Spokane Valley City Council Highlights

Your Connection to the Spokane Valley City Council

April 6, 2021

 

After a welcomed recess, Council opened the month of April with a Proclamation recognizing National Public Health week followed by a First Reading of Ordinance 21-004. That Ordinance amends “camping”** regulations already existing in City Code.

**Camping is a euphemistic word applied where homeless individuals or groups occupy public and/or private property with intent to stay regardless of the legality. The word ‘camping’ in this instance is inappropriately used.

Those existing code regulations 1) Prohibit “camping” on public property, 2) Prohibit encampments, require a 48-hour notice to vacate, and 3) specify that the regulations cannot be enforced if shelter bed space is not available. However, that suspension does not apply to City Hall grounds, Balfour Park, and Mirabeau Meadow/Center Place grounds where “…camping is never allowed.”

The proposed code amendments will recognize among other things that “those experiencing homelessness have constitutional rights(?) to conduct life-sustaining activities, including sleeping on certain public property when there are not available shelter beds…”

The proposed amended ordinance also adds areas where “camping” is always prohibited:
    a. Appleway Trail, Spokane Valley Precinct, and Spokane Valley street Maintenance Shop.
    b. Structures, facilities, and fixtures at parks, including shelters, playground equipment, pools, reservable ballfields and courts, and bathrooms and the area within 30 feet of such facilities.
    c. Public rights-of-way and City-owned real property within 30 feet of the right-of-way, and City-owned stormwater drainage facilities.
While the intent of the amendment is admirable, the fact that current ordinances are not being enforced renders adding new prohibitions moot. After serious discussion, the motion to move the proposed amended ordinance to a Second Reading was approved.
In a separate action, a motion to award the contract for construction of a sidewalk on Park Road between Mission and Sharp Avenues was unanimously approved. In the project vicinity there is an elementary school, a middle school and a public swimming pool. The successful bid for the actual construction of the sidewalk was submitted by the Wm. Winkler Co. at $350,667. Total estimated project costs including engineering and construction contingency was $500,667. The costs are split between City funding and a Transportation Improvement Grant.

On March 1, SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Council) put out a call for projects funded by the federal government. The projects are limited to road preservation treatments like grind and overlay or surface treatment projects such as chip seal. Project awards are limited to $1 million each and each applicant is limited to $2 million total. A minimum match of 13.5% is required but applicants can improve their scoring points with additional match money.

The projects selected by the City are:
  Project                            Rank                  Request                  Match                  Project Total
Broadway @ I-90           1                       $1,000,000          $900,000           $1,900,000
 (Fancher to Park)                                     53%                         47%                        100%
Sprague Ave                      2                      $1,000,000           $1,000,000       $2,000,000
(Havana to Fancher)                              50%                           50%                       100%
Evergreen Road                3                     $ 951,500              $148,500          $1,100,000
(Broadway to Mission)                            86.5%                      13.5%                  100%


Council unanimously approved a motion to proceed with applying for all three projects.

Spokane County Board of County Commissioners authorized purchase of body cameras for all uniformed personnel in County-dedicated units and shared units. The Sheriff’s office has found a bundled package that would provide Tasers and body cameras at a lesser cost than buying them separately. Doing so would facilitate easier, time saving storage of recorded footage.

The cost to the City would be $410,000 in the first year with an annual cost of $318,000 in each subsequent year. A motion to approve the purchase of body cameras for all uniformed Spokane Valley officers with the City to pay for 40% of the costs was unanimously approved.
The City has received complaints regarding abandoned shopping carts along Sprague Avenue from Fancher Road west to the City limits. Most other cities treat abandoned carts as nuisances and impound them, charging the owners an impoundment fee if not recovered in a specified time. Other methods are used for cart control such as self-braking wheels, anti-removal devices, and cart patrol personnel. Consensus was reached to direct staff to develop applicable regulations.

March 25, 2021

 

This meeting of the Spokane Valley City Council opened with a proclamation in recognition of the end of the Viet Nam War on March 29th, 1973, and the veterans of that war. Daughters of the American Revolution will hold a public ceremony at City Hall on March 29th, at 4:00 PM, honoring those veterans.

Council unanimously passed a motion to approve the Federal Legislative Agenda as proposed at its last meeting on March 16th. That agenda includes five projects:1) Pines Road/BNSF rail crossing, 2) Spokane Valley River Loop Project, 3) Bigelow Gulch-Sullivan Corridor Project, 4) Spokane County Regional Expo Expansion Project, and 5) South Barker Road Corridor Improvement Project. Additional language was included to convey Council’s emphasis on a strong desire for rail crossing funding.

Council also unanimously approved the appointment of Bob Peregoy to the Spokane County Conservation Futures Land Evaluation Committee as a Citizen Representative through November of this year. Mr. Peregoy was selected from four who applied for the position.
The Spokane County Conservation Future Program began in 1994 with voters approving an advisory ballot measure authorizing a property tax levy of (up-to) 6.25-cents per $1000 of property value, for acquisition and preservation of open space, streams, rivers, and other natural resources in the County. As of July 2020, the Program had acquired 9,145 acres through 52 acquisitions by Spokane County, City of Spokane, and City of Cheney.

Council, at its February 2nd meeting reached consensus to create a Streets Sustainability Committee to examine the various aspects of maintaining City streets, the cost, the desired level of maintenance, and the source(s) of funding.

