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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Past opinions provide perspective

Looking Back reviews commentary from this week in history.

Move your car, Jan. 9, 1965

Snowbound cars have been a longstanding hindrance to plowing, as this S-R editorial shows.

“The Spokane city government has shown exceptional forbearance in putting up with the presence of snowbound automobiles in city streets. City ordinance forbids protracted parking at the curb, even where no time limit is posted. Every automobile allowed to remain in the street for the duration of a period of heavy snowfall is in violation of the law.”

It goes on to say: “After numerous warnings – mostly unavailing – the city is now removing and impounding cares that impede the necessary work of city street crews. It should have been done sooner. It would be simpler, less costly and much more satisfactory for automobile owners to live up to to their responsibilities and put their cars out of the way of street equipment in snowy weather. When they fail to do that, the city is amply justified in doing it for them.”

Snowed in, Jan. 13, 2009

A huge snowstorm caught the city of Spokane off guard. An editorial commented on the futile attempt to play catch-up.

“Only now is the region getting back to near normal since Dec. 17, when snow piled up 2 feet deep and froze evening commuter traffic in place. Granted, December brought us abnormally severe weather, but the consequences didn’t have to be so troublesome. Indeed, a week before the storm struck, Spokane City Hall issued a statement reassuring the public that it was ready for winter, thanks in part to lessons learned from the previous winter’s challenges.”

It continued: “Clearly, the weather got the upper hand on the snow-removal resources that were deployed. Snow fell steadily all day, and by evening, downtown streets filled with vehicles that were penned in by South Hill route closures. Cars crept, full buses idled. … Impassable streets immobilized buses that night and rendered them unreliable for days. … Businesses that tried to operate faced uncertainty about the delivery of goods or the ability of employees to get to work. City Hall itself sent staff home.

“Eventually, the city identified critical corridors and plowed them repeatedly, a sound move that would have helped from the beginning. Motorists at least had a reason to try breaking free of their impounded neighborhoods. But the city never really caught up with the head start it gave the storm that first day.”

It concluded: “We recognize that snowstorms the magnitude of the ones that hit Spokane beginning Dec. 17 force some inconveniences and adjustments. But a city our size that aspires to success and prosperity can’t just capitulate to weather, even when it’s beyond the norm. Next winter may be milder, which is what people thought after last winter’s experience. After two straight winters of major snow-removal difficulties, public agencies in the region must craft a workable plan for dealing with a major winter storm, whether it hits next week, next year or 10 years from now. A vital element of such a plan should be a quicker response.”

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