Spokane Valley City Council Highlights

Your Connection to the Spokane Valley City Council

November 23, 2021

 

As Spokane Valley’s City Council moves into the last four meetings of the year, it will be addressing unfinished business that needs to be completed prior to year-end. The first item, carried over from last week’s meeting is renewing the Yellowstone Pineline Franchise Agreement.
In 1957, Spokane County entered into a 50-year franchise with Yellowstone Pipeline Company (YPL) to construct and maintain a pipeline for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Billings, Montana to users west of Billings including the Spokane Valley area.
Exxon, Conoco 66, and Sunoco pipeline companies jointly own the line. The franchise expired in 2007 and the parties have been negotiating since. An agreement was reached for a new 25-year franchise, including $100 million in liability coverage. Motion to suspend the rules and approve passed unanimously.

The State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) allows local jurisdictions to consider amendment to their Comprehensive plans once each year. Staff discussed the 2022 proposed amendments with Council at Council’s last meeting.
As part of the Annual Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle (CPA), for 2022, proposed amendments made prior to November 1st are listed (docketed) for Council action. That docket as presented is:

File No.; Location; Applicant; Description
• CPA-2022-01
   10506 E. 10th
   Private
   Chg 1.03 acres frm SFR to MFR
• CPA-2022-02
   17105 E. Montgomery
   City
   Chg .45 acres frm SFR to P/OS
• CPA-2022-03
   44th & Bates
   City
   Chg 17.64 acres frm SFR to P/OS
• CPA-2022-04
   Bike & Pedestrian
   City/map
   Add proposed n. loop river trail
•SFR: Single family residence, MFR: Multi family
    residence, P/OS: Parks/Open Space

A motion to approve the 2022 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket was approved unanimously.

The City and Spokane County have been working on the Bigelow Gulch Corridor (Bigelow) Project for several years. With the anticipated substantial increase in traffic at the Sullivan and Wellesley intersection, Council decided a signaled intersection because of the lower right-of-way impact, lower cost, higher public acceptance near the schools, and fewer impacts during construction.

The City and County have joined in coordinating their project parts to maximize scale of bidding with the County taking the management lead in construction. The City will design the signaled intersection. Larger projects typically receive lower unit bid prices because of larger bid quantities discounts.
The increased traffic from the extension of the Bigelow Gulch road linking to Forker Road then connecting to Sullivan will be substantial. The intersection poses a special safety problem because the revised traffic flow will move from Progress Road to Sullivan Road which runs between East Valley High School and East Valley Middle School. Particular attention is given to the students crossing between the two campuses, exposed to the increased traffic.
The total budget for the intersection project is $2,384,377. The City’s share is $1,270,375. The combined project was advertised on October 21st. Spokane County plans to award the construction contract on November 30th following concurrence from Washington State Department of Transportation. Halme Construction appears to be the lowest responsive bidder.

Spokane Valley Police Chief, Dave Ellis, presented Council an update on City police activities, leading with Trunk or Treat which was held on Halloween from 4-7PM in the Sun City Church parking lot. Over 8,300 citizens attended. Recruiting efforts have taken several forms with $15,000 signing bonuses for laterally transferring officers and $5,000 signing bonuses for entry level officers. Recruiting billboards in regions like Seattle, Portland, and Colorado, together with advertisements on social media outlets like YouTube, Twitter, and Linkedin have also been employed. Total commissioned personnel hired to date in 2021 is 29.

Ellis further stated there have been significant decreases in almost all crime categories except homicides which increased from 2 in 2020 to 8 in 2021. Two major crimes detectives have been authorized for 2022. That translates to one additional for Spokane Valley.

The last state legislative session was especially toxic to law enforcement in severely restricting crime fighting capabilities. Tools to mitigate or lessen the use of lethal force have become necessary. Thus, weapons for dispensing munitions of less than lethal results have been purchased with funds ($80,000) distributed from Washington State to meet the additional costs.

The November 30th council meeting was originally scheduled to be cancelled for the Thanksgiving Holiday. With the retirement of City Manager, Mark Calhoun, it becomes necessary to appoint an interim City Manager. While it would seem logical that the deputy city manager would assume that position, state law specifies that a replacement must be legislatively appointed. Thus, next week’s meeting will be dedicated to that end. The meeting will open, Council will adjourn into executive session, and upon its return to open session, take appropriate action.

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

November 16, 2021

 

This City Council Study Session began with a discussion on the oath of office that each Council member upon being elected or re-elected takes at their installation. There is an anomaly in that oath that refers to taking that oath “….before the Mayor….” That presents a problem because the previous mayor’s term expires on December 31st of the prior year, while the installation occurs at the first meeting in the new year. Thus, without a mayor, the terminology needed to be changed. A motion to pass Ordinance 21-021, eliminating the words: “before the Mayor”, passed unanimously.

At its September 28th meeting, Council finalized its thoughts for goals in the forthcoming state legislative session.

That 2022 agenda is:
• A renewed request for state assistance for the Pines Rail Crossing
• Sensible state procurement laws
• Voicing continued commitment to defending local control
• Protecting state-shared revenues
• Requesting changes to municipal utility tax authority
• Return of sensibility to law enforcement issues
• Advocating for needed changes to the Growth Management Act regarding local flexibility

Council unanimously adopted the 2022 Legislative Agenda.

In 2003 the City imposed a 2% lodging tax on hotels and motels. That tax is used primarily for tourism marketing and operation of special events and festivals. Council later adopted an additional 1.3% lodging tax to be used solely for capital expenditures to acquire, construct, and improve large sporting venues or venues for tourism-related facilities that support lodging facilities.

Suggestions for distribution of the Lodging Tax money is made by the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) which is made up of:

•At least two representatives of businesses that are required to collect the tax,
• At least two people who are involved in activities that are authorized to be funded by the tax, and
• One elected city official who serves as chair of LTAC.

On October 13th, the LTAC met to receive and consider applications for 2022 Lodging Tax grants. There were 12 applicants:

Applicant                                                      Request    Recommended
HUB                                                                   55,000        55,000
JAKT, Brews, Beats & Eats                   15,000         6,500
JAKT Craft Beer                                         15,000         6,000
JAKT Crave!                                                  50,000         30,000
JAKT Farmer’s Market                           25,000         17,000
JAKT Valley Events                                   400,000        -0-
Northwest Winterfest                            45,000         45,000
Spokane Fair & Expo Center               75,000         64,000
Spokane Valley Heritage Museum   40,000         27,000
Spokane Valley Summer Theater      20,000        20,000
Valleyfest                                                        30,000         24,000
Valleyfest Cycle Celebration               5,000            3,500
Transfer to 1.3% Capital Account     273,000
Total                                                                 $775,000    $571,000

The City requested $2,986,573 from the 1.3% Tax fund account to apply to a new Expo Building at the Fairgrounds plus all future revenues until the building was completed. LTAC recommended $3,500,000. Council will approve the final awards on December 14th.

As part of the Annual Comprehensive Plan Amendment cycle (CPA), for 2022, proposed amendments made prior to November 1st are listed (docketed) for council action. That docket is:

File No; Location; Applicant; Description
• CPA-2022-01; 10506 E. 10th; Private; Chg 1.03 acres frm SFR to MFR
• CPA-2022-02; 17105 E. Montgomery; City; Chg .45 acres frm SFR to P/OS
• CPA-2022-03; 44th & Bates; City; Chg 17.64 acres frm SFR to P/OS
• CPA-2022-04; Bike & Pedestrian; City/map; Add proposed n. loop river trail
• SFR: Single family residence, MFR: Multi family residence, P/OS: Parks/Open Space

In 1957, Spokane County entered into a 50-year franchise with Yellowstone Pipeline Company (YPL) to construct and maintain a pipeline for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel from Billings, Montana to users west of Billings including the Spokane Valley area. Exxon, Conoco 66, and Sunoco pipeline companies jointly own the line. The franchise expired in 2007 and the parties have been negotiating since. Consensus was reached to place a proposed new franchise for 25 years, including $100 million in liability coverage on an upcoming agenda.

On January 15, 2019, a final report from an appointed salary commission raised the salaries of Council with a recommendation that those salaries be reviewed every three years. A new salary commission of five members whose term is for one year will be appointed by the Mayor after staff prepares an administrative report regarding the procedure for appointment of the commission and the process to be followed.

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley. org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

November 9, 2021

 

Council’s Formal Meeting, the first since the November 2nd election, commenced with proclamations recognizing Veterans’ Day and Native American Heritage Month.

New business opened with the Second Reading of Ordinance 21-017, amending the 2021 Budget. That amendment is spread across 18 accounts, resulting in revenue decreases of $6,155,484 and expenditure increases of $4,646,664. A salient feature of this amendment is how we are accounting for the funds being applied to the Barker/BNSF rail crossing. 

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is the project manager. Prior accounting practice was for WSDOT to be the recipient of the funds from the City and account for them as they were applied. However, a recent audit advised that the City would also account for the funds since they were the receiving applicant of the grant funding. Thus, an accounting change that simply reflects a cash flow-through. Motion to approve Ordinance 21-017 passed unanimously. 

The seventh and eighth touches enroute to adoption of the City’s 2022 Budget began with a public hearing, the third of three, in preparation for action on the Second Reading of Ordinance 21-018 which formally adopts the City’s 2022 Budget. 

In that Budget, General Fund recurring revenue is estimated to be $52,432,700, an increase of $4,207,681 or 8.73% over the 2021 amended budget of $48,225,019. Recurring expenditures are estimated to be $48,415,982, an increase of $3,443,155 or 7.66% over the amended 2021 budget’s $44,972,827. Budgeted recurring revenues currently exceed recurring expenditures by $4,016,718 or 7.66% of recurring revenues. Projected General Fund balance at the end of 2022 is currently $30,927,611 or 13% above the 50% of the recurring expenditure reserve Council has mandated to cover the cash needed for expected expenditures. 

The number of employees will increase from 96.25 to 101.25 in 2022. The City will once again forgo the automatic 1% property tax increase. A more detailed breakdown of the presentation can be found at https://spokanevalley.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=519&meta_id=65565. The motion to approve Ordinance 21-018 was approved unanimously.

On October 15, 2019, Council agreed to participate in the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Each year HUD provides CDBG entitlement funding to Spokane County in which the City participates, but the City must apply for the grants even though it is entitled to a set aside. On October 26th, 2021, Council identified two potential CDBG sidewalk projects for application:

Park Road—Broadway Avenue to Cataldo Avenue$400,000
4th Avenue—Eastern Road to Catherine Johnson Apts.$350,000

This public hearing was followed by a motion to prepare and submit CDBG applications for the proposed sidewalk projects listed above. The motion passed unanimously. 

Council agreed at its last meeting to place ordinance 21-019 on its agenda for consideration to delete chapter 19.50 of the Spokane Valley Municipal Code eliminating the Planned Residential Development (PRD) regulations in their entirety and lifting the moratorium on consideration of new PRD applications. The Planning Commission, after a public hearing, recommended approval. A motion to suspend the rules and approve Ordinance 21-019 was approved unanimously.

In November of 2020, Council amended City Code to permit donors providing donations valued over $5,000 or greater the option to also provide a recognition plaque. The maximum size set forth has proved to be too small (5”x7”) necessitating a change to allow a maximum size of 12”x24”. The motion to suspend the rules and approve Ordinance No 21-020 adopting the new size was approved unanimously.
Council approved a motion to pay Wick Enterprizes $956.25 for advertising. Wick Enterprizes is owned by Mayor Ben Wick.

On March 23rd, 2021, Council created the Streets Sustainability Committee (SSC), composed of twenty-two members, to help gather public input on the City’s Pavement Management Program (PMP) which has struggled to find a consistent, reliable funding source to sustain a long-term program. The SSC identified three goals:
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.

The Key Findings by Goal were:

GOAL 1.
A. The pavement condition of City streets is described as “fair” or better.
B. The PMP should be prioritized in the City’s budget planning process.

GOAL 2.
A. Survey respondents support increasing the prioritization of local access streets.
B. Implement surface treatments in the PMP.
C. Increase PMP funding to maintain the streets in their current condition.

GOAL 3.
A. Do not reduce funding of other City programs to increase funding of the PMP.
B. Transportation Benefit District is the most-preferred funding option.
C. Survey respondents indicate new funding should evenly distribute costs to everyone.
D. PMP funding should not rely on annual surplus fund transfers. (author’s emphasis)

For a copy of the complete report, contact City Hall. 

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

October 26, 2021

 

Spokane Valley’s last meeting in October led off with a Public Hearing on the proposed 2021 Budget Amendment affecting 18 accounts, resulting in revenue decreases of $6,155,484 and expenditure increases of $4,646,664. The purpose of this hearing was to consider input from the public. There was no public comment.

The Public Hearing was immediately followed by consideration of a motion to advance Ordinance #21-017 amending the 2021 Budget to a second reading. The motion was unanimously approved.

State law requires that the City annually pass an ordinance that establishes the property tax levy for that year. That law limits the increase to the lesser of the increase in inflation as measured by the state or 1%, whichever is lower. The rate for this year is 3.86% meaning the City is allowed to increase its rate by 1% which it has chosen not to do.

The levy does include property taxes on new construction resulting in property tax collections of between $13,161,654 (county estimate) and $13,199,920 (city estimate). Those estimates are based on an assessed valuation of $12,971,758,193 producing a levy of approximately $1.017589 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2022. The motion to adopt Ordinance #21-016, levying the 2022 property taxes passed unanimously.

This evening, the sixth of eight reviews on the road to adoption of the City’s 2022 Budget was addressed in the form of the First Reading of Ordinance#21-018 formally adopting that Budget. That motion was approved unanimously. On November 9th, Council will conduct the third and final Public Hearing on the Budget followed by action to adopt Ordinance #21-018: the City’s 2022 Budget.

In the 2022 Budget General Fund recurring revenue is estimated to be $52,432,700, an increase of $4,207,681 or 8.73% over the 2021 amended budget of $48,225,019. Recurring expenditures are estimated to be $48,415,982, an increase of $3,443,155l or 7.66% over the amended 2021 budget’s $44,972,827. Budgeted recurring revenues currently exceed recurring expenditures by $4,016,718 or 7.66% of recurring revenues. Projected General Fund balance at the end of 2022 currently is $30,927,611 or 13% above the 50% of the recurring expenditure reserve Council has mandated.

The number of employees will increase from 96.25 to 101.25 in 2022. The City will once again forgo the automatic 1% property tax increase. A more detailed breakdown of the presentation can be found at https://spokanevalley.granicus.co/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=519&meta_id=65565.

Spokane Valley has been a participant via interlocal agreement in the Spokane County Tourism Promotion Area (TPA) since 2004. Members of Council majority are advocating that the City give notice of termination under terms of the interlocal agreement and form the City’s own TPA. This requires action by the County Commissioners and would result in a separation date of December 31, 2022.

