Housing crisis

Spokane may pause growth planning cycle to focus on housing crisis | Washington

(The Center Square) — Spokane City Council is considering a one-year suspension of the annual comprehensive plan amendment cycle in 2023 to allow local government to focus on solutions to the housing crisis.

The city normally accepts public requests for changes to the plan that guides long-term growth each September and October. These requests are generally processed during the following year.

According to the city’s website, my.spokanecity.org, the compensation plan addresses many facets of city life, including land use, transportation, capital assets, housing, economic development, natural environment and parks, neighborhoods, social health, urban planning, history preservation and leadership.

On Monday, September 19, the council will consider an order to suspend any private requests for changes to the plan until the fall of 2023.

The proposal would not affect ongoing studies or planning activities undertaken by the city that may require changes to the compensation plan. Additionally, any emergency changes required over the next year would not be affected by the suspension.

City officials believe the suspension aligns with Mayor Nadine Woodward’s focus on housing. She proclaimed a housing emergency last year to direct efforts towards solving the crisis for tenants and landlords.

On another front, the council has adopted a 210-page housing action plan which sets the goal of creating new types of housing.

All of these efforts are in response to Spokane’s ranking as one of the 100 cities in the United States with the most expensive housing markets by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. Researchers found that demand exceeds supply, which drove up prices across the board.

Tenants are hard hit by the situation. The Washington State Tenants Union released a finding that Spokane is at a dangerously low 0.5% for housing availability, and the cost of homeownership has increased by nearly 90% over the past four years.

To increase housing inventory, the City Council encourages the development of more secondary suites on residential lots, short lots and flexible lot sizes.

Woodward and the council have also worked together to develop a pilot program that aims to build up the local housing stock by facilitating the construction of townhouses, duplexes, triplexes or quadruplexes.