It’s hard to believe that we had our last Council meeting of 2016 last night. The meeting lasted a bit longer than usual because we considered many small agenda items, trying to tie things up before we meet again on Monday, January 9th. I look forward to sending out an e-newsletter soon with my end of the year wrap-up!
On Monday, Dec. 12th, Council voted 7-0 to approve of using a drone for aerial photography of the Normandie Complex, which used to house City Streets and Fleet Operations for over 100 years. The City is putting out an RFP to request proposals to purchase the site and the photography from above will showcase the Complex, located between Washington St. and Division Sts, just south of Mission Ave.
Council also approved 7-0 a West Hills Neighborhood Plan for the Ft. George Wright and SFCC area. This was a collaboration between the neighborhood, developers, SFCC and Spokane Transit. You can see the plans here. I really like the vision for the future of this area — it has a lot of unmet potential!
Other unanimous votes included authorizing the Airport Board to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Felts Field, authorizing a sole source contract with a consulting company to investigate the boiler maintenance accident that occurred at the Waste to Energy Facility which injured two workers. Also, we approved the 2017 Lodging Tax allocations that were recommended by the Advisory Committee and approved the 2017 Downtown BID Management Plan and confirmed the assessments to be paid by property owners and businesses.
Whew. Did I say this was a long one?
Councilmembers also approved on a 6-1 vote (CM Mumm nay) a developer agreement that keeps the Beacon Hill project alive for another 5 years. I’m hoping to see the infrastructure improvements happen so that this workforce housing can be developed in East Hillyard.
Finally, Council had a lengthy discussion on a resolution that outlined how we would spend the dollars generated by traffic tickets in the two pilot school zone camera areas — on NW Blvd by Finch Elementary and on Nevada St by Longfellow Elementary. The revenue raised from these cameras will exceed $1M by the end of this year. Council agreed (6-1, I voted no) to allocate up to $550K of these dollars toward 4 more Neighborhood Resource Officers for the next two years with a commitment to identify other (General Fund) dollars to continue these NROs past 2018. My concern (and the concern of many neighbors whom I have spoken with) has been that this is a pilot program and we don’t know if the revenue will continue over time as people become more familiar with the cameras. Because the revenue may decline over time, the best use of these dollars is to fund capital projects that improve safety in and around schools (crosswalks, sidewalks, other safety measures)…and that is what the remainder of the revenue will be allocated to per the resolution.
Although I am supportive of how we plan to spend the dollars, I voted no on the final version of the resolution after changes were made by CM Beggs in the past week that added a commitment to plan for more cameras in two more school zones by Sept. 1, 2017. I felt that this commitment was premature because we haven’t even reviewed the data from the pilot cameras to see if they are successful in reducing speeds. My position is that we should review the data and make adjustments to the pilot areas before planning for more cameras in other school zones.