The proposed 23-member ad-hoc committee would be tasked with the following mission:
1. Evaluate citizens’ interest and support for maintaining city streets and suggesting pavement condition goals.
2. Identify preference for maintaining city streets, types of treatments used, and long-term levels of service.
3. Investigate current revenues and potential future funding sources for maintaining city streets at the recommended level of service.
Twenty committee positions including members from various groups covering businesses, schools, utilities, transportation, and social services were invited to participate. Three citizen-representative positions are also appointed by the Mayor. All appointments serve through the end of the year. Motion to approve the appointments was approved.

SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Council) has put out a call for projects to funded by the federal government. The projects are limited to road preservation treatments like grind and overlay or surface treatment projects such as chip seal. Project awards are limited to $1 million each and each applicant is limited to $2 million total. A minimum match of 13.5% is required but applicants can improve their scoring points with addition match money.

The projects selected by the City are:
  Project                            Rank                  Request                  Match                  Project Total
Broadway @ I-90           1                       $1,000,000          $900,000           $1,900,000
 (Fancher to Park)                                     53%                         47%                        100%
Sprague Ave                      2                      $1,000,000           $1,000,000       $2,000,000
(Havana to Fancher)                              50%                           50%                       100%
Evergreen Road                3                     $ 951,500              $148,500          $1,100,000
(Broadway to Mission)                            86.5%                      13.5%                  100%

Council reached consensus to proceed with all three projects and return on April 6th with a refined estimate on matching and a motion to apply for funding on all three.

Spokane County Board of County Commissioners authorized purchase of body cameras for all uniformed personnel in County-dedicated units and shared units. The Sheriff’s office has found a bundled package that would provide Tasers and body cameras at a lesser cost than buying them separately. Doing so would facilitate easier, time saving storage of recorded footage.

Police Chief Ellis is asking the City to consider the purchase of body cameras for officers serving in the City. The cost to the City would be $410,000 in the first year with an annual cost of $318,000 in each subsequent year.

This meeting was held in a ZOOM format per the governor’s edict on meetings. However, discussion on future meetings in Council Chambers will take place April 6th.  Until then, City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

There will not be a scheduled City Council meeting on March 30th.

March 16, 2021

 

This Council meeting, a Study Session, commenced with an update on the construction projects slated for this year. All the projects are sufficiently funded by a combination of City funds, together with state and/or federal grants.

The projects by category are:
Barker Road Corridor Widening and Sewer: Barker Rd/BNSF Rail Crossing (21/22) *, Spokane River to Euclid (20/21), Spokane river to BNSF Crossing (21), Euclid to Euclid at Union Pacific RR (21)
 *Denotes year of completion
Intersection Improvement Projects: Mullan Rd-Broadway Ave to Mission Ave, Balfour Park Preservation & Frontage Improvements,  Evergreen Rd-Sprague Ave to Broadway Ave, Barker Homes Preservation,  Park Road Neighborhood
Pedestrian Improvement Projects: Appleway Stormwater Improvement-University Rd to Farr Rd
Bridge Maintenance Projects: Sullivan Rd Overcrossing of Union Pacific RR Deck Repair
Safety Projects: Citywide Reflective Signal Backplates, Citywide Reflective Post Panels
Pedestrian Improvement Projects: Park Rd Sidewalk-Mission to Sharp
Stormwater Improvement Projects: Appleway Stormwater Improvement-University to Farr
Park Projects: Final Phase of Brown’s Park Improvements
Complete details of these improvements can be found at
www.spokanevalley.org

A consistent source of citizen concerns parking on city rights-of-way where traffic or parking is causing congestion or blocking free-flowing traffic. Staff systematically evaluates areas of parking concerns to provide responses or recommendations. Parking concerns generally are:
• On-street parking is blocking a travel lane
• On-street parking is blocking a driveway or device
• Shoulder parking is infringing upon private property
• Strange vehicles are a security concern
Reporting of these incidents are usually made in these ways:
• Citizen calls or emails to City Staff
• Citizen requests to City Council or Planning Commission
• Observations of staff
• Project-related evaluations

Current Requests for parking evaluation are:
Conklin Road--Valleyway to Broadway. Conklin Road is a major collector with a 25 MPH speed limit, a 20-foot paved width with grass/gravel shoulder, no pavement markings, and a right-of-way width of 40’. Adjacent to the neighboring multifamily development, the width is 44’.
Local citizens have taken unilateral action to deter improper parking, associated littering, property damage, or vandalism. Given the pavement width, parking restrictions may only be placed on one side of the roadway. No crashes have been reported in the past 5 years on that section of Conklin Road. City Staff have determined there is not an operational or safety need for parking restrictions along Conklin Road in this area.

Fourth Avenue—West of Thierman. Fourth Avenue is a minor arterial with a 25 MPH speed limit, a 32-foot paved width, sidewalk and curb on the north side, and curb along the south side, with a double-yellow (no passing) center line. The westbound lane is 15’-9”; the eastbound lane is 16’-9”.
Staff has determined that vehicles parked on the north curb cause a traffic obstruction to the free movement of vehicular traffic. The proposed solution is to install no-parking signs on both direction of 4th Avenue, shift the double-yellow centerline 4 feet to the south, allowing for parking along the north sidewalk. No-parking signs would be installed on the south side of 4th Avenue.

Jackson Avenue—West of Wilbur. Jackson Avenue is a local access street with a 25 MPH speed limit, a 38-foot paved width, sidewalk and curb on the north side, and a curb along the south side. There are no pavement markings. Citizens complain of junk vehicles and extended parking along both sides of signed no-parking zones.

