‘Huge concern’: Spokane survey showcases issues, puts downtown safety in question

SPOKANE, Wash. — As the heart of the city works to fully recover from the pandemic, some aren’t convinced downtown is heading in the right direction.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership wanted to know how people who live, work and play in the district feel about its current state. They received nearly 400 responses from people who say they’re mostly concerned about the area.

Eighty-five percent of people said Downtown Spokane cannot fully recover until the addiction, mental health, and public safety problems are addressed. Homelessness topped the list of concerns.

Miranda Reed works downtown. She loves exploring this part of the city but knows there are issues.

“When I first started working, a lot of my coworkers’ cars got broken into, so that definitely is a huge concern,” Reed said.

She’s a 20-year-old who has to think twice when she gets out of her car and always carries pepper spray on her.

Another question in the survey showed 48-percent of people feel like Downtown Spokane is headed down the “wrong track.” It’s an observation DSP wants to change.

“Over the past 20 years, so many businesses large and small have done incredible work to strengthen downtown’s vitality and vibrancy,” said Andrew Rolwes, the Vice President for the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

Now, he says those business owners are having to invest a tremendous amount of time and money to increase security and safety measures for customers and employees. While that is a good thing they’re taking that initiative, he wants to see long-term change stemming from solutions.

“To continue to move in the direction that we’re on right now would be to jeopardize that [work],” Rolwes added.

The organization is taking their ideas to city leaders with some proposals to help change the trajectory.

They’d like to:

  • Move homeless resources away from downtown.
  • Increase treatment programs for those suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.
  • Enforce laws surrounding when and where people can sit and lie on sidewalks.

These are just some of the solutions and responses to the downtown issues.

You can see the full survey results HERE and view policy points they’re advocating for HERE.

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