The City of Spokane is committed to enhancing its neighborhoods and, to this end, has a long tradition of neighborhood-based planning. Neighborhood planning is an important tool promoting collaboration between the City and Neighborhoods to help guide the future of Spokane's neighborhoods.
On December 19th, 2011 the City Council adopted Resolution 2011-0100 (PDF 432 KB) accepting the Community Assembly Neighborhood Planning Action Committee's (CA-NPAC's) recommendations for improvements to the neighborhood planning process.
In 2001, the City of Spokane adopted its first Comprehensive Plan under the Growth Management Act. This followed several years of community outreach and planning in a process called “Spokane Horizons.” The citizen involvement throughout the city that shaped this plan was impressive. Citizens and appointed and elected officials evaluated several possible growth patterns but identified a growth pattern called Centers and Corridors as the preferred option. This option identified specific Centers and Corridors as sites for intensified commercial and residential development.
Upon adoption of the Comprehensive Plan, all the neighborhood plans adopted prior to GMA were repealed. New neighborhood planning efforts were then directed to the implementation of the Centers and Corridors concept. This began with planning for four “pilot” centers and then, with lessons learned from the pilot processes, broadened to include the rest of the city neighborhoods. Neighborhoods were required to use an established neighborhood planning process and to work with City Planning Staff to plan for their centers and corridors and other areas of their neighborhoods. In 2004, this process was cut short due to City budget constraints, but planning staff continued to work with some neighborhoods on a very limited process to determine the land uses and boundaries within the remaining centers and corridors. Again, this process ended before work could be completed in all the centers and corridors because of City budget constraints, so some centers identified in the Comprehensive Plan have yet to undergo the required public process to evaluate land use and boundary issues.
In 2007, the City Council allocated $550,000 for another opportunity to initiate neighborhood planning. The funds were divided 26 ways with each neighborhood receiving approximately $21,000 (the City has 27 neighborhood councils, but the Riverside Neighborhood Council opted out of the process). Due to the limited funds, the Community Assembly Neighborhood Planning Action Committee (CA-NPAC), worked with Planning Services and the Office of Neighborhood Services to develop an “Abbreviated Planning Process.” This process is designed as a way for neighborhoods to identify their issues and solutions and then take them to the Neighborhood Action Committee (NAC). The NAC is composed of representatives from City Departments who help the neighborhoods resolve their issues, if possible. The NAC process itself is fairly short and does not require full use of a neighborhood's planning funds, so neighborhoods can then use their remaining funds to focus on planning for a specific neighborhood plan or project.
May 21, 2009 presentation at the Neighborhoods USA Conference entitled “Then and Now: Neighborhood Planning in Spokane” (PDF 2.4 MB).
In Spokane, neighborhood planning provides an opportunity for citizens to take a proactive role in the planning process. Neighborhood residents have used this opportunity to address local issues and concerns that affect them, their families, and their neighbors.
Neighborhood planning allows citizens a chance to shape the neighborhoods where they live, work, own property, or own or manage a business. The goal of neighborhood planning is for diverse interests to come together and develop a shared vision for their neighborhood and to:
Neighborhood planning contributes to an increase in the sense of community that individual's experience. People who know their neighbors share emotional connections and experience social bonding. In short, the more neighbors interact, the more likely they are to become close to each other. People with a stronger sense of community are more likely to vote, contact their public officials, and work on public problems affecting their locality and beyond.
Neighborhood planning helps create a sense of identity through initiatives such as development of a common symbol system within a neighborhood. Neighborhood strategies also encourage the identification of unique neighborhood qualities.
Neighborhood planning increases not only the perception of safety but in fact can lead to enhanced security. If neighbors feel secure they often increase the quantity of contacts with their neighbors. For instance, neighborhood crime watch programs developed by residents, city officials, and police, often increase safety, interaction among residents, and instill a greater sense of community.
Neighborhood planning enhances the extent to which the City's Comprehensive Plan addresses specific issues related to neighborhoods. Neighborhood planning processes provide for increased public participation, neighborhood preservation and enhancement programs, and policies for neighborhood facilities and services.
Neighborhood efforts tend to be more responsive to local problems, increase commitment to the neighborhood, increase citizen participation, build leadership at the local level, improve physical conditions and public services, increase local interaction and sense of community, foster social integration, increase trust in local government, and bring about a more equitable distribution of public goods.