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By spending nearly a year meeting with neighborhood groups and others to develop an urban farming plan that addressed various concerns before bringing it to a final vote, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart has created an unexpected new problem.
Any plan on almost any topic that the City Council considers from now on is likely to be criticized by opponents as “rushed” and inadequately “vetted,” with critics pointing to the sweeping community efforts taken by Stuckart to win support for allowing Spokane residents to raise small livestock in their backyards if they want.
Call it the new Goat Standard for community and stakeholder involvement.
Mayor David Condon used it to drive home his concerns that the City Council rushed its anti-sprawl measure to a final vote without adequately involving the community to identify and address any legitimate concerns. Condon, who vetoed the measure, noted that the anti-sprawl didn't get the laudably expansive efforts Stuckart took to craft the urban farming plan.
Spokane's latest push to expand urban farming opportunities had at least one councilman wondering if TV sketch comedians Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein might be lurking nearby.
“Sometimes when I'm reading this ordinance I feel like I've landed in an episode of “Portlandia,'” Councilman Mike Allen said during this week's debate over allowing small livestock such as goats, sheep and pigs to be raised in residential neighborhoods. “People are trying to create something that may or may not be good for an area.”
The urban farming plan was approved Monday night by the City Council and was described by supporters as a way of helping Spokane residents to embrace more sustainable lifestyles.
Allen, who raises chickens, supported plans to ease restrictions on growing and selling fruits, vegetables and produce in residential areas but opposed plans to allow backyard livestock, though he was out-voted.
Whether that means “The Dream of '90s” is now alive in Spokane remains to be seen.