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New home construction continuing to rise across Spokane County

New home construction continuing to rise across Spokane County

Building permits in Spokane County are on the rise again after taking a big hit early in the recession, another sign the regional economy is slowly improving.

According to the Spokane Homebuilders Association, the area hit a low point in 2011 with only 664 permits issued for new home construction. That number climbed to 874 in 2012 and topped 1,100 last year.

From Kendall Yards to Liberty Lake, things seem to be looking up for Spokane County.

"Over the last couple of years there's been a really exciting time for this market let alone River District," Jeremy Nichols with Greenstone Corporation said.

Nichols handles River District developments in Liberty Lake and has experienced the housing market rollercoaster firsthand.

"Statistically over the last couple of years we have tripled our sales in the last two years. In 2011 we sold 17 homes, 2013 we handed off 48 keys to homeowners," he said.

This year alone they are going to build another 35 homes in the River District and hundreds more between Spokane and Kootenai County.

"We just plotted 225 more lots heading north towards the river," Nichols said.

Spokane officials considering bringing the country to the city

Spokane officials considering bringing the country to the city

Livestock isn't just for country living anymore, as the City of Spokane could soon allow small livestock livestock into its residents backyards.

A proposal from City Council President Ben Stuckart would allow certain type of livestock -- less than 150 pounds -- and smaller than 36-inches shoulder height, meaning you or your neighbors could have a farm animal living with them in the city.

In Spokane, country life can be so close. It's 1.5 miles from downtown close for Julie Henry, who lives on the South Hill, where she raises chickens for their eggs, and education for her children and neighbors alike.

"They'll eat anything and so the neighborhood shares the coop and the eggs," Henry said.

Soon she might get the opportunity to add to her coop if a new ordinance is approved by the city council people could have chickens, small sheep, pigs, or goats in their back yard.

"I would love to have a couple goats if this passes," Henry said.

It's based on square footage. On a 5,000 square foot lot you could have two small goats. On Henry's 25,000 square foot lot, she could have 10 goats or 25 chickens.

Yard and food waste carts return next week

Yard and food waste carts return next week

Never mind the snow, it's time to think spring cleaning!

City of Spokane news release:

Ready for spring yard cleanup or at least spring?  The City of Spokane is trying to urge Mother Nature along as it resumes curbside yard and food waste pickup on Monday, March 3.


The optional City service runs from March through November.  The 96-gallon green yard waste cart can be filled with all manner of yard waste—grass, leaves, pine needles, pine cones, weeds, vines, thatch, plant trimmings, and branches. Customers can even cut up and throw in the old Christmas tree that’s been parked along the side of the house for weeks.


Street crews switch gears from snow clearance to flood prevention

Street crews switch gears from snow clearance to flood prevention

On Monday, city crews were working round-the-clock to plow snow from the streets. By Wednesday, however, they were more concerned with urban flooding as warm temperatures defrosted the Inland Northwest.

"This is sort of typical winter weather. After the snow comes the melt," Marlene Feist with the City of Spokane said.

City crews were out Wednesday morning trying to clear storm drains and suck up as much water as possible to try and eliminate the flooding.

"Today we have wastewater crews out making sure that snow melt is going into the drains and not sitting on our streets," Feist said.

For the Thompson family in north Spokane, the snowmelt didn't end up in their street so much as it ended up down in their basement.

"I woke up and saw three inches of standing water outside my front window. My immediate thought was, 'I'm going to go down in the basement and make sure it's not in my basement.' I took a few steps into my finished basement and it was full of water," Genoa Thompson said.

Extreme winter weather calls for home heating tips

The big chill has many of you looking for easy and inexpensive ways to keep your home warm, and Kim Kreber, SNAP's Energy Conservation Coordinator, has tips to help you cut down on your energy bill.

Kreber said your first stop is in the basement, where you can check the ducting with the Charmin test. By holding toilet paper up to your ducts you can check for drafts. If you see the toilet paper move, you have leaks.

The next stop is the front door.

"Have someone go inside with a flash light and they are actually going to shine the light around the door," Kreber said.

If light comes through, put weather striping around the door.

Next, start checking your walls.

"You can go around and just feel, especially around the baseboards," Kreber said.

When you feel cold coming in, you have a crack or leak.

Kreber said if you feel a leak in your walls you can apply caulk to seal it.

Professionals at the non-profit Sustainable Works are also available if you need more help. They say their goal is to help homeowners lower their utility bills.

Clear your sidewalks or face getting fined

Clear your sidewalks or face getting fined

Wednesday night's rain combined with below freezing temperatures Thursday morning, making for an icy commute for drivers and pedestrians alike. While the city is charged with keeping the roads clear, who's in charge of clearing the sidewalks?

In neighborhoods around town it was tricky to just get from one street to the other this because of the icy sidewalks. So who's responsible for clearing them? The onus is actually on the homeowners and businesses owners. They're responsible for keeping sidewalks adjacent to their property clear of snow.

The city says the sidewalks should be clear within 24 hours of snowfall. You must also clear a path at least three feet wide. Snow must be cleared from ramps, fire hydrants and mailboxes.

If you don't clear the sidewalks, you could face a $103 fine. Julie Happy with the City of Spokane says it's important to keep sidewalks clear for the safety of the community.

"It is about safe conditions for people who use your sidewalks or go across your sidewalk because again it is a liability for the property owners if something should occur on that sidewalk," Happy said.

Bill assistance provided for Avista customers

Bill assistance provided for Avista customers

From Avista Utilities:

Winter has landed in the northwest and with it comes cold temperatures. The bitter temperatures alone can cause rising energy use and costs, but combined with the holiday season bringing visiting friends and family, more showers, cooking and other energy using activities, many customers will see higher utility bills in January. Knowing this, Avista wants to remind customers of the bill assistance tools available to help them.