Why this blogger’s been MIA

Affordable housing need not be ugly. With land use policies favoring dense, mixed-use development and the relative cost savings of upward construction, design is coming more into play with these low-income units. (PHOTO: 555yvr.com/SFGate.com)

Why have I been absent? To put a long story short, I’ve been writing a lengthy paper on affordable housing and the implications of land use policy on its implementation. Take a look at the article on Scribd (or click after the break for a preview) for an interesting read. With Spokane’s visible homeless population, it’s clear that the current housing model in the area is not working. Perhaps some of our land use regulations and ordinances are to blame.

Read more after the break.

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The #spokanerising Glossary

PHOTO: CLPhoto

Naturally, urban planning and development is confusing subject for some. It’s not exactly accessible; often, plans and documents are not publicly-available. Then, once you actually get your hands on the documents themselves, they aren’t exactly made for ordinary citizens to easily understand. But planning should be simple; after all, it’s foremost about interactions between people and the built environment. Our goal as a blog is to make these subjects as clear-cut and simple as possible. So today we’re starting a Spokane Urban Development Glossary.

In the near future, this post will turn to a page, which will be easily accessible at all times from the navigation bar. We’ll cover terms specific to urban development, acronyms and plans specific to Spokane, and our own embellishments which we may occasionally add to stories. Some of these embellishments are taken from a variety of sources, including MetroSpokane, the original Spokane development blog from which The #spokanerising Project arguably succeeds. We do this to further reflect our own point of view; that is, that planned development is something to be cherished, and that mixed-use should be preferred to auto-oriented big-box stores and strip malls. In addition, we believe that the Spokane Comprehensive Plan and the guidelines set forth in Centers and Corridors should guide all approved projects within the city. Now, that’s a lot of words. But what do they all mean?

URBAN PLANNING TERMS:

built environment: the human-made surroundings which provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from buildings to parks and green space, or from neighborhoods to cities.

mixed-use development: development projects which focus on two or more uses within the site; for example, a building may feature ground floor street-front retail shops and restaurants with apartments on the upper floors.

amenity: aesthetic or other characteristics of a development, either natural or manmade, that increase its desirability to a community or its marketability to the public; for example, a unified building design, recreational facilities, and public art would all be characterized as amenities

infill: generally mixed-use style development which occurs on previously-disturbed land or non-disturbed land within an existing urban area; significant because it does not contribute to urban sprawl.

brownfield: abandoned or underutilized industrial or commercial facilities or sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination; for example, Kendall Yards was a brownfield.

SPOKANE-SPECIFIC TERMS/ACRONYMS:

East Sprague Revitalization Project: a project to extensively revitalize East Sprague between Division and Altamont through streetscape enhancements, buffers, facade improvements, etc.

Division Street Gateway: a project planned to extensively revitalize the entry areas to downtown Spokane via Division Street through streetscape enhancements, pedestrian connections, improved signage, etc.

Kendall Yards: large mixed-use project currently being developed by Greenstone between Monroe and beyond Maple on the Spokane River’s North Bank; largest infill project in Spokane’s history.

Walt Worthy: major downtown hotel developer and owner/operator of the Davenport Hotel Collection; currently constructing a Convention Center Hotel directly south of the INB Performing Arts Center.

Centers and Corridors: the document which guides development in areas zoned “Centers and Corridors” (CC1, CC2, CC3); generally an exciting zoning guideline which emphasizes pedestrian uses and “accommodation” or automobiles.

Spokane Comprehensive Plan: the document which guides development in all areas of Spokane, including the types of uses allowed in each zoning guideline and various transit/street plans.

QUIRKY TERMS UNIQUE TO #SPOKANERISING:

the temporary storage of cars: derogatory term for parking, used especially often downtown

the All-Managing Rhombus: Diamond Parking; generally a derogatory term which refers to the unfortunate fact that Diamond Parking manages most of the surface lots in Spokane devoted to the temporary storage of cars; because Diamond Parking has a vested interest in its parking holdings, it generally prefers that these sites, which are prime opportunities for mixed-use infill, not be developed.

To be continued…

Welcome to LAUNCH WEEK of The #spokanerising Project!

PHOTO: Kiemle-Hagood Company

Welcome to Launch Week of The #spokanerising Project, a collaborative project intended to make our community a better place. We hope that you will share this blog on Facebook and Twitter in order to spread the word of our official launch. While our story starts in January 2014, it should perhaps start eight years earlier, in 2006, with the launch of MetroSpokane, a blog which challenged the norm and questioned what, precisely, is possible in Spokane. Though we didn’t run MetroSpokane, we did read it, and we noticed a few things when we did.

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