Two Spokane Valley City Council members say they will oppose a controversial land-use proposal that would enable multilevel apartment buildings to be constructed in a largely rural neighborhood, while several others say they’re leaning against it. Whether that’s enough to kill the proposal, which has sparked massive neighborhood opposition, remains to be seen. After months of preliminary consideration by city staff and the Planning Commission, the change sought by Whipple Consulting Engineers to a 5-acre parcel at Barker Road and the old Sprague Avenue will be formally introduced next week and could either be dumped or moved forward to a final council vote later this month.
The Logan neighborhood’s vision of fostering a walkable, South Perry-style commercial district in the future got a nonbinding endorsement from city leaders this week despite concern among some that it could be unrealistic given the heavy traffic loads on Hamilton Street. “These are long-term vision documents,” said Councilwoman Amber Waldref, whose district includes the Logan neighborhood. “Some elements may or may not be implemented.”
Wheelchair access requirements at the new City Hall plaza and Huntington Park below it were eased by Spokane building officials because of terrain impediments, prompting mixed reactions within the region’s disability community. Frustration spread quickly on social media following the May 2 dedication, but some disability advocates have since acknowledged that site designers did the best they could with the engineering challenges posed.
Two of the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s oldest stations will be upgraded and remodeled under a $1.37 million contract. They are the University Fire Station, which was built in 1976 and used to serve as the department’s headquarters, and the Otis Orchards Station, which was built in 1984. Among the major improvements will be addition of separate sleeping quarters and other facilities to accommodate fire crew consisting of both genders.
It was time for Spokane Valley to take a victory lap. Despite the economic turmoil of the past several years, the fledgling city has held steady without tax increases or public safety cutbacks. It’s launched street maintenance programs and bridge repairs with existing revenue. Parks have been expanded and new recreational trails are being developed on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.
Ethics complaints against Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilman Steve Salvatori were thrown out Wednesday. The panel deadlocked 3-3, however, on whether Salvatori’s membership on boards that received thousands of dollars originally allocated for a council staff assistant violated conflict-of-interest rules. One committee member was absent and complaints receiving anything less than a majority vote of the panel are dismissed.
Opposition to a proposed land-use change that would enable large apartment buildings in a Spokane Valley neighborhood that primarily consists of single-family homes, appears to be growing. Dozens urged the City Council on Tuesday to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation and dump the proposal, which would redesignate a 5-acre parcel at Barker and the old Sprague Avenue from low-density to high-density residential.
A $310 million plan to cut the amount of pollution flowing into the Spokane River won unanimous endorsement Monday night from the Spokane City Council. The Integrated Clean Water Plan relies on a combination of improved sewage and wastewater treatment, greater use of strategically located swales and vegetation to naturally soak up more rainfall and installation of gigantic underground tanks to hold millions of gallons of stormwater until it can be processed through the city’s treatment plant.
A $310 million plan to reduce the amount of pollution pouring into the Spokane River is expected to win City Council approval Monday. The Integrated Clean Water Plan, which Spokane Mayor David Condon says can be accomplished without massive utility rate increases, is one of the first in the nation to comply with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines and is designed to exceed federal clean water requirements that all cities must achieve by 2017. The city’s utility division has spent the past two years developing it.
On a tight budget but needing a place where he and his daughter’s family could live, Danny Smith and his son-in-law found a five-bedroom, five-bath home on nearly an acre in Spokane Valley two years ago and snatched it up right away. They’ve got chickens, 17 fruit trees, a small vineyard that produced about 400 pounds of grapes last year and a peaceful, tree-shaded backyard where three generations of the growing family enjoy visiting, relaxing and playing.
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart announced Wednesday he will seek re-election next year, putting to rest what had become escalating speculation that he was planning to challenge Mayor David Condon. Although municipal elections are still a year and a half away, Stuckart, 42, said he wanted to declare his intentions early to remove any doubt that he remains committed to continued oversight of an active legislative agenda as head of the nonpartisan but liberal-leaning City Council.