A survey by those members of Council of city hoteliers appears to indicate general favorability to creating a Spokane Valley TPA. There is interest in continuing funding of Visit Spokane and the Sports Commission recognizing the contributions to the hotel industry. The City, if a TPA were enacted, would require:
• An agreement with hoteliers specifying measurable outcomes as it does with other financial allocations
• Provide for use of funds to create more of an identity for the City which would result in more hotel stays
• Further discussion of City travel assets such as enhancing river whitewater features and construction of additional trails.

Resolution 21-008 gives notice to Spokane County and the City of Spokane of termination of Spokane Valley’s participation in the interlocal agreement establishing the Spokane County Tourism Promotion Area. Motion to approve Resolution 21-008 passed 7-0.
In preparation for the approaching holiday season, Council has authorized the closure of City Hall and CenterPlace at noon Wednesday, November 24th, 2021, and noon on Thursday, December 23rd. These closures will affect only normal administrative functions of the City. All preplanned events at CenterPlace will take place as scheduled.

The City since its incorporation has provided partial funding for local economic development and social service agencies. Through this process, the City is contracting for services that it might not otherwise provide. The City has set aside $244,000 in its budget for this purpose. Of that amount, $43,000 is contractually committed to 1) Greater Spokane, Inc. and 2) $19,000 to Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, leaving $182,000 for Council to award.

Agencies receiving awards and the amount of the grants are:
• Elevations Children’s Therapy Foundation...........$5,837
• Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels.........$18,408
• HUB Sports Center....................................................$5,000
• JAKT Foundation.....................................................$12,051
• NAOMI.......................................................................$6,179
• Northwest Winterfest ...............................................$4,571
• Project ID...................................................................$12,714
• Spokane Valley Arts Council .................................$15,500
• Spokane Valley Heritage Museum........................$11,622
• Spokane Valley Partners.........................................$36,945
• Spokane Valley Summer Theatre............................$7,643
• Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center................$6,357
• Teen & Kid Closet......................................................$9,051
• Valleyfest...................................................................$17,214
• Widows Might..........................................................$12,908
Total............................................................................$182,000

Motion to approve the grants as presented was approved 7-1.

On October 15, 2019, Council agreed to participate in the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Each year HUD provides CDBG entitlement funding to Spokane County in which the City participates, but the City must apply for the grants even though it is entitled to a set aside. The City intends to apply for three potential CDBG sidewalk projects:
• Park Road—Broadway Avenue to Cataldo Avenue $375,000
• Park Road—Nora Avenue to Baldwin Avenue $375,000
• 4th Avenue—Eastern Road to Catherine Johnson Apts. $375,000

A public hearing is scheduled for November 9th in Council chambers.

The City has entered an interlocal agreement with the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) for placement of a future library. Construction of the new library is slated to begin in 2022 with park improvements to be bid with the library construction. Estimated project costs are $3,875,023 funded by the City.

Council agreed to place an ordinance on a future agenda for consideration to delete chapter 19.50 of the Spokane Valley Municipal Code eliminating the Planned Residential Development (PRD) regulations and lifting the moratorium on consideration of PRD applications pursuant to Planning Commission recommendations.

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

Next Tuesday is election day for the City so we won’t have a meeting.

October 19, 2021

 

This Spokane Valley City Council meeting Study Session opened with an amended agenda to address a funding opportunity from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA Tourism) to possibly provide a grant to build the Expo Center Expansion that the City has been planning at the Fairgrounds. That project has a $10 million estimated cost, and with the $3 million grant the City intends to ask for, the project would be, with all the accumulated funding, $500,000 away from being fully funded. The motion to authorize the City Manager to apply for the ARPA grant was approved unanimously.

That action was followed by a Motion Consideration to finalize and execute an interlocal agreement with Trentwood Irrigation District #3 to provide water to Sullivan Park. The park, on the west side of Sullivan Road, north of the Spokane River is currently using an under-performing well for its water needs. When the Sullivan Bridge was constructed in 2016, the plan was for a water main to go under the bridge, but the line extended into another water district’s area, so the new water main wasn’t constructed.
In 2020, the City requested financial help through Fourth District Legislators who secured $130,000 for the project. The entire project is estimated to cost $538,000. With the $130,000 State grant, and dedicated City Funds of $152,858, the $255,142 shortfall will be met by the City to be recouped from future added users. Motion to approve the interlocal agreement was approved unanimously.

In a report from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Services (SCRAPS), Director Lindsey Soffes discussed trends, COVID impacts, animal licensing, veterinary services, and staffing challenges. The interlocal agreement dictates the annual participation charges paid by the City for its participation in SCRAPS. The 2021 budget is for $350,000 with the proposed 2022 budget calling for $330,000. Costs are fixed with CPI adjustments through 2033.

The contract under which the Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement for the City of Spokane Valley specifies periodic replacement of vehicles. In the past, that has included purchasing new vehicles, used vehicles, and refurbishing current vehicles. The County, through this plan, has financed eleven vehicles per year dedicated to Spokane Valley service. However, that plan has not proven to adequately address the aging fleet.

The City Manager has proposed in his 2022 budget that $1.4 million be dedicated for purchasing twenty replacement vehicles: $360,000 for transitional costs for upfront vehicle replacement purchases and $1,040,000 for the initial fleet buys. To keep the fleet up to date, a replacement schedule would apply to all vehicles, placing them on a five-year/100,000-mile replacement cycle. The plan would replace fifteen vehicles per year. Current fleet inventory is 105 vehicles.

In 2019, the State Legislature passed legislation requiring cities to create and adopt a Housing Action Plan (HAP) to define strategies and implementation that promote greater housing diversity and affordability for residents of all income levels. In June of this year, Council adopted Resolution 21-001, implementing the City’s HAP.

The HAP includes four main components:
1) A Housing Needs Assessment
2) A review of policies and regulations affecting housing development
3) Strategies to increase housing based on needs
4) An implementation Plan

The HAP provides clear, actionable strategies for meeting current and future housing needs. Community involvement was solicited in formulating the plan. The staff requested Council guidance on three of the proposed implementation measures identified in the HAP:
• Modifying the zoning code to encourage production of townhomes and cottages
• Modifications to the regulations for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
• Evaluating a Multiple Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program
The identified need for 6,660 dwelling units of diverse types by 2037 would appear to be insufficient to meet the City’s needs based on recent population growth. The strategies and action are aimed at:
• Preserving affordable housing to mitigate displacement
• Increasing market rate and affordable housing supply in zones allowing multifamily and missing middle housing
• Increasing housing options and choice

The list of implementing items can be found on the City website at: www.spokanevalley.org under the Agenda tab.
On October 15, 2019, Council adopted Resolution 19-014 under which it participates in the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Each year HUD provides CDBG entitlement funding to Spokane County from which the City participates. In June 2020, the City relinquished its 2020 and 2021 set asides from the County to apply them to assist eligible low and very low-income homeowners with assessment and connection charges on the Barker Road Homes sewer installation project.

In June 2020, the City also entered into a new agreement increasing its participation in the County’s CDBG/HOME Consortium by adding a fourth member to the Housing, Community Services and Development Advisory Committee (HCDAC), increasing its share of Consortium population and an increased voice on applications for projects serving City residents.

Staff has been working on an inventory of street signs and placement at Council’s request since April. Although the inventory isn’t yet complete, a discussion regarding authority to impose parking restrictions could be undertaken prior to its completion. Council could adopt an ordinance establishing the process and authority for establishing parking restrictions and prohibitions, clearing the way for creation of its master parking restriction list when the sign inventory is completed. Consensus was reached to request staff to draft an ordinance incorporating Council’s policy directives relating to parking restrictions and prohibitions.
City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

October 12, 2021

 

This City Council meeting opened with a Public Hearing on the 2022 Budget. This is the fifth of eight discussions of the budget enroute to its adoption on November 9. Without going into last week’s detail in the City Manager’s presentation of the Preliminary Budget, know that the first reading of the ordinance adopting the 2022 Budget will occur next week, October 22nd.

On September 22nd, City Manager, Mark Calhoun informed Council of his intent to retire effective December 31, 2021. This necessitates the initiation of a search to fill this important vacancy. Council action first considered whether to hire an external firm to conduct the recruitment process. After choosing to retain an outside firm, a committee led by Councilmembers Ben Wick, Brandi Peetz, Pam Haley, City Manager Mark Calhoun, and HR Manager John Whitehead will select the best qualified firm to conduct the search.

A discussion of the salary range to be used in advertising for the position completed the consideration. Motion to approve the procedure as discussed was approved by a 5-2 vote. The dissenters, Higgins and Woodard, saw no reason to be in such a hurry to move since the current City Manager will be in that position until December 31st, and the upcoming election could significantly affect the selection process.

The state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) allows the City to consider amendments to its Comprehensive Plan once each year. Applications must be received by October 30th to be placed on the docket for Council consideration. That docket consists of four items:
• CPA-2021-0001, 22 N. Skipworth, Lindsey Goodman, owner, changes .68 acres from Multi-Family to Corridor Mixed Use
• CPA-2021-0002, Balfour Park, City owned, changes 5.56 acres from Corridor Mixed Use to Parks, Recreation & Open Space
• CPA-2021-0003, Flora Property (City owned, newly  acquired), changes 46 acres from Industrial to Parks/ Recreation & Open Space
• CPA-2021-0004, Applied Citywide, adds policies regarding homelessness goals & strategies to homeless housing

After a public hearing on July 8th, the Planning Commission voted to forward CPA-21-0001 (6-1) and CPAs 21-0002, 0003, and 0004 (7-0) to Council for a Second Reading. Motion to approve Ordinance 21-014 encompassing all four CPAs passed unanimously.
That action was followed by a move to approve Ordinance 21-015 adopting the map changes accompanying the Comprehensive Plan amendments in Ordinance 21-014. Motion to approve Ordinance 21-014 passed unanimously.

State law requires that the City annually pass an ordinance that establishes the property tax levy for that year. That law limits the increase to the lesser of the increase in inflation as measured by the state or 1%, whichever is lower. The rate for this year is 3.86% meaning the City is allowed to increase its rate by 1% which it has chosen not to do.

The levy does include property taxes on new construction resulting in property tax collections of between $13,161,654 (county estimate) and $13,199,920 (city estimate). Those estimates are based on an assessed valuation of $12,971,758,193 producing a levy of approximately $1.017589 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2022. A motion to move Ordinance #21-016, levying the 2022 property taxes, to a Second Reading passed unanimously.

The Mayor’s appointment of Deputy Mayor Brandi Peetz to the Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council was approved unanimously.
At its September 28th meeting, Council finalized its thoughts on what it hopes to accomplish in the forthcoming state legislative session.

The 2022 agenda looks like this:
• A renewed request for state assistance for the Pines Rail Crossing
• Sensible state procurement laws
• Voicing continued commitment to defending local control
• Protecting state-shared revenues
• Requesting changes to municipal utility tax authority
• Return of sensibility to law enforcement issues
• Advocating for needed changes to the Growth Management Act regarding local flexibility

This evening Council memorialized where it intends to place emphasis such as needed changes to state law that would maintain local governance autonomy. This administrative report is in preparation for final adoption on November 16th.
By agreement, the Spokane Valley Arts Council, which has been responsible for the donation and placement of numerous art pieces around the City, meets with City Council to discuss and agree upon potential projects. This year a bronze sculpture, ‘The Owl Woman Calls Your Name’ by Nancy McLaughlin is proposed.

As a follow-up to last week’s discussion on Code Enforcement, this week Council undertook Topic #2: Camping on private property. This discussion focused on regulations which currently address the problems of homeless on private property living in tents or similar temporary structures, permanent structures (unauthorized), or recreational vehicles.

The City’s municipal code does not currently restrict camping in general nor do they even provide a definition of ‘camping.’ Staff is looking for guidance for drafting a work plan to create regulatory language. Those regulations when drafted will be addressing problems such as:
• Inadequate sanitation facilities
• Unsafe/unfit living conditions
• Too many RVs on a property
• Junk/inoperable RVs on the property
• Crime associated with trespassing/unauthorized occupancy
• Fire Hazards (warming fires and flammable accumulations)

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

October 5, 2021

 

This Council meeting opened with the Mayor’s appointment of Amanda Alcamo to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee. Council unanimously concurred with the appointment. Ms. Alcamo is with Oxford Suites in Spokane Valley.

Karl Otterstrom, Spokane Transit Authority’s Director of Planning and Development, together with STA CEO Susan Meyer, presented a description of STA’s Sprague Line High Performance Transit (HPT) program. The Sprague HTP Line currently operates as STA Route 90 offering direct connection between Spokane and Spokane Valley city centers and connections to most other STA routes, Greyhound, and Amtrak.

The goals of HPT are to enhance the existing Route 90 to HPT levels which are to provide frequent service with speeds competitive with private automobiles and improved passenger amenities commensurate with high ridership. STA is also looking at future electrification of its vehicles. Its public outreach includes improving its website: www.spokanetransit.com/SpragueLine with corridor maps and proposed stop changes together with letters to affected property owners, neighborhoods, and business groups. The STA Board plans action of the Corridor Development Plan in December.

Spokane Valley is a participant via interlocal agreement in the Spokane County Tourism Promotion Area (TPA) since 2004. Members of Council are advocating that the City give notice of termination under terms of the interlocal agreement and form its own TPA. This requires action by the County Commissioners and would generate a separation date of December 31, 2022.

A survey of hoteliers in the City indicates general favorability to creation of a Spokane Valley TPA. There was interest in continuing funding of Visit Spokane and the Sports Commission recognizing the contributions to the hotel industry. The City, if a TPA were enacted, would require:
1. An agreement with hoteliers specifying measurable outcomes as it does with other financial allocations
2. Provide for use of funds to create more of an identity for the City which would result in more hotel stays
3. Further discussion of City travel assets such as enhancing river whitewater features and construction of additional trails.
The City adopted a code relating to nuisance properties in 2003 to address accumulations of trash, junk vehicles, broken machinery or equipment, zoning/building code violations, traffic obstructions, and animal keeping. In 2017, it hired a full-time Code Enforcement Officer and a part-time attorney to address 330 cases that year. A second officer was hired in 2020 when the case load increased to 647. The attorney was upgraded to full-time.
Nuisances ranging from misdemeanor to chronic criminal infractions are an ongoing problem in Spokane Valley. Current code does not provide the range of remedies necessary to effectively address the problems. With this backdrop in mind, appropriate tools are needed to allow the City to enforce the policy choices Council makes on what constitutes a nuisance and amending City Code to identify conduct or private property use that constitutes a prohibited nuisance.
Changes suggested by staff this evening are:
• Vehicle parking and storage (on both public and private properties)
• Camping on private property
• Loud noise
• Compliance process and options; including voluntary compliance agreements and abatement
• Receivership program
• International Property Maintenance Code overview including sections already adopted by Council and those to be considered such as overgrown vegetation
Staff will return with a draft covering Council’s specific concerns on the above issues particularly focusing on vehicles parked on private property and in the public right-of-way.
In step four on the road to adoption of the 2022 budget, City Manager, Mark Calhoun presented his preliminary budget with the steps and considerations used in the development.

