Central City Line
What it is
The Central City Line is a six-mile Bus Rapid Transit route connecting Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College by way of Downtown Spokane and the University District. It will be a modern-style electric bus providing nearly 1 million rides per year. It will feature more frequent trips and convenient elements like pre-board ticketing, level boarding and improved stations with real-time signage, wayfinding and other amenities.
The concept of the Central City Line has been in design by community partners for nearly 15 years. It has been customized for the needs of Spokane, reflecting cost-effectiveness and flexibility. It will provide earlier and later service seven days a week – making it a viable transit option in the busiest commercial corridors, especially for commuters.
High quality rapid transit systems create positive economic impacts for communities. As a first installment for the region, the Central City Line is projected to increase land and improvement values by $175 million over 20 years. Some examples of the project’s positive economic impact include increased foot traffic from higher density development, reduced travel times, and parking and traffic congestion mitigation. Additionally, the Central City Line will streamline transit in the Downtown corridor and allow for other system-wide improvements, like more transfer stations outside of the city core.
This is a critical moment for the community as it considers whether to pass a slate of operational upgrades and major capital projects for the regional transit system. The Downtown Spokane Partnership wholeheartedly supports the measure and urges downtown businesses, organizations, and supporters to endorse the measure and vote yes on Prop 1 on this November’s ballot. For the region it would fund the construction of multiple capacity-building projects to ensure the region’s transit system is ready for anticipated population growth, and for greater downtown it would result in the Central City Line (CCL), a bus rapid transit project which would connect Spokane Community College, Gonzaga, the University District, Downtown Spokane and Browne’s Addition. The CCL would significantly strengthen the connection between several of Spokane’s residential neighborhoods, major centers of higher education and the downtown core, it would amplify downtown walkability and support a denser urban core.
The completion of the CCL is the right kind of project, in the right place at the right time to make a critical difference for the region’s urban core. After over 15 years of planning and analysis, now is the right time to make this project happen.
This is our request to you: 1) support the measure 2) contribute to the Yes for Busses campaign and 3) publicize your endorsement of the measure among your friends, family and colleagues to vote Yes this November on Prop 1. Information on what passage of Proposition 1 would do for the region is available here: http://stamovingforward.com/, and information about the Yes for Buses campaign, including its endorsers, is available here: https://www.facebook.com/yesforbuses/
Some funding for the Central City Line has already been allocated. To date, STA has received $3.5 million from state and federal agencies for planning and development. In 2015, the Washington State Legislature approved $15 million for capital costs. That funding enabled the Central City Line to be in the federal pipeline for $54 million in additional capital grants. It will also require $4.1 million a year in operating costs, which is comparable to other high ridership routes throughout Spokane County. There are several options being discussed for how best to funding these ongoing operational costs.
What it is
The Sportsplex is the next big public recreation facility in downtown following on the heels of the Spokane Convention Center expansion. It is a project endorsed by the Downtown Spokane Partnership Board of directors over two years ago because of its significant projected economic and cultural impact on the downtown core and the wider community. Though the project will be sited on the northern edge of Riverfront Park, it is a separate project from the Riverfront Park redevelopment project. The facility itself is projected as including two parts; an ice-house with an NHL-sized sheet and seating for approximately 1,500, and, a multi-purpose fieldhouse featuring a 200 meter, six lane indoor hydraulic banked track, and flexible interior space that would accommodate up to 17 volleyball courts, or 10 basketball courts, or 21 wrestling mats. The expected size of the facility will come to 180,000 square feet and will serve two primary purposes; to host large tournaments which generate tourism and to serve as a practice and competition venue for local sports groups and community programming. The benefit to the downtown and wider community is enormous; as projected in an independent studies conducted by Gonzaga University and the Sports Facilities Advisory, the Sportsplex would generate an estimated $33m of revenue to the community on an annual basis. Just as the Convention Center expansion has brought larger conventions to downtown, so would the Sportsplex attract events that are just out of reach based on available facilities to come to downtown. The projected $33m additional tourism spending per year is based on projections of 18,000-23,000 additional out-of-town visitors per year, staying an additional 26,000-46,000 hotel stays per year. An additional key benefit the Sportsplex will provide is the availability of world-class facilities for local sports teams during those times when it is not in-use for major tournaments.
The DSP Board of Directors endorsed the project itself and recently endorsed legislation in Olympia that would allow the Public Facilities District to take on bonding capacity sufficient to build the Sportsplex. Staff had Board members have been in regular communication with our legislators to further the passage of the bill which has so far received bi-partisan support in the House. Its relationship to the Park project represents a major opportunity to make the most of that project as well.
