Traffic-calming projects approved; State of the City: 2.6.17 and 2.13.17 Council Meetings Recap

After a long meeting on January 30th, City Council settled in for a few shorter meetings on Feb. 6th and Feb. 13th.

On February 6th, Council voted 7-0 to approve several traffic calming projects to be built in 2017. These projects range from adding new sidewalks near schools, to traffic speed feedback signs near parks. Council also approved a resolution (7-0) in favor of recognizing the Lincoln Heights District Center Master Plan. This has been a plan two years in the making, with the input of many property owners, neighbors and stakeholders aiming to create a more connected and safe district where people and businesses can thrive. Read more about the Master Plan here.

On February 13th, Council was visited by Mayor Condon for his annual State of the City Address. The Mayor presented accomplishments from 2016 and presented some of the draft strategic planning ideas that Council and Mayor have been working on jointly over the past 5 months. I’m looking forward to getting your input on these draft strategies to support economic growth and increased quality of life in Spokane…stay tuned for ways you can get involved in March! You can read more about Mayor’s State of the City and the strategic planning for the future here.

Standing room-only to discuss religious registry and East Central CC contract: 1.30.17 Council meeting recap

I’ve been a bit behind in my blog posts this year. So many national issues swirling, plus the WA State legislature in session and a great trip to St. Louis for the Smart Growth Conference last week. Here’s my recap.

It was standing room only at the January 30th Council meeting. Most folks were there to weigh in a resolution introduced by CP Ben Stuckart stating the city’s opposition to a religious registry; that is, a way to track people based on religion. This idea was promulgated by President Trump when he was on the campaign trail last year. While this had not yet been acted on by the President, the 7-country travel ban and ban on refugees entering the country that was issued on Friday the 27th had everyone on edge and concerned about targeting individuals based on religion. (This ban has since been put on hold in the courts).

I have never seen so many people turn out to a Council meeting in my seven years. It was an incredible showing of people eager to share their concerns, their desire to protect fellow citizens and ensure discrimination has no place in our city. After hours of testimony, Council voted 7-0 in favor of the resolution and Mayor Condon has since signed the resolution.

It is very important to listen to the pulse of our community and it was important for me to be on the record and send a message as the City of Spokane to the region/country. I thanked the people who took hours of their time to come down and share their thoughts and asked them to come back — to come back and help us address other issues of discrimination in housing in our community and to defend basic human rights for all those who live and work in Spokane. Taking care of our own means caring for all people in our community and those who desire to enrich our community, including refugees, immigrants, people of many backgrounds, faiths and colors. I would urge you to read my Facebook post from June 16, 2016 where I describe the deep joy and excitement of refugees from Eritrea becoming citizens of Spokane. I don’t know if I would have the courage and fortitude to survive war, genocide and persecution for years and then come to an entirely new country where I don’t speak the language and make a whole new life for myself, sometimes without my close family members. These refugees have incredible stories to share.

The other agenda item that was somewhat unplanned was something Council moved from our afternoon consent agenda — a contract extension for the East Central Community Organization (ECCO) to continue running the East Central Community Center. A panel of community members recommended that we put out a request for proposals for running the Center this year. There was disagreement last week on the Council about how to extend this contract. ECCO has had some challenges in meeting its contract requirements, but there was concern about future transitions and the need for stability for the staff and users of the Center. We heard some great testimony from youth, parents, School District officials and others about new life and opportunities at the Community Center. I’m excited to see that things seem to be moving in the right direction. Council voted 7-0 to extend the contract for a year, with a request for proposals to go out in the next month. I am hopeful that ECCO’s new energy and commitment to meeting the goals of the Center will help them win a new contract and contribute even more to bringing stability, a safe place, and opportunities for all people through this vital Center.

Other items on our agenda — a resolution recognizing the work of the Mayor’s Housing Quality Task Force (adopted 7-0) that I introduced. I participated in this task force for about six months last year with CM Karen Stratton. She and I are beginning to implement some of the housing policies that are recommended in the final report.

Also, the City of Spokane Federal Legislative Agenda was adopted on a 7-0 vote. I spearheaded this work to identify Federal priorities for the City and I appreciate all the excellent input from the Mayor and Councilmembers. You can find our state and federal legislative agendas here, on our Council “Items of Interest” web page.

Southwest Spokane Town Hall Meeting: 1/23/17 City Council Meeting Recap

On January 23rd, I was pleased to run the City Council meeting in the absence of Council President Stuckart, who was visiting several cities with Mayor Condon to learn more about their homeless programs.

The main focus of our meeting was to hear from neighborhood leaders in the southwest portion of our City and to find out about their successes and challenges in the past year. I was very impressed by many of the presentations and planning efforts — especially the work by Browne’s Addition to improve Cd’A Park and the plan to develop a new mixed-use center near SCC by West Hills Neighborhood in partnership with STA.

We did have one action item that was moved to the 6pm session — a six-month contract with East Central Community Organization (ECCO) to continue managing services at the East Central Community Center. The Council, after hearing testimony from members of the ECCO Board, had a split 3-3 vote, which meant we turned down the contract. Personally, I was concerned about having a contract in place so I voted to approve the contract. Other Councilmembers were worried about a six month contract and wanted a longer version. Council will need to do further homework in the next week to come to a decision on a contract to ensure vital services at the Community Center continue.

A new year for Council; U District Ped Bridge Contract: 1.9.2017 Meeting Recap

Happy New Year! I’m excited to start my 8th years as a City Councilmember from District 1. After a nice Holiday break, Council was back in session to take care of some 2017 business.

Two main items that were covered: appointing Councilmembers to Boards and Commissions (approved 7-0). This year, I am coming off the Board of Health after 7 years and handing the mantle over to CM Karen Stratton. I’m also coming off the Downtown Spokane Partnership Board to allow CM Lori Kinnear a chance to serve. I will continue to serve on the Spokane Regional Transportation Board, Spokane Transit Board, the Growth Management Steering Committee and several other commissions. I will also continue to chair the City Council’s Public Works Committee.

Council also voted to approve (6-1, Fagan against) the low-bid award of contract to Garco Construction for the U District Bike-Ped Bridge. The bid came in at $9.5M to build this Gateway Bridge, which will be a key connection within Spokane’s University District. Once completed, the bridge will allow connectivity over the BNSF railway and MLK, Jr. Way and increase the viability for business and residential development on the south side of the bridge, connecting to the medical community. The funding for this bridge has come primarily from state and federal funds.

I look forward to a productive and successful new year at the City. You can click here for more of my goals for 2017 in my e-newsletter.