A whole lot of opportunity
Last updated 11/4/2020 at 9:14am
The little lot on the corner of Main and Spokane Way and at the heart of a controversy over city standards offers, in the narrower view, a conundrum for the city if it reconsiders whether a city code is being violated, one that limits outdoor advertising.
But the bigger picture is more meaningful and invites serious, thoughtful discussion and long-term solutions.
Those solutions, judging from public comments offered so far, including some on this page, are obviously needed because the corner in violation of the code looks far better than a whole lot of the city.
A former mayor once told me, “You can’t change Grand Coulee.” He was in my office, livid about an article that described several problem properties in the city, with photos, that looked like hell, including his.
Was he right, or can Grand Coulee change?
Current Mayor Paul Townsend correctly observes that the city can no longer operate by the “good ol’ boy” system that used to deal favors to some, not to others.
Looking at the code in question, reasonable people can easily disagree about whether it fits the situation, which was probably not envisioned when the law was passed.
Sam Hsieh’s small lot was improved by the previous owner with a retaining wall, grass, some concrete slabs, picnic tables, plus a nice iron fence of a size that allows small billboard signs to face the traffic without blocking drivers’ vision. Those signs pay the mortgage and upkeep.
It’s safe to guess that the code was written to prevent every building in town from offering a slew of advertisements that would truly make the town look cluttered and junky. It’s a reasonable law, but it could be altered to encourage a citizen who wants to see needed progress in the city.
The city council should revise its code to take this situation into account, then enforce it, along with other codes currently not enforced. That would be more likely to invite more real progress than enforcing a code that is not doing what it was intended to: keep the city from looking junky.
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