Staff has determined there is no operational or safety need for a no-parking zone in this area, but County Code (preceding City Incorporation) provides for the no-parking zones.

City Staff will continue to monitor City parking needs and situations as needed.
City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

 

March 9, 2021

 

Aside from the normal passage of the “Consent Agenda” which consists of paying the City’s bills and employees, there were no action items on Council’s agenda. There were, however, administrative reports.

In response to Senator Patty Murray’s requesting project information and funding needs for potential inclusion into possible federal infrastructure finding packages staff submitted the City approved project list below.

Numbers 3 and 5 above referencing partnership with Spokane County will be modified to be submitted as regional projects to broaden the impact across multiple agencies and to possibly enhance chances of success. Council reached consensus to move forward on that basis.

In a legislative briefing from the City’s state lobbyist, Council learned that revenue forecasts are better than anticipated with budget proposals to be released after the March 17th formal revenue forecast.  Five hundred bills are still under consideration but that is fewer than usual at this time in the process. The session is nearly entirely virtual as we enter the 58th day of the 105-day session.

Republicans in both houses maintain that considering increased revenues, additional taxes are not needed. Nevertheless, a state income tax has cleared both houses plus a carbon tax appears to be on track for passage. A transportation package including a gas tax increase, carbon tax/cap and trade and ‘other’ fee increases. The $19.3 million request for completion of the Pines Road Rail Crossing is included in the package.

In a report to Council on 2020 City accomplishments, it was noted that Council met 50 times, 22 Regular Meetings, 21 Study Sessions, and 7 Special Meetings. The goals laid out, to name several, were: Work with state and federal legislators to complete the rail crossings in the City, especially at Pines, Sullivan, and Park. (Ground was just broken to start on Barker.) The City continues to work on a program for sustained financing of pavement preservation. Efforts continue to bring law enforcement staffing levels to acceptable contract levels through recruitment, retention, and continuing support for our existing officer corps.

The City continues to be confronted with the ongoing problems associated with homelessness. The City participates in development of regional plans to address those problems with the goal of assisting homeless persons on a path to a normal lifestyle.

The City maintains its surprising growth rate despite the problems created by the pandemic. The Community and Public Works Division has accommodated that growth including permitting, economic development, and maintaining the City’s road network. Noteworthy is the continuing improvement of the Barker Road corridor road system. The completion of right of way acquisition and engineering for the Barker/BNSF rail crossing has enabled the start of construction. For a complete summary of City accomplishments please visit www.spokanevalley.org/citycouncil, then go to ‘Agendas’.  

On September 3, 2019 Council authorized the purchase of 13.4 acres from Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) adjacent to Sullivan Park. The property was contaminated by aluminum dross from the Union Pacific rail line. The purchase was conditional upon the removal of the contamination to the satisfaction of the state Department of Ecology (DOE). UP hired a contractor to remove the contamination, but on inspection DOE directed that more earth had to be removed. COVID-19 interrupted that project resulting in a delay in completion until late summer or early fall of this year.

The City initially paid 10% of the purchase price, $84,400, with the remaining $759,600 to be paid upon satisfactory removal of the contamination. The City has no current plans for development of the parkland but will likely include it in its proposal for a north bank trail along the Spokane River.

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

 

March 2, 2021

 

 

For a project that has been in the works since 2014, the start of construction is on the horizon. The Regional Decant Center located just off Pines Road north of the freeway will finally have a roof which will permit it to be used in all seasons and weather. The facility allows offloaded material gathered from stormwater catchments to be dried to reduce size and volume, then disposed. Total cost of the project is $608,170 with Washington State Department of Ecology ($441,128), Washington State Department of Transportation ($133,772) and the City ($33,270) all participating.

Motion to award the construction contract to TML Construction, Inc., the lowest bidder at $491,356, was unanimously approved.
Council unanimously approved the nomination of Riley Zielfelder, a student at West Valley High School, to receive the Association of Washington Cities Quality Communities Scholarship. Notice of the scholarship winners will be announced in May.

Washington state’s Shoreline Management Act (SMA) requires the City to have a plan (SMP) for managing the shorelines of its water bodies. Spokane Valley’s plan was finalized in 2015. The SMA requires periodic updates; the City’s is due by June 30th.

To meet that requirement, The Watershed Company was retained to conduct the review. The cost, $28,000, was paid for by a DOE grant. Because the SMP was recently adopted (2015) after an extensive multi-year process, the scope of this review was limited to changes needed to stay current with state and local laws. The Planning Commission held a public hearing on February 12th, and will hold another on March 11th, after which the proposed draft amendments will be submitted to DOE for its approval. After approval, Council will schedule a time, likely in June, to move on adoption of the amendments.

The 2019 State Legislature passed the Housing Action Plan (HAP) ‘encouraging’ cities to address their ability to provide housing, especially affordable housing, by increasing urban residential capacity. This was intended to be accomplished by adopting either a set of zoning amendments or a HAP. The City chose a HAP to inform and provide guidance on housing.

To assist with the implementation of the state law, the Department of Commerce awarded a $100,000 grant to develop and adopt a HAP. In May 2020, the City retained Maul Foster & Alongi to complete the HAP. Plans are moving forward for the City to start the formal review and adoption of the completed HAP in late March with final adoption in June.

