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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Neighbors vote in favor of Cannon Streetcar Historic District, leaving final say to city

Nov. 29, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 29, 2022 at 8:08 p.m.

The Cannon Neighborhood is trying to gain historic designation. Melissa Flynn, left, and her wife, Abil Bradshaw, are one couple working on the project. Here they stand in front of their 1909 home.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
The Cannon Neighborhood is trying to gain historic designation. Melissa Flynn, left, and her wife, Abil Bradshaw, are one couple working on the project. Here they stand in front of their 1909 home. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

When Ian White began organizing to get the Cannon Streetcar Suburb designated as a historic district, he didn’t expect to find a group of new friends and feel a renewed sense of community.

“We started as neighbors, we’ve ended as friends,” White said of the nine members of the volunteer subcommittee who advocated for the historic designation.

Earlier this month, their efforts paid off when 56% of property owners voted in support of creating the historic district. In order to pass, at least 50% of landowners had to vote in favor.

However, in this type of election, not returning a ballot counts as a no vote. Of the returned ballots, 82% of people voted in favor of the district. Of the neighborhood landowners, 391 of 577 returned their ballot, or 68%. While the majority of neighbors support the designation, the vote is just one step in the process.

The historic designation promotes cohesiveness and preserves historic details through a design review process for exterior facade changes and new construction, according to the Spokane Historic Preservation Office website. It also gives homeowners access to property tax incentives and facade improvement grants.

Having such a large group of neighbors vote in favor of the designation was a relief after all the door-knocking and organizing the neighborhood subcommittee did, said Abil Bradshaw, a committee member.

“It was far and away much better than we anticipated,” Bradshaw said. “The overall feeling is elated that our hard work paid off so handsomely.”

The Spokane Landmark Commission is taking public comment on the designation before making a recommendation to the Spokane City Council. Public comment closes on Dec. 21.

The Planning Commission will evaluate the historic designation after a workshop on Dec. 14, and it too will take public comment in January before making its own recommendation to the City Council.

City Council will review the committee recommendations and public comment before voting on the issue.

If approved, Mayor Nadine Woodward will have a chance to veto.

The earliest the designation could take effect would be mid-to-late March, said Logan Camporeal, historic preservation specialist at the Spokane Historic preservation office.

The neighborhood vote is the biggest part of the process and shows significant community support, Camporeal said.

“I’m optimistic that the votes and the results will make things easier for them,” he said.

If the designation is added to city code, community members can start submitting projects for administrative review. Most smaller changes can be approved in as little as one business day, Camporeal said.

Larger renovations like all-new windows have to be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission, which meets monthly, so approval can take three to six weeks; however, if there’s a tight timeline, Camporeal stressed the committee is flexible.

“We’ll try to accommodate you as best we can,” he said.

In the meantime, the neighbors who organized the effort are happy their work is done, White said.

“We’re hoping that there’s no hitches along the way,” he said.

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