Downtown Image and Safety Goal of New City Rules

By Paige Browning

Police will now have more authority in Spokane to crack down on bad behavior downtown. That’s the takeaway from seven measures the Spokane City Council approved Monday (Sept. 30).
 
Police can now give citations if they catch people skateboarding on downtown sidewalks, for acting out on a city bus, being a disturbance in a medical facility, or for calling 911 for any reason other than emergency. Police now also have the power to cite people roaming through cars carrying vehicle break-in tools, even before they’ve actually broken in. Another measure looks to scrub out graffiti. If business owners don’t remove graffiti tags on their building within 10 days, the city can fine them.
 
The new measures are part of the city’s collaborative effort with businesses and the Downtown Spokane Partnership to improve livability downtown. Other measures and efforts to alter downtown behavior are forthcoming from the city.
 
The city also approved five more years of the red light cameras that catch traffic law offenders. The overall commentary from council members was that the revenues brought it make the camera program worth it. The revenue is given to neighborhoods for traffic calming and safety.
 
Also decided by council members Monday (Sept. 30) was the fate of barely dressed baristas. The Spokane City Council rejected a proposal Monday that would have required nearly nude baristas at espresso stands to cover up.

In public testimony, supporters of the ordinance said it was needed to protect children and keep the city a place to raise families. Opponents called the exposure ordinance an example of outdated sexist thinking and a misguided attempt to impose censorship. Ordinance sponsor Mike Fagan and fellow councilmember Nancy McLaughlin voted yes, while the rest of council voted no on the proposal.
 
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