A great big Thank You to the 140+ signers of our letter to save the farm in Vinegar Flats.
Together, we moved the needle and this farm is closer to being saved from development than ever before.
See our Home page for details.
See everyone who has signed on below.
To: Breean Beggs
City Council President
City Hall, 7th floor
808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99201
City Council Member, District 2
City Hall, 7th floor
808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99201
Doug Chase, Director
Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf
404 N Havana Street
Spokane, WA 99202
City Council Member, District 2
City Hall, 7th floor
808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
Spokane, WA 99201
We live in Spokane because, as the promotional slogan goes, it's "near nature, near perfect." One of the factors that makes this slogan ring true is the fact that Spokane County is still blessed with over half a million acres of productive farmland. The sad truth is, however, that current policies are failing to preserve Spokane's food security and quality of life by not effectively protecting our precious farmland from being lost forever to development.
A community is only ever given so much farmland. Once it's built over, it's gone forever.
Recent conditional approval by the Planning Department of a permit for constructing ninety-four homes on 48-acres of zoned agricultural land in Vinegar Flats (the Pilcher farm) is the latest blatant example of the failure of local government to live up to its own commitments, specified in the Comprehensive Plan to "preserve, protect and restore unique and non-renewable resources or features such as wetlands, wildlife habitat, agricultural areas, and special natural areas [and] protect Comprehensive Plan-designated agricultural lands for continued agriculture use."
We oppose the plan to destroy those 48 acres of farmland by permitting the completion of the planned development known as the "Deep Pine Overlook." Most of the land where the houses would be built is classified by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service as "prime farmland." It’s also an area prone to flooding, even catastrophic flooding, despite assurances from the developers that down-play the flood risk. The risk of catastrophic flooding brings into question whether it’s an appropriate place for a dense housing development or better preserved as open space. Neighbors in the area are very concerned that a new housing development of this size would worsen traffic flows on a stretch of State Route 195 already notorious as hazardous. Concern is also great about increased pollution of Hangman Creek that runs adjacent to the property. It's already one of the state's most polluted waterways.
How is it possible that we are on a trajectory to watch this farmland be paved over when this parcel has been at the top of the list of Spokane County Conservation Futures potential land acquisitions?
We call upon you to immediately convene negotiations among stakeholders with the purpose of completing the purchase of the parcel by Conservation Futures. Furthermore, we support the concept that the parcel become city-owned farmland to be managed by a partnership of non-profit and educational institutions for the purposes of growing food for local consumption, using regenerative methods and permaculture principals and establishing a community learning center for teaching small-scale farming skills, urban agriculture and other agrarian arts.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this issue,
Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group
Additional signers. Individuals and organizations.
Gary M Angell
Preservation of this unique farmland parcel right near the city center for educational use in natural healthy food production is far more important than just another residential area.
Teri McKenzie, Founder, Inland NW Food Network
Thom & Torie Foote, Footehill Farm
Lazy R Ranch
Once it’s gone it’s gone. Are the short term gains worth the long term costs? I guess that depends on your value system. Mine includes securing food sovereignty forever.
S&P Homestead Farm
There are other ways to address rising housing costs than destroying beautiful land and creating subdivisions. This proposal addresses a great need in our community especially as climate change creates a greater need for sustainable, small scale farming education and access. We can't try to solve one problem and not account for all the negative downstream effects. We need to see the bigger picture and think to the future. Please don't destroy Spokane's greatest asset and beauty that make it what it is.
Sustainable Obtainable Solutions
Healthy farms and ecosystems are the lifeblood of communities, especially in eastern Washington. Our environment and economies depend on resilience in the face of drought, floods and weather perturbations. Converting productive farmlands to housing developments destroys that resilience. Insatiable is not sustainable.
William H Aal
Having farms in and around cities is important for food security! Please preserve this precious property for farming.
Fresh food is the most important commodity humans need. We *don't* need housing placed on viable farm land.
This land should remain farmable! I truly hope our City Council members and president don't the mistake of letting developers destroy such an amazing resource. Doing so would indicate that they value temporary benefit over the long term health of our city and a more sustainable urban growth plan. This area is also at risk for intense floods and not suitable for a new neighborhood at the expanse of planted open space that can mitigate flood reach and damage.
Norman T. Baker, PhD
Quality soils are becoming more and more rare thru misuse and development. Save this land.
