City Council Summary 081517



As the days of occupying the current City Hall wind down, excitement grows about the impending move to the new City Hall.  Various departments will begin an echeloned move shortly, with the entire staff completing the move into their new home by September 30th. 

You might want to put a marker in your calendar for September 30th, because that tentatively is the day scheduled for an open house at the new City Hall.  A brief dedicating ceremony will take place that morning, with an open house to follow into the afternoon.  Be watching for the formal announcement.

This past Council meeting was a Study Session commencing with a report on the recent CRAVE! NW event at Center Place.  Not only was the affair very successful, it also generated an estimated 235 hotel room nights.  Chefs from across the country, especially the northwest participated, lending an upscale theme for what is planned to be a recurring affair.  The event is already booked for July 12-18, 2018, at Center Place. 

In other business, Council voted 4-3 to move forward to a first reading with a proposal to allow farm animals in urban residential areas.  Four Council members advocated for the proposal on the basis that having farm animals in their yard was a basic property right.  Three Council members disagreed, citing the City’s inability to enforce the rules for animal keeping as well as disruptions in the neighborhoods. 

In a memo to Council, Ms. Pat Munts, Small Farms and Acreage Coordinator from the WSU Spokane County Extension office, recommended that anyone choosing to possess an animal allowed under the revised rules be required to get certified by WSU Extension to have the animal(s).  She states, “The reasoning is that a lot of the people who want these animals have little or no experience with them.  Even folks who grew up on farms don’t have the experience with dealing with the animals in the close quarters of an urban environment…….” 

In another 4-3 vote, Council moved to advance to a first reading a proposal to allow shipping containers to be used for storage buildings on residential property.  Proponents argued once again that this is a basic property right and such use is no different than if the resident purchased a prebuilt out building or caused one to be built.  Opponents cited the unsightly use in industrial sites as well as concern that such buildings would be used for residences, with the City having no ability to enforce its code.

Council also moved forward to a first reading an agreement for allocating shared costs in a contract with the County for Public Defender services.  Past allocation estimates left the City in a deficit position when the ‘settle and adjust’ computations were subsequently made of actual expenses.  This new allocation system should mitigate the cost differences generated under the old system.

Somehow the City of Spokane Valley found its way onto a Department of Justice list of cities that had declared themselves to be ‘Sanctuary Cities.”  Council authorized the Mayor to send a letter to the U.S. Attorney General advising him that Spokane Valley was not a sanctuary city.  City Resolution No. 16-001, accompanying the letter, states quite the opposite; that it is indeed NOT a sanctuary city, and further requests that Spokane Valley’s name be removed from that list.                                     

Rod Higgins