- Council Goals
• Recurring revenues must be greater than recurring expenses
• Ending reserves must be at least 50% of recurring expenses

 - Fiscal Policies
• Maintain basic service levels with minimal resources
• Minimize personnel and overhead costs by contracting

- Budget Highlights
• General Fund Revenues=$53,432,700. General Fund Expenses=$48,415,982. Difference: +$4,016,718

- Challenges
• Declining revenues in Street Maintenance Fund
• Balancing pavement preservation costs against other transportation and infrastructure needs
• Raising capital for needed rail crossing projects  
• Continuing COVID uncertainties identifying how to use federal funding awards most effectively

The City continues to be in excellent financial condition with strong reserves and responsibly managed operations.
On September 22nd, City Manager, Mark Calhoun informed Council of his intent to retire effective December 31, 2021. This necessitates the initiation of a search to fill that very important vacancy. Three alternatives were presented.

1. Retain an external firm to lead the recruitment
2. Authorize staff to lead an in-house recruitment
3. Schedule an executive session to assess the qualifications of a candidate for possible direct appointment without a recruitment process
Staff was instructed to explore a fourth option, possibly retaining an external firm while conducting an in-house search.

This recruitment procedure is tentative because of the intervening election on November 2nd which could render any immediate hiring decision moot. In addition, two Council members were absent which introduced other questions into the process at this meeting. Councilmember Higgins suggested delaying further consideration until the full Council is present. But the majority ignored his request.

City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

September 28 2021

 

This Council meeting opened with proclamations observing Fire Prevention Week and Source Water Protection Week. It was also noted in Council comments that the City had once again received a “clean” audit of its financial status and procedures. In the words of the Audit Supervisor, it was “an extremely clean audit.” Kudos to our financial department for continuing the succession of exemplary audits.

The state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) allows the City to consider amendments to its Comprehensive Plan once each year. Applications must be received by October 30th to be placed on the docket for Council consideration. That docket consists of four items:
1.  CPA-2021-0001, 22 N. Skipworth, Lindsey Goodman, owner, changes .68 acres  from Multi-Family to Corridor Mixed Use
2.  CPA-2021-0002, Balfour Park, City owned, changes 5.56 acres from Corridor Mixed   
     Use to Parks, Recreation & Open Space
3.  CPA-2021-0003, Flora Property (City owned, newly acquired), changes 46 acres
     from Industrial to Parks/Recreation & Open Space
4.  CPA-2021-0004, Applied Citywide, adds policies regarding homelessness goals &
     strategies to homeless housing

After a public hearing on July 8th, the Planning Commission voted to forward CPA-21-0001 (6-1) and CPAs 21-0002, 0003, and 0004 (7-0) to Council for a First Reading. Motion to move proposed Ordinance 21-014 encompassing all four CPAs to Second Reading passed unanimously.
That action was followed by deliberation on the First Reading of proposed Ordinance 21-015 adopting the map changes accompanying the Comprehensive Plan amendments in proposed Ordinance 21-014. Motion to move Ordinance 21-014 to Second Reading passed unanimously.

The owner of Derek Apartments, LLC. Has requested the vacation of a section of street 32’ by 237’ along the south side of Appleway Avenue. The proposed vacation lies approximately 526 feet east of the intersection of Appleway Avenue and Farr Road. The requested area is unimproved right of way, encompassing approximately 7,584 square feet. A public hearing is required, and Resolution 21-007 sets the date for that hearing. Motion to approve Resolution 21-007 setting the date for public hearing on the proposed street vacation passed unanimously.

In 2018, the City applied for various grants to reconstruct the Barker Corridor and provide a multi-use path from the Spokane River to the limits of the Barker Road/BNSF Rail Crossing Project. The project is phased into segments which staff described together with the need for phasing and phase timing. The phase considered for construction this evening includes the multi-use path from the river to Euclid Avenue (east).

The City has improved Barker Road from Spokane River to Euclid (east) and from Euclid (west) to the limits of the Barker/BNSF project. The project still needs to construct the multi-use path from the Spokane River to Trent and improve the intersection of Euclid and Barker Road with the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad has encountered delays which has in turn delayed the City’s completion of the project.

The City advertised this phase in August and opened bids on September 10th. Six bids were received with Barcott Construction LLC submitting the lowest bid at $301,966.00. The Engineer’s Estimate for the project was $326,246.00.

Motion to award the Barker Road Widening Project CIP#313-Phase 1 to Barcott Construction LLC in the amount of $301,996.00 including sales tax passed unanimously.
As the year winds down, Council coalesces its thoughts on what it hopes to accomplish in the forthcoming state legislative session. The 2022 agenda looks like this:
• A renewed request for state assistance for the Pines Rail Crossing
• Sensible state procurement laws
• Voicing continued commitment to defending local control
• Protecting state-shared revenues
• Requesting changes to municipal utility tax authority
• Return of sensibility to law enforcement issues
• Advocating for needed changes to the Growth Management Act regarding local
   flexibility

While this was only a discussion, it highlights needed changes to maintain local autonomy. Staff will return on October 12th with an administrative report. Final adoption is slated for November 16th.
City Hall is open for business. Masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

September 21, 2021

 

Washington State law requires the City to pass an ordinance each year enabling it to establish the levy rate for property taxes. Using the City’s estimate, approximately $12,724,920 will be generated based on a total preliminary assessed valuation of $12,577,239,238 at an applied estimated levy rate of $1.09509 per $1,000 of valuation. The rate valuation received from the county may not include new construction estimated at $475,000. 
 
Once that figure is updated, the estimated levy rate per $1,000 should decrease. There is an inverted relationship between taxable property value and the Levy Rate per $1,000. As the aggregate value of property in the city increases, the Levy Rate decreases. With a decreasing levy rate applied to an increasing property value, the actual amount paid by a property owner should not increase substantially.
 
Property taxes supply approximately 25% of the budgeted revenues for the year. This will mark the 13th consecutive year the City did not take the automatic 1% rate increase allowed by state law.
 
The City since its incorporation has provided partial funding for local economic development and social service agencies. Through this process, the City is contracting for services that it might not otherwise provide. This evening, eighteen agencies wishing to be considered in the 2022 Budget made presentations. The City has set aside $244,000 in its budget for this purpose. Of that amount, $43,000 is contractually committed to 1) Greater Spokane, Inc. and 2) $19,000 to Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, leaving $182,000 for Council to award.
 
Agencies presenting and requested amounts are:
 
1      Elevations Children’s Therapy $15,000
2 Embrace Washington $6,520
3 GSC Meals on Wheels$60,000
4 Greater Spokane Valley Rotary24,096
5 HUB Sports Center $5,000
6 JAKT$46,500
7 Jewels Helping Hands$27,911
8 NAOMI$12,500
9 Northwest Winterfest$25,000
10 Project ID$50,000
11 Spokane Valley Arts Council$55,000
12 Spokane Valley Heritage Museum$14,800
13 Spokane Valley Partners – $75,000
14 Spokane Valley Summer Theatre$20,000
15 Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center$20,000
16 Teen & Kid Closet$10,500
17 Valleyfest$71,000
18 Widows Might$43,270
         
Total $582,097
 
Obviously, the requested amount far exceeds the available funds so the process of reduction and elimination starts with the requirement that if an applicant is to advance, they must have an allocation (vote) from at least four council members. Individual Councilmembers select the applicants they feel deserving of consideration in the distribution of the remaining $182,000 along with the amount to be awarded. Any entity not receiving four votes is dropped from further consideration.
 
Additional rules ensure that the final distribution is fair and equitable. Councilmembers are each given an allocation sheet to be completed and turned in by 4pm on Friday, October 15th. The Finance Director then assembles and analyzes Council’s suggestions to determine a final allocation. That determination will be presented to Council at its October 26th meeting where final action will be taken.
City Hall is open for business. Under the Governor’s latest edict, masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.
 

September 14, 2021

 

After opening with a proclamation proclaiming this week as Constitution Week, this Formal Council Meeting moved to a public hearing on Budget Revenues. The presentation preceding the hearing was a detailed assessment of funding sources and applications. To summarize: General Fund recurring revenue is estimated to be $51,997,700, an increase of 6.80% over the 2021 amended budget of $48,689,219. Recurring expenditures are estimated to be $48,194,350, an increase of 7.16% over the amended 2021 budget’s $44,972,827. The number of employees will increase from 96.25 to 100.25. The City will once again forgo the automatic 1% property tax increase. A more detailed breakdown of the presentation can be found at https://spokanevalley.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=519&meta_id=65565. 

This was the first of three hearings on various components of the budget which, in its entirety, will have been discussed eight times prior to its adoption on November 8th. There were no public comments.

Last week Council moved the Complete Streets Ordinance 21-012 to a Second Reading. The ‘Complete Streets’ program requires an ordinance that formally recognizes the City’s commitment to provide safe, practical, and equitable transportation improvements for all its users. It also serves as a tool to enhance eligibility for state and federal funding programs that enable the City to expand its capabilities for improving its transportation facilities. The ordinance requires that the City consider but not necessarily implement complete street elements in all its road projects. The motion to approve Ordinance 21-012 passed unanimously.

Having adopted Ordinance 21-012, the City is in a position to apply for Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) grants. Those grants are nominated by organizations from a TIB approved list based on quality and content of its Complete Street Ordinance. The TIB list includes the Departments of Archeology and Historical Preservation, Transportation, Health, and Commerce. Non-Profit Organizations are Feet First, Cascade Bicycle Club, Community Transportation Association NW, and Futurewise. The motion to authorize application for the CIB Complete Streets funding through its approved nominating agencies passed unanimously.
The traffic signal at the Park Road and Mission Avenue intersection has, through wear and damage, become a hazard. After research and recommendation from the City Engineer, the signal light will be removed and replaced by a four-way flashing beacon stop. Motion to approve the change was approved unanimously.

In 2015, the City hired Community Attributes, Inc. (CAI) to develop a retail improvement strategy and action plan to improve the visibility and appeal of its retail offerings. In 2016, the City updated its comprehensive plan and development regulations to incorporate strategies and actions identified in that study. Those included increased flexibility for retailers, increased residential density along commercial corridors, and new opportunities for neighborhood commercial locations.

To further implement the plan, the City engaged Retail Strategies, a retail recruiter, to attract businesses, research trade area incentives, represent the City at International Council of Shopping Center conferences and develop relationships with retailers, brokers, developers, and key industry contacts on behalf of the City. Representatives of Retail Strategies updated Council on progress made in those areas as well as recovery efforts from COVID.

Earlier this summer two police officers, normally assigned to school activity, were designated as bicycle patrol officers. They covered hard to patrol areas such as Appleway Trail, Centennial Trail, Balfour Park, and Sullivan Park. In that coverage they worked with the City’s homeless outreach efforts to increase interaction and engagement with more personal attention. 

In so doing, they confronted 210 illegal ‘campers’ referring 133 of them to constructive services. They also worked with numerous businesses facing trespassing/homeless challenges providing increased citizen safety. The officers have returned to their school assignments since classes have once again commenced but the bicycle patrol has proved popular and useful. Should future staffing permit, that patrol could become a permanent assignment. 

City Hall is open for business. Under the Governor’s latest edict, masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

September 7, 2021

 

Study Sessions are for Council to hear reports on items that will be requiring action. However, this meeting agenda contained five action items needing immediate leading with Ordinance 21-011 which corrects an error in Ordinance 18-004 passed in 2018 clarifying what constitutes a ‘legal lot’ in the City of Spokane Valley and adds language to allow development of a non-legal lot by an “innocent purchaser.” The error, occurring in the transposition of copy from the actual act passed by Council to the print version of the ordinance in City records appear to inappropriately grant the owner of a non-legal lot the right to develop that lot without meeting City requirements. Rules were suspended as Council unanimously took immediate action to remedy the situation.
At its last meeting, Council instructed staff to bring forward an ordinance creating a Complete Streets program. Ordinance 21-012 accomplishes that. The ‘Complete Streets’ program requires an ordinance that formally recognizes the City’s commitment to provide safe, practical, and equitable transportation improvements for all its users. It also serves as a tool to enhance eligibility for state and federal funding programs that enable the City to expand its capabilities for improving its transportation facilities. The requirements in an ordinance are that the City consider but not necessarily implement complete street elements in all its road projects.

Motion to move Ordinance 21-012 to a Second Reading was approved unanimously.

In its last session, the State Legislature passed a bill (HB 1220) regarding affordable housing and homelessness. The bill preempts cities from prohibiting transitional housing and permanent supportive housing in any residential zones or zones where hotels are permitted effectively removing local control of where homeless people can be placed.

The City’s only recourse was to move quickly to create regulations governing where and how such housing is to fit in Spokane Valley. The effective date of HB 1220 is July 25th, which is why Emergency Ordinance No. 21-009 adopting temporary interim regulations for reasonable occupancy, spacing, and intensity limits on transitional, permanent supportive and emergency housing, and emergency shelters was presented as an emergency measure. Ordinance 21-009 passed unanimously.

A public hearing after passage of the ordinance was a requirement for ascertaining findings of fact supporting passage of Ordinance 21-009. That public hearing having been held, Ordinance 21-013 approves the findings of fact supporting adoption of Ordinance 21-009. A motion to suspend the rules and adopt Ordinance 21-013 passed unanimously.

On June 1st, 2021, Council approved Resolution 20-001 adopting its Housing Action Plan. The plan provides strategies and implementing action encouraging the construction of additional affordable housing to minimize and reduce displacement of low-income residents.

At its August 24th meeting, Council reached consensus for staff to prepare a motion consideration authorizing the City Manager to apply for a Homeless Housing Assistance Act (HHAA) grant to support one full time employee for street outreach purposes and 50% of the funds needed to support a deputy dedicated to addressing homeless cases. The total request is $180,000 ($100,000 for the full-time employee and $80,000 for the 50% dedicated police officer). The application deadline is September 10th. Motion to authorize the City Manager to make the application passed unanimously.

Negotiations to achieve a collective bargaining agreement with the Washington State Council of County and City Employees, Local 270V, AFSCME Union have been concluded. Union members voted to approve the agreement on September 2nd. Motion to ratify the Collective Bargaining Agreement effective January 1, 2022-December 31, 2024, was unanimously approved by Council.

The state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) allows the City to consider amendments to its Comprehensive Plan once each year. Applications received by October 30th were placed on the docket for Council consideration. The docket presented for adoption consists of four items:
1. CPA-2021-0001, 22 N. Skipworth, Lindsey Goodman, owner, changes .68 acres from Multi-Family to Corridor Mixed Use
2. CPA-2021-0002, Balfour Park, City owned, changes 5.56 acres from Corridor Mixed Use to Parks, Recreation & Open Space
3. CPA-2021-0003, Flora Property (City owned, newly acquired), changes 46 acres from Industrial to Parks/Recreation & Open Space
4. CPA-2021-0004, Applied Citywide, adds policies regarding homelessness goals & strategies to homeless housing

After a public hearing, the Planning Commission voted to forward CPA-21-0001 (6-1) and CPAs 21-0002, 0003, and 0004 (7-0) to Council for consideration. Council reached consensus to advance them to a First Reading.