Abby - Simple Joy Farm
Aren't we done destroying the planet? What happens after we pave over every piece of farmland? Vinegar Flats should be kept as a historic area
Alfred Anderson, Susan Camp Conservation Easement
The destruction of open space is wrong. Spokane and Spokane County need density and comprehensive planning to preserve farmland, riparian areas, and open space.
Leslie J Hutchinson
Nine Mile Falls, WA
Jennifer Brock Olson
Cheney , WA.
Thinking of the future sustainability by protecting this will help our kids...
We cannot destroy the last of our local farms within city limits.
What is wrong with peoples thinking. Having farmland so close to a city is a privilege.
Diana Roberts, PhD. Professor Emeritus, WSU Extension
As a former agronomist for WSU Extension, Spokane County, I agree that it is imperative to conserve our farmland wherever possible. Vinegar Flats is a farmland jewel amidst development. It must be conserved as working farms!
3rd generation Spokanite who owes it to the children on the next generation to cultivate a healthy community.
Community gardens and city farmland is so important for the overall wellbeing of individuals and communities. I’m all for more access to housing, especially affordable housing but not in this way. I’ve spent time with and seen how this land area has not only benefited my own understanding of food but also provides healthy food access to Spokane’s low income neighborhoods. May this rich history continue to develop!
Fertile Valley Farm and Gardens
Please keep this valuable area farmland for future generations.
Seattle (from Spokane and family still lives in Spokane)
I grew up in Vinegar flats. Its such a magical place to be as a kid and I think over crowding it would take this away as well as removing prime farmland. Please don't ruin it!
Michael P Dague
WE do not need more development. WE need to keep farmland and open spaces free from the greed of developers who cannot see past bottom lines.
This is a one of a kind farmland area in our city that cannot be replaced. Please do not destroy it!
Purchasing the farmland for conservation, rather than housing, maintains a valuable resource for sustainable farm to table businesses. If the current land owner needs/wants to sell , that is their right. If there is money available in conservation that would be the highest and best use for all concerned. Afterall, you can't eat money.
In the four decades that I have called Spokane home I have watched at our vital farmland has been replaced by subdivisions. We need to preserve what’s left and encourage infill where it will not add to traffic and sprawl issues. No farms, no food.
Formerly from Stevens County and much time spent in Spokane. I think it would be fair to say that the general public would much rather have farmland and farming education on this land then a gated community for well-to-do people. Put it to a vote to the general public if the politicians dare.
Corrina D Wilson
Allowing development of this parcel is, as outlined, a terrible idea on a great many levels.
Preservation of farmland is crucial to our community's ability to adapt in a changing world.
Dr. Michael and Linda Chase
We understand that the easiest land to develop on is rich, flat, bottom land, leaving behind hills and rocky areas. But once bottom land is covered with homes, it it lost to caring groups such as Spokane County Conservation Futures. The site on Vinegar Flats is perfectly situated for the goals formulated by the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group which would like the land to become City-owned farmland. It foresees a consortium of local non-profit organizations and educational institutions managing the land for growing food for local consumption. Regenerative agriculture methods and permaculture principals would be employed. In addition, a small community education center for learning small-scale farming skills, urban agriculture and other agrarian arts would be established if the Working Group’s vision for the property came to be implemented.
K. Lightfoot, D.V.M.
Please save our beautiful lands for our habitat to flourish and for our future generations to enjoy.
I enjoy organic produce from a Vinegar Flats Organic Farm Stand and the farmer's market every summer. We need to protect this precious farm land less than a mile from downtown Spokane and the farmer's market.
Olympia (Spokane native)
Spokane, WA(former Vinegar Flats resident)
This property is clearly a flood plain. Appropriate to use as farmland. If developed into housing eventual flood damage is inevitable. The loss of quality food producing ground such as this to development is irrevocable and wrong.
Keep it "green"
Ian A Cunningham
Maintaining the heritage and history of Vinegar Flats as a community of working farms should be a priority for the people of Spokane and our elected and appointed leaders. Allowing the development of this property for single family homes shows how economic self-interest continues to override sound growth planning.
This property could be a great first step for some homeless toward self reliance.
If the property was to be purchased by a group and designated as community garden space and agricultural teaching grounds, many who are without proper nutrition or the knowledge of how to attain that nutrition could find how to help themselves toward a more productive life.
