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Help stop Spokane sprawl on Wednesday

Spokane County and its cities and towns have collaborated on a regional review of the Urban Growth Area. We're almost at the finish line when the stage is set for a public hearing tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in the commissioners’ assembly room in the lower level of the county Public Works Building, 1036 W. Broadway Ave.

First established in 2001, the Urban Growth Area is the area designated to accommodate projected urban growth. The hearing for the regional review is particularly significant since it will determine the Urban Growth Area’s ability to accommodate growth and development for the next twenty years.

The discussion around projected growth will focus on the impacts to the natural environment and the services and facilities needed including transportation, police, fire, parks, schools, water and sewer.

I went an open house three years ago and I was astounded by the turnout: Mostly developers.

Spokane is in a crucial development stage. As Futurewise's Kitty Klitzke pointed out at the time of the meeting in 2009, “our county’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) already covers over 89 square miles, this is over 2.5 times larger than the City of Paris, France. And Paris we ain’t. Their population, at 2.2 million is almost 5 times the population of Spokane County.”

In the last decade, 25 percent of county growth has occurred in rural spaces while enough land already existed in the urban growth area to accommodate their projections.

All the more reason to focus growth inward as our infrastructure strains due to unsustainable sprawl.

Today’s highlights

Spokane Chiefs, from left, Collin Valcourt, Mac Engel and Tanner Mort prepare lunch Oct. 18 at the House of Charity in Spokane. The hockey players spent parts of three days volunteering and interacting with homeless people. SR photo/Dan Pelle

We've got a little bit of everything in today's Valley Voice. Reporter Pia Hallenberg went along when the Spokane Chiefs hockey team visited the House of Charity recently to visit, give away hats and serve lunch. The team got a warm reception from the shelter's clients.

The Spokane Valley City Council unanimously approved the city's new Bike and Pedestrain Master Program on Tuesday, which was a bit of a surprise since it has been so heavily scrutinized. There's also an update of several other actions the council took, but the meeting was so long I couldn't fit everything in. Expect to see another story on the council meeting in Saturday's Valley Voice.

Correspondent Jill Barville has a great story on grandparents who raise their grandchildren and the unique challenges they face. I also checked in at the open house held Monday to present the Urbran Growth Area boundary adjustment alternatives that are being considered. Several areas in Spokane Valley are being considered for addition to the boundaries, which allow denser development. This will be on ongoing issue over the next several months.

Urban Growth Area open house

A regional review of the Urban Growth Area is under way and there are discussions about changing the boundaries in the Spokane Valley area. An open house is being held tonight so people can get information on what areas are impacted. The open house is from 5 to 7 p.m. at Spokane Valley City Hall, 11707 E.Sprague. Other open houses are scheduled for the Geiger area and north Spokane County later in the week. Visit www.spokanecounty.org/bp for more information.

Urban Growth Area discussion is a pivotal moment for Spokane’s future


Spokane County and its cities and towns are collaborating on a regional review of the Urban Growth Area. The Urban Growth Area is the area designated to accommodate projected urban growth and development for twenty years and was first established in 2001. The regional review will determine the Urban Growth Area’s ability to accommodate growth and development for the next twenty years. Analysis of potentially expanding or retracting the existing Urban Growth Area is also a part of the review.

The upcoming Open Houses will focus on the impacts of the projected growth on the natural environment and the services and facilities needed including transportation, police, fire, parks, schools, water and sewer.

I went to one of these two years ago and I was astounded by the turnout: Mostly developers.

Spokane is in a crucial development stage. As local environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke pointed out at the time of the meeting in 2009, “our county’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) already covers over 89 square miles, this is over 2.5 times larger than the City of Paris, France. And Paris we ain’t. Their population, at 2.2 million is almost 5 times the population of Spokane County.”

In the last decade, 25 percent of county growth has occurred in rural spaces while enough land already existed in the urban growth area to accommodate their projections.

All the more reason to focus growth inward as the city of Spokane's infrastructure is strained due to unsustainable sprawl.

Cul-de-sacked

 

 



















 

Is it the end of the road for the cul-de-sac? Perhaps. From a city and regional planning perspective, the timeworn layouts might become a distant memory as a few governments are just saying no. From Sarah Goodyear:

Early last year, the state of Virginia became the first state to severely limit cul-de-sacs from future development. Similar actions have been taken in Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

What they are beginning to realize is that the cul-de-sac street grid uses land inefficiently, discourages walking and biking, and causes an almost complete dependence on driving, with attendant pollution and energy use. Furthermore, town officials are beginning to realize that unconnected streets cost more money to provide services to and force traffic onto increasingly crowded arterial roads, which then, in many cases, need to be widened (more tax money).

Yes, there are indeed benefits to cul-de-sacs. Less through traffic makes it quieter and, some argue, safer for kids for going outside. However the downsides are evident: Residents end up paying for the inefficient road networks they create. Direct connections are cut-off and travel is required for longer distances to a physically nearby location. The lack of connectivity causes more congestion—80 percent worse—because the main roads and arterials get backed up and in Charlotte a study found an area with heavy cul-de-sacs needed more fire stations to be built, stretching municipality services.