"You are my density." George McFly
When speaking of density, Spokane really doesn't come to mind simply because we're not. Metrospokane has been messing around with some GIS data as of late and we set out to better understand density across this big ol' UGA (urban growth area) of ours. A quick glance at the density map (pdf-1.3mb) we created shows that things are looking pretty thin around Spokane. Few places, if any, top out at 50+ people per acre. Can you find Northtown Mall or Manito Park? Also, check out the consistency of West Central's density.
This is an important topic. As we speak, our county commissioners (Mark Richard-Phil Harris-Todd Mielke) have initiated a process to consider expanding our UGA. They're concerned that the county is running out of buildable land and that to preserve affordable housing in Spokane County we need to unleash roughly 12 square miles of land outside the UGA. This manuever by the commissioners begs the question: Is large-lot, low-density, single-family detached-housing going to suddenly make housing in Spokane affordable? If a supply-side strategy is the basis for their interest in expanding the UGA, what about simply increasing the densities within existing areas or incentivizing denser development? A good article in the Inlander of a few weeks back discusses some of the critical issues associated with extension of our growth area...most important of which is the question: is this needed?
We hope this is the beginning of some strong dialogue between our fair commissioners and citizens concerned about Spokane's growth patterns. With municipal budgets floundering, is expansion a wise policy decision? Will the taxpayers be willing to pay for it? Is this our only growth option? Or does Spokane have 'room' for some of this?