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Spokane Council Approves Changes To Allow New Housing Options

Doug Nadvornick/Cable 5

The Spokane City Council has approved a series of changes it hopes will encourage developers to build more affordable housing.

The new ordinances allow the city to adjust its building regulations in and around the designated commercial centers. The goal is to make it easier to build townhouses and attachments to single family homes.

The new rules tweak the allowable building heights so that developers can create full three-story housing units. Several residents of Peaceful Valley, including Jan Loux, said that, while they approve of the concept of infill development, they oppose taller buildings in their neighborhood.

“As all of the single-family homes in Peaceful Valley are one or two-story structures that are significantly below the 35-foot height limit, buildings 50 feet or taller would dwarf existing neighborhood buildings. New, taller buildings would be incompatible and would detract from the historical charm and coherent character of the neighborhood," Loux said. "Also, because the additional allowance for pitched roofs would include roofs with dormers, the privacy of neighboring properties would be compromised.”

The new regulations allow for housing projects on slightly smaller lots. They would also make changes to parking requirements, with fewer or no spaces required for smaller developments.

Council members said they appreciate the concerns of neighbors, not just in Peaceful Valley, but also in other places such as Brownes’ Addition and Cliff-Cannon. But Council President Ben Stuckart says the city’s housing shortage is acute. He says it needs to do all it can to increase its density.

“If we want to provide the services necessary in order to be a great community, we have to either raise taxes, raise the median household income or increase the number of people living here, because if you have more people living inside the city, the pie is bigger and we can provide better parks, better libraries, better police services and better fire services without raising taxes,” Stuckart said.

Council member Breean Beggs says people in historic neighborhoods have a chance to work with the city to customize development regulations to protect their unique charm.