Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226
Monday, January 23, 2023 at 8:13 a.m.
City Council co-sponsors of the Landlord-Tenant Ordinance 36330, scheduled for a vote on Monday, January 23, 2023, have requested a deferral until February after the city’s technology department has had a chance to repair a software glitch that is currently preventing Council from providing virtual testimony. The deferral is based on advice from City Legal which recommends high-interest issues be deferred until virtual testimony is restored. Council Members welcome further conversation and engagement from the public on this high-interest matter. In the meantime, Council expects to receive additional information from City Legal, Code Enforcement, and the Administration that was requested in early October regarding this ordinance.
“While I am disappointed in a further delay of improving rental housing in Spokane, I am confident that our IT Department will soon remedy the software issues preventing virtual public comment,’ said Council President Breean Beggs. “In the meantime, I will use this small delay to further improve the ordinance with the feedback that I am now receiving from key personnel in the Administration. The final ordinance will do an even better job of remedying substandard housing and providing accountability in the rental housing sector.”
The ordinance is designed to increase and improve the quality of rental housing inventory in Spokane, which should benefit tenants and landlords. The specific elements in the ordinance are based on over 18 months of collaborative listening sessions with tenants and landlords and a recent well-attended public town hall forum hosted by Council Members Karen Stratton and Michael Cathcart.
“I have appreciated the opportunity to work with Council Member Stratton to engage the community and find Council consensus,” said Council Member Michael Cathcart. “That effort has been positive, but it needs to continue. We owe it to our constituents to pass good policies that have been soundly considered, including our legal department’s due diligence and a solid fiscal analysis by the City’s finance team. We are not there yet with this ordinance. We need more outreach, time for staff to work, and time for Council to reach a real consensus, which may require considering multiple ordinances rather than just one. I am optimistic, but we must defer consideration until at least February 27 for that work to reasonably occur.”
The ordinance proposes amendments to the Spokane Municipal Code that require policy changes such as enhancements to Code Enforcement of habitability standards, Housing Ombuds services for tenants and landlords, Portable Background and Credit Checks, mitigation funds for landlords who rent to tenants through housing services agencies and a tenant relocation and legal services fund.
Council will vote during Monday’s 3:30 p.m. Briefing Session as to when in February the ordinance will be deferred. Due to the temporary technical issues with WebEx, there will be no virtual or call-in option for Council Members, City Staff, presenters, or members of the public at the January 23, 2023, meetings. The meetings will be streamed live on Channel 5 and online at https://my.spokanecity.org/citycable5/live/. Everyone wishing to attend these meetings must do so in person in City Council Chambers located on the lower level of City Hall at 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.