Spokane Valley Police Chief Dave Ellis presented department updates including: Live 911, Recruiting, and Speed Deterrence Trailers.
The City’s Live 911 program which is expected to go live by April, will be the first in the northwest. Costing approximately $6,000 per year, it livestreams 911 calls directly to officers for improved situational awareness and faster response times. A 911 call will be heard by the officer simultaneously with the call taker, and the caller’s location will be displayed on a map. The officer will receive immediate situation and location updates as well as information not entered into the call report by the call taker.
Recruiting is one of Council’s 2020 priorities. An increase in recruiting capabilities has been enhanced with the creation of a lateral officer signing bonus of $15,000, purchase of new recruits’ uniforms (value approximately $1,500), a new recruiting website, a social media campaign, billboards, and a new recruiting video.
Trailers placed to display speed and pertinent messaging are employed to calm traffic and increase speed awareness, communicate information to motorists and pedestrians, and to conduct traffic studies. There are two portable units available for use in the City.

In the past, each law enforcement or safety agency hired, trained, and staffed their own dispatchers. Crime Check technicians were County employees. In July 2019, Spokane Regional Emergency Communications (SREC) was created and now all dispatch services are provided by SREC. SREC is managed by an Executive Director who answers to a Board of Directors representing Spokane Valley’s Police Chief, Spokane Valley Fire Chief, and Spokane County Sheriff.

Approximately 250,000 incidents annually flow into SREC’s communication center; 8,206 Valley Crime Check reports were taken. Crime Check provides a place for non-emergency calls processing reports as requested by the participating agency. If a report needs to be filed for an insurance claim, Crime Check provides an easy and efficient place to call. Calls requiring an immediate response must be made to 911.

The never-ending problem of homelessness was revisited through a report on amendments to the City Code to clarify and tighten restrictions on where and how indigent ‘camping’ can take place in the City. Generally, camping on public property, roadways, sidewalks, City Hall grounds, parks and park facilities. Those provisions are not enforced if shelter bed space is not available per the 9th Circuit, Martin v. Boise decision in 2019. So, the City is in the difficult position of trying to prevent the spread of homeless individuals taking over places or rendering unusable places paid for by taxpayers. Safety becomes an issue because of mental instability and addictions among the homeless, played against the ineffectiveness of law enforcement caused by the Martin v. Boise decision.

Council consensus was reached to place the proposed amendments to the City’s Code on a future agenda.   
        
City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org

 

February 23, 2021

 

 

The meeting for the 23rd had been cancelled last week, until Thursday when very short notice for grants and a list of priority infrastructure projects were requested. The staff saw no way other than a Special Council meeting to deal with the requests.

An administration report had originally been scheduled, so it was heard and lively discussion followed. The council agreed that the Spokane River Trail Concept was a really nice amenity to the North side of the river. It would connect the new Flora Rd Park with Sullivan Park and continue West and connect to Plantes Ferry Sports Complex. There would eventually be two suspension bridges across the river to connect to the Centennial Trail, one toward the west, the other on the East end of the new trail by Flora Rd. This would make for a 10 mile loop that pedestrian and cyclists could enjoy.

Next, the reasons for the special meeting were discussed. First, a motion consideration for Infrastructure priority solicitation by the Federal Government through Sen. Patty Murray’s office. They wanted to have a list of projects that might be included in the new Federal transportation revenue bill. All or some could end up being funded to help employment and to improve mobility in all model forms. So, council agreed to include: Number 1, Pines Rd/BNSF grade separation; 2, Bigelow-Sullivan Corridor Project (including the bridge over Trent and BNSF RR); 3, Spokane River Trail Project; 4, Spokane County Fair & Expo exhibit hall project; and 5, South Barker corridor projects (excluding the I-90 bridge). We did change the priority with number 2 & 3 being interchanged. Our lobbyist from Washington DC joined in the discussion to clarify and answer council questions. This list needed to be submitted by Friday of this week.
Bennett Resnick (Cardinal Lobbyist) also gave a report on the bills going through Congress for COVID relief. More soon to come on this. The 2nd reason for the Special Meeting, a motion consideration –potential grant opportunity: Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) FY21 grants. This application is due March 19, 2021, this doesn’t give us much time to prepare the grant and associated docs. Staff will redo our application and try again to get help for the Bigelow- Sullivan project. We submitted last year for this project and didn’t make the cut.
 
City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

February 16, 2021

 

 

In a continuation of annual Mayoral appointments of Council members to various regional boards and committees in which the City participates, Mayor Wick has re-appointed Councilmember Arne Woodard and appointed Councilmember Linda Thompson for terms on the Spokane County Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee (HCDAC). He has also appointed Councilmember Tim Hattenberg to the Regional Health District Board.
The partial terms: Woodard to expire on June 1, 2021 and Thompson to expire on December 31, 2021, will require new appointments or re-appointments to fill the expiring terms. Councilmember Hattenberg is appointed to fill the vacancy on the Health District Board created by Councilmember Thompson’s resignation from that Board. That position expires on December 31, 2021.

Motion to confirm the Mayoral appointments of Councilmembers to the committees and boards as listed passed unanimously.
To the motorist who has ever driven through a school zone, the sign “Speed Limit 20 MPH While Children Are Present” is confusing, to say the least. Questions such as: “Does that mean one child? Or does that mean only during school hours? Clearly those are reasonable questions that the conventional sign does not address.

School zone flashing beacon signs to the rescue. While approaching or actually in a school zone, a driver has a certain measure of assurance that he or she is within the law if a flashing beacon is present. If flashing, the beacons provide up to a 31% speed reduction, especially when the sign provides speed feedback.

There are currently 40 School Zone Flashing Beacons (SZFB) installations across 18 school locations. All but one are funded by state grants. Plans are to install more SZFBs as funding becomes available. Beacons at every school is the end goal.

