Judging from news reports of the Pullman City Council’s rejection of a moratorium on new building in the downtown district, council members are in need of a spinal adjustment, if their spines can be found.
This suggestion is not lightly made.
The council’s actions Tuesday provide mounting evidence that this council is supporting capitalism run amok, compounding long-standing problems as well as introducing new ones for future generations to deal with.
It appears to have no long-range vision and can’t resist the allure of short-term growth while ignoring the long-term costs that accompanies it.
The same applies to many Pullman merchants.
The council is spending $122,800 for a downtown master plan to improve appeal and function of the downtown business district. The plan is due in January, just five months ahead.
Counselor Al Sorensen proposed a moratorium on new building in the district until the master plan is available. According to news reports, Councilor Nathan Weller, apparently speaking for the majority, said a five-month moratorium would send developers a message that “Pullman is closed for business.”
If the council is willing to entertain new development before the study, why is it spending $122K for the study?
Good developers would want the study before moving ahead as it could save them a lot of money and grief. Pullman doesn’t need the other kind of developers, and Pullman merchants shouldn’t welcome them. They are bad for business.
Pullman has a long history of failing to enforce codes. Some might even say government leaders have an antipathy for enforcement. This is bad news for the city which faces two major issues where backbones would come in handy.
The first is the proposal of Nelson Partners, of Aliso Viejo, Calif., to build Elevate at Pullman. It would be a complex of 292 apartments with 693 bedrooms, immediately east of the intersection of Johnson Avenue and SE Bishop Boulevard.
The other is an in-house city study of Airbnb violations of Residential 1 and Residential 2 codes. The city’s negativity about enforcement doesn’t augur well that the council will gird up its loins and enforce codes that protect property owners from neighbors who run down their property values.
The developer has filed for a blizzard of variances for the project, some of which may be acceptable, but some definitely are problematic. A major concern is that the developer has filed for a conditional use permit for a variance on code that require one parking space per bedroom. The developer wants permit to provide only 617 parking spaces. That is 76 spaces less than the code requires.
Interestingly, the developer has noted the city’s eagerness to befriend developers. Its finding of fact notes that while it proposes to provide only an .88 ratio of parking spaces to beds, that the lower ration “ ... is in line with previous similar projects undertaken.”
In other words, the council’s variance for Evolve on Main’s complex to be built with fewer parking spaces than the code provides is coming back to haunt them.
Pullman needs developers who are good neighbors, and good neighbors don’t create problems for their neighbors.
Terence L. Day is a 46-year Pullman resident and a retired Washington State University faculty member. He’d like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether you agree or disagree.