‘Not getting heard’: People ask for a pause in development around Latah Valley

SPOKANE, Wash. — Even though the Inland Northwest is in a significant housing shortage, some people still think some housing projects need to be put on pause.

Neighbors in West Spokane say their community can’t handle more homes. They’re worried about street safety, infrastructure and the overall character of their neighborhood losing its special charm.

A new site of 96 homes is being considered on 17th and “D” streets — in between I-90 and U.S. 195 and nestled behind Grandview Park.

For the longtime neighbors, they’re worried the rapid pace of development will hurt the place they love to call home.

“My concern now is that I’m seeing basically a duplication of what’s crippled so much of Puget Sound over the last 30 years,” said John Johnson. He left the West side of the state over 30 years ago and loves his home in Latah Valley.

Today, all signs point to change in his backyard. A developer is proposing 96 homes in an area zoned for residential housing. Neighbors have been enjoying the space for years and don’t want to seee it changed.

“We don’t have a school. We don’t have a community center or a library. We have nothing,” Joy Sheikh said. She’s lived in the area for around 20 years.

They’re worried about street safety, not enough resources like schools and libraries and are asking the city to pause development until these issues are addressed.

“They’re not actually taking on any action to do anything to make improvements,” Sheikh said.

City leaders say as of now, the pause they’re asking for probably isn’t possible.

“When you’ve got 29 different neighborhoods, and you basically say, this neighborhood is off-limits, we’re not going to allow development here, now you’re increasing the effects on the other 28 neighborhoods,” said Michael Cathcart, City Council Member for District 1.

Those involved in the project say the need for more housing is pressing. Whipple Consulting Engineers shared this statement saying:

Spokane and its citizens are experiencing a housing crisis as declared by Mayor Woodward. Presently, supply lags well behind demand causing a dire need for additional housing units.

As a Professional Engineer licensed in the State of Washington, my first duty is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the traveling public. In addition to being a Community Meeting intended to introduce the Grandview Addition Preliminary Plat, tonight’s meeting is the first step in identifying existing traffic concerns, with specific emphasis on the safety of the existing transportation system. With this meeting we hope to identify potential safety hazards within the area.

-Todd R. Whipple, P.E.

  President, Whipple Consulting Engineers

They met with these concerned residents in a traffic/engineering meeting on March 3. This public meeting was just one step the development has to go through before getting the green light to officially build.

RELATED: Packed In: New multi-family, single-family housing development opens in Airway Heights

RELATED: Packed In: Kootenai County sheriff says cost of living in North Idaho makes recruitment hard