Pursuant to several citizen inquiries and complaints, Council has requested a review of the City’s municipal code regarding ‘junk’ vehicles and the information on the criteria used for determining how such a vehicle is treated when in a public right of way. A junk vehicle is defined by state law as a vehicle that meets at least three of the following requirements:
a)    Is three years or older;
b)    Is extensively damaged, such damage including but not limited to any of the following: A broken window or windshield, missing wheels, tires, motor, or transmission;
c)    Is apparently inoperable;
d)    Has an approximate fair market value equal only to the value of the scrap in it.

The question has arisen as to whether the City might make its definitions more strict. Since the City of Spokane Valley, City of Spokane, City of Liberty Lake, and Spokane County all closely copy or reference state law, and the City cannot adopt an ordinance in conflict with state law, the question appears moot.
How the City deals with junk vehicles depends on whether the vehicle is on public or private property. If on private property, the vehicle can be declared a nuisance that is prohibited within the City. As such the City may utilize its enforcement procedures to abate the junk vehicle(s). That process begins with the City seeking voluntary compliance but may escalate to proceeding to Superior Court to obtain a court order for removal.

If the junk vehicle is on public property or in a public right of way, it is dealt with by police. Law enforcement is authorized to impound any unauthorized vehicle that is parked in a right of way and has not been removed within 24 hours from the time a notification sticker has been attached to the vehicle.
City code includes other areas dealing with nuisances that may be employed in dealing with junk vehicles. And, if a vehicle qualifying as a junker is ‘sight screened’ or is completely enclosed within a lawful structure avoiding visibility, it is permitted. There is no prohibition in City code on the number of working vehicles an individual may have on their property.

For further information on the subject, contact the City Attorney at 509-720-5000.

There will be no City Council meeting next week, February 23rd. The next Council meeting will be at 6:00pm, Tuesday, March 2nd.
City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

February 9, 2021

 

 

Council’s first item of business was to amend its code on individuals or groups soliciting on City rights-of-way, formerly referred to as its ‘panhandling’ ordinance.
For several years, the City has been successful in using its code to keep panhandling in check. But recent court decisions have put sections of the code into question requiring modifications to avoid challenges from outside “freedom of speech” advocates. The focus of this legislation has always been public safety in the interactions between pedestrians and moving traffic. Discouraging panhandlers was considered as an ancillary outcome, but criminalization was never a goal.

Thus, the changes include the following:
1. Any reference to the prohibition of solicitation is replaced with a prohibition in interfering with vehicular traffic,
2. Adding a prohibition on prompting someone to interfere with vehicular traffic,
3. Remove the definition of solicit from the Code.

Those changes remove references to panhandling, focusing on traffic safety, and limiting incursions onto public rights-of-way. Offenders, either the driver stopping traffic or the person responsible for the stoppage, are subject to citation.
Ordinance 21-003 accomplishes that while maintaining the overall integrity and intent of the Code. Motion to suspend the rules and adopt Ordinance 21-003 passed unanimously.

In 2012, the City acquired 8.4 acres of land in anticipation of the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) constructing a new central library on a portion of that land. An interlocal agreement was finalized that year to sell 2.82 acres to SCLD on which to site the proposed library. The sales price was $839,285.
As the end of the five-year term of the interlocal agreement approached in 2017, SCLD and the City reached agreement to extend the interlocal for another five years to 2022 with possible extensions to 2024. At that time, the City agreed to contribute the purchase price of the property, $839,285, plus an additional $460,715 for a total of $1.3 million toward improving the library’s peripheral grounds.

SCLD’s proposal for its new library is a 30,000 square foot facility with an estimated total cost of $14-15 million. Rather than attempt to fund construction of the facility through a voted bond issue, SCLD has identified other funding options such as a state program set up to make loans to libraries under very favorable terms.

Pursuant to the changed situation, amendments to the existing interlocal are needed to accommodate the City’s participation. A significant change will include adding two years to the agreement. Construction is planned to begin in 2022. The amended agreement will expire in 2024.
Motion to approve the 2021 amendments to the interlocal agreement for the sale of property at Balfour Park to the Spokane County Library District, authorizing the City Manager to finalize and execute the document passed unanimously.

Annually, Council undergoes training on Washington State’s Open Public Meetings Act (Act). The training which covers legal compliance aspects of the Act by Council members is conducted by the City’s legal staff.

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

February 1, 2021

 

 

On January 12th, Spokane Valley City Council was briefed on a Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)/National Highway (NHS) Performance Program for preserving roadways. Council reached consensus to pursue a grant for Sullivan Road between Sprague and 8th Avenues for $1,029,553 to offset construction costs. Total project cost including stormwater and ITS improvements is estimated at $3,293,058, to be funded by money from NHS, Department of Ecology, and the City. Motion to approve the grant application was unanimous.

City street operations and maintenance, and pavement preservation have been the topic of discussion over 50 times since incorporation. Council, at its January 19th meeting reached consensus to create a Streets Sustainability Committee to examine the various aspects of maintaining City streets, the cost, the desired level of maintenance, and the source(s) of funding.

The proposed 18-member ad-hoc committee would be tasked with the following mission:
1. Evaluate citizens’ interest and support for  maintaining
    city streets and suggesting pavement condition goals.
2. Identify preference for maintaining city streets, types of treatments used, and long-term levels of service.
3. Investigate current revenues and potential future funding sources for maintaining city streets at the recommended
    level of service.

