Policy Priorities

DSP’s Policy Principles serve as a framework to guide its advocacy. Initiatives are implemented through five priority areas: Economic Development, Destination Enhancement, Housing, Public Safety, and Homelessness & Social Services.

1. Economic Development:

a) Incentivize investment and job opportunities. Strengthen downtown Spokane as a healthy, sustainable, diverse and prosperous economic driver for the region.

b) Leverage new and adjacent areas of future growth and economic influence. With vacancy rates for office space growing, new development and attractions will be important catalysts for downtown.

2. Destination Enhancement:

a) Support ongoing efforts to beautify and revitalize key areas of downtown. Streetscape, entryways and the public realm in downtown merit improvements. These areas should feel safe and be welcoming to support activity and vitality.

b) Support transportation enhancements and initiatives to improve mobility. Improve access and connections that link people and neighborhoods to downtown.

3. Housing:

a) Reduce barriers and costs while streamlining housing construction in downtown. Demand for rental housing has outstripped supply resulting in near zero vacancy rates.

b) Pursue redevelopment of surface parking lots downtown.

4. Public Safety:

a) Support clarification of laws and regulations to address sale and use of illegal drugs. Passage of ESSB 5536 in the 2023 Legislative Special Session strengthened penalties for drug possession and use but ongoing vigilance is necessary to address the continued threats to personal safety and property that result from the sale and use of illegal drugs.

b) Support legislation and judicial policies that can deter crime, drug use and violence. Every opportunity should be taken to hold offenders accountable, provide treatment and rehabilitation for return to the community, and when possible, restore impacts to victim(s) and/or property.

c) Expand jail capacity, supervised mental illness and addiction treatment. Downtown serves as the hub for public safety and emergency services with a super-concentration of services and subsidized housing for Eastern Washington, creating a ready-made market to prey upon the most vulnerable in our society.

5. Homelessness & Social Services:

a) Support partnerships and resources to confront mental illness, addiction and homelessness. Spokane’s fractured approach to homelessness and behavioral health is in crisis and needs enhanced coordination, collaboration and accountability.

b) Expand programs that assist homeless in accessing a range of shelter and housing options and services. Insufficient shelter for Spokane’s growing number of people experiencing homelessness results in hazardous urban camping on sidewalks, viaducts and alleyways.

c) Ensure equitable distribution of additional emergency shelters, low-barrier housing, intake/navigation centers, and public restrooms regionally. Concentrated co-location of these facilities in downtown is making the area unsafe, including for the people these facilities are intended to serve.

d) Expand conservatorship and assisted outpatient treatment to get help for those that do not have the capacity to accept or understand their need. Mechanisms for helping people with severe mental illness can help them transition from the streets to residential psychiatric treatment.

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