Council was updated on the efforts of the City’s Streets Sustainability Committee (CSSC) which was created to help inform the public on outreach efforts relating to the long-term goals of the City’s Pavement Management Program. These websites: www.spokanevalley.org/pmp & www.spokanevalley.org/streetcommittee present information on the progress made by the CSSC. A public survey is also available on www.spokanevalley.org.

A proposed Resolution No. 21-006 would take care of administrative updating to the City’s petty cash policy. It would replace Resolutions 08-024 and 11-001 bringing the policy into audit compliance.

Under the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City has received $8 million of $16 million allotted to the City from a Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The next $8 million payment is scheduled for the summer of 2022. Staff is preparing a list of priorities for Council’s consideration.
City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

August 24, 2021

 


This formal meeting of the Spokane Valley City Council opened under the edict from the Governor that masks were to be worn indoors. As the meeting reached the Board Summary Reports item on the agenda, Councilman Rod Higgins made a statement protesting the mask mandate. He said, “The Governor has issued mandates once again threatening businesses and individuals for non-compliance under an emergency declaration that has extended for more than 18 months. His actions are destroying our city and making a mockery of representative democracy. Unfortunately, we here on the dais are powerless to do anything about it. Perhaps it’s time for civil disobedience.”

The meeting continued with a proclamation celebrating the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Centennial, proclaiming August 25th as Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Day.

In its last session, the State Legislature passed a bill (HB 1220) regarding affordable housing and homelessness. The bill preempts cities from prohibiting transitional housing and permanent supportive housing in any residential zones or zones where hotels are permitted effectively removing local control of where homeless people can be placed.

The City’s only recourse was to create regulations governing where and how such housing is to fit in Spokane Valley. The effective date of the directives in HB 1220 was July 25th. The City’s Emergency Ordinance No. 21-009, approved unanimously by Council on July 20th, adopted temporary interim regulations for reasonable occupancy, spacing, and intensity limits on transitional, permanent supportive and emergency housing, and emergency shelters. Those temporary measures adopted by the City are slated to become permanent on September 30th.
One of the requirements of HB 1220 was that a public hearing be held. That requirement was met by the Public Hearing on Ordinance No. 21-009 held this evening.

On June 1st, 2021, Council adopted Resolution 21-001, implementing a Housing Action Plan. In 2019 the State Legislature passed legislation requiring cities to create and adopt a Housing Action Plan (HAP) to define strategies and implementation that promote greater housing diversity and affordability for residents of all income levels.

The City’s HAP includes four main components:
• A Housing Needs Assessment
• A review of policies and regulations affecting housing development
• Strategies to increase housing based on needs
• An Implementation Plan

The City hired consultants to design and develop its plan. In addition, the City hired a Housing and Homeless Coordinator to assist in the organization of its programs for affordable housing and location of homeless accommodations required by HB 1220 and the accompanying efforts under Ordinance No. 21-009.

Staff is recommending the City make application for an $85,000 grant from Spokane County Homeless Housing Assistance Act (HHAA) for funding to assist with homeless individual outreach within the City. If received, the money would be administered by the Spokane County Community Services, Housing and Community Development Department. Applications have to be made by September 10th. Council reached consensus to proceed with the application.
As the next step moving toward budget adoption in November, Council received an administrative report on estimated revenues and expenditures. The 2022 Budget currently includes appropriations of $89,711,697 which includes $20,704,214 in capital expenditures. That $20,704,214 will be partially offset by $8,497,612 of grant revenues from State and Federal money.

In the General Fund, recurring revenue is estimated to be $51,997,700, an increase of 6.80% over the 2021 amended budget of $48,689,219. Recurring expenditures are estimated to be $48,194,350, an increase of 7.16% over the amended 2021 budget’s $44,972,827. The next budget report will be on September 14. The number of employees will increase from 96.25 to 100.25. The City will once again forgo the automatic 1% property tax increase.
The City Finance Director also presented a review of the list of Potential and Pending Projects from which money in the Capital Reserve Fund might be used. Of the $12,143,043 in the account, $4,630,911 has already been allocated for such items as parkland purchases and improvements, leaving $7,512,132 available for items such as police vehicles and school zone beacons. Two million dollars will be allocated to Balfour Park improvements.
Last week Council discussed the Complete Streets program. A ‘Complete Streets’ program requires an ordinance that formally recognizes the City’s commitment to provide safe, practical, and equitable transportation improvements for all its users. It also serves as a tool to enhance eligibility for state and federal funding programs that enable the City to expand its capabilities for improving its transportation facilities. The requirements in an ordinance are that the City consider but not necessarily implement complete street elements in all its road projects.

Staff returned to Council with an administrative report covering the draft ordinance, potential funding opportunities, and requesting consensus to proceed with drafting a complete streets ordinance. That consensus was reached.

The August 31st Council meeting is canceled.

City Hall is open for business. Under the Governor’s latest edict, masks must be worn in the building. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

August 17, 2021

 


This Study Session of the Spokane Valley City Council began with a motion to authorize the City Manager to finalize and execute an interlocal agreement with Fire District 8 (FD 8) for its acquisition of a site at the corner of 44th Avenue and Bates Road for a new fire station.

On June 16th, the City completed acquisition of 17.7 acres from Central Valley School District adjacent to the corner of 44th Avenue and Bates Road in the Ponderosa area. Under this agreement, FD 8 will buy three acres for $266,950 plus costs subject to adjustment based on actual property needs and accommodations.

The agreement allows time for FD 8 to acquire funding for construction. If FD 8 doesn’t begin construction within the agreed time, the City can buy the land back at the same price or the parties can mutually agree to extend the agreement. The motion was approved unanimously.

In 2012 the City purchased 8.4 acres adjacent to the already existing Balfour Park. It then entered into an interlocal agreement to sell 2.82 acres to the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) for placement of a future library. Construction of the new library is slated to begin in 2022.

The City is working to complete construction of frontage improvements adjacent to the library this summer. Those improvements will widen the pavement, install curbs, and relocate utilities as needed. Sidewalks will be constructed by the SCLD. A consultant, AHBL, Inc., is completing the design.

That design will be in two phases. Phase 1 will encompass park design to 30% including an events plaza, play areas, splash pad, restroom, picnic shelter, veterans’ memorial, and amphitheater. The plans encompass design of site grading, initial parking areas, lighting, multi-use plaza and open areas.

The second phase of development, as funding is secured, will be for remaining portions of the park up to 90% of completed design. Phase 1 park infrastructure is estimated to cost $3.5 million, with current available money at $1.5 million. If funding is obtainable, bidding will start in February 2022. The consultant will update the cost estimate for full park construction to be used for future grant applications.
A ‘Complete Streets’ program requires an ordinance that formally recognizes the City’s commitment to provide safe, practical, and equitable transportation improvements for all its users. It also serves as a tool to enhance eligibility for state and federal funding programs that enable the City to expand its capabilities for improving its transportation facilities.

Council reached unanimous consensus for staff to develop a draft Complete Streets Ordinance and to evaluate applications for funding through the program. Staff will return to Council with an administrative report covering the draft ordinance and potential funding opportunities.

City Police Chief Dave Ellis presented how a series of bills at the last legislative session are affecting the Spokane Valley Police
Department (SVPD) law enforcement practices and capabilities. By categories, those changes are:

1. TACTICS
     • Bans use of “military equipment” (shotguns have been removed from vehicles)
     • Prohibits use of tear gas, with limited exceptions
     • Prohibits chokeholds or neck restraints in any circumstances (SVPD has never authorized chokeholds)
     • Prohibits no-knock warrants (SVPD has used once for victim safety)
     • Restricts vehicle pursuits

2. USE of FORCE: Establishes new standards for use of physical force unless there is probable cause to make and arrest or prevent escape.
     • States that a higher threshold must be used when addressing mental subjects
     • Requires an officer to “exhaust available and appropriate de-escalation tactics prior to using any physical force

3. DECERTIFICATION: Sets up a Criminal Justice Training Commission to hear cases for de- certification of peace officers
     • May conduct investigations outside of the employing agency
     • Requires personnel records to be kept for the duration of officer’s employment plus 10 years
     • Requires that law enforcement employees consent to and facilitate a review of personal social media accounts

The laws continue into the realm of leading one to wonder why anyone in the state would work in law enforcement. The net effect of this series of laws is to 1) Reduce the ability of an officer to do his or her job, 2) Create hazardous situations where none should exist, and 3) Cause unnecessary dangerous situations where citizens are involved.  SVPD is working to digest and implement the changes.

City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

August 10, 2021

 

After taking the week off for National Night Out in support of First Responders and the County local elections, Council began the business of its August 10th meeting by amending its agenda to accommodate a motion to purchase of the White Elephant property on Sprague Avenue, adjacent to the City’s precinct. The purchase price is $2,250,000 plus closing costs. Motion passed unanimously. 

Council then took up the Second Reading of Ordinance 21-010, Batch Text Amendments. Those amendments will:

1) Clarify where cargo shipping containers and their use can be found in the City Code. Previously, it was ‘out of place’ in the accessory dwelling section. The proposed amendment moves the provision to the Accessory Structures section. However, regardless of the placement in the code, shipping containers are not permitted as an accessory structure to a residential use in residential zones.

2) R-4 Zone: The City adopted comprehensive plan amendment CPA-2020-0007, creating a new R-4 zone and adding two policies to guide the development of alternative housing types along with implementing zoning code amendments. Subsequently, it was discovered that several sections relevant to all residential zones were overlooked in the amendment process. This amendment will include the R-4 zone in sections related to battery charging stations, transitional regulations, adult uses, and marijuana uses.

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and after deliberations voted 7-0 to adopt the proposal and forward it to Council for consideration. moving forward as Ordinance No. 21-010. Motion to adopt Ordinance No. 21-010 passed unanimously.

In 2013 the City adopted goals and priorities for how it would use lodging tax revenues and encouraged the Lodging Tax Committee to consider those when making award recommendations. In summary, those goals and priorities are: 

1. To direct awards toward funding projects, activities, events or festivals that will highlight Spokane Valley as a tourism destination. Lodging taxes will be used for purposes allowed by State law including:
     a. Tourism marketing
     b. Marketing and operation of special events and festivals
     c. Operation and capital expenditures for tourism related facilities owned or operated by a municipality or public facilities district
     d. Operation of tourism related facilities owned or operated by non-profit organizations

2. Emphasize use of funds for capital expenditures to develop tourism destination facilities or venues within the City to draw visitors.

3. Priority consideration will be given to projects with a history of increasing overnight stays and the shopping, dining, and overnight visit components in that category.

4. Recognition is given to revenues generated by other lodging sources outside the City for promoting Spokane Valley facilities.
An award to a Lodging Tax applicant cannot be greater than the amount requested in the applicant’s application.
A pending joint project for a new building at the Fairgrounds will require applying nearly $3 million from accumulated Lodging Tax funds to that undertaking. 

Applications for grants are due to the City by 4pm, Friday, October 1st. Candidates will present their applications to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) on Thursday, October 14th. LTAC will make its recommendations for awards to Council at its November 9th meeting, and Council will approve the final awards on December 14th.

Motions to:

1. Approve the Council goals and priorities for use of lodging tax revenues passed unanimously. 

2. Authorize submittal of application to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee for the new Fairgrounds building using Hotel/Motel Tax revenue passed unanimously.

The Spokane County Jail is not equipped to treat mentally ill individuals or addicts. Incarceration often exacerbates those conditions and doesn’t address recurrences. For several years, Spokane Valley, Spokane, and Spokane County have been collaborating on the creation of a Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Center to provide an opportunity for qualifying individuals to stabilize and treat their condition rather than be jailed.

A report by consultant Ariane Schmidt and Dan Sigler from Pioneer Human Services updated Council on the current status and anticipated timeline for opening the Center in October.

On June 16th, the City completed acquisition of 17.7 acres from Central Valley School District adjacent to the corner of 44th Avenue and Bates Road in the Ponderosa area. In a prior report the possibility of Fire District 8 (FD 8) purchasing approximately three acres for a new fire station across Bates Road from its current one was discussed. In a proposed agreement, FD 8 would buy three acres for $266,950 plus costs subject to adjustment based on actual property needs and accommodations. Council is slated to consider the agreement at its August 17th meeting.

Council also received an update on the Argonne Road/Montgomery Avenue intersection improvement project where that intersection is being reconstructed with concrete paving. The construction which began on July 10th is slated to last 10 weeks.

In April 2019, Council heard a proposal for a joint sports complex with Spokane County at Plante’s Ferry. That discussion is continuing, awaiting Council direction.

Council also reached consensus on acquiring a Ford F150 truck for fleet replacement, budgeted at $47,500. Formal action to follow.
City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.  

July 27, 2021

 

In its July 13th meeting, Council heard a proposed Code Text Amendment, (CTA) 2021-0001, which would:

1) Clarify where cargo shipping containers and their use can be found in the City Code. Previously, it was ‘out of place’ in the accessory dwelling section. The proposed amendment moves the provision to the Accessory Structures section. However, regardless of the placement in the code, shipping containers are not permitted as an accessory structure to a residential use in residential zones.

2) R-4 Zone: The City adopted comprehensive plan amendment CPA-2020-0007, creating a new R-4 zone and adding two policies to guide the development of alternative housing types along with implementing zoning code amendments. Subsequently, it was discovered that several sections relevant to all residential zones were overlooked in the amendment process. This amendment will include the R-4 zone in sections related to battery charging stations, transitional regulations, adult uses, and marijuana uses.

The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and after deliberations voted 7-0 to adopt CTA-2021-0001 and forward it to Council for consideration. CTA-2021-0001 is moved forward as Ordinance No. 21-010 for a first reading. Motion to advance Ordinance No. 21-010 to a Second Reading passed unanimously.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program has allocated $29,202 as part of its 2021 program. These funds are intended to support all components of the criminal justice system. The Police Chief and City Manager recommend spending the funds to support Officer Safety and Wellness, an area of emphasis in the JAG program.

Specific uses would be lighting, cameras, and access for the rear lot immediately south of the Police Precinct. Some of that work was started using the 2020 JAG but available funds were not sufficient to complete all the tasks. Motion to authorize application
for the JAG items listed above passed unanimously.

The City has had an interlocal agreement with Spokane County for Pretrial Services since 2006 with revisions dating from 2019. Periodic review has identified areas that warrant revision. Those areas are:
•  A new service entitled Misdemeanor Evaluations, and
•  Felony Monitoring, a service that was recognized previously but was unaccounted for. The Settle & Adjust process actually gained the City $35,838 when completed.

The Spokane County Office of Pretrial Services prepares first appearance evaluations of Misdemeanor defendants to provide impartial investigative information for the District Court Judge in arriving at an informed release or detain decision.

The addition to the interlocal agreement would adopt this new service with an effective date of 2011 which is when the City actually participated in that service. The motion to authorize the City Manager to finalize and execute the Addendum to the Pretrial Services Interlocal Agreement passed unanimously.

In 2012 the City purchased 8.4 acres adjacent to the already existing Balfour Park. It then entered into an interlocal agreement to sell 2.82 acres to the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) for placement of a future library. Construction of the new library is planned to begin in 2022.