Passage of current legislation in Olympia will be a critical development for the Sportplex and would allow the project to be seriously considered by County Commissioners for inclusion on a County Parks bond. That in turn would have to be passed by Spokane County voters. There are obviously a number of things that have to fall into place for this to happen and the path forward is not completely clear just yet. However, DSP staff will continue to support the project in whatever efforts are needed to further this important project for downtown and the wider region.
Riverfront Park update
What it is
In November 2014, City of Spokane voters passed by a nearly 70% margin a bond measure that allocated $6_m to the nearly complete overhaul of Riverfront Park. Since then Parks Department staff, aided by a robust public outreach program selected a landscape architecture and overall design program which will revitalize nearly every part of the Park resulting in the biggest investment in the ___ acre park since its development ahead of Expo ’74. DSP was involved in the design steering committee that devised the initial concepts leading to the successful bond measure, endorsed the measure and supported the campaign. Some specific project highlights include the development of a major regional playground on the site of a current parking lot on the North Bank, improved access to scenic vistas around the River and a completely revitalized Pavilion.
DSP staff has remained engaged with the planning process through the Design Steering Committee and will facilitate opportunities for the downtown business community to engage with Parks staff and the design team as they advance through the first round of design (focused on the North Bank, the skating ribbon, and the carrousel enclosure. The following phase includes the Pavilion. As the project nears closer to implementation, DSP staff will also look for sponsorship opportunities as a means for downtown-based and other regional companies to help the Park attain the fullest potential contained within the park designs in development right now.
The Park is in design phase 1 right now, and will move into the next phase of design in spring. Initial construction is currently projected for fall of this year. More information on this massively important project is available here.
Mandated sick time
What it is
In early 2015, the Spokane City Council established a task force of community volunteers to provide recommendations on the make-up of a mandated paid sick-leave benefit that would apply to all employers in the City of Spokane if it were adopted. The following proposed policies could make up the paid sick leave mandate:
- Sick leave accrued based on a number of hours worked.
- Accrual would result in a range of available days off starting at 24 hours (3 days), and up to 72 hours (9 days).
- Paid Time Off (PTO) in lieu of paid sick leave is okay.
- Shift swapping in lieu of PTO.
- Would be available to part time workers at the same rate of accrual as full time workers.
- No small business exemption.
In July 2015 the DSP Board of Directors voted to oppose the advancement of any legislation by City Council directing private businesses within the City to adopt specific wages and benefits.
A poll of business members showed that the majority of respondents felt they would be negatively affected by the mandate, with some expressing passage would affect their interest in keeping their business inside the City of Spokane. The DSP Board believes any mandate placed on businesses solely within the City limits would create a competitive disadvantage to those in neighboring jurisdictions.
The DSP Board encourages all companies to provide employees with benefits such as sick leave when feasible and as a part of good business practice. In addition the Board would encourage the City to consider a community education and incentives as alternatives to entice businesses to offer sick leave to employees.
In early January 2016, the Spokane City Council passed a proposal requring paid sick leave time to five days for business with more than 10 employees. Most workers in Spokane will get three or five paid sick days under legislation. The final proposal was approved 6-1. Only Councilman Mike Fagan was opposed.
Mayor Condon's veto was overrode by a Coucil vote on Janaury 25, 2016.
Under the proposed rule, employers would have to provide workers one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work until they reach 24 hours. Construction workers would be exempt from the requirement, as would those in work-study positions and seasonal and temporary employees. The leave could be used for sickness, bereavement, to take care of a sick loved one or to deal with a domestic violence situation. The policy is expected to take effect in 2017.
Sit and lie ordinance: SMC 10.10.026
What it is
In 2013 your DSP worked hard to find consensus among businesses, the City Council and civil rights attorneys to adopt reasonable and important changes to the “Sit and lie ordinance” (SMC 10.10.026). This ordinance, in partnership with increased Police presence in downtown, has led to lowered overall crime statistics in downtown Spokane, fewer large gatherings of people who intimidate customers and employees, and a decrease in aggressive negative behavior.
The DSP led by the Board of Directors remains in support of the ordinance and believes changes in SMC 10.10.026 have critically improved everyone’s downtown experience while remaining respectful to all citizen’s use of our downtown spaces.
October 2015. SMN 10.10.026 remains in its form following the 2013 approval. Downtown Ambassadors, Spokane Police, and other security agencies continue to educate about, and enforce, the ordinance as it stands.