Despite powerful testimony by many Latah Valley residents and supporters of CALV, the Spokane City Council is making the wrong moves regarding the future of Latah Valley. On Monday evening, under tremendous pressure imposed by the development community of Spokane, the council revisited the raising of general facility charges (GFC) which is about the design, cost of H2O infrastructure, and materials for water + sewer hookups.
The city council voted to drastically reduce those fees after having just raised them to match true costs (these fees haven't gone up in 21 years). Sure, they said they will revisit this in a year but just like lifting the moratorium, development gets to move ahead with the cost of those impacts still largely being shouldered by residents of Latah Valley and Spokane taxpayers.
Because of YOU the moratorium was put in place. Because of YOU the transportation fees were increased to better match the needs of Latah Valley. And because of YOU those GFC fees had also risen to a true cost level. A tremendous feat we should not forget, but unfortunately with the city council letting the moratorium lapse, their reduction of the GFC fees to marginally higher than they were before, and zero action on addressing the multitude of other infrastructure and quality life concerns and issues of the Latah Valley, we now need to double down on our efforts to advocate and protect our community.
We have power, so let's keep exercising it for the sake of Latah Valley and the City of Spokane! Fortune favors the bold!
KEEPING UP THE PRESSURE! Let's keep talking, planning, and acting in the best interest of Latah Valley. We'll need to do more to figure out how to navigate the road ahead but what we can do, right now, is let our neighbors know (knock on doors), the city (email, call, and/or ask for a meeting), the media (write a letter to the editor), other Spokane residents (spread the word however you can), and state elected officials (contact them) ask for the following: Continue to call for a reinstated moratorium on development. Advocate for other needed impact fees in Latah Valley district to include Fire Dept, Schools and Parks. Advocate for broader and deeper planning Advocate for new development rules that are about community need not developer greed. And stay tuned for an upcoming CALV Town Hall with invited Council Members, County Commissioners, Mayor and Mayoral Candidates
SEE ABOVE FOR WHAT IS NEEDED - KEEP GOING IF YOU NEED THE DETAILS The last two city council meetings dealt with fee increases - transportation impact fees and general facility charges. They both ended up with fragmented discussions and not easy to track. To simplify things regarding those two items here is how it breaks down:
Transportation impact fees: Spokane has had transportation impact fees for new development city wide for several years now. Those fees along with the impact fee districts hadn't been adjusted in many years. The September 2022 moratorium directed changes to both the fee schedule and districts. The result of that work was the adoption of higher fees (reflecting the truer cost of the impacts caused by development) along with redrawing boundaries of the districts. From that, Latah Valley now has the highest transportation impact fee in the city (it also has the most needs) and is designated as an independent district, thankfully including the Grandview/Thorpe neighborhood with the Latah-Hangman neighborhood. The fee was set as the maximum proposed, ~$7000 for a single-family new build. However, that fee calculation left out (ignored) the cost of expanding/rebuilding the two Thorpe tunnels, which are extremely expensive ~$14 million. Also keep in mind that the fees collected by developers only represent about 50% of what the true costs are which means the city must come up with the difference in order to pay for road improvements. Lastly, the fees are collected at the time of permitting and the city has 6 years to make the improvements.
GFC fees: General Facility Charge (GFC) fees are designated for water/sewer hookup for new development and are city wide. There are tables for the fees based on the size of the water supply line and type of construction (single, multi, etc). The fee increases adopted a few weeks ago reflected a large increase from the current fee but one that accurately reflected the costs involved. On Monday, March 27th, after much debate, the city council voted to increase the fees 66% above the current rate and revisit this decision in one year. Please keep in mind that these fees have not gone up in over 21 years and that a 66% increase only equals the average rate of inflation for that time period. IT DOES NOT actually match the true cost which means the shortfall will be picked up by the city and Spokane taxpayers. We are, in a very real way, subsidizing developers.