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City Council Rejects Rezoning Approved by Planning Commission, Planning Staff

It's a tale as old as time: A plan to rezone ten acres of land in Spokane splits the public and the City Council from the opinions of the city's planning staff and Planning Commission.
December 3, 2020, 8am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The Spokane City Council rejected a proposal to rezone some 10 acres of land along South Regal Street to allow for apartment-style development due to concerns about traffic, school capacity and the land’s distance from downtown," reports Ted McDermott.

The city's Planning Commission voted to approve the rezoning in October, but community opposition was enough to sway the council away from approving the rezoning. An earlier article by McDermott noted that public comment at a February neighborhood council hearing raised a number of concerns about the project, "including its potential to increase congestion in the area, its effect on school overcrowding and the inclusion of low-income units."

The question of whether the rezoning fit with previously approved plans in the city was subject of debate leading up to the vote. "[O]ne naysayer, Clifford Winger, penned a dissenting opinion that the 'project conflicts with good city planning goals' included in the state’s Growth Management Act. Namely, Winger wrote, the addition of 'high density housing in this most southerly area” of the city “creates population sprawl," according to McDermott in that earlier article.

McDermott writes the counterargument made by planning staff and the city's planning commission n that same article:

But a staff report prepared as part of the proposed amendment to the city of Spokane’s Comprehensive Plan argues that the project fit in with that plan’s emphasis on focusing growth on “centers and corridors.”

Two of the official District Centers included in that plan – one known as the Southgate District Center, which includes several properties near the intersection of Regal Street and Palouse Highway, and another just south on Regal at 57th Avenue – lie on either side of the land set to be rezoned.

The more recent article, linked below, provides soundbites for insight into the political debate that preceded the council's no vote on the rezoning. Council President Breean Beggs sums up the conflict inherent in the decision by saying that the city desperately needs new housing: "but we need to put it closer to the downtown core and redevelop neighborhoods and put density in there, so that we don’t have to drive people miles and miles over roads that don’t have capacity and schools that are bursting at the seams."

Full Story:
Published on Monday, November 30, 2020 in The Spokesman-Review
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