bracket? Fear not because Spokane has an opportunity to advance in a different kind of bracket!

We made the D.C. Streets Blog but congratulations aren't exactly in order. It's because we have lots and lots of parking lots.

They have a "Parking Madness" bracket that examines the "worst parking craters in an American downtown." Eight cities have squared off while Milwaukee, Tulsa, Dallas and Louisville made it through the first half of the first round. 

Spokane made an appearance due to the ill-advised convention center parking crater, seen in a before and after below:


Looking For Parking In All The Places

From Lake City Development Corporation board meeting minutes from Wednesday:

Also during its regular monthly board meeting, Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association Manager Terry Cooper reported that a parking plan is in place to alleviate inconveniences imposed by the McEuen Park upgrade project. A free shuttle bus service from the Memorial Field area to the downtown is under evaluation, and other downtown lots managed by Diamond Parking will be open for public parking to accommodate for lost parking during construction. Cooper said notices will be provided to downtown business owners and visitors.

Question: Can anyone imagine the downtown parking mess we're going to have this summer?

Today’s highlights

Golf carts at Painted Hills Golf Course sit locked behind a fence. SR photo/Dan Pelle

There are some good stories in today's Valley Voice, topped by one that should put a few rumors zipping around to rest. The gates of Painted Hills Golf Course are chained shut as the owners go through the bankruptcy process. There are reportedly several interested buyers, but there's no way to tell yet when, or if, the course will reopen.

Reporter Nicole Hensley has a profile on East Valley High School junior Rachael Coleck, who fills the dual roles of cheerleader and wrestler. She talks about how she deals with being a girl involved in a male dominated sport. The Spokane Valley City Council spent some time this week talking about whether they should adjust their sign code and if street parking on the one-way section of Sprague Ave. is a good idea.

The Washington State Court of Appeals has upheld the decision of a Spokane County Superior Court Judge throwing out a lawsuit filed against the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum by several neighboring business owners. The lawsuit was filed when the museum fenced in their parking lot for outdoor exhibits, which meant that customers of nearby businesses could no longer use the lot as a shortcut.

Giant parking crunch expected at Boise State on Thursday

Boise State University is expecting more than 70,000 people on its campus Thursday, as events collide, from regular classes, to two performances of "Les Miserables" at the Morrison Center, to a 4 p.m. women's volleyball game, to the 7 p.m. football matchup against BYU. The campus has 7,700 parking spaces.

As a result, BSU is declaring Thursday to be "Give Your Car a 'Brake' Day," encouraging alternate transportation and offering parking tips in advance of the big crunch. Click below for the university's full news release.

Season of miracles

One problem with avoiding downtown Spokane because you don't like the parking options is that this policy rules out the possibility that you will experience the minor thrill of happening onto a miracle spot.

You know — a legit, roomy streetside opening right in front of your destination.

I was off work last week but still had occasion to drive downtown just about every day. And time after time, the perfect parking spot beckoned just as I arrived at my destination.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. 

Tight fit

Autumn started yesterday, of course. But it seems pretty clear that summer intends to hang around and take a final bow this weekend.

If you had ridden your bike across town this morning to pick up some bagels, you would have seen all sorts of activity.

Yard sales starting up. Kids soccer. Lawn mowing. Joggers. Dog walkers. People heading out to do errands. You know, Spokane on a balmy Saturday morning.

But if your route took you through neighborhoods with older homes, there's something else you might have noticed. With all the comings and goings, this morning was an ideal time to observe that we have in our midst a fair number of drivers capable of precise maneuvers.

You know those folks who own big ass family trucksters? Sure. Well, a few of them live in older homes. And that often means the garages were built with much smaller vehicles in mind.

So steering the big rig in or out requires a cool head and steady hand.

I saw one guy back out this morning from a garage that seemed about one coat-of-paint wider than the SUV he was driving. If the actual inside of the garage wasn't bigger than the door frame, he'd never be able to get out of his car.

Docking orbiting space vehicles couldn't have been much harder than what he does every day. (And the astronauts had computer assist.)

Oh, well. So long, summer. Nice seeing you again.

This is what parking enforcement in Lithuania looks like

Artūras Zuokas, the mayor of the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, is funny. In a demonstration to warn luxury car drivers not to park in the bike lanes of Vilnius, the mayor of the city crushed a Mercedes-Benz parked in the bike lane with an army tank. Is Spokane read for something similar? With a monster military machine?

OpenCDA Hyperventilates RE: McEuen

As I was walking out of the Team McEuen presentation last night, I joked with a member of the Lake City Development Corp. that I wondered what part Mary Souza or Bill McCrory were going to attack at OpenCDA.com today. It didn't take me long to figure that out. OpenCDA's hyperventilating about the cost of moving the parking into a double-deck structure that would include an underground level. OpenCDA sets the price tag at $82.2 million. Quoth: "An underground parking garage is a horrendous expense, even for a city that’s a dozen times larger than Coeur d’Alene. With the problems we have with the budget, a dearth of jobs, businesses closing, a high-tax/low-property-value economy, the reason for wanting such an expensive structure is not only illogical, it’s down-right foolhardy." What? You expected OpenCDA to find any good in anything proposed by the Bloem administration? The blog's right that the impressive proposal unveiled last night will come with a ha-huge price tag. But I've seen this community do many impressive things during my 27 years here (Kroc Center, Lake City Senior Center, Cancer Center, Riverstone, Coeur d'Alene Library, Centennial Trail), despite gail-wind opposition from the naysayers. Improving McEuen Field will be no exception. You can read the rest of OpenCDA's screed here.

Question: Do you think proposed upgrades to McEuen Field can be financed without raising taxes?

Who greets the legislative session each January with glee?

Restaurants, florists, and the city of Olympia’s traffic-fine fund.