The room is fuller than normal with a blend of folks curious about the proposed New JACC and Centennial Hall projects, onsite marijuana consumption and an assisted senior living development tax abatement among other things on a long agenda. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

The room is fuller than normal with a blend of folks curious about the proposed New JACC and Centennial Hall projects, onsite marijuana consumption and an assisted senior living development tax abatement among other things on a long agenda. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Live: Assembly considers onsite marijuana consumption, assisted living tax break and more

Live coverage from City Hall.

Summary: Onsite marijuana consumption will be allowed under some conditions. In the case of smokable marijuana, that would be at state-approved sellers in outdoor spaces and edibles would be allowed inside.

An assisted living development tax break was OK’d.

A motion to bring repealing a resolution to pursue annexation at the next Assembly meeting failed.

New JACC and Centennial Hall project proposition discussions were referred to Committee of the Whole.

10:01 p.m.

Edwardson’s motion is to introduce a resolution at the next meeting to repeal the resolution approving annexation.

The motion failed 3-5.

Gladziszewski voted against it, Triem against it, Becker against it, Weldon against it and Hale against it. Bryson, Edwardson and Edwardson voted for it.

That means annexation pursuit will continue with filing of a formal petition.

10 p.m.

Weldon said she is sympathetic to Angoon, but Juneau should protect its interests.

“Unfortunately, Angoon is not in a position right now to become a borough, we have waited time to see if that would happen,” Weldon said.

Edwardson is interjecting again.

He is as clearly opposed to annexation as possible. He is not swayed by the model boundary argument.

“They were never meant to establish claims to the land,” Edwardson said.

He said he has spent at least a hundred hours learning about annexation, and it is the Assembly’s job to learn more about annexation.

9:50 p.m.

Bryson said as a new Assembly member he doesn’t know how to feel about what’s being considered.

He asked if there might be a way to table pursuing annexation in order to receive information.

“I feel like I don’t have enough information to make an informed decision right now,” Bryson said.

Triem asked what the process is like going forward.

Palmer said it’s a long process, and if the current resolution stands, there will be an additional public meeting that outlines what annexation means.

Then, there would be a public hearing in front of the Local Boundary Commission, which would then make a recommendation.

It would then need to be in front of the Legislature in either January of 2020 or 2021, Palmer said, the Legislature could then either take action or let it go through.

“The reason we should annex is why our boundaries were drawn in the first place protecting our ore bodies,” Weldon said.

She said it could mean expansion for mines or the possible creation of a new mine.

9:40 p.m.

Hughes-Skandijs said she seconds Edwardson’s comments.

“I would like to take this up as an Assembly,” she said.

She recognized Gladziszewski’s concerns but thinks annexation has large consequences.

“I don’t feel comfortable going forward with this annexation because I feel it’s poor behavior to our Southeast neighbors and the timing really couldn’t be worse,” Hughes-Skandijs said.

Hale said she is not an advocate for reversing a prior Assembly’s decision, so she doesn’t support the motion to consider repealing the resolution.

“This is a tough topic, I would really like there to be some kind of public process going on,” Hale said.

Watt said there were public meetings and there has been outreach to Angoon.

Edwardson said he’s sorry that city employees put so much work into this matter, but he thinks it should be revisited.

“It’s a bad decision-making process called sunk costs,” Edwardson said. “I have no sympathy for the costs that we have put in… I think this deserves a long discussion, and I think the only way to have the discussion is to make a motion to repeal.”

9:30 p.m.

Edwardson made a motion that at the next Assembly meeting the Assembly consider repealing the resolution that authorized the pursuit of annexation.

Edwardson said you annex because population or industry increase, and neither has happened in Juneau.

“My motion is on whether or not to address this again, not the merits of the arguments,” Edwardson said.

He noted annexation squeaked by with a 5-4 vote in 2018.

[New Assembly members split on annexation]

He said at a time Southeast Alaska is essential under attack by the state government it is not prudent to rile up neighboring communities.

Becker asked if Greens Creek Mine is in the unannexed area.

Watt said it is within the borough’s boundaries.