Suggested committee composition would include members from 10 different groups covering businesses, schools, utilities, transportation, social services, and, of course, Valley citizens. Applications will be open from February 3rd to 3 pm on February 26th; Committee selection by Council, March 23rd. Call 509-720-5000.

On June 30, 2020, Council approved execution of an interlocal agreement giving management of the Barker Road/BNSF Grade Separation Project to WSDOT. On November 23rd, the project was advertised for bids. The engineer’s estimate for the construction phase of the project was $13,885,811. Five bids were received ranging from $15,946,317 to the successful low bid of $11,637,134 submitted by the Max J. Kuney Company.

In 2012, the City acquired 8.4 acres of land intending for the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) to construct a new central library on a portion of that land. An interlocal agreement was finalized that year to sell 2.82 acres to SCLD on which to site the anticipated library. The sales price was $839,285.
As the end of the five-year term of the interlocal agreement approached in 2017, SCLD and the City reached agreement to extend the interlocal for another five years to 2022 with possible extensions to 2024. At that time, the City agreed to contribute the purchase price of the property, $832,285, plus an additional $460,715 for a total of $1.3 million toward the library peripheral grounds. SCLD’s proposal for its new library is a 30,000 square foot facility with an estimated cost of $14-15 million in total outlay. Construction is planned to begin in 2022.

Amendments to the existing interlocal needed to accommodate the City’s participation include adding two years to the agreement, to expire in 2024.
For several years, the City has been successful by use of its code in keeping panhandling in check. But recent court decisions require modifications.
Those changes will remove references to panhandling, focusing on traffic safety, and limiting incursions onto public rights-of-way. Offenders, either the driver or the person responsible for the stoppage, are subject to citation.

Construction of Spokane Valley’s City Hall has been a focal point of controversy since its completion. Shortly after the City moved into its new home in September 2017, issues arose. The contractor, Meridian Construction, was made aware of corrections that needed to be made including subsidence of the curved front wall of the building. Failing to resolve those concerns, the City filed a bonding claim.

Meridian asserted that blame for the problems was, in fact, the fault of various other firms involved in the construction. As a result, the City filed suit in Spokane County Superior Court against Meridian, Architects West, All- West Testing, and Eight-31-Consulting on May 5th, 2020 to achieve full resolution of the issue.

The City continues to work with legal counsel for the various defendants to reach restoration of what it purchased, i.e., a fully functioning City Hall. An analysis of the extent of the defects is being performed by a structural engineering firm and a forensic architectural firm specializing in defect analysis. The City is prepared to continue to trial if a satisfactory full scope of repair resolution including full cost of repair is not achieved. Costs incurred to date total $411,103.47.

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

Janauary 26, 2021

 

 

This Council meeting opened with discussion on a motion consideration to apply for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) anticipation of $85 million of Federal Local Bridge program funds for local agency bridge projects. The purpose of those funds is to improve the condition of bridges through replacement, rehabilitation, and preventative maintenance. 

Based on the eligibility requirements, Spokane Valley has one project that qualifies for preventive maintenance funding. The Mission Avenue Bridge over Evergreen Road (Bridge #SpokV-4518) is proposed for sandblasting the bridge deck, applying a primer and polymer surface seal followed by an aggregate application for traction and added strength to the sealed surface. Applications are due by February 19th. Funds will be awarded in September if the City is successful and would be available in January 2022.

The grant application is for a project scope less than $275,000. A 13.5% match would be required from the City, however, if funds are used before November 30, 2024, the local match for the construction phase is waived. Motion to approve the grant application was approved unanimously.

In 2012, the City acquired 8.4 acres of land with the intent to 1) reach agreement with the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) on construction of a new central library on a portion of that land, and 2) to expand the existing Balfour Park to encompass the remainder. That same year, an interlocal agreement was effected to sell 2.82 acres to SCLD to accommodate the anticipated library. That sale was consummated for a purchase price of $839,285. However, bond issues to finance the library have failed twice.

As the end of the five-year term of the interlocal agreement approached in 2017, SCLD and the City reached agreement to extend the interlocal for another five years to 2022 with possible extensions to 2024. At that time, the City agreed to contribute the purchase price of the property, $832,285, and an additional $$460,715 for a total of $1.3 million toward a library project.

Patrick Roewe, Executive Director of SCLD, presented an update on the District’s current plans including new funding ideas and a broad strategy for moving forward. Based on Roewe’s brief, City staff will bring information regarding amendments to the existing interlocal that might be needed.

SCLD’s proposal for its new library is for a 30,000 square foot facility, designed to be an “efficient and effective library of today and the future.” The preliminary budget calls for a $14-15 million total outlay with $12 million in construction costs. SCLD will no longer pursue a voted bond, but will instead take advantage of:

• Washington State Treasurers LOCAL Program for up to $12 million,

• District Capital Projects Fund; $3.2 million,

• Interlocal agreement with City; $1.3 million

• Library Capital Improvement Program Grant;$2 million (pending legislative approval)

•Local capital campaign; opportunities for
private contributions and other recognition opportunities.

Progress is already underway to launch the process to select an architect, approve design, then solicit bids in the December 2021/January 2022 time frame. Construction is planned to begin in 2022. 

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict for the foreseeable future. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000, or visiting www.spokanevalley.org. 

Janauary 19, 2021

 

 

At its last meeting, Council forwarded a road vacation application from Diamond Rock Financial LLC/TCF Properties for of a portion of Bessie Road and Montgomery Avenue to a First Reading. The rights-of-way proposed to be vacated have no public access or potential to a northern connection because they border the BNSF railroad tracks on their north side. Further, both streets are substandard widths under today’s requirements and, because of their location, are difficult to maintain.