The City plans to complete construction of frontage improvements adjacent to the library this summer. Those improvements will widen the pavement, install curbs, and relocate utilities as needed. Sidewalks will be constructed by the SCLD. A consultant, AHBL, Inc., is retained to complete the design.

That design will be in two phases. The first phase will encompass park design to 30% including an events plaza, play areas, splash pad and amphitheater. Those plans include design of site grading, initial parking areas, lighting, multi-use plaza and open areas.

The second phase of park development, as funding is secured, will be for remaining portions of the park up to 90%. The consultant will update the cost estimate for full park construction to be used for future grant applications.

The public is invited to a community workshop that will be held in council chambers at City Hall from 4:30-7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 5th.

The Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council (SRLJC) recently conducted an internal change commented on by a letter from the City regarding its representation on that council. The changes agreed to by the County Commissioners were:
•  A reduction from 25 to 18 members.
•  Three standing committees reduced to two: Racial Equity, and Legislative Policy (LPC). The LPC meets twice annually and is comprised of one Commissioner, Spo kane Mayor, Spokane Valley Mayor, small city representative, Sheriff, and County
Prosecutor.
•  A revised scope of duties per State Code pertaining to prison reform.
•  A revised Mission Statement.

The full details of the SRLJC reorganization are available at www.spokanevalley.org. City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

There will not be a Council Meeting on August 3rd, in observance of election night as well as National Night Out.

July 20, 2021

 

In its last session, the State Legislature passed a bill (HB 1220) regarding affordable housing and homelessness. The bill also preempts cities from prohibiting transitional housing and permanent supportive housing in any residential zones or zones where hotels are permitted, effectively removing local control of where homeless people can be placed.

The City’s only recourse is to move quickly to create regulations governing where and how such housing is to fit in Spokane Valley. The effective date of HB 1220 is July 25th, which is why Emergency Ordinance No. 21-009 adopting temporary interim regulations for reasonable occupancy, spacing, and intensity limits on transitional, permanent supportive and emergency housing, and emergency shelters was presented as an emergency measure. Motion to approve Ordinance 21-009 passed unanimously.  

On July 13th, Council approved Ordinance #21-008 which adopted traffic impact fees for the Mirabeau and North Pines subareas. The fees must be added to the City’s fee schedule in order to be legally collected. The amendment adds two tables of transportation impact fees to Schedule G of the City’s fee schedule. The changes to that schedule will be effective on August 1, 2021. The schedule of fees appears below.

Land Use Description    Mirabeau Subarea     N. Pines Rd. Subarea
Single Family Home/Duplex    $709 per dwelling        $2,788 per dwelling
Multi-Family            $401 per dwelling        $1,577 per dwelling
Hotel (3 or more levels)        $709 per dwelling        $2,788 per dwelling
Elementary School        $0.98 per sq. ft.        $3.86 per sq. ft.
Medical Clinic            $2.35 per sq. ft.        $9.24 per sq. ft.
General Office            $0.82 per sq. ft.        $3.24 per sq. ft.
Shopping Center            $1.80 per sq. ft.        $7.08 per sq. ft.

The schedule was developed from a rate study made by Fehr & Peers, a consulting firm hired by the City to calculate a ‘per trip’ impact fee generated based on peak-hour traffic. Detailed information on the study and fee formulation is available by contacting City Hall at 509-720-5000.

Resolution #21-004 repealing and replacing Resolution #20-016 and approving the Master Fee Schedule for 2021 passed unanimously.
Resolution 21-005 creates parking restrictions along the east side of Cherry Street north of its intersection with Mansfield Avenue. After complaints from the school district that school busses were having difficulty moving along Cherry Street because of congestion caused by parking on both sides of the street and subsequent complaints from residents, the issue is finally reaching resolution because of the inability of fire department vehicles to safely service the area.

At the request of Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD), parking will be restricted to one side of Cherry Street north of the Cherry/Mansfield intersection. Motion to adopt Resolution 21-005 implementing Cherry Street Parking Restrictions passed unanimously.

On June 1st, the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) issued a call for two of the programs it administers: the Urban Arterial Program (UAP) and its Sidewalk Program (SP). These programs make grants available statewide for local assistance for arterial and sidewalk repair and construction. In the awarding of grants, a minimum of 20% matching funds from the applicant is required. The higher the participant’s match, the better the chance of being awarded a UAP or SP grant. The City’s matching funds would come from its Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) account.
Staff originally proposed applying for two UAP grants:

Sullivan Road Preservation and Sidewalk, Sprague to 8th Avenue. (Street Preservation, Sidewalk, and Integrated Traffic Control System) Total Project Cost: $3,600,000; a $1,692,000 (47%) grant request with a $1,908,000 (53%) match. This application also includes a separate stormwater project.
Argonne Corridor Reconstruction, Indiana to Montgomery. (Concrete Reconstruction) Total Project Cost: $2,700,000; a grant request of $1,836,000 (68%), with an $864,000 (32%) match.

However, after consultation with the TIB Program Manager, the Argonne Corridor Reconstruction project was dropped because of its not scoring well enough to be considered.

Staff also proposed application for an SP grant:
Construction of sidewalks on 8th Avenue, Coleman to Park. Total Project Cost: $450,000; a grant request of $270,000 (60%), with a $180,000 (40%) match. That project will proceed to final application. Motion to approve the application for grants for the two designated projects passed unanimously.
In 2003, the City imposed a 2% lodging tax on hotels and motels. The 2021 City budget estimated that $346,000 would be collected. However, the effects of COVID-19 have not reduced the collected amount as much as anticipated, so that estimate may be low. In 2015, the City imposed an additional 1.3% lodging tax. That tax is budgeted to collect $213,000 but this estimate may be low as well. If revenues continue to improve beyond the budgeted estimates, staff will return with a budget amendment to accommodate the new numbers.

The 2% tax is used primarily for tourism marketing, and operation of special events and festivals. Proceeds from the 1.3% additional lodging tax are to be used solely for capital expenditures for acquiring, constructing, and improving large sporting venues or venues for tourism-related facilities that support lodging facilities.

Applications for grants are due to the City by 4pm, Friday, October 1st. Candidates will present their applications to the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) on Thursday, October 14th. LTAC will make its recommendations for awards to Council at its November 9th meeting, and Council will approve the final awards on December 14th.  

City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

July 13, 2021

 


The Council meeting opened with the first opportunity in more than a year for public comment by persons physically in Council Chambers.
The Public Comment Opportunity was followed by a public hearing on Traffic Impact Fee Studies in the Mirabeau & North Pines Subareas. Immediately following the public hearing, Council suspended rules and moved directly to the Second Reading of Ordinance 21-008, adopting the Transportation Impact Rate Study.
The idea of transportation impact fees is not a new idea for the City. Previously Council approved action to establish Transportation Impact Fees, later including the South Barker Corridor to be covered.

Staff have now identified the Mirabeau Subarea and the North Pines Road/SR-27 Corridor as an area undergoing a significant amount of new development. This is leading to an escalating degradation in levels of traffic movement on Pines and adjacent arterials. Requirements for proportional fees to offset the impacts of development on the arterials are focused primarily on larger development projects and impacts leaving the City without the tools to address the impacts that smaller projects place on the system.
Transportation impact fees are allowed under state law to address the impacts from new development and are usually collected when a building permit application is submitted. Standardization of such fees provide a developer with certainty to plan for mitigation costs, ultimately saving time and money. The following schedule is proposed to meet the smaller development need.

Land Use Description    Mirabeau Subarea     N. Pines Rd. Subarea
Single Family Home/Duplex     $709 per dwelling     $2,788 per dwelling
Multi-Family     $401 per dwelling     $1,577 per dwelling
Hotel (3 or more levels)     $709 per dwelling     $2,788 per dwelling
Elementary School     $0.98 per sq. ft.     $3.86 per sq. ft.
Medical Clinic     $2.35 per sq. ft.     $9.24 per sq. ft.
General Office     $0.82 per sq. ft.     $3.24 per sq. ft.
Shopping Center     $1.80 per sq. ft.     $7.08 per sq. ft.

The schedule was developed from a rate study made by Fehr & Peers, a consulting firm hired by the City to calculate a ‘per trip’ impact fee generated based on peak-hour traffic. Detailed information on the study and fee formulation is available by contacting City Hall at 509-720-5000.

Motion to approve moving Ordinance No. 21-008 passed unanimously.

A proposed Code Text Amendment, (CTA) 2021-0001, was presented in an administrative report to Council. CTA 2021-0001 would:
1) Clarify where cargo shipping containers and their use can be found in the City Code. Previously, it was ‘out of place’ in the accessory dwelling section. The proposed amendment moves the provision to the accessory structures. However, regardless of the placement in the code, shipping containers are not permitted as an accessory structure to a residential use in residential zones.

2) R-4 Zone: The City adopted comprehensive plan amendment CPA-2020- 0007, creating a new R-4 zone and adding two policies to guide the development of alternative housing types along with implementing zoning code amendments. Subsequently, it was discovered that several sections relevant to all residential zones were overlooked in the amendment process. This amendment will include the R-4 zone in sections related to battery charging stations, transitional regulations, adult uses, and marijuana uses.
The Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and after deliberations voted 7-0 to adopt CTA-2021-0001. Council reached consensus to move CTA-2021-0001 to a First Reading.

Under the newly enacted American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the City is slated to receive $16 million from a Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The Department of the Treasury will distribute the funds in two increments, one coming this month, with the next payment scheduled in the summer of 2022. How the money can be spent is still not clear but preliminary indications are that the City will not be short of uses for those funds.

City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org prior to 4:00 p.m. for access instructions.

July 6, 2021

 

This Council meeting held after Independence Day opened with a Proclamation recognizing July as Parks and Recreation Month. Coincidentally, the first item of business on Council’s agenda was a Motion Consideration to retain the services of a consultant to complete the design for Balfour Park.

In 2012 the City purchased 8.4 acres adjacent to the already existing Balfour Park. It then entered into an interlocal agreement to sell 2.82 acres to the Spokane County Library District (SCLD) for placement of a future library. After a series of fits and starts including two failed bond votes and an extension of the interlocal agreement, SCLD had identified a funding source that doesn’t require a bond issue. Construction of the new library is planned to begin in 2022.

The City plans to complete construction of frontage improvements adjacent to the library this summer. Those improvements will widen the pavement, install curbs, and relocate utilities as needed. Sidewalks will be constructed by the SCLD. 

Design of the project will be in two phases. The first phase will encompass park design to 30 percent including an events plaza, play areas, splash pad and amphitheater. Those plans will also include design of site grading, initial parking areas, lighting, multi-use plaza and open areas. The consultant will also update the cost estimate for full park construction to be used for grant applications.

The second phase of park development, as funding is secured, will be for remaining portions of the park. Preliminary Engineering is budgeted at $420,500. Funds earmarked for completion of the entire project are $1,875,023. The motion to approve the City Manager’s finalizing the contract with AHBL, Inc. in the amount of $326,173.04 for project design services was unanimously approved.

On June 1st, the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) issued a call for two of the programs it administers: the Urban Arterial Program (UAP) and its Sidewalk Program (SP). These programs make grants available statewide for local assistance for arterial and sidewalk repair and construction. In the awarding of grants, a minimum of 20% matching funds from the applicant is required. The higher the participant’s match, the better the chance of being awarded a UAP or SP grant. The City’s matching funds would come from its Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) account.

Staff has proposed applying for two UAP grants:
 •  Sullivan Road Preservation and Sidewalk, Sprague to 8th Avenue. (Street 
      Preservation, Sidewalk, and Integrated Traffic Control System) Total Project 
      Cost: $3,100,000; a $2,232,000 (72%) grant request with an $868,000 (28%) match. This application includes a separate $700,000                  stormwater project, bringing the total project cost to $3,800,000 with a $1,568,000 City match. The additional $700,000 match does            not come from REET funds. 
 •  Argonne Corridor Reconstruction, Indiana to Montgomery. (Concrete 
      Reconstruction) Total Project Cost: $2,700,000; a grant request of $1,836,000 (68%), with an $864,000 (32%) match. Staff has also                proposed application for an SP grant: Construction of sidewalks on 8th Avenue, Coleman to Park. Total Project Cost: $450,000; a grant        request of $288,000 (72%), with a $112,000 (28%) match.

Council Consensus was reached to proceed on the projects as outlined with actual grant application and matching amounts to be finalized by the July 13th Council meeting.

The Spokane Valley Arts Council (SVAC) has donated a number of sculptures to the City since its incorporation in 2003. In March 2019, Council approved an agreement with SVAC setting forth the terms of a long-term agreement to provide sculptures in agreement with the City on cost and placement. 

Seven pieces have been previously accepted and placed. Four, Heart of the Valley by Richard Warrington, The Ascent by Gary Lee Price, Indomitable Spirit by Jerry McKellar, and Huckleberry Daze also by Jerry McKellar are in storage awaiting placement. The City, in 2021, awarded an Outside Agency Funding grant of $15,000 toward a potential future sculpture: Soulmates by Joey Marcella.

This staff presentation was solely to update Council on the status of its art inventory.

City Hall is open for business. Council meetings begin at 6:00pm. Public participation on action items or public comment periods can be in person or via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org for access instructions.

June 29, 2021

 

    Occasionally when five Tuesdays occur in a month, Council will take the last Tuesday off. However, with National Night Out and the Primary Election coming on August 3rd, and significant business yet to be conducted, this was a working Tuesday.

The meeting opened with a Motion Consideration to award Inland Asphalt Paving the low bidder on the Local Access Streets, South Park Road Project in the amount of $1,545,545. The bid was 12.6% above the Engineer’s Estimate of $1,293,645. Although that estimate considered rising prices, the scarcity of labor and escalating cost of asphalt raised the total beyond expectations.

The project provides street repairs and preservation to local access streets west of South Park Road between Appleway Avenue and 6th Avenue. Those improvements include installation of ADA curb ramps, pavement repairs and storm water improvements. The motion was unanimously approved.

Funding for the project will come entirely from City accounts earmarked for local access city streets. Project expenses are broken down as:

Project Costs
Preliminary Engineering    $45,405
Construction    $1,672,435
Total Estimated Costs     $1,717,840

Project Budget
City Funds    $1,722,035
Total Budget    $1,722,035

The Mirabeau sub area and the North Pines Road/SR-27 Corridor have experienced a significant amount of new development leading to an escalating degradation in levels of service in traffic movement on Pines and adjacent arterials. Requirements for proportional fees to offset the impacts of development on the arterial are focused primarily on larger development projects and impacts but the City does not currently have the tools to address the impacts that smaller projects place on the system.
Transportation impact fees are allowed under state law to address the impacts from new development and are usually collected when a building permit application is submitted. Standardization to such fees provide a certainty to enable a developer to plan for mitigation costs. The following schedule is proposed to meet the smaller development need.

