OK. Perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic. Such a proclamation flies in the face of all my efforts to highlight the hidden or overlooked areas of Spokane. A "worst" city wouldn't have an awesome riverfront area like we do and it wouldn't have such a thriving arts scene.
Would it kill us to (collectively) clean this place up a bit? It's Springtime so that's a perfect excuse to lend a hand to get this place into better shape. The problems, though, aren't simple enough to blame on winter. The city has a metro-wide malaise when it comes to keeping itself clean. The City government isn't wholly at fault. Yes, they could do more but I place the blame more on individuals and businesses that own or manage parcels.
Simply picking up some loose rubbish would be a grand help but the problems lie deeper than a carelessly discarded soda cup. Too many property owners neglect their property for months and years on end. Leaves pile up and, if they're not removed, will decompose into smaller bits and fill crevices. In those crevices, windblown seeds take hold and burst forth. The cracks in the sidewalks become mini-forests in no time. The edges where a driveway meets the street is a fine place for weeds to find earth and make something of themselves.
Lawns and median strips on the South Hill are in horrid shape. Imagine 70, 90 years ago when many of these homes were built and their hardscapes created. The soil was fresh and smooth and the lawns began their lives. Even with regular attention by the homeowners, you're going to have a dramatic buildup of "stuff" that will alter the ground. What does that mean? The ground beneath us changes in time. It freezes and heaves and contracts and then heaves again the next year in a slightly different direction. Over time this will raise the ground level and if a majority of surrounding earth is covered by concrete, the soil will find the only spots that it can and will rise up.
In addition to that, add on years and years of gravel that gets strewn on the roads in wintertime. This gravel rarely stays put. It gets further strewn by the countless car tires that travel over it and gets thrown about by our city's hardworking snowplow drivers. Those berms of snow and slush they create and cast upon curbs and medians carry more that just frozen water. They carry the dirt and gravel from the streets. When it melts, these things add further to the already heaving soil. Walk through almost any old neighborhood on the South Hill and you'll see what I mean.
The main problem seems to be that too many folks don't see this as a problem. We can't expect the city to spend a lot of time and resources on something that we don't don't collectively care about. We can't expect business owners to improve their efforts in their land stewardship if we continue to patronize their businesses even when they make Spokane dirty or ugly. We can't expect landlords to improve their properties if we ourselves don't care about our little slices of it.
It's not the lone cigarette butt or weed that matters. It's the apathy that the butt or weed continue to exist unmolested. It's the lack of concern that those items are piling up over the weeks and months and years. It's the failure of shopkeepers to attend to their sidewalks and alleyways. It's the neglect of the homeowners in sweeping their gutters and removing the leaves at the end of Fall. It's the fault of the city in not enforcing existing codes regarding property management.
This is the only Spokane we have. Let's take better care of it. Now, just to show that I still have an eye for the beauty in this city ...
I visited a friend that works in a local building, a very rundown but still awesome building in my area. I won't say which one but suffice it to say, it was a treat to be in there. A mix of history and, well, decrepitude.
Stay classy, Spokane