Bringing the Southgate District Center Vision into Focus

The past two months we’ve had discussions at our neighborhood council meetings about continued struggles getting the city to enforce the Spokane Municipal Code and Developer’s Agreements in the design of the Southgate District Center. At issue right now is the 18 month battle to hold substantive discussions about the Right-of-Way (ROW) designs in the developing District Center.  In January we drafted a summary of 5 major issues related to the ROW designs in the District Center and delivered it to all the members of the City Council and the City Planning Director. Last night the Southgate Neighborhood Council passed a resolution outlining the issues and their proposed steps to resolve them.

Major issues related to the ROW design include required features like on-street parking (SMC 17H.010.120(A)), something Southgate has been pushing for and asking to be addressed since August 2012. Additionally there is the issue of designing the street character to align with the requirements of the Integrated Site Plan, Spokane Comprehensive Plan, and the Southgate Neighborhood Transportation and Connectivity Plan. These include complete street features pedestrian crossings, speed limits, medians, and other traffic calming features (lane widths, street trees, bike lanes, etc.). Many of these ideas are touted as Best Practices in the recently released Link Spokane brochure.

When completed, the Southgate District Center should end up resembling Perry Street or Garland Avenue. The zoning and stipulations of the Developer’s Agreements fundamentally change the character of what Regal Street and Palouse Highway should be. This area could be Kendall Yards South instead it’s heading toward looking like East Sprague or North Division. Please take a moment to read our issue summary and resolution and then contact our elected leaders (District 2 Councilmen Jon Snyder and Mike Allen, Council President Ben Stuckart, and Mayor David Condon) and remind them of their commitment to creating a pedestrian oriented, mixed-use District Center in Southgate.

Mayor Condon is trying to brand Spokane as the “City of Choice”, right now the Planning Department is choosing to only enforce portions of the municipal code and binding Developer’s Agreements. I sure hope that was not the kind of choice the mayor was talking about.