Land Use Description    Mirabeau Subarea    N. Pines Rd. Subarea
Single Family Home/Duplex    $709 per dwelling    $2,788 per dwelling
Multi-Family    $401 per dwelling    $1,577 per dwelling
Hotel (3 or more levels)    $709 per dwelling    $2,788 per dwelling
Elementary School    $0.98 per sq. ft.    $3.86 per sq. ft.
Medical Clinic    $2.35 per sq. ft.    $9.24 per sq. ft.
General Office    $0.82 per sq. ft.    $3.24 per sq. ft.
Shopping Center    $1.80 per sq. ft.    $7.08 per sq. ft.


The schedule was developed from a rate study made by Fehr & Peers, a consulting firm hired by the City, to calculate a ‘per trip’ impact fee generated from peak-hour traffic. A public hearing will be held on July 13th. Council reached consensus to place the rate study on a future agenda for a first reading. Detailed information on the study and fee formulation is available by contacting City Hall at 509-720-5000.

In a discussion on the City’s capital improvement process, Engineering Manager, Gloria Mantz and City Engineer, Bill Helbig outlined the steps involved in the different phases of a capital project. Each type of project can require a different set of standards to be met depending on the funding source, contract specifications, and grantor requirements for compliance. For example, the Barker Road Widening Project process went like this:

• Council approves the project
• NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Approval (8 weeks)
• Final right of way (ROW) plans
• Obligate ROW funds (3-5 weeks)
• Negotiate & Acquire ROW (3 months)
• ROW Certification (2 weeks)
• Obligate funds (3-5 weeks)
• Request UDBE Goal (Underutilized Disadvantaged Business Enterprises) (1-2 weeks)
• Advertise Projects (3weeks)-Open Bids
• Bid CN Award (CN=Construction)
• Execute Construction Contract
• Begin Construction (80 working days)
• Construction completed
In 2021, there are 13 projects in construction requiring staff attention to details ranging from payroll documentation of hours spent to records of materials used to training required of participating staff.

Nuisances ranging from misdemeanor to chronic criminal infractions are an ongoing problem in Spokane Valley. Current code does not provide the range of remedies necessary to effectively address the problems. With this backdrop in mind, appropriate tools need to be adopted to allow the City to enforce the policy choices Council makes as to what constitutes a nuisance, and create a policy to amend City Code to identify conduct or private property use that constitutes a prohibited nuisance.

Changes under consideration relate to ‘camping’ in an unapproved structure on private property, living in RV/camper on private property beyond 30 days, defining ‘junk’, number of campers/RVs on a residential lot, accumulated non-junk vehicles on a residential property, and an approach to place severely distressed, chronic nuisance, or abandoned properties into receivership. Consensus was reached on expanding the list for discussion at future meetings.

A discussion on Orchard Park, owned by Felts Field Airport, was requested by the mayor. The County lease on the park expires in August 2022, and the Airport will remove the park from use.

City Hall is open for business. Entry must be made through the front of the building. Meetings in Council Chambers currently occur with only Council and Staff in attendance. Public participation will continue via ZOOM. Call 509-720-5000 or www.spokanevalley.org for access instructions.

June 22, 2021

 

    This formal format Council meeting opened with a proclamation recognizing ‘Pride Month.’ There were no public comments in the first of two Public Comment sections on formal meeting agendas.
   
In 2014 the City adopted a Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) which laid out the procedures and rules for collection of recyclable materials. The recycled material until recently was sold to China. However, because of increasing contamination of the materials sent, China changed its rules for acceptance and currently takes only a limited quantity of recyclables.
    
In response, the state legislature has mandated a program entitled CROP (Contamination Reduction and Outreach Plan) to specify what qualifies as recyclable and how to reduce contamination. The requirements listed under state law are:

1.  A list of actions for reducing contamination
2.  A list of key contaminants
3.  A discussion of problem contaminants and the contaminants’ impact on the collection system
4.  An analysis of the costs and other impacts associated with contaminants to the recycling system
5.  An implementation of scheduled details on how outreach is to be conducted

     The City’s CROP was recently approved by the Department of Ecology but must be formally adopted by Council in the form of an amendment to its SWMP before July 1. Resolution 21-003, approved unanimously, accomplishes that.
     
On June 1, 2021, Council adopted the Housing Action Plan (Resolution 20-001) providing strategies and implementation actions to encourage construction of additional affordable housing to minimize and reduce displacement of low-income residents. On March 16, the City hired a Housing and Homeless Coordinator (HHC) to assist in connecting homeless individuals and families to housing and services.

The HHC and Economic Development staff have developed goals, policies, and strategies to lay out the City’s policy position on homelessness. These procedures are being brought forward for implementation through the City’s annual Comprehensive Plan Amendment process. The Planning Commission will address the issue at its June 24th meeting to begin the process of bringing its findings and recommendations to Council in October.

In addition to the matter of homelessness, the Comprehensive Plan docket so far includes three map amendments, two initiated by the City and one privately.

The final agenda item was a briefing by Chief Ellis, Sergeant Myhre, and officer Booth of the Spokane Regional Safe Streets Task Force, (SRSSTF) updating Council on current gang activities in the region, especially in Spokane Valley, and the mission, function, and composition of SRSSTF.

• Mission: Identify, dismantle/disrupt criminal gangs, mid-to upper-level drug dealers and human traffickers in Spokane County.
• Criminal street gang means any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, having a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, having as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal acts, and whose members or associates engage in criminal street gang activity.
• Criminal street gang associate or member means any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang, and who intentionally promotes, furthers, or assists in any criminal act by the criminal street gang.

Current trends in gang related incidents:
• Juveniles have been linked to 132 acts of violence within the greater Spokane Region.
• Known gang related shootings (25-30) shootings in the greater Spokane region within the last 12 months.
• Social Media use (threats, guns, drug sales, graffiti). Increased use of violence.
• No structural organization. Juvenile gangs typically do not operate like traditional gangs.
• Arrival of new motorcycle gangs to compete with known outlaw motorcycle gangs.
• Lack of cooperation from witnesses and victims during criminal investigations.

As of June15 staff is physically present at City Hall. Because of directives from Olympia, it is still necessary to make an appointment to conduct business inside City Hall. Council meetings in Council Chambers will commence with the next meeting on June 29 with only Council and Staff in attendance. Public participation will continue via ZOOM.

June 15, 2021

 

Spokane Valley City Council met for its annual Budget Workshop at 8:30 am on Tuesday. The meeting last year was delayed awaiting the full impact of the Coronavirus’s effect on revenues. Because of so many business closures affecting sales taxes, the major sources of income for the City, projecting 2021 revenues was a highly uncertain exercise. Thus, there was a 90-day delay in meeting to address the 2021 Budget. However, this year the City is back on track, not only timewise but in funding.

The City budget has two main parts: 1) Recurring revenues and expenditures which are the normal sales and property tax collections paired against the regular expenses of conducting City business, i.e., Public Safety, and 2) Non-recurring expenses such as capital projects like the acquisition of police vehicles. 

There are of course changes in the City’s recurring income and expenses from 2021 to 2022. Below is a brief comparison ($mm).

Revenue 2021Actual 2022 Proposed 
Property Tax (1)    $12.724 $13.025   
Sales Tax (2) $25.200 $27.720              
Other (3)                        $10.765 $11.077               
Total $48.689 $51.822 +6.43% 

Expenditures (4)
Total $45.447      $47.246
Surplus/(deficit)  $ 3.242            $ 4.576 +3.96%
 

(1) The Revenue is presented for the amended 2021 budget.
(2) Sales tax is the aggregate of retail sales tax, public safety sales tax, and criminal justice sales tax.
(3) Other is the aggregated total of all other City income sources.
(4) Expenditures are presented as an aggregate. The City’s major expense is for Public Safety which will cost $28.384 million in 2021 (63% of expenditures) and is budgeted at $29.639 million for 2022, an increase of $1.256 million or 4.42%.

Non-recurring revenues and expenses were affected by COVID-19. The amended 2021 budget realized revenue of $49,000 vs. expenditures of $14.596 million generating a decrease in the 2021 ending fund balance of $14.546 million to $31.212 million which when augmented by a $1.757 transfer of excess revenue brings that balance to $32.969 million. The City’s policy is to maintain an ending fund balance of at least 50% of recurring expenses to avoid having to borrow money to fund cash flow needs. This balance represents 68.68% of expected recurring expenses.

The proposed 2022 budget anticipates no grant funding assistance from any source, but it does plan for capital expenditures of $2.820 million generating a deficit of that same amount. That deficit will be covered from reserves accumulated to address difficult economic circumstances as they occur.

The table above highlights the consistency by City management of its revenues and the continuing trend of business recovery. That trend is reflected in the proposed 2022 budget. Moody’s bond rating service has awarded the City an Aa2 rating, the highest rating a city of our size can achieve.

The City’s strong fiscal condition has placed it in a solid position to recover from COVID. With the City now passing the 100,000-population figure, it is significant to note that the number of employees remains the same as 2020 (96.25), and recurring expenditures increase by less than 4% (3.96).

However, the expectation of more construction projects such as the Barker Corridor, Sullivan/Trent interchange, and the Pines Rail Crossing being approved for grant assistance, has prompted a request for four additional engineer positions.

The budget will be visited seven more times by Council, including three public hearings, before its final adoption on November 9th. 

The budget in its entirety can be seen at www.spokanevalley.org. 

City Hall currently remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.  

As of June 15th staff is physically present at City Hall. Because of directives from Olympia, it is still necessary to make an appointment to conduct business inside City Hall. Council meetings in Council Chambers will commence if/when direction from Olympia reaches dependability, tentatively after June 30th.

June 8, 2021

 

Each year, as required by state law, the city reviews its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) with an eye to adding projects that address the transportation needs of the City. The list includes projects that are intended to be implemented in the next six years, progress on those already on the list, and eliminating those completed. When adopted, the TIP is submitted to the Washington State Department of Transportation by June 30th of each year.

This year’s list includes 9- ‘Closeout Projects for 2022’, 5 Bridge & Grade Separation Projects, 15 Intersection Improvement Projects, 27 Reconstruction/Preservation Projects, 4 Citywide Projects and 4 Sidewalk, Trail, and Stormwater Projects for a total of 64 projects scheduled to be addressed over the next six years.  
The Public Hearing preceding action on Resolution 21-002, which adopts the 2022-2027 Six-Year TIP, led off this council meeting without comment. The motion to approve Resolution 21-002 passed unanimously.     

For a complete listing of the projects please visit www.spokanevalley.org.
State law requires periodic review of the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The SMP is the official document covering development along the Spokane River and Shelly Lake. While the City’s SMP is largely in compliance with state law, amendments are needed to bring it into full compliance.  Those changes embodied in Proposed Ordinance 21-007 are largely administrative covering definitions, exemptions, and procedures to make the SMP consistent with recent changes in state law. The Planning Commission voted 7-0 on March 25th to recommend approval. Motion to move Proposed Ordinance 21-007 to a Second Reading passed unanimously.

Bids have been solicited for the Mullan Road Preservation Project, which covers grind and overlay between Broadway and Mission Avenues, also includes curb ramps, pavement repairs, laying intelligent transportation system (ITS) conduit and signal upgrades at the Mission intersection. The project is part of the City’s Six-Year TIP. Costs and budget are:
    

                 Project Costs               
Preliminary Engineering    $ 75,500        
Construction    $2,006,000        
City Funding    $2,081,000

                 Project Budget
Total Estimated Costs    $2,081,000        
Total Budget    $2,081,000

Motion to award the Mullan Road Preservation Project contract to Inland Asphalt Paving in the amount of $1,529,790 passed unanimously.
The city is represented on various boards and committees in the county and region by appointees. The mayor makes those appointments with approval of Council. With the City growing to over 100,000 in population, it qualifies for additional seats on HCDAC (Housing & Community Development Advisory Committee) and SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Council). Appointments to County advisory boards such as HCDAC are subject to County Commissioner approval.

Due to a misinterpretation of HCDAC bylaws, the appointments made earlier in the year were rejected by the County Commissioners. Thus, Mayor Wick appointed Amanda Tainio and Arielle Anderson to three-year terms, and Arne Woodard to a term ending on December 31, 2021. Motion to confirm those appointments passed unanimously.
The mayor appointed Jenny McClenathen to the Spokane Housing Authority (SHA) to a five-year position to fill the unexpired term of a sitting committee member who resigned. Motion to approve the appointment passed unanimously. Those appointments are subject to approval by the County Commissioners.

The mayor’s appointment of Councilmember Linda Thompson to the SRTC met with questions regarding whether it met City and sometimes County policy to not appoint councilmembers up for re-election to multiple-year positions. After debate, the motion to approve her appointment passed 5-2.

Dick Hanlin, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County, presented a discussion of his organization, mission, and plans for expansion into Spokane Valley at the Keystone school site. Their plans for the next 18 months include expanding their board and staff, build community support for funding and future growth, and raise $5 million to upgrade and renovate the former Keystone school.

Confronted with a growing homeless problem in Spokane Valley, Council invited Phil Altmeyer of the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) to discuss his experience with serving and dealing with the homeless. He delved into the differences between low barrier/no barrier shelters and what UGM provides. UGM’s focus is assisting homeless people achieve rising from a homeless condition through responsibility, avoiding the conditions that made them homeless, and finding work to sustain them in their new direction. Providing the type of assistance that enables the continuation of the homeless situation is not a solution to the problem. He emphasized that success in his program relies on dignity through responsibility.

In 2014 the City adopted a Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) which laid out the procedures and rules for collection of recyclable materials. The recycled material until recently was sold to China. However, because of increasing contamination of the materials sent, China changed its rules for acceptance and currently takes only a limited quantity of recyclables. In response, the state legislature has mandated a program entitled CROP (Contamination Reduction and Outreach Plan) to specify what qualifies as recyclable and how to reduce contamination. The City’s CROP was recently approved by the Department of Ecology but must be formally adopted by Council in the form of an amendment to its SWMP before July 1.

Next week’s Council meeting, June 15th, will be a budget meeting. It begins at 8:30AM and ends at 2:30PM. There will be no evening meeting. The meeting is open to the public and can be accessed via ZOOM. Call the City Clerk at 509.720.5102 for instructions.

City Hall currently remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.  Staff is scheduled to return to being physically present at City Hall by June 15th. If/when direction from Olympia reaches dependability, Council meetings in Council Chambers will begin thereafter.

June 1, 2021

 

The Spokane Valley City Council’s first meeting in June started with a motion to adopt Resolution 21-001, implementing the City’s Housing Action Plan. In 2019 the State Legislature passed legislation requiring cities to create and adopt a Housing Action Plan (HAP) to define strategies and implementation that promote greater housing diversity and affordability for residents of all income levels.
The HAP includes four main components: 1) A Housing Needs Assessment, 2) A review of policies and regulations affecting housing development, 3) Strategies to increase housing based on needs, and 4) an Implementation Plan. In moving to create a HAP, the City hired consultants to design and develop its plan. The City’s Planning Commission on April 22nd, after conducting a public hearing, issued its findings and voted 7-0 to forward the HAP to City Council recommending approval. The motion to approve Resolution 21-001 passed unanimously.

