Juneau’s City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Juneau’s City Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Empire Live: Clean-up for River Road junkyard

Assembly votes to speed up clean up

Summary: Banning micromobility devices has been put on hold for now, and will be taken up by the Committee of the Whole.

The Assembly did decide to appropriate $250,000 to hire a contractor to clean up an illegal car junkyard on River Road.

8:05 p.m.

Port Director Carl Uchytil is giving a report on the Lumberman, the tug boat left in the Gastineau Channel for the last few years. Docks and Harbors is looking at selling or demolishing the boat.

The boat is currently CBJ’s problem, Uchytil says, there are no other partner organizations that could help pay for dealing with the boat.

8 p.m.

Now that money has been appropriated for the cleanup process, a contractor has to be chosen for the job. The city has received two bids from contractors to remove cars, tires, batteries and other detritus from the property.

Because the property owner has requested a 30-day extension on the court ordered removal of the cars, Gladziszewski says she is willing to wait another 30 days.

But because the city is not quite sure where the property owner is moving the cars he has removed, Assembly

members are adament they tackle the issue now rather than wait for the problem is get worse.

Motion to hire Island Contractors passes 7-1, with only Gladziszewski voting against.

7:52 p.m.

Jill Maclean, director of the Community Development Department says that a number of cars have been moved from the property but it’s not clear they’ve been moved to a permitted location. Because the property owner has not been cooperative in the past Assembly members are wary they will be in the future.

Assembly member Loren Jones says he understands the concerns about not recouping the money, but the Assembly can spend far too much time debating. If past behavior is an indicator of future behavior for the property owner, Jones says, it’s true of the Assembly as well.

Assistant City Attorney Teresa Bowen says that the money ordered by the court has not been paid by the property owner, who also owns Capital Towing.

Assembly member Wade Bryson echoes some of his colleagues concerns the city will end up paying for the problem one way or the other.

Mayor Beth Weldon says the city has given the property owner more than enough chances to clean up the property.

The Assembly votes to appropriate the money. Bowen said the city has legal mechanisms to get money from the property owner. The city appropriates $250,000 for the cleanup.

7:33 p.m.

A property owner on River Road has set up an illegal car junkyard with roughly 260 vehicles. The city is working to clean the property and has arranged for the owner to pay for the clean up. But the city needs to appropriate $250,000 in order to fund the cleanup, to be repaid by the property owner, funded through the sale of the cars.

A citizens who lives next to the car lot is complaining that several court orders against the property owner have not been followed. He is concerned the city will never recover its money.

Some members of the Assembly are concerned about recouping the money as well.

7:20 p.m.

The Assembly is looking at potentially banning the commercial use of micromobility devices in the downtown and docks areas citing congestion concerns.

One private citizens is giving public comment asking the Assembly to reconsider portions of the proposed ordinance. He and his partner are hoping to set up an electronic-bike tour company within the area designated by the ordinance. He asks for a corridor which might allow e-bike tours.

“Don’t shut the door on a green mode of transportation,” he says.

While the Assembly has spent time discussing the issue, this is the first time they’ve seen the language of the proposed ordinance. Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski proposes sending the ordinance to the Committee of the Whole for further discussion.

While the ordinance proposing the prohibition has been sent to the COW, an ordinance extending the moratorium on the current ban on micromobility devices passes.

7:11 p.m.

With little discussion, the Assembly appropriates $10,000 for the Housing and Homelessness Services Coordination Project to tackle homeless issues. The money comes from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority as part of a grant for the project.

7:10 p.m.

The Assembly is taking public comment on various subjects.

One woman who lives in north Douglas is expressing her concerns about development laws. She says there is bias in the development office towards developers and against individuals. It is far too difficult for individuals to build on their own property because of how the laws are written.

A second woman comes up and echoes the previous speakers claim that city officials favor developers. Both women have claimed that developers who violated city laws are given approval after construction has taken place but private citizens who follow the rules have their applications denied.

7:00 p.m.

Tonight at the Assembly: Commercial use of “micromobility devices” like bikes and scooters and their electric equivalents are set to be banned from the downtown area. Also the Assembly is set to discuss but not vote on the proposed senior living development to be built on Vintage Park Drive.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or psegall@juneauempire.com.

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