“We would just be taking back what prior Assemblies did,” Gladziszewski said. “This is the beginning of a longer process and certainly not the end.”

She said she quibbled with the previous decision but thought it was a reasonable decision.

“I am asking for a platform to discuss this,” Edwardson said. “I think it’s worth the time.”

9:20 p.m.

Hale asked Watt why annexation efforts are happening now when the resolution pursuing annexation was passed in 2018.

Hale asked if it might be time to revisit public process since about 18 months have passed.

Palmer detailed a lengthy public process that’s involved multiple public meetings, and the reason more than a year passed between a resolution passing and attempting to file the petition was data collection.

“It was quiet from public view, but staff was diligently working,” Palmer said.

9:10 p.m.

There are now only two people left in the audience, and the conversation is about to turn toward annexation.

8:40 p.m.

Things have slowed down somewhat.

The next high-profile matter on the agenda is an update on annexation.

City and Borough of Juneau is ready to submit an annexation for formal review, according to the meeting packet.

8:30 p.m.

Now, an ordinance that would offer roughly a 75 percent tax break to assisted living developments that create 15 or more new residential units for senior citizens.

Sue Douglas is the first person giving testimony.

“This ordinance is an incentive to help attract developers and operators who want to come here but find it difficult,” Douglas said.

She said developing large assisted living facilities in Juneau can be cost-prohibitive.

There was no objection to the ordinance, which passed unanimously.

8:20 p.m.

While the onsite consumption ordinance is effective after 30 days, it might be some time until anyone can light up outdoors.

Canfield said her business, Green Elephant, is probably the only seller poised to offer outside onsite consumption, but she doesn’t see taking advantage of it soon.

“It’s not going to happen this year,” she said.

However, she said other businesses may attempt to take advantage of indoor edible consumption more quickly.

8:15 p.m.

Onsite, outdoor smoking was approved with only Weldon and Becker voting against it, an amendment made means onsite consumption of edibles would also be allowed.

8:10 p.m.

Weldon has an amendment.

Her amendment would allow only vaping outdoors at certain sellers.

Assembly member Carole Triem said there are outdoor places that people can smoke cigarettes, and the types of smoke should not be treated differently.

Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs echoed that sentiment.

Assembly member Rob Edwardson also opposed the amendment on the basis it changes the intent of the ordinance.

Weldon and Becker were the only two people to vote for the vaping-only amendment.

“I don’t want marijuana used outside or inside, if I had my, way nowhere, but I do not have my way” Becker said.

Edwardson said since people of Alaska have voted for onsite consumption, and the Assembly should do what it can to help businesses.

Hale said she things the ordinance being considered is a good first step.

Gladziszewski said allowing outside smoking is a “deliberate way” to give people a place to smoke without exposing people to secondhand smoke.

She said California was a leader in smoke-free restaurants but now allows onsite consumption.

“If California can figure it out, Juneau can figure it out too,” Gladziszewski.

Triem said in light of her vocal support for allowing onsite consumption she may have given people the impression she is a big smoker of marijuana.

“Actually, I am not,” Triem said, but she said she is “very much in favor” of allowing onsite consumption.

7:55 p.m.

Lillian Petershore made a similar appeal to Jones and cited her Aak’w Kwáan heritage as a reason for wanting to keep Juneau safe and vibrant.

“To give more license right now would be bad,” Petershore said. “When you give license, it’s only a matter of time before more license is wanted.”

She was the last speaker, and now the matter is back to the Assembly.

Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski wished to make an amendment that outdoor consumption of edibles be allowed.

Assembly member Mary Becker objected to the amendment on the basis that she does not want to see marijuana smoking at all.

Bryson said the legality of marijuana is not being debated tonight.

“If you don’t like marijuana smoke, you should be for this ordinance,” Bryson said.

He said he has five children of his own, and he does not want marijuana smoke around his children.

Mayor Beth Weldon politely asked him to stick to the amendment.

Bryson said the amendment was a really good idea.

7:45 p.m.

Justin Jones began his testimony by speaking Lingít, the language of Tlingit people, said he