A second motion consideration to award the bid for the Appleway Stormwater improvements Project to LaRiviere, Inc. at $1,667,086 passed unanimously. The Engineer’s estimate was $227,344 lower than the low bid. However, the increasing costs of building materials such as lumber, plastic, concrete, and asphalt not to mention the shortage of labor have contributed to the steeply rising construction costs.
The project will improve water quality to the aquifer by retrofitting existing drywells with bio-infiltration swales along Appleway Blvd from Farr Road to University Road. The project is partially funded by a Department of Ecology grant of $654,732. Most of the new swale areas will be sodded, irrigated, and adjacent to the curb providing not only improved landscaping but will provide space along the road for snow storage during plowing season. Project costs and the budget are:

Project Costs
Preliminary Engineering    $112,244
Right of Way     $65,000
Construction    $1,825,012
Total Estimated Costs     $2,002,256

Project Budget
Ecology Grant    $654,732
City Funds    $1,347,524
Total Budget    $2,002,256

The City’s lobbyists presented as recap of this year’s legislative session vis a vis the priorities it hoped to achieve. The top three were only mildly successful.

1. Pines Rail Crossing: $19.3 million funding request is awaiting an agreement on a transportation revenue package in either a special session or next year’s legislative session.

2. Fairgrounds Exhibition Center: The $4 million capital budget request garnered $750,000.

3. Washington Wildlife Recreation Program Flora Road Park acquisition: The City’s $1 million grant request to offset the cost of purchase was granted.

The City’s efforts in this area are ongoing year-round. The efforts of Senator Padden, Representative McCaslin and Representative Chase on its behalf are deeply appreciated.

The City adopted a code relating to nuisance properties in 2003 to address accumulations of trash, junk vehicles, broken machinery or equipment, zoning/building code violations, traffic obstructions, and animal keeping. In 2017, it hired a full-time Code Enforcement Officer and a part-time attorney to address 330 cases that year. A second officer was hired in 2020 when the case load increased to 647. The attorney was increased to full-time. New compliance cases in the first quarter of 2021 were addressed in the first quarter 2021.
The increasing case load together with current limitations on authority to address common complaints such as living on-street in recreational vehicles and abandoned shopping carts is giving rise to consideration of stronger measures for enforcement.
State law requires periodic review of the City’s Shoreline Master Program (SMP). The SMP covers development along the Spokane River and Shelly Lake and is largely in compliance with state law. Suggested amendments are administrative, covering definitions, exemptions, and procedures to make the SMP consistent with changed state law. The Planning Commission voted 7-0 on March 25th to recommend approval. Action must be completed by June 30th.

The City has a Local Bridge Program to ensure the safety of its bridges through inspection, rehabilitation, and replacement of National Bridge Inventory (NBI) bridges. There are 16 bridges, 13 City and 3 Railroad-owned withing City limits. Routine City inspections are conducted every two years with underwater inspections every five years. Railroad inspections are done every five years. Inspections include evaluating stability, maintenance needs, deck repair, crack sealing, and eliminating graffiti. Bridges generally don’t score well for grant requests, so the City’s budget for bridge maintenance comes largely from budgeted funds.

COVID has greatly impacted the City’s aquatic program at its parks. State government prohibitions and restrictions on gatherings together with the extreme difficulty in hiring qualified personnel has placed the aquatic program on a rotating schedule with two-week rotations between pools for swim lessons, water exercise, and open swim lessons. Visit the City’s website www.spokanevalley.org for updates to that schedule.

City Hall currently remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org. Staff is scheduled to return to being physically present at City Hall by June 15th. If/when direction from Olympia reaches dependability, Council meetings in Council Chambers will begin thereafter.

May 25, 2021

 

Spokane Valley City Council opened its last meeting in May by taking action on the Second Reading of Ordinance No. 21-005. In March of this year, the City initiated an amendment to modify relevant chapters of the City’s Municipal Code updating it to accommodate several State and international codes that apply to buildings, residences, mechanical, fire, plumbing, and wildlife interface which have been amended. Those codes became effective throughout Washington State on February 1, 2021. The City’s Planning Commission took up the issue and on March 25, 2021 and voted 5-2 to recommend Council approve what is now Ordinance 21-005.

Cities and Counties are required to enforce the adopted State Building Codes pursuant to state law. Building permits issued by the City’s Permit Center on or after February 1, 2021 are being reviewed for compliance with the 2018 Energy Code. Motion to approve Ordinance 21-005 was unanimously approved.
A project to reconstruct the intersection of Argonne Road and Montgomery Avenue with concrete pavement including ADA curb ramps, signal improvements, and stormwater upgrades was presented for Council action. The project was included in the 2021-2016 Transportation Improvement Program adopted by Council on May 26, 2020. The project will be funded with Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) and Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) grants together with City funds.

Project Costs
Preliminary Engineering    $267,000
Construction     $2,859,987
Total Estimated Costs     $3,126,987

Project Budget
City Funds    $967,244
TIB Grant    $1,858,810
DOE Grant    $300,933
Total Budget    $3,126,987


The project was advertised for bid on April 30, 2021, with the City receiving two bids. The Engineer’s estimate for the intersection replacement was $2,588,587.90. The lowest bid was from Corridor Contractors at $2,388,970.90. The motion to award the construction contract to Corridor Contractors was approved unanimously.

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued a call for projects in April 2021 under the RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grant program. That program was formerly the BUILD program with a succession of other acronyms preceding it. The completion of funding for the Barker Road/BNSF rail crossing was accomplished under such a grant, the TIGER grant.

The City has two projects that qualify under the RAISE grant criteria: The Pines Road/BNSF Rail Crossing and the Bigelow-Sullivan Corridor Project. Both projects have been submitted for grants through other programs, so staff recommended that the Pines/BNSF Project be submitted for this new RAISE round of applications in the amount of $16,239,622 or 67% of the total anticipated funding needs.

The City having already committed $4,695,417 of its own funds and other land acquisitions increasing that number, scores extra points on the eligibility scale. A motion to authorize the City Manager to apply for the RAISE fiscal Year 21 grant for the Pines/BNSF Rail Crossing Project passed unanimously.
The City is required by state law to update its comprehensive plan and development regulations every eight years which it did in 2016 with an additional Code Text Amendment in September 2020 addressing annexation. During the updating process, it was identified that the stated goals for development weren’t being met. The City hired a consultant to ascertain 1) The Problem, and 2) Possible Solutions.

The first problem was limited new industrial development because of restrictive and conflicting industrial zoning. That problem was addressed by consolidating light and heavy zones into a single zone allowing a broader array of industrial uses. That consolidation has proved to be a critical element in the progress the City has made in developing its Northeast Industrial Area (NIA).

The next barrier was the ability to deliver streets, water, and sewer to the NIA. Working with Spokane County and Consolidated Irrigation District, the City was able to extend those services to the NIA. In addition, the City adopted a Planned Action Ordinance (PAO) for the NIA. The PAO provides predictability, streamlining, and time savings in permitting and compliance for new projects. The result is there are very few vacant parcels remaining in the NIA. However, this highlights the necessity for adding more land for industrial development. To accomplish the addition of more industrial land, a modification to the state’s UGA (Urban Growth Area) regulations will be necessary.

A late amendment to the agenda brought a discussion on re-opening City Hall and Council Chambers to open meetings with Council present and citizens able to comment in person or via ZOOM although however the citizen chooses to participate. The rules emanating from Olympia are confusing, so Council agreed to defer open public meetings until June 30. The scheduled June 15 Budget Workshop will be in Council chambers with the public able to participate via ZOOM. City Hall will be closed on Memorial Day, May 31. There will be a Council meeting on June 1.

Staff is scheduled to be physically present at City Hall by the 15th of June. But City Hall will be closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

May 17, 2021

 


This Study Session of Spokane Valley City Council started with a public hearing on the proposed 2021 Budget Amendment (Ordinance 21-006). The hearing was followed by the First Reading of Ordinance 21-006, amending the City’s 2021 budget.

Since the adoption of the City’s 2021 Budget last December, several events have necessitated a 2021 Budget Amendment. An increase in sales tax revenues increases recurring revenues by nearly $3.1 million. Additional expenses increase total recurring expenditures by $12,769,313. This amendment will affect 5 funds resulting in a total revenue increase of $15,002,274 and an expenditure increase of $15,216,330. The amendment includes the addition of the new position of GIS Analyst.

Motion to move Ordinance 21-006 to a Second Reading passed unanimously.

Central Valley School District owns 17.7 acres at the corner of 44th Avenue and Bates Road which it finds surplus to its needs and intends to sell. The City is interested in purchasing the property for parkland. The property is appraised at $1,575,000. Fire District #8 which serves the southern portion of the City is interested in purchasing 3-4 acres of that property to replace its aging station near there. The City would sell that amount to Fire District #8 upon completion of its purchase. The motion to authorize the City Manager to complete the purchase passed unanimously.

The City, in affiliation with other regional entities, participates in the operation of Centennial Trail. Recently, the County offered to sell a parcel at North Flora Road and East Montgomery Avenue to the City that would also comprise an integral part of City plans for a Loop Trail and that would connect with Centennial Trail. The parcel’s area is 19,690 square feet, with an appraised price of $286,000. Move to authorize completion of purchasing the property passed unanimously.

Evergreen Road between Sprague and Broadway Avenues is due, under the City’s Six Year Transportation Improvement Plan, to undergo a grind and overlay resurfacing together with installation of ADA curb ramps, pavement repairs, laying of ITS conduit and signal upgrades at the Broadway intersection. Estimated project costs are $1,900,000 funded entirely from City finances. Bids were opened on May 14th but were not available for entry into Council information packets at publication. Since construction time is limited, the motion was to award the contract to Selland Construction, the lowest bidder at $1,607,864 at this meeting. Motion passed unanimously. Each year, as required by state law, the City reviews its Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) with an eye to adding projects that address the transportation needs of the City. The list includes projects that are intended to be implemented in the next six years, progress on those already on the list, and eliminating those completed. When adopted, the TIP is submitted to the Washington State Department of Transportation by June 30th of each year.

This year’s list includes 9-‘2022 Closeout Projects’, 5 Bridge & Grade Separation Projects, 15 Intersection Improvement Projects, 27 Reconstruction/Preservation Projects, 4 Citywide Projects and 4 Sidewalk, Trail, and Stormwater Projects for a total of 64 projects scheduled to be addressed over the next six years. For a complete listing of the projects please visit www.spokanevalley.org and look for the May 17 Council Agenda. A Public Hearing on this TIP is scheduled for June 8th followed by a Council resolution to adopt the TIP.
In 2019 the State Legislature passed legislation requiring cities to create and adopt a Housing Action Plan (HAP) to define strategies and implementation that promote greater housing diversity and affordability for residents of all income levels. The HAP includes four main components: 1) A Housing Needs Assessment, 2) A review of policies and regulations affecting housing development, 3) Strategies to increase housing based on needs, and 4) an Implementation Plan. In choosing to create a HAP, the City hired consultants to design and develop the plan. The City’s Planning Commission on April 22nd, after conducting a public hearing, issued its findings. Council, on June 1st, will entertain a motion consideration to adopt the HAP.

On March 22, 2021, the City moved into Phase III on the Governor’s Roadmap to Recovery. At CenterPlace, Phase III allows up to 50% of fire capacity of a meeting room, a maximum 200 attendees at a Greatroom event, 10 people to a table, with food buffets and service permitted. Outdoor events can be much more relaxed. While CenterPlace still remains closed to the general public, a range of activities within the Governor’s guidelines are taking place with reservations and special event applications. More information will become available as mandates are lifted or call 509.750.5200 for details.

City Hall currently remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org. However, staff will be returning to be physically present at City Hall by June 15th. If/when direction from Olympia reaches dependability, Council meetings in Council Chambers will begin thereafter.

 

May 11, 2021

 

 

This formal meeting of Spokane Valley City Council opened with two proclamations: 1) Recognizing May as Older Americans’ Month, and 2) Recognizing May as AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Month including the June 12th Heritage Day celebration at CenterPlace’s West Lawn Plaza.

The City initiated an amendment to modify relevant chapters of the City’s Municipal Code updating it to accommodate several State and international codes which have undergone amendments. Those codes became effective throughout Washington State on February 1, 2021. The City’s Planning Commission took up the issue and on March 25, 2021, voted 5-2 to recommend Council approve what is now Ordinance 21-005.

Cities and Counties are required to enforce the adopted State Building Codes pursuant to state law. Building permits issued by the City’s Permit Center on or after February 1st, 2021 are being reviewed for compliance with the 2018 Energy Code. Motion to move Ordinance 21-005 to a Second Reading was unanimously approved.

SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Planning Council) is the region’s conduit for state and federal funding. Changes to state law in 2019 require that tribes have voting rights on the Council, which until then they did not. After analysis of the interlocal agreement among the various SRTC participants, they concluded it was necessary to rewrite the agreement to 1) include the tribes to comply with the newly enacted state law, and 2) add one additional voting representative for Spokane Valley since it recently crossed the 100,000-population requirement for a second Council member. Motion to approve the proposed SRTC interlocal agreement passed unanimously.
The prospective new owners of Splashdown have requested suspension of lease payments for 2021 like the one agreed to in 2020 because of the uncertainty of their ability to open this season and the considerable costs of refurbishing to re-open if they were subjected to a “false start.” The City considers having Splash-Down in place and under contract as an advantage for summertime activity. The proposed amended agreement will postpone payments for this year and extend the term of the contract through 2025. Motion to approve the amended lease passed unanimously.


In 2012, the City entered an interlocal agreement with the County to provide Emergency Management Services. Those services include administration and coordination of emergency programs to preserve life in the event of a catastrophic event. The County has presented a new interlocal agreement updating the terms of service, participation, program administration, and optional services. The revised agreement includes a three-year term with one three-year renewal. A motion to authorize the City Manager to finalize and execute the Interlocal Agreement for Emergency Management Services was approved unanimously.

Spokane Valley Police have in the past up to 2008 assigned personnel to field a bicycle patrol. Manpower issues have limited that capability, with periodic patrols now conducted by SCOPE volunteers. Bicycle patrols provide the ability for increased visibility in hard to patrol areas such as Appleway Trail, Centennial Trail, Balfour Park, and Sullivan Park. Bicycle patrol capability also increased police interaction and engagement for special events such as Valleyfest and large group gatherings.

Each year as the City begins to prepare its budget for the ensuing year, Council has an initial opportunity to discuss the Potential and Pending Projects worksheet to prioritize how money in its Capital Reserve account should be allocated.

New sources of funds in 2021 include:

    Transfer from the City General Fund    $11,126,343
    Interest Earnings    $16,700
    State Funds for Flora River Trail Property    $977,764
    Total added    $12,120,807
    Less: Funds allocated previously     $1,851,716
    Total Remaining for allocation    $10,269,091

Potential Projects for discussion include park land acquisition, improvements to Balfour Park, Barker Corridor improvements, Sullivan and Trent interchange, City Hall repairs, Fairgrounds building project, and design for the proposed River Trail. Obviously missing is the Pines Road Rail Crossing project as the City pursues outside grant funding for the remainder needed for completion.

