Action Needed! Submit Comments for City Comprehensive Plan Update

Tomorrow night, June 19th, the City Council will hold a hearing about the update to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This update includes the development of a project called the Ray Street Crossover. This is an auto-oriented traffic capacity project that will run traffic across the east side of Ferris High School’s campus to connect Ray and Freya and send traffic our towards the County. 

The SNC Land Use Committee have drafted these comments for submission to the City Council members ahead of tomorrow’s hearing. I encourage everyone to read them and take  few minutes to send your comments in to our City Council as well. You can reach them at the following addresses: bstuckart@spokanecity.org, lkinnear@spokanecity.org, bbeggs@spokanecity.org, awaldref@spokanecity.org, cmumm@spokanecity.org, kstratton@spokanecity.org, mfagan@spokanecity.org.

For those of you who can make it down in person, personal testimony at the hearing has a big impact Council members. The meeting is tomorrow night at 6pm at Council Chambers in City Hall.

The deletion of this project from the Comp Plan update will go a long way to maintaining the vision set forth in our neighborhood connectivity plan where we make a our neighborhood a place that encourages people to use multiple modes of transportation to move around and does not promote the development of sprawl and other features (like high-speed auto routes) that will make our neighborhood less walkable, less safe, and less livable.

P.S. – If you need something else to comment about, Spokane Rising has some thoughts about new policies in the Comp Plan update that undermine our City’s existing Complete Streets ordinance.

Public Hearing on New Freya Street Subdivision: Moran South Estates

We’ve mentioned a couple times that there is a new 13-home subdivision going in around 46th Ave. and Freya Street called Moran South Estates. This project has cleared the agency review period and the developers will be holding a hearing on the development next month.

Southgate has received a Notice of Hearing that the hearing will be Thursday, July 20th at 9:00am in the Council Briefing Center at City Hall. This is a hearing related to a “preliminary plat” which is why this isn’t happening at a convenient location or time like a community meeting.

Southgate has twice submitted comments related to this project that discuss the need to pedestrian/bike connections to the west of the proposed cul de sac per City ordinances and Comp Plan policies. Thus far these comments have not been responded to, but perhaps some added messages from the neighbors can prompt the City to respond. You can see the entire SEPA application here.

You can submit comments prior to the hearing or provide comments in person. Submit comments to Dave Compton, dcompton@spokanecity.org.

Last Chance to Comment on KXLY Development

The public comment period for the KXLY Development SEPA Application ends tomorrow, June 19th, at 5:00pm. This comment period snuck up on us since there was no notification made directly to the neighborhood via mail or to the broader public via a posted sign on the property. There was apparently a notice placed in the Spokesman Review for those that read the public notice pages.

Regardless of the lack of notification, you still have a chance to have your opinions on this project heard. We have collected all the development materials on one page for your to review. SNC also submitted comments during the agency review period that you can review as well.

Some of the main topics of concern from our comments that remain to be fully answered is the true measure of traffic impacts from this development. Aside from specifically calling out the future grocery store, the developers use the more broad development category “Shopping Center” to measure their traffic impact, but we know that there are other high impact traffic generators included in the plan such as a drive-through restaurant. This would increase their traffic impact and as a result their mitigation fee to the City.

One other area of remaining concern are the developer’s plans to manage stormwater on their site. Preliminary plans show them retaining the water in a large pond under the radio tower to the west of the development. There have been concerns about groundwater saturation from neighbors upstream of the KXLY site who already experience high water tables and occasional flooding in their neighborhoods. How will the City and developer certify that paving 80% of the project site will still allow for proper infiltration and movement of storm water for these existing residents?

Whatever your views and concerns are, I encourage you to send an email to John Halsey, jhalsey@spokanecity.org, prior to the closing of the comment period tomorrow evening.

Resurrection of the Ray Street Crossover

The City is currently updating the Comprehensive Plan through process they are calling Shaping Spokane. Chapter 4 of that update is the transportation chapter. When it was released in late February, we noticed that a particular project had re-appeared in a couple of places: The Ray Street Crossover

The latest proposed design for the Ray Street Crossover.