The application requests a vacation of 470 feet of Montgomery Avenue and 195 feet of Bessie Road. The total areas to be vacated are 18,887 square feet of Montgomery and 4,635 square feet on Bessie.

The Planning Commission voted 7-0 on October 22nd, 2020 to approve the vacation subject to staff recommendations for division of the vacated streets among the various adjacent owners and approval of compensation to the City for the property per formula. That amount is $26,155.74.

Motion to suspend the rules and approve the vacation was unanimously approved.

Mr. Scott vonCannon and Joe Strauss represent Retail Strategies, a retail recruiting consultant hired by the City in 2017, to implement a plan developed earlier to create a strategy and course of action to enhance the City’s retail inventory. That plan proposed improved development regulations, increased flexibility for retailers, increased residential density along commercial corridors, and enhanced opportunities for neighborhood commercial development.

Continuing that process, Retail Strategies has been working on behalf of the City to recruit prospective businesses through various exposures such as representation at retail group conferences, visiting retailers, brokers, developers, and key industry contacts. Tonight’s briefing was an update on progress in their recruitment effort. Retailers new to our market include Burlington (+/- $10 million revenue), Ulta (+/- $5 million revenue), Chipotle (+/- $2.3 million revenue), Maverik ($1.3 million revenue), and a convenience store ($1.2 million revenue). Total annual sales, +/- $20 million generating $175,000 per year in tax collections.

Groups currently showing interest in the Valley: Full-service sit-down restaurants, Fast casual restaurants, National fitness chains, Home improvement and supply, and fashion apparel retailers. According to Strauss and vonCannon, Covid has severely impacted what was promising to be an eventful year for attracting retail businesses, with the prospect that future progress will be gradual.

Lyndia Wilson from the Spokane Regional Health District briefed Council on the latest COVID-19 policy and vaccination information. In light of the very fluid situation surrounding vaccination policy and the variable policy changes emanating from Olympia, call 1-800-525-0127 or visit www.srhd.org for current information.

City street operations and maintenance, and pavement preservation have been the topic of discussion over 50 times since incorporation. Throughout the development of the City’s 2021 budget, Council has discussed the creation of an ad-hoc committee to examine the various aspects of maintaining City streets, the cost, the desired level of maintenance, and the source(s) of funding. 

During those budget discussions, two Councilmembers voted against adoption of the budget because it contained the transfer of $1.9 million from the general fund to cover the road preservation and maintenance shortfall. The two dissenting votes highlighted the need to find a consistent, reliable revenue source for City roads. 

The proposed 18-member ad-hoc committee would be tasked with the following mission:

• Evaluate citizens’ interest and support for maintaining city streets and suggesting pavement condition goals.

• Identify preference for maintaining city streets, types of treatments used, and long-term levels of service.

• Investigate current revenues and potential future funding sources for maintaining city streets at the recommended level of service.

Suggested committee composition would include two councilmembers. When work is completed, the Committee will deliver its recommendations to the Council for its consideration. Consensus was reached to institute formation of the Streets Sustainability Committee. 

A report on the City’s distribution of CARES funds from the federal government can be seen on the you-tube section of the City’s web page: www.spokanevalley.org. 

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict for the foreseeable future. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org. 

Janauary 12, 2021

 

 

Following a proclamation observing Martin Luther King Day on January 18th, Council opened business by suspending rules and implementing Ordinance 20-001 which adopts findings of fact justifying the imposition of the City’s November 24th moratorium on Planned Residential Development (PRD) applications.

The City’s updated Comprehensive Plan in 2016 greatly increased land use options within the City to “Preserve and enhance the city’s established single-family neighborhoods by minimizing the impacts of more dense housing types such as duplexes and cottage development.” Zoning within the existing “R-3” single-family zone was amended to encourage and support density growth in the City’s newly created R-4 residential zone. 

A PRD lends certainty for a planned development while substantially reducing ‘normal’ permitting times. But it was later discovered to open situations where incompatible land uses could be created defeating the legislative intent to encourage single family development. This prompted Council to request a staff review of the PRD regulations. That request triggered a move by some to try to exploit an apparent loophole before it could be plugged. Thus, Council, on November 24, placed a moratorium on new PRD applications to give the City time to review the situation.

Proposed Ordinance 21-001 adopts findings of fact justifying the implementation of Ordinance 20-028 establishing the moratorium on non-exempt planned residential development applications. The City will continue to work on its review of its code (19.50 Spokane Valley Municipal Code). When that work is completed and Council adopts any amendments, the moratorium will be repealed. A motion to suspend rules and move Ordinance 21-001 to a second reading passed unanimously.

Per state statute, the City maintains a Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, consisting of five members: two representatives from businesses collecting the tax, two members involved in activities authorized to be funded by the tax, and one City Council member.

Two vacancies exist, one from each represented segment. Vacancies are filled by mayoral appointment with Council ratification. Mayor Wick appointed Grant Guinn, GLB Hospitality, to fill the collecting entity side, and Wayne Brokaw, Spokane County Fair Board, to fill the using entity side. Motion to confirm the Mayor’s appointment passed unanimously.

The City, on August 7th, 2020 received from Diamond Rock Financial LLC/TCF Properties an application for a street vacation of a portion of Bessie Road and Montgomery Avenue. The rights-of-way proposed to be vacated have no public access or potential to a northern connection because of the abutting BNSF railroad tracks. Further, both streets are substandard widths for today’s requirements and are difficult to maintain.

