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Spokane City Council revises disputed emergency weather ordinance

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward originally disagreed with the ordinance. She said it would cost the city too much money to implement.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane City Council revised the emergency ordinance set to help unhoused people during hazardous weather on Friday, according to a press release. 

In the revision, the ordinance focuses directly on guidelines and activations to help unhoused people and those who are in vulnerable situations during hazardous weather conditions such as extreme heat, wildfire smoke or dangerously low temperatures, according to a press release from the city. 

It removes the requirements for shelters. The ordinance would have required a 20% capacity of unused beds in the regional shelter system can fund other shelters. Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward criticized the ordinance in a public meeting online. At the meeting, she said it would be too much money spent on beds that would not be used. 

The ordinance also removed distinction on emergency sheltering specifications that will be addressed in a separate ordinance. This will be considered at another legislative session in two weeks, according to the release.

“We’ve listened to the community, we’ve heard the administration, and we are making accommodations to revise the emergency weather ordinance,” Public Safety and Community Health Chair Councilwoman Lori Kinnear said in a press release. “This isn’t about the Council or Administration; it’s about fundamental care for the people of Spokane during brutal and extreme weather and ensuring that we have adequate resources and processes in anticipation of future hazardous weather conditions.”

This comes after Mayor Nadine Woodward held a public meeting to discuss the city's emergency shelter response after the Spokane City Council proposed the ordinance that would have expanded the city's responsibilities.  

Woodward explained that the proposed ordinance would jeopardize existing partnerships by requiring resources to be diverted to the expansion of the shelter system. Additionally, Woodward said that it would cost the city $4 million a year to open up as many bed spaces as the ordinance calls for. Woodward explained that it wouldn't get used.

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