The crossover is a primarily auto-oriented route next to the campus of Ferris High School to speed access of vehicles from Ray Street to Freya Street and out to the Moran Prairie area.  The crossover is shown on the arterial network on the draft Arterial Plan Map (Map TR12). This project has also been added to the 2017 DRAFT Capacity Improvement Project List referenced in Chapter 4 and found in Appendix D of Volume V (pg.41) of the new Comp Plan.

The city is resurrecting this project as a way to reduce perceived vehicular congestion on Regal Street and funnel more traffic over to our neighborhood’s designated Major Arterial, Freya Street. The crossover concept isn’t new. It was last floated back in the early 2000s (and even earlier than that), but was abandoned during the Neighborhood Planning process that took place from 2007 to 2010 because data from the City could not show how this proposed crossover would improve level of service better than signalization improvements to the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya.  For this reason, and with the concurrence of the then-current Senior Traffic Planning engineer, the city-adopted Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan does not include the Ray Street Crossover (see image below).

The neighborhood arterial map from the Southgate Connectivity Plan showing no crossover, but instead suggests intersection improvements only.

Rather, the Neighborhood Plan suggests signalization improvements at the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya to better manage the flow of vehicular traffic.  This alternative reduces impacts on Ferris, on Hazel’s Creek and is undoubtedly less costly. The table below is taken from the 2017 Draft CIP List and shows the two signalized intersections are estimated to cost $500,000 where the crossover would cost $4,056,000 and still require a signal and intersection improvements at adjacent intersections.

In addition to putting back in the Comp Plan, the City recently submitted a Roadway Capacity Justification (RCJ) report to the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC) in an attempt to justify the development of the Ray Street Crossover. The RCJ report ignores the Neighborhood Plan’s recommendations, that is the signal improvements at 37th/Ray and 37th/Freya, and instead just models traffic impacts with and without the crossover.

City staff have told neighborhood representatives that they have the ability to run the transportation model in-house. We requested that this model be run and the RCJ report adjusted to reflect the neighborhood’s preferred solution. The aforementioned 2017 Draft CIP List does include signalization of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya as projects in the South region (see below).

Until this occurs, the Southgate Neighborhood requested to the Plan Commission and City Council that the proposed crossover be removed from the Arterial Map and 2017 Draft Capacity Improvement Project list until such time as sufficient studies have been done to address the improvements desired in the neighborhood plan.  This removal would support proposed TR Goal E of the updated Comprehensive Plan, “evaluate transportation projects using objective criteria to reflect community standards and desires.” (Comp Plan, 2017, pg. 4-15)

South Hill Traffic Management: Assessing the Bigger Picture

In the larger picture, the RCJ report and portions of the draft Comprehensive Plan highlight the need for a more comprehensive assessment of traffic issues on the South Hill.  The Southgate Neighborhood and South Hill Coalition have requested a that holistic Traffic Management Study and Plan be developed for the entire South Hill.  This plan could assess and provide a context for any and all arterial designations and additions on the South Hill suggested in the new Comp Plan and CIP list:

  • The Ray Street Crossover,
  • the completion of 44th between Regal Street and Crestline Street,
  • and addition of a proposed minor collector between Southeast Boulevard and Crestline Street.

It would help determine how these individual projects and designations align or do not align with the goals of the Southgate and South Hill Coalition Neighborhood Plans. It would help these or any other projects support the existing and proposed Comprehensive Plan’s call for a “Balanced Transportation Approach” that seeks to first accommodate the pedestrian and maintain or enhance the character of neighborhoods and livability for neighborhood residents.

There will be additional hearings on the Comp Plan update at City Council in the next couple of months, so the public will have a chance to comment on this proposal again. We will also keep you updated if the City provides models for the intersections improvements called for in our neighborhood plan. Our Comp Plan and Municipal Code call for balanced, multi-modal translation development in our City, this proposal is geared primarily towards auto-users and a less dramatic, fiscally reduced solution should be considered before putting this into the Comp Plan for the next 20 years.