The Planning Commission voted 7-0 to approve the vacation subject to staff recommendations for division of the vacated streets and approval of compensation to the City for the property per formula. That amount is $26,155.74. Council reached consensus to move the vacation forward to a first reading on January 19th.

Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is anticipating $85 million of Federal Local Bridge program funds for local bridge projects. The purpose of those funds is to improve the condition of bridges through replacement, rehabilitation, and preventative maintenance. 

Based on the eligibility requirements, Spokane Valley has one project that qualifies for preventive maintenance funding. The Mission Avenue Bridge over Evergreen Road (Bridge #SpokV-4518) is proposed for sandblasting the bridge deck, applying a primer and polymer surface seal followed by an aggregate application for traction and added strength to the sealed surface.

The grant application to WSDOT is for a project scope not to exceed $275,000. A 13.5% match would be required from the City, however, if funds are used before November 30, 2024, the local match for the construction phase is waived. Consensus to proceed with the grant application for January 26th approval was unanimous.

WSDOT also administers the National Highway Performance Program for preserving roadways that are part of the National Highway System. Applications for grants under this program are scored on a point system based on condition, roughness, cost effectiveness, and the applicant’s level of effort in maintenance. Two projects are: Broadway Avenue between Yardley and Fancher Roads (cost $1 million); and Sullivan Road between Sprague and 8th Avenues (cost $1.8 million). Consensus to proceed and return with a recommendation on January 26th was unanimous.

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict for the foreseeable future. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000, or visiting www.spokanevalley.org. 

Janauary 5, 2021

The initial City Council meeting of 2021 opened with a Public Hearing on the Council imposed emergency Ordinance 20-028 which places a moratorium on new Planned Residential Development (PRD) applications.

When the City adopted its state-law mandated Comprehensive Plan Legislative Update in 2016, it greatly increased land use options within the City. In 2020, the Comprehensive Plan was again amended to “Enable a variety of housing types at increased densities within ½ mile of funded high performance transit networks” and “Preserve and enhance the city’s established single-family neighborhoods by minimizing the impacts of more dense housing typologies such as duplexes and cottage development.” Allowable uses within the existing “R-3” single-family zone were amended to encourage and support further density growth in the City’s newly created R-4 zone.

PRDs were created to facilitate development in a specific developable area by creating greater flexibility in zoning requirements than is generally permitted by other municipal code sections. A PRD gives certainty for a planned development and can substantially reduce ‘normal’ permitting times. But it was later discovered to open the possibility of producing situations where incompatible land uses might be created. This prompted Council to request a staff review of the PRD regulations. That request triggered a move by some to try to exploit an apparent loophole before it could be plugged.

New applications submitted while PRD regulations are under review defeat the purpose of the review. Thus, Council, on November 24, placed a moratorium on new PRD applications to give the City time to review the situation.

The City has begun that review of which this Public Hearing was a required action. No Council action was taken at this meeting. The statutory requirement for a public hearing to be held within 60 day of a moratorium’s imposition was met. The moratorium will remain in place until a review is completed and findings of fact are reached.

Each year, the Mayor appoints Council members to the various regional, City, and other boards in which the City participates. Appointments for 2021 are:

1. Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington, Rod Higgins; Pam Haley, alternate

2. AWC Scholarship Committee, Ben Wick, Brandi Peetz, Linda Thompson

3. Valley Chamber of Commerce Board (ex-officio), Brandi Peetz

4. Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency, Rod Higgins; Arne Woodard, alternate

5. Spokane County Homeless Continuum of Care, Pam Haley

6. City Finance Committee, Ben Wick, Brandi Peetz, Linda Thompson

7. County Growth Management Steering Committee, Ben Wick, Tim Hattenburg

8. Governance Manual Committee (City), Rod Higgins, Tim Hattenburg, Linda Thompson

9. Greater Spokane Inc. Board (ex-officio), Ben Wick

10. Spokane Regional Health District Board, Ben Wick, Linda Thompson

11. Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, Ben Wick

12. Northeast Washington Mayors’ Association, Ben Wick

13. Spokane Regional Transportation Commission, Ben Wick

14. Spokane Transit Authority, Pam Haley, Tim Hattenburg; Ben Wick, alternate

15. Visit Spokane, Brandi Peetz; Pam Haley, alternate

Motion to approve the listed appointments passed unanimously.

Annually, members of the Planning Commission whose terms have expired at the previous year’s end are replaced by Mayoral appointment (with Council approval). Normal Planning Commission terms are for three years.

The terms for Planning Commissioners Walt Haneke and Danielle Kaschmitter ended December 31, 2020. Planning Commissioner James Johnson resigned effective December 31, leaving one year remaining on his appointed term.

Mayor Wick has chosen to re-appoint Walt Haneke to a new three-year term along with Nancy (Pete) Miller. Paul Reickers was appointed to complete the unexpired one-year term of James Johnson.

Motion to approve the Mayor’s appointments passed unanimously.

City Hall remains closed by Governor’s edict for the foreseeable future. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000, or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

 

The City Council holds more formal meetings the second and fourth Tuesday of each month and holds Study Sessions on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Agendas, minutes and background materials can be found on the City’s website: www.SpokaneValley.org by 5pm the Friday before each meeting.

Contact City of Spokane Valley:

10210 E. Sprague Ave.
509-921-1000
www.SpokaneValley.org