A pair of ethics complaints have been filed against Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart and Councilman Steve Salvatori over sending taxpayer money initally allocated for a council assistant to hand-picked community groups instead. The first, filed by former Council President Joe Shogan, accuses Salvatori of violating conflict of interest prohibitions by failing to disclose personal ties to one of the groups, a business startup booster called Spokane Angel Alliance. The second was filed by former Councilman Steve Eugster, who contends all of Salvatori’s redirected spending was improper and constitutes illegal gifts of public funds.
Spokane Mayor David Condon’s plan to boost the number of political appointees at City Hall has been dealt a potentially major setback. Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor has sided with city firefighters who challenged the legality of Condon’s plan to increase the number of positions in the department that could be filled by mayoral appointment rather than by civil service testing.
Spokane voters likely will see two big tax measures on the November ballot, but city leaders say they will be part of a refinancing package to fix streets and renovate Riverfront Park and won’t cost them anything more than they’re already paying. “We can use the same money the city of Spokane has already invested,” said Mayor David Condon, who along with Council President Ben Stuckart on Monday kicked off the city’s effort to explain the complex package that they hope will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
More than 10,000 new trees will be planted across Spokane over the next two years as part of an initiative unveiled Friday by Mayor David Condon to beautify neighborhoods and help soak up troublesome stormwater. “Trees add beauty and character, and play a major role in our plans to be smarter about how we use vegetation to help keep stormwater from entering our river,” Condon said during an Arbor Day celebration that included recognition for those who have long helped promote development of healthy urban forests throughout the city.
Despite being sympathetic to concerns that cross-dressing men are using women’s public restrooms, Spokane Valley city leaders say state and federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit them from doing anything about it. “This is not a comfortable topic for any of us,” Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said during a legal briefing Tuesday night. “I hope our citizens understand there is nothing the city can do about this.”
Despite being sympathetic to concerns that cross-dressing men are using women’s public restrooms, Spokane Valley city leaders say state and federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit them from doing anything about it.
The ponderosa pine is now Spokane’s official tree. The designation came Monday night from the City Council just in time for Earth Day, which was celebrated Tuesday across Spokane by school kids and city leaders planting the region’s native saplings in parks and elsewhere.
A proposed advisory vote on whether Spokane should have a full-time City Council won’t be on the November ballot. A divided City Council blocked the idea Monday and put the measure on hold for at least a year with a 4-3 vote.
The drizzle last week did nothing to discourage Grayson and Megan Bjork from one of their regular visits to the South Perry commercial district. The young couple, taking turns holding their infant son, strolled among the vendors at the Thursday Market before heading off to check out the other nearby shops and restaurants. They had looked for a home in the trendy neighborhood just a couple of miles from downtown before choosing one elsewhere on the South Hill, but they still make it to South Perry as much as possible.
Responding to community uproar over a planned McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant near Gonzaga University, the Spokane City Council this week imposed an emergency six-month moratorium on similar projects along Hamilton Street in the Logan neighborhood. It’s a largely symbolic effort since the moratorium won’t stop construction of the drive-thru at Augusta Avenue and North Hamilton Street, nor are there any other similar projects in the pre-planning stages at this point.
The company that has operated Spokane’s electricity-producing trash incinerator on the West Plains for more than two decades is getting a pink slip. Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. was advised Wednesday by Mayor David Condon that the city won’t be renewing the estimated $21 million-a-year contract when it expires in November. The city intends to take over all plant operations, which officials say will provide greater flexibility to address coming changes as Spokane turns over control of the regional trash system to Spokane County.
Spokane voters could be asked this fall whether the state’s second-largest city is ready for a full-time City Council. With the city charter providing only an implied part-time status, and annual pay set to bump 4 percent in January, Councilmen Mike Allen and Steve Salvatori are proposing two advisory measures for the November ballot that they hope will promote a robust community debate over what residents expect from their elected municipal leaders.