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Why the City of Spokane, Washington is Wary of Adopting ...

Why the City of Spokane, Washington is Wary of Adopting More Neighborhood LID “Storm Gardens:” A Fear of Expensive Popularity

The City of Spokane, Washington implemented two of their first-ever SURGE (Spokane Urban Runoff Greenways Ecosystem) projects in 2010 with AHBL: Lincoln Street on the South Hill; [Bottom] [Official Surge Report]; Broadway Street in the West Central Neighborhood. [Top] [AHBL’s Presentation to the City]. Both were the first of their kind in Eastern Washington, and

SURGE Broadway

The City of Spokane, Washington implemented two of their first-ever SURGE (Spokane Urban Runoff Greenways Ecosystem) projects in 2010 with AHBL:
  1. Lincoln Street on the South Hill; [Official Surge Report];
  2. Broadway Street in the West Central Neighborhood.
    [AHBL's Presentation to the City].
Both were the first of their kind in Eastern Washington, and were met with much opposition before construction due to the design’s previous success in Seattle, Washington. Many felt that because Spokane’s climate lends itself to occasional heavy storms rather than a constant drizzle, like on the west side of the state, this form of LID (low-impact development) were useless.

After construction, those who used the streets regularly wanted their streets to have the same design as on Lincoln street, for their neighborhood a few blocks east, on the South Hill. The residents on Lincoln Street had volunteered to tax themselves to make this SURGE project possible, and other residents wanted to as well.

SURGE lincolnThe City felt that this project was too expensive as it were, and could not  muster the funding or grants for an extension of the SURGE system. City official hopefuls, whose major campaign hold is in reducing spending, are using this system’s short-term cost against the entire program. The long-term gains, however, are that residents are involving themselves in local government, they’re offering to tax themselves to make public improvements happen, the residents on Lincoln aren’t seeing their basements flood as much or as often, and they’re organizing themselves to create awareness and excitement among their neighborhood.

Would you ask your city to tax you for a public works project if you had a say in what its design, use, or goals were? Why or why not?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Intern photo

Aascot Holt is an undergraduate at Eastern Washington University, pursuing a major in Urban and Regional Planning and a minor in Geography. She will graduate in the spring of 2013. She is from Stevenson, WA and currently lives in Spokane, WA in a bri...

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