Breean Beggs, City Council President, No Phone Number Available
Friday, February 24, 2023 at 1:29 p.m.
2022 was a year of progress and looking forward to 2023 Spokane will see even more progress. City Council worked very hard on and was successful in accelerating Spokane’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. We spent the year getting people back to work, housed and providing tens of millions of dollars in direct community support. It worked, and Spokane is stronger and more vibrant than it has been in over a hundred years. Council looks forward to continuing the momentum and celebrating all the amazing people, communities and businesses that make Spokane the most exciting City in Eastern Washington and a leader for the entire Northwest.
In 2022, Council made significant progress approving and distributing allocations of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, which now totals $78.5 million of relief to our community. Those dollars went to restore, replenish, and add relief for small businesses, not for profit organizations, capital expenditures for affordable housing, emergency vehicles, community centers, funding for higher education, neighborhood business district support, cultural events, childcare, and supporting the arts.
More information can be found on the City of Spokane’s ARPA page.
With the assistance of City staff, Council President Beggs and Mayor Woodward created a detailed plan for the State of Washington to rehouse the over 630 residents at Camp Hope and permanently close the camp. The census count in the camp is now down to only around one hundred individuals and it will soon be down to zero as the Washington State Department of Commerce executes the City’s plan with extraordinary funding provided by the State Legislature.
Historically, Spokane residents average 97% more water usage than the rest of the country during summer months. In response to this significant finding, Council passed a water conservation ordinance that focuses watering outdoor vegetation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. between June 1 – October 1 and watering outdoor vegetation on each parcel for four days per week. This will help maintain critical water levels for our beloved Spokane River during its lowest flows of the summer and minimize future rate hikes for customers.
In the midst of a historic homelessness crisis, Council took action to mitigate the increasing number of houseless residents exposed to extreme weather by approving the opening of the Trent Resource and Assistance Center (TRAC) last September. TRAC provides a temporary housing solution with meals and services to get guests into permanent housing and regularly serves over 300 individuals per night, especially during extreme heat, cold and smoke events.
City Council districts are re-drawn every ten years based on census data. In 2022, a Redistricting Board made up of three community members with two Council Members serving as liaison members convened to provide Council with recommendations on a new district map. The result was a map that keeps neighborhoods together rather than splitting them between multiple districts.
City Council passed new laws and provided substantial new funding for affordable housing in Spokane. Spokane now allows multiple smaller housing units on every residential parcel within the City and has funded mortgage assistance for first time homebuyers using ARPA funding. This has already begun to grow the housing supply and is making it easier for homebuyers to purchase homes.
In the community, Council’s Initiative Managers stood up subcommittees, workgroups and community engagement programs to bring together neighborhoods and residents in conversation to better our communities in the area of traffic, environment and equity.
The goal of traffic calming is to make neighborhoods more livable and safer for all users. The program began in 2010 with funding from Photo Red Light and School Speed Radar tickets; all ticket monies go directly to the Traffic Calming program. In 2022 the program grew to several million dollars of neighborhood council directed projects each year and a new four-year master project list. Council also persuaded the State Legislature to provide Spokane with authority to better protect pedestrians near parks and hospitals with speed radar enforcement cameras, which will generate even more funding for neighborhood safety.
The purpose of the Equity Subcommittee is to:
In 2023 the Equity Subcommittee is working with Council and the Human Rights Commission to explore a new campaign entitled, “In Spokane we all belong,” in order to promote the experience of inclusion for all community members in Spokane.
The Environmental Justice and Equity Workgroup (EJEW) is a program of Spokane City Council’s Sustainability Action Subcommittee. The purpose of the EJEW is to partner with residents and community-based organizations to ensure a sustainable and healthy future for Spokane.
When Spokane leads, Washington State often follows. First up in 2023 is the City Council’s lobbying efforts at the State Legislature. We are pushing for the State to adopt Spokane’s affordable housing policies state-wide so that our entire region will have more affordable housing, which will give our residents more choices and reduce homelessness. We are also leading the charge to get the North South Freeway completed on time and finish the evolution of policing reforms started at the Legislature in 2021 so that officers and the residents all feel safer. Additional City Legislative priorities include:
The Council is completing a four-year project to improve the quality of rental housing and support quality landlords and tenants in a more sustainable financial relationship. If approved, new funding will pay for better housing inspections, damage suffered to property and relocation costs when a property becomes uninhabitable.
The Council is finishing up its twenty-year water facilities plan, including studying the potential fluoridation of water to increase the life expectancy of lower income families In Spokane. This is a highly technical exercise, but the outcome will determine how affordable our water rates are far into the future as well as the overall environmental, economic and public health of the community.
The Council is finishing up a feasibility plan for purchasing a new campus for courts, police and City services on East Sprague that will finally provide easier access and parking for community members along with the space to operate the many successful programs that are supporting people in escaping the criminal justice system into more productive lives.
This is just a snapshot of some of the things that I hope we will achieve in 2023 and I look forward to a productive year with my fellow City Council Members and the Mayor’s team. There is much work to be done to make sure that Spokane continues down the road to become a City where we truly all belong.