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.
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. Upon adoption of the Comprehensive Plan, all the neighborhood plans adopted prior to GMA were repealed. In 2007, the City Council allocated $550,000 for another opportunity to initiate neighborhood planning. The funds were divided equally so each neighborhood received approximately $21,000. Two neighborhoods split in 2015 and 2016, and additional funds were allocated for each new neighborhood. This brings the current total to 29 neighborhood councils (the Riverside Neighborhood Council opted out of the process.)
On December 19th, 2011 the City Council adopted Resolution 2011-0100 accepting the Community Assembly Neighborhood Planning Action Committee's (CA-NPAC's) recommendations for improvements to the neighborhood planning process. Due to the limited funds, 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 neighborhoods can use their remaining funds to focus on planning for a specific neighborhood plan or project.
The Comprehensive Plan Chapter 11 Neighborhoods (Section N 8) calls for neighborhood planning to be representative, collaborative, and all-inclusive through a process that ensures a sense of identity and belonging, maintains the integrity of neighborhoods, implements the comprehensive plan, and empowers neighborhoods in their decision making. The City, neighborhood councils, and consultants must work together to ensure the process done through cooperation and contributions of all interested parties, including institutions, organizations, and individuals of all ages, whether resident, property owner, business owner, or employee.
In the neighborhood planning process, the neighborhood council must work to identify a broad range of citizens for a stakeholder team—not be limited to only members of neighborhood council. Neighborhood demographics should be considered and reflected in the team’s composition. Ideally the stakeholder team should be 15-20 people, though broad representation is not determined solely on numbers; the primary goal is to be inclusive and representative. Several factors, taken together, define inclusiveness, including: stakeholders, incomes, occupation, location, interests, race, ethnicity, gender, age, culture. The outcome should be to provide opportunity for all citizens to express views, concerns, values, and priorities. Sufficient resources will be used in the process to allow accessible, full and fair participation by citizens, making special efforts to accommodate participation by everyone.
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 / 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 individuals 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.
Maren Murphy, Associate Planner
Neighborhood and Planning Services