City Hall currently remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.  However, staff will be returning to be physically present at City Hall by the 15th of June. If/when direction from Olympia reaches dependability, Council meetings in Council Chambers will commence as quickly thereafter as possible.

May 4, 2021

 

 

This Council Study Session led off with a Motion Consideration to authorize a City application for a Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) grant. The Commission has $564,000 available for projects that benefit school zone safety. A staff evaluation has identified three projects, all School Zone Flashing Beacons, at 1) Horizon Middle School, 3915 S. Pines Road; 2) Continuous Curriculum School, 16924 E. Wellesley Avenue; and 3) City School, 8920 E. Valleyway Avenue. The total project cost is $60,000 with the grant request at $51,000 and a City match of $9,000. The motion was unanimously approved.
 In a proposed amendment to the City’s 2017 Interlocal Agreement for Law Enforcement Services, the Tactical Unit (TAC) was re-established after being inactive. The purpose of TAC is to provide specialized law enforcement response to civil disturbances and crowd control incidents. Additional changes addressed services provided by the Sheriff, Dedicated City Officers, and Combined number of Officers in Shared Units. The changes were made after an ongoing review and consolidation in the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications agreement. Motion to approve the Addendum to the City’s Interlocal Agreement for Law Enforcement Services passed unanimously.

 The original construction agreement for the Barker Road/BNSF rail crossing approved by Council on March 31, 2020 called for the relocation of Avista equipment in order to construct the crossing. Avista completed the work, but in the process, incurred expenses above the initial estimate due to the need for larger transmission structures than originally included in the estimated costs. The result increased the estimate by $161,914.59, bringing the total cost of the move to $910,907.22. The City is responsible for paying the additional cost. Motion to authorize the City Manager to pay the bill passed unanimously.
 The Appleway Stormwater Improvement Project, slated for completion later this year, calls for the extension of Appleway Trail west from University Road to Farr Road. The Trail’s Master Plan also looks to possibly extend the Trail westward to the Dishman Hills Natural Area. To do this, two parcels owned by the County are critical for providing stormwater management facilities and trail segments. The County intends to sell the properties for $42,000. A motion to approve purchase of the two parcels was unanimously approved. The City, in concert with other regional entities, participates in the operation of Centennial Trail. Recently, the County offered to sell the City a parcel of 19,690 square feet, at North Flora Road and East Montgomery Avenue, that would comprise an integral part of City plans for its planned Loop Trail and connection with Centennial Trail. The appraised price is $286,000. No action was taken.

 Since 2015, the City has maintained a contract with the County for operation of its Geographic Information System (GIS). The operator is a County employee housed at City Hall. As the City grows, it has become apparent that this service and the person conducting it should be under the direct control of the City. In further analysis, there would be a cost saving of nearly $27,000 to hire a person for the job plus the ability of that employee to be an integral part of the City’s Business Development Team. Consensus was reached to move forward with the transition from County to in-house. In 2012, the City entered an interlocal agreement with the County to provide Emergency Management Services. Those services include administration and coordination of emergency programs to preserve life in the event of a catastrophic event. The County has presented a new interlocal agreement which includes a three-year term with one three-year renewal. Consensus was reached to proceed to a Motion Consideration and further discussion at Council’s May 11th meeting.

 Since the adoption of the City’s 2021 Budget last December, several events have necessitated a 2021 Budget Amendment. The amendment will affect 6 funds resulting in total revenue increases of $15,002,274 and expenditure increases of $13,316,330. The amendment also includes adding the new position of GIS Analyst. Approval requires a public hearing on May 18th with final approval on May 25th.

 SRTC (Spokane Regional Transportation Planning Council) is the region’s conduit for state and federal funding. Changes to state law in 2019 require that tribes have voting rights, which until then they did not. After analysis of the interlocal agreement binding SRTC participants, it was decided to rewrite the agreement to 1) include the tribes, and 2) add one additional representative for Spokane Valley since it has now crossed the 100,000- population requirement for a second council member. Consensus was reached to place these changes on a future agenda.

 Central Valley School District is the owner of 17.7 acres at the corner of 44th Avenue and Bates Road which it intends to sell. The City is interested in purchasing the property, appraised at $1,575,000, for parkland. Fire District #8 is also interested in purchasing 3-4 acres of this property to replace its aging station near there. Consensus was reached to place a motion consideration on a future agenda.

 The prospective new owners of Splashdown have requested suspension of lease payments for 2021 like the ones agreed to in 2020 because of the uncertainty of their ability to open this season and the considerable costs of refurbishing to re-open if they were subjected to a “false start.” Consensus was reached to place the issue on a future agenda for motion consideration. The City’s Parks Department would like to proceed with a modified aquatics program at City pools this summer. The suggested program would comply with the Governor’s mandates for safety while offering much-needed avenues for activities for children. Council reached consensus to proceed to a June 1st date for program review prior to approval.

 City Hall remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

April 27, 2021

Opening with the single legislative item on its agenda, Council considered an application suggested by staff to pursue an opportunity to secure a grant made available through Spokane Transit Authority. The funds are intended for capital and operating expenses that benefit seniors and individuals with disabilities.

The project proposed for application is a pedestrian crossing at Sprague Avenue and Dartmouth Road to access Balfour Park and a proposed library. The project calls for a pedestrian beacon and improvements at that intersection. Total cost of the project is estimated to be $475,000. The grant application would be for $225,000. The City’s matching share would be $250,000. Council unanimously approved the grant application.

The Spokane Regional Law and Justice Council (SRLJC) was formed under state law to act as a conduit of information for interaction between the local jail and the state prison system. The objective was to facilitate a smooth transition between the two entities. The council membership was to have a minimum of 13 members, mandated by statute, but more members could be added. The Council currently has 25.

The size of SRLJC appears to be a factor in its not meeting the intended goal in its formation. Thus, a recommendation by Spokane County Prosecutor, Larry Haskell, for the reformation of SRLJC to reorient it and reduce its size has been a point of spirited discussion. Haskell’s recommendation was prompted by a study made by Spokane County’s Criminal Justice Council, composed of three system professionals that recommended the reorganization and size reduction.

Various entities feel they will have a reduced voice in the commission’s functioning while others are working to reduce the size to make the council more functional and efficient in its mission and aligning it more closely with the state’s enabling statute. Currently, the City’s Police Chief represents the City while the City Attorney represents small cities on the SRLJC. This evening’s briefing was in preparation for the possibility that Council may have to take action on a future proposal.
CTA-2020-0004 is a City-initiated Code test amendment (CTA) to modify relevant chapters of the City’s Municipal Code to update it to accommodate several State and international codes which have undergone amendments. Those codes became effective throughout Washington State on February 1, 2021. The City’s Planning Commission took up the issue and on March 25, 2021, voted 5-2 to recommend Council approve CTA-2020-0004. Council reached consensus to move CTA-2020-0004 to a First Reading.

The 2018 Edition of the Washington State Energy Code became effective on February 1, 2021. Cities and Counties are required to enforce the adopted State Building Codes pursuant to state law. Building permits issued by the City’s Permit Center on or after February 1st 2021 are being reviewed for compliance with the 2018 Energy Code.

The dates may seem confusing because they are updated in a more current fashion. However, the 2018 edition was delayed by a discussion on the energy section then further delayed by COVID. All participants, i.e., developers, etc. who are affected have been notified. The Spokane Home Builders Association estimates the new code provisions have increased the cost of a typical single-family home in the Spokane area by $20,000. Approximately $14,000 of that cost is related to equipment, labor, and overhead.

The City’s current contract with Spokane County for providing law enforcement services runs through December 31, 2022. In the time since its inception, law enforcement services have evolved which require contract modifications. Proposed changes include:

1. A new tactical unit to provide specialized response to civil disturbances and crowd control incidents.
2. After review, revisions to the services provided by the Sheriff, dedicated of ficers, and the combined number of officers in shared units.

Those proposed modifications will reflect services which have been consolidated into the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications umbrella. Council reached consensus to move the proposal to a Motion Consideration.

The City’s Sullivan Park, on the west side of Sullivan Road, north of the Spokane River is currently using an under-performing well for its water needs. When the Sullivan Bridge was constructed in 2016, the plan was for a water main to go under the bridge, but the line extended into another water district’s area, so the new water main wasn’t constructed. In 2020, the City requested financial help through our Fourth District Legislators who were able to secure $130,000 for the water line. The total project is estimated to cost $538,000 and is planned to be funded by the State grant, $130,000, and obligated City Funds, $152,858, leaving a $255,142 shortfall which will be provided by the City and recouped from future added users.  City Hall remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

April 20, 2021

This Study Session of Spokane Valley City Council was held via ZOOM because even though the City is in Phase III which ostensibly permits meetings to be held in Council Chambers, City government chooses to not push that envelope.

The agenda for the meeting opened with a Motion Consideration to award a contract for frontage work on Balfour Park in conjunction with the anticipated Library to be constructed there in 2022. 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.

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. On February 2nd Council approved amendments to the interlocal agreement with the Library District to accommodate its changed plan for financing. According to that interlocal agreement, the City is responsible for constructing the frontage improvements adjacent to the Library. The list of improvements includes pavement widening and curbs, grinding and overlaying those streets with sidewalks to be installed when the Library is developed.

The total project cost is estimated to be $1,036,215. The City’s Engineer’s Estimate for the construction portion was $682,340.50. Five bids were received with the low bid of $617,770 submitted by Selland Construction, Inc. The total cost will be paid from City funds. Motion to award the bid was unanimously approved.

Second Harvest and Valley Partners jointly presented a synopsis of the ongoing need for food. As Cal Coblenz and Jason Clark highlighted, it took 10 years to recover food stocks and distribution from the 2008 recession. The need for food and life maintenance donations continues to rise. From January 1-December 31, 2019 these agencies had 141 Mobile Markets available to meet food distribution needs. From January 1-December 31, 2020 there were 453 Mobile Markets necessary to meet those needs.

In the 2020 calendar year, working through multiple partners, these agencies distributed more than 53.9 million pounds of food, a 58% increase over the 2019 total of 33.6 million pounds. That equates to more than 44 million meals compared to just over 28 million meals in 2019. And the need continues to increase. Special recognition was given to the Washington State National Guard who has had a deployment of between 40 to 150 troops to assist during its 11-month food security mission.

The contract the City of Spokane Valley maintains with Spokane County for Public Safety contains more services than just Law Enforcement, although that is far and away the largest financial segment of the contract. In addition to Law Enforcement, the Public Safety contract covers: Detention Services (Jail), District Court where the City’s cases are heard/tried, Public Defender which covers the City’s legal obligation to provide defense for those unable to afford their own legal services, Prosecutor for those cases involving higher crimes including felonies, Pretrial for those awaiting trial, Emergency Management for the City’s share of emergency services in which it participates, Animal Control to cover the City’s share of SCRAPS expenses for its participation in the County interlocal agreement covering animals, and Probation which covers the City’s costs for probation services of its convicted citizens. The 2021 Budgeted Costs for these services are:

    Animal Control    $350,000
    Detention Services    $1,500,000
    District Court    $925,000
    Emergency Services    $100,000
    Law Enforcement    $23,072,000
    Pre-Trial    $120,000
    Prosecutor    $450,000
    Public Defender    $750,000
    Total    Budgeted $27,267,000

The Public Safety Budget comprises 62% of the City’s 2021 General Fund Recurring Expenditure Budget, as it has since the City’s inception.
City Hall remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.

 

April 13, 2021

This formal Council meeting began with a proclamation encouraging Valley citizens to refrain from acts of violence and aggression and assuring everyone that the City is welcoming and inclusive.

The Second reading of Ordinance 21-004, Amending the City’s ‘Camping’ Regulations was the first item of business. 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 code amendments recognize that ‘those experiencing homelessness have rights to conduct life-sustaining activities, including sleeping on certain public property when there are no available shelter beds’.
The amended ordinance adds areas where “camping” is always prohibited:
1. Appleway Trail, Spokane Valley Precinct, and Spokane Valley street Maintenance Shop.
2. 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.
3. Public rights-of-way and City-owned real property within 30 feet of the right-of-way, and City-owned stormwater drainage facilities.
Motion to approve the proposed amended ordinance passed unanimously.

Visit Spokane, the Spokane area’s travel destination promotional organization, presented its “Hospitality Business Recovery Campaign” results. Spokane Valley is an annual contributor to Visit Spokane, and this evening’s presentation by its President and CEO, Meg Winchester, and Chief Marketing Officer Jamie Rand, was an update on the past COVID year.

From June 2020 to April 2021, Visit Spokane has spent more money advertising Spokane county than any time in the organization’s history. The $2.5 million in CARES Act funding booked over $5 million in hotel room revenue for Spokane County hotels in the worst year for hotel occupancy in recent history.
With a 2-to-1 return on our advertising, Spokane County fared better than our competitive cities with an occupancy rate double that of Seattle and a higher revenue per participant than both Portland and Seattle in 2020.

The Sheriff’s Office has, since 2015, been using the former Mountain View Middle School in East Valley as its training center. Now the Sheriff has partnered with Fairchild Air Force Base to build a permanent training center including a small arms range to provide local training in a more central location. The estimated capital costs of $36 million will be covered through Air Force resources and Spokane County real estate tax dollars.

Operational costs will be split among the facility’s users, with Spokane Valley’s estimated share to be $185,000 per year. No capital costs will be passed on to the City. This cost will be incorporated into the City’s 2022 budget. Consensus was reached to move forward with the agreement.
In June of 2017, the City entered into a five-year agreement with Spokane County for the Sheriff’s Office to provide police services. That agreement is set to expire on December 31, 2022. However, the contract automatically renews with Council authorization.

The City is preparing to once again enter into negotiations for a new agreement. Council, in the meantime, will review and discuss the Sheriff’s performance through the first three years under the existing contract. An issue that is certain to come up is the consistent failure to meet operational contractual staffing levels resulting is greater overtime, staff burnout, and thin patrol coverage. At $23,072,000, Public Safety expense represents more than 60% of the City’s operating budget.

At its meetings on February 16th and March 16th, 2021 Council discussed various parking issues. The central theme was whether parking is the sole responsibility of the Traffic Engineer (TE) or whether Council has policy authority. Actually, neither has exclusive authority. The TE collects data for analyzing traffic counts, access density, density of surrounding housing, and types of land uses in the area, then determines whether a no-parking zone should be added or removed.

After the TE has made a determination, Council can either accept that decision or not in making a final decision on whether to impose or remove a no-parking zone. In this case, the TE’s decision will be weighed differently than if considering a change in speed limit where technical considerations for traffic safety, health, and welfare interests enter into the decision.

This discussion provided a good roadmap of where and how to reach a better understanding of how regulations and policy come together in arriving at parking restrictions. Council agreed that an inventory of no parking places is needed, and the issue should be revisited in two-three months.

City Hall remains closed except by appointment. Appointments for service can be made by calling 509-720-5000 or visiting www.spokanevalley.org.
 

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