What is your highest priority for the CBJ to accomplish during your term in office? Explain why this is a priority and how you would facilitate this change.
A major issue I hope to address is housing. For years, surveys have shown housing issues in Juneau. Our recently completed Economic Development Plan reiterated what we all know: we need more housing stock in Juneau! It is not just my priority, it is a community priority. Lack of housing, and affordable housing is at least partly responsible for our flat population numbers. If we want to encourage people to come and work in Juneau, we need places for them to live. I will continue to work with the city manager and the Assembly to facilitate changes in our local ordinances that encourage housing development, such as the current re-write being done on Title 49 as it relates to subdivisions.
Juneau needs more housing for several kinds of populations that range from the homeless to young families on limited budgets. The Housing First effort is an encouraging start, but much more is needed. What additional actions would you suggest the Assembly take to get on with solving the housing problem in Juneau?
As I stated above, at the Assembly and staff levels we should continue our work on Title 49. Our Community Development Department must maintain a “can do” attitude, assisting landowners and developers to work within our regulations to create more housing. We should continue making CBJ land available for development where feasible. Recent changes made to the building codes as they relate to attached apartments on single family homes should have a positive impact in that market as well.
As Alaska tightens its belt, city revenue is likely to shrink as well. What are your suggestions to increase efficiency in Juneau and/or reduce the municipal budget?
All the municipalities in Alaska will feel the effects as the State of Alaska grapples with its budget shortfall. Tightening budgets provide an opportunity to streamline services and increase efficiencies. These opportunities are more easily overlooked during good budget times. Recently we merged two CBJ departments, Engineering and Public Works. This merger saved money. I think the Assembly and staff need to look for opportunities such as this in the future as well. The city and the community should continuously examine how we (the city) does business and what services we provide. I will continue to look for ways to reduce our costs.
When considering public transportation, traffic, and parking issues in our municipality, what do you consider to be the major concerns and the solutions for them?
One of the major concerns in Juneau is parking availability downtown. The scarcity of parking downtown has been an issue as long as I have lived here, and probably pre-dates me by many years. Two municipal parking structures have been built and are currently over-sold, yet parking availability continues to be a hot-button topic. I wish I could say I had a silver bullet for the parking issue, but I do not. In this community, we are very limited by space. I think we should encourage the use of car-pooling, park-and-ride and Capital Transit, while continuing to look at ways to increase parking space efficiencies downtown.
The legalization of marijuana requires new regulations for CBJ that determine how the use of this substance will be handled in the municipality. For example, the Assembly must decide whether or not to allow the production and sale of marijuana edibles such as cookies, candies or sodas, and whether or not to allow smoking parlors for marijuana, including in the downtown area to draw in cruise ship passengers. Select one of these two specific decisions that must be made and discuss what you would like to see done..
Allowing legal marijuana edibles is a very touchy topic for many people in Juneau. There are strong proponents and strong opponents. As a former police officer, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to make decisions regarding this matter when I did not support this initiative. The Assembly will publicly discuss the pros and cons of allowing edibles. If it is decided edibles should be allowed, then we must have the discussion and subsequent decisions on where it will be allowed. One of my concerns is regardless of what we decide, there are going to be stumbling blocks along the way and we will be revisiting the issues brought up with this initiative for quite some time.
Tourism is a significant part of the CBJ budget. What steps should be taken to make sure tourism is a positive experience for both visitors and residents?
Most businesses in town follow the Tourism Best Management Practices. Following these voluntary guidelines has helped the tourism industry work with our community to minimize the impacts of tourism. The CBJ has improved signage that assists tourists in finding their destinations downtown. The historic district sign ordinance was updated in an attempt to “clean up” the appearance of some of the businesses. Statter Harbor upgrades will help everyone tremendously. The city is working with the downtown businesses and residents regarding future upgrades to the streets and sidewalks there. CDD is working with the Auke Bay neighborhood on their plan and will soon start it with Lemon Creek.
The Juneau Economic Plan tells us that we need to be courting young people to fill state positions of retiring Juneauites. What can the Assembly do to further this goal?
Encouraging young workers with families to move to Juneau will take several things. We need to increase the good paying, year-round jobs, such as the mining industry and fisheries research provides. The Assembly is working to try and bring more fisheries jobs to the Ted Stevens NOAA facility. We need more available housing (see my previous answers regarding housing). We also need more child and daycare facilities, which in turn allows for more parents to work away from home. The Assembly recently approved some zoning changes made by staff and the CBJ Planning Commission, at our request. These changes should make it more economically feasible to open and maintain childcare facilities.