Category Archives: Featured

Why does the City of Spokane need a strategic plan? (Plus Oct. 23 and Oct. 30th Council meeting recaps)

The last 8 weeks have been the busiest in my almost 8 years on City Council. I guess it is trying to wrap up many issues, projects and policies I’ve been working on before the end of my Council term on Dec. 31st. The time is near!

Strategic Plan
One thing I am VERY proud to have been a part of over the past year is developing this City’s first Joint Mayor/Council Strategic Plan. (Yes, I’ve been known to carry copies of it in my purse and hand to folks I speak with at the grocery store). Here is a link to the Plan and a way for you to provide your input: StrategicPlan@spokanecity.org

Why should you care about (yet another) plan? Don’t we have a Comprehensive Plan that we just updated as a community? We have an amazing Comp Plan that sets out big goals and vision, but not a shorter term strategic or “action” plan that implements these ideas. I noticed this the first year after I was elected. Often times we were chasing our tail or reacting to needs rather than proactively working to develop solutions to our greatest challenges and investing in/marketing our greatest assets. Sometimes Council would be chasing an idea, sometimes the Mayor…but we weren’t always aligned. When Council and Mayor began to sit down and discuss where we had shared vision and outcomes in implementing our Comp Plan, we found a lot of commonality.

To advance greater prosperity and resiliency in our city, we need to build up on our assets and recognize where we trail behind, and then we need to work differently (regionally, across city departments, with neighborhoods and community groups and businesses) to get to the outcomes we all want and deserve — safer city, greater household income, increased connection to our city/neighbors, etc. So not only do we have to work differently (and budget differently), we need to set targets and performance measures and track our outcomes…and share this with our citizens. For me its about accountability, transparency and moving the needle. This takes focus, patience and constant communication with our community members.

So please, click on the link to see the visual document that shows the timeline and strategies and provide me your feedback. Did we miss anything? We’ve already aligned our Council committees to focus on the four goal areas. Teams are developing tactics and measures for each strategic area (if they haven’t already been identified). I’m excited to leave the Council and Mayor at the end of this year with this roadmap to guide the focus of future budgets and policy decisions.

Oct. 23rd and Oct. 30th Council Meetings
Last week, I was able to receive a scholarship to attend a truly amazing conference called Meeting of the Minds in Cleveland, OH (more to come on what I learned!). But because of this, I missed the Oct. 23rd City Council meeting. Luckily, there were few items of note on the agenda and one item did get deferred until Nov. 13th — consideration of a water intertie agreement with Medical Lake. After requests from community members for more time to review and engage on the proposed agreement, Council agreed and I have been spending significant time speaking with Spokane River stakeholders and getting their input.

This Monday, Oct. 30th, Council opened our first night of budget hearings. We heard from our Economic Development, Planning, Housing and Human Services Division. We also provided a forum to educate the community on revenue sources to the City (where does the money come from to invest in City services and how much of your property tax dollar/sales tax dollar actually goes to the City?). We kept the budget hearing open and next week we will be hearing from our Police and Fire chiefs to discuss changes for 2018 in their budgets. Council also voted 6-0 (CM Kinnear absent) to set a hearing for Nov. 20th regarding renewal of the Transportation Benefit District, which is currently funded with a $20 car tab to pay for residential street repair.

East Sprague BID and St. Paddy’s Day Merriment: Feb. 27th and March 6th City Council Recap

City Council held a fairly short meeting on Monday, February 27th. We had a long list of administrative items to approve at our 3:30pm session due to the President’s Day holiday the previous week. At our 6pm Legislative session we approved a few minor items, including the appointment of Crystal Marchand as the City’s new Budget Director. Crystal has worked hard to integrate the city’s capital and operational budgets over the past year and I look forward to working with her in this new role.