W. Thomas Soeldner
The matter of additional housing along this corridor of Hwy 195 continues to be raised. I travel this route frequently from my home south of Spokane. The traffic problems that would be caused by large scale additional housing alone would be serious. And it is clear from recent news reports that there is no state or local funding to address such additional traffic and will not be for many years. Finally, and most importantly, the loss of this open space in Vinegar Flats and its food production capacity would be a tragedy in a community that prides itself on its connection to nature and its benefits to physical, psychological, and emotional health of its residents.
Lisa R Long
Responsible Growth * NE Washington
It's time pro developers understood that food doesn't come from the grocery stores; it comes from agricultural land. We don't need less ag. land we need more to feed the growing population. Try eating a house.
Vinegar Flats is a very special neighborhood simple because it is geographically close to the city's center while still being able to maintain a country feel. It is a gem, and to destroy that environment will only be unjust to the entirety of Spokane. Please reconsider.
Brian L Blackorby
Doreen K Givens
With large developments already covering hills overlooking Hwy 195, a potential development like this is an example of incrementally creating excessive sprawl. Urban farm land will be needed as food continues to localize. A development in this area doesn't fit better goals of city density and efficiency.
Please preserve and protect this precious farmland.
I agree with the actions of this group and believe that we must act locally to preserve food globally. Though I live 70 miles from the project, there remains a good probability of any food produced or farming impacted in this radius from my home to affect my ability to benefit. I urge leaders in Spokane to support its historic farming industry and seek other creative avenues for developmental sprawl. Additionally, it is difficult to imagine how any planner could envision that putting so many housing units on such a wide flood plane is environmentally safe.
Lets keep the good farmland as a potential for continuing to grow local food. Please.
Spokane Food Policy Council
LeAnn Fanning Knoles
Four Lakes, WA
The benefits to all by reserving this fertile and historical area for farming far outweighs the financial benefit to a developer.
Bonnie A. Stewart
I’ve been hiking the bluff for 25 years, I look down in that parcel and feel so fortunate that it is not developed. For years I thought that that piece of land should be worked by our local high school students and middle school students to help provide food for our schools, and for them to learn where their food comes from, and how it’s grown.
Bonny Jean Gulden
Prime farm land is a precious, irreplaceable resource. Protect it. Conserve it. Build on scrub land.
Let's not put housing on our viable farmland!
I am very concerned about anyone building houses on a flood zone. With climate change increasing the severity of the storms coming through, how could anyone think that it could be safe to do that?
Gerald E. Rolwes
It is best to be forward thinking and working to protect prime farmland. We can build tacky developments elsewhere.
Vinegar Flats Spokane, WA
I live in Vinegar Flats on part of the creek. This pristine area deserves to be preserved. It is a travesty and a public concern to let a developer come in and destroy our beautiful rural area all in the name of profits. This area is precious. The creek is already heavily polluted and the increased traffic will be a safety hazard in an area that is already of concern. What happened to efforts to keep this area safe?
Melinda Hurt, owner Doctored Locks
I relocated my business to Vinegar Flats because of the peace and serenity of the area. My direct neighbor farms his land and the surrounding areas are something I (and my customers) enjoy very much. This is one of the few areas that have not been overtaken by new developments and every effort should be taken to preserve the rich history of the area. My business resides in a building that has been a goods store since 1900! The farmlands must be preserved for future generations. Farm to table should remain local to our neighbors, not pushed to the outskirts! We should live our values. Every effort should be made to keep farming on this parcel, not create another development that will destroy the ecosystem and pollute the waterways.
This area is one of the last quiet, peaceful, and undeveloped areas in Spokane. The reasons listed by the Farmland Preservation Working Group are totally accurate, this area is poorly suited for a high density neighborhood community. The traffic situation on 195 is not safe especially in winter conditions, difficult to navigate with recent road changes, and the farmlands are prone to flooding. Continuing to push to build high density neighborhoods in the last of our rural communities of this city is distressing and not at all congruent with Spokane values. The existing community takes great pride in keeping this a peaceful area. Continuing with this development would not only be an egregious misstep in preserving farmland and Spokane heritage, but a massive disservice to this long standing community that would result in major disruption.
Addie H. Candib, American Farmland Trust
The mission of American Farmland Trust is to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land.
Otis Orchards, WA
Having a working farm be cut up into parcels for homes is a nightmare. When are our city fathers going to realize that good food doesn't just materialize out of thin air. Why do you think farmer's markets are so popular? Other areas of the country are leaving farms in the middle of developments in order to promote awareness of fresh food, and educating our young people where it comes from.