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Spokane City Council considers rewarding downtown business owners for security add-ons

SPOKANE, Wash. - An estimated 60,000 people make their way downtown everyday to shop and spend, but some say they'll only do that if they feel safe. So, the Downtown Spokane Partnership is asking the Spokane City Council to approve a program which would reward business and property owners for adding security features to their buildings.

"We are interfacing right now with a growing minority of our homeless population that is unfortunately addicted to some of the most horrendous drugs that we have seen on the planet and so when you have that, playing out on our streets, it doesn't always feel safe," said DSP president Mark Richard. "It's impacting people's decision as to whether they choose to come downtown and we certainly need to make sure that isn't happening."

Richard said the rebate program would be funded by $26,000 from the Business Improvement District's assessment funds. If approved, building owners could receive rebates of up to $2,500 per property, depending on the security add-ons.

"They would continue to pay their business improvement district rates to the city, then they would fill out this application and seek a rebate of up to $2500 of that towards their next year's assessment," Richard said.

The program puts a focus beyond security cameras and looks to a concept known as "crime prevention through environmental design."

"Making sure that the lighting is excellent, daytime and nighttime, making sure your landscaping is low enough to where people can't obstruct themselves behind it," said Richard. "Dark spaces are where people who are up to no good want to be. So we want to make sure we work with our property owners to make sure they are eliminating those spaces to just discourage crime from happening before it ever starts."

Paul Mann, managing partner at The Ridpath, is all about the idea. Mann says he was planning on security upgrades long before the rebate program was introduced.

"I think security downtown sometimes is a case of perception as much as it is reality," Mann said. "I think everyone wants to feel safe in the place they live. And we feel that's as important for our tenants as it is for anyone else." 

Mann believes the rebate program is a step in the right direction towards a safer downtown Spokane.

Qualifying investments include:

  • Adding new or updating current light sources with LED or metal halide bulbs to underlit areas
  • Modifying vegetation growth to CPTED standards - keep shrubbery height maximum of 2 feet from ground, keep tree branches trimmed to minimum height of 6 feet from ground
  • Removing opaque walls and replacing with fencing for natural surveillance
  • Improving two way visibility in store fronts/business fronts facing public spaces
  • Placing signage saying "under surveillance"
  • Installing security camera and security system
  • Adding gates/thorny bushes to unsafe ambush areas

If the program is approved by council members Monday, applications for rebates must be submitted by September 1 through the Downtown Spokane Partnership.


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