The other legislative item of note was approving the new role assessment for the East Sprague Business Improvement District (BID). The businesses last year voted to tax themselves a small amount to be used for promotions of the District (the area centered around Napa and East Sprague), clean up, safety and security. I am very impressed by how well the East Sprague Business Association (ESBA) is starting to manage the dollars and invest in the District, which will soon be undergoing a complete street rehabilitation in April of this year.

On March 6th, I was pleased to chair the City Council meeting while Council President Stuckart was on a vacation out of the country. We welcomed our Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Haran Irish Dancers to kick off St. Paddy’s week (month?) in Spokane. Our legislative agenda was very lite. One item of note was (re)creating the position of Bridge Inspector at the City. Former Streets Director, Mark Serbousek, will be filling this role and I look forward to working with him in this new capacity. Mark served previously as the Bridge inspector and brings a lot of experience to the table as we look to replace and redeck many bridges over the next 5 years.

Happy New Year!

HappyNewYear

Happy New Year! I always love the excitement and promise of a new year. So many good opportunities and adventures await. My daughters, Karolina and Nora, joined me for a little holiday trip to Spokane Transit last week. We dropped by some cards and holiday cheer. I’m excited about the opportunity to place another transit measure on the ballot in 2016. Hopeful that,as a region, we can agree on a path forward to provide better transportation opportunities for our citizens and visitors.

2015 was a year full of challenges, from bad weather to political and media firestorms. I’m thankful that, through it all, the Spokane City Council was able to get some good legislation passed for the citizens. I’m particularly proud of the work I did on updating design standards for our mixed-use neighborhoods, addressing foreclosed and abandoned properties and supporting increased transit.

I will post more soon outline the outcomes of 2015 and the goals for 2016 that I share with many of you. Top of my list is addressing quality and affordable housing options in Spokane in 2016!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Plan for a Cleaner Spokane River; 4.28.14 and 5.5.14 Council meeting Recap

HuntingtonParkOpeningLast Friday, the City celebrated the grand opening of Huntington Park and the City Hall Plaza. I got to attend with my daughter, Nora. It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful public space. Please come down and visit both the park and the plaza. We are looking for names for the Plaza…so think about a good name and send it in to the Mayor’s office!! The construction was done just in time for Bloomsday and the thousands of people who come downtown for that amazing event. Many, many thanks to Avista Utilities for the vision and resources to make this happen for our City.

Last night, I was pleased to sponsor a resolution to adopt the City’s Integrated Clean Water Plan. Council adopted the plan on a 6-0 vote. This was the end of a two year process to reevaluate and update the City’s plans to remove pollutants and toxics from the Spokane River…and it is now the beginning of a multi-year process to complete these plans. Almost 10 years ago, I started working on Spokane River cleanup issues at The Lands Council, a local environmental non-profit. I am so passionate about our River — it is an emblem of our City. It provides us, as it has native peoples for generations before us, with beauty and fish and natural resources like plants and habitat. A Clean River is an asset to our City for tourists, for those of us who live and recreate here, for those who depend on it for food and nourishment all the way to the Columbia River.

Here is a link to the more info on the City’s Plan, which is one of the first “integrated” approaches to reducing multiple types of pollutants from the River. 80% of this Plan is funded with dollars from utility ratepayers from the past and into the future. We are still working on identifying the other 20% of funds from Federal and State sources.

Last week, April 28th, we had a short Council meeting. The big news at the city was an announcement by the Mayor and Council President Stuckart that the City will be pursuing a new Streets levy and a Park Bond in November. The Park Bond will be used for capital improvements to Riverfront Park. Which improvements? We need your input. The Riverfront Park Master Planning process is complete and there is a list of projects to choose from. Look for info on public meetings and open houses coming up. A new Streets Levy would help pay down the old Streets Bond and also provide some additional funding for maintenance and streeet repaving. The proposal is that these two ballot measures would not increase the amount you are paying today for Streets and Parks through your property tax. I’ll send more info as these proposals get more developed.