Mayor David Condon vetoed a new law requiring Spokane City Hall to be open to the public without a time limit, saying it was redundant and drew attention from what the city is doing to help the homeless.
The veto is likely to stand since City Council President Ben Stuckart said Tuesday he has changed his position on the issue and would not vote to override it, joining at least the two other council members who opposed it originally.
Five votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.
The ordinance was introduced by Councilwoman Kate Burke in November after signs went up in City Hall limiting how long people could be there. The law, which passed in a 5-2 vote last month, would have allowed people to be in public areas such as the Chase Gallery and lobby during business hours, but removed from the building if they disrupted city business.
Condon said advertising City Hall as a shelterlike public space could create unsafe situations for those who visit the building. City Hall could face issues like the downtown library, he said, which installed blue lights in the men’s bathrooms to discourage drug use.
“The services they may be seeking are not what we have here,” he said.
He said the city is supporting several shelters and also has opened a resource center where people can go if they need assistance.
Condon added that City Hall was open to the public before the new law, and the veto doesn’t change that.
Stuckart, who helped amend a version of the law to include a committee to discuss open access, said he would no longer support it if Burke proposed it again.
After Burke proposed the ordinance, the signs limiting how long people could be in City Hall came down. Stuckart said the council does not need to pass the law again because there are no longer signs, and the mayor has now publicly stated that City Hall is a public space.
“It served its purpose,” he said.
In a statement Tuesday, Burke said she wasn’t surprised by Condon’s veto and still hopes to override it.
“If the mayor is actually worried that a flood of people will descend upon City Hall just looking for an indoor place to rest,” she wrote, “I think that means we have failed our community members on a much larger scale.”
Council members Candace Mumm and Breean Beggs, who voted for the City Hall ordinance, said they wanted to hear from the public before taking another vote. Beggs said he supports an open City Hall without a time limit but would like to hear from unions.
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