The aging Sullivan Road bridge carrying southbound traffic over the Spokane River is getting replaced. Max J. Kuney Co. was selected by Spokane Valley from a field of four bidders for the estimated 18- to 22-month project. The Spokane-based company’s $12.31 million bid was the lowest of the four.
Eric Buchanan envisions a day when marijuana will be as common as vodka tonics or microbrews at lounges and nightclubs across Washington. Until then, he and his business partners are weaving their way through largely untested and often ambiguous state laws in an effort to hurry things along. Their new Spokane Valley nightclub, The Lounge, is part medical marijuana dispensary and part members-only social club where patrons can smoke pot and mingle.
Prospective pot entrepreneurs are warning that Spokane Valley’s new restrictions on state-licensed marijuana operations could hamper the fledgling industry’s success and limit the city’s share of expected tax revenue. But city leaders, who adopted the restrictions Tuesday night, are defending the move, saying it still provides ample opportunities for legal marijuana operations while protecting areas of the Valley where children and families gather.
Republicans are worried that the liberal-leaning Spokane City Council soon could have a veto-proof supermajority and are pushing for a conservative appointment to the nonpartisan panel’s open seat. They argue it would be keeping with the intent of northwest Spokane voters, who chose free-market conservative Steve Salvatori in 2011 to represent them. Salvatori resigned his seat earlier this month because he’s relocating to Dallas, leaving just two conservatives on the seven-member council.
Paper-pushing at Spokane City Hall is likely to get a bit greener. A proposal expected to win council approval Monday night would require the city to use only recycled office paper, a move that would cost an extra $5,900 annually and serve to bolster Spokane’s growing focus on sustainability issues.
Spokane Valley wants to boost the number of local businesses featured on its free smartphone app. City employees are contacting business owners this summer to explain the mobile app and offer to help get them listed at no cost with Google, which is what the app uses to determine the nearest commercial establishments to the smartphone user. They’re also inviting business owners to contact City Hall to set up appointments.
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.
Work is expected to start next month on a major stretch of Spokane Valley’s planned Appleway Trail. City officials said they hope to have a paved and landscaped pathway along the old Milwaukee Railroad corridor between University and Pines roads just south of Sprague Avenue open by the end of the year. The plan is to eventually extend the recreational trail to the eastern city limits, where it will meet up with Liberty Lake’s municipal trail system.
Full firefighting capability is being restored today to a key South Hill fire station hobbled a year and a half ago by city budget cuts. The expanding role for Station 9, located at 1722 S. Bernard St., comes as newly trained recruits begin reporting for duty, said Spokane Mayor David Condon.
Developer Ron Wells has a waiting list of nearly 200 people wanting affordable apartments in downtown Spokane. “There’s another 50 to 60 that couldn’t wait around and had to find something else,” said Wells, who owns and manages several apartment complexes and wants to convert the derelict Ridpath Hotel into a mix of traditional and micro apartments that many believe will help jump-start a vibrant urban core. “We know a lot of people like living in a convenient, affordable and close-in location.”
Don’t expect Spokane to follow Seattle’s lead on a $15-an-hour minimum wage. City Council President Ben Stuckart said Friday he has no plans to call for an increase, nor does he have any intention of pushing for one in the future.
Spokane is taking what’s described as another big step toward improving water quality. New policies adopted last week require City Hall purchasing managers to give preference to PCB-free products ranging from road paint to packaging materials. The goal is to cut the amount of toxic pollution being swept into the Spokane River and other waterways from largely unregulated sources.
The Valley is preparing to take another look at restricting commercial trucks in residential neighborhoods. Mayor Dean Grafos wants a proposed ordinance drafted for future City Council consideration that would prohibit semitrucks from parking on residential streets but would allow at least one commercial rig under 20-feet on private property. Grafos said it would enable commercial truck drivers who want to take their tractor-rigs home with them to continue doing so if they can fit in the driveway, for example, or alongside their home instead of in the street disrupting neighborhood views.
After years of discussions and negotiations over regional garbage disposal, Spokane Valley is going its own way and a handful of other cities appear poised to follow. Valley leaders decided unanimously this week to contract with Sunshine Disposal & Recycling to handle transfer and disposal of the estimated 45,000 tons of garbage collected throughout the city each year instead of joining the regional system envisioned by Spokane County.
Ancillary spending by Spokane City Council members soon could be tightened. The proposed new rules are in response to questions over a series of internal budget transfers during the past two years that enabled council members to divert nearly $100,000 originally allocated for support personnel to pet causes and community groups instead.
A portion of Appleway Boulevard in Spokane Valley will be repaved by an asphalt contractor that is having to rework rough sections of a repaving project it handled earlier on a nearby stretch of Sprague Avenue. Spokane Rock Products was the lowest of four bidders at $294,624 for the street preservation project along Appleway between Thierman and Park roads.
Liberty Lake is looking for a new council member. Lori Olander, who was appointed to the City Council in 2012 and won election to the seat last November, resigned May 6, citing increased work demands that made it difficult for her to give the level of attention to the job that it requires. The resignation was effective immediately and Olander apologized for her erratic attendance at council meetings and city functions this year.
Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori, a fiscal conservative and political ally of Mayor David Condon, is resigning his seat and moving to Texas. The resignation likely will expand the liberal-leaning majority on the council, creating a veto-proof 5-2 majority.
A regional trash hauler that got its start a century ago collecting garbage with horse-drawn wagons is positioning itself for a potentially big expansion. With the countywide solid waste system in flux, Sunshine Disposal & Recycling is hoping to persuade Spokane Valley city leaders to let it take over what amounts to a major piece of the region’s garbage market. The move could shave at least a quarter of a million dollars per year off the estimated cost that Valley residents would shoulder under the regional system envisioned by Spokane County.
Score one for neighborhood activism. Widespread opposition to a proposed land-use change that would have allowed large apartment buildings in a mostly rural Spokane Valley neighborhood helped spotlight enough concerns that the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday blocked the request from advancing to formal consideration. The 6-1 vote marked a rare developer rejection for a council that prides itself on being “business friendly.”
Proposed regulations on mobile food trucks operating in Spokane were temporarily withdrawn from City Council consideration Monday night following organized opposition from owners concerned about fees and restrictions. “We are all very glad to see that the city of Spokane is being proactive,” said Joile Forral, president of the newly formed Greater Spokane Food Truck Association. “However, we do not feel that the ordinances … are ready to be passed.”
Spokane’s new integrated medical services manager was in charge of the local American Medical Response operation during at least some of the years that the ambulance company systematically overbilled city residents, documents show. But city officials say the problems began after billing duties were moved out of the Spokane office to AMR’s regional headquarters in Seattle between late 2002 and early 2003 as part of a corporate restructuring. The company agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement in 2010 over years of lucrative billing flaws involving Spokane residents.
Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake property owners were improperly taxed more than $1 million over the past decade for noxious weed enforcement and now a lawsuit has been filed against Spokane County seeking full refunds. The civil suit, which could become a class-action on behalf of the more than 50,000 property owners in the two cities, was filed this week in Spokane County Superior Court by Liberty Lake Mayor Steve Peterson and three others.
Spokane Mayor David Condon is putting a new political appointee on the fire department’s payroll despite last month’s legal ruling that limited his ability to bypass the city’s traditional civil service rules. Mike Lopez, a widely recognized emergency medical expert who has held key roles in developing statewide EMS policies, is scheduled to start Monday as the fire department’s new assistant director of integrated medical services. The mayor’s office contends it should be considered a “grandfathered” appointment since the offer was finalized four days before the April 25 Spokane County Superior Court ruling that partially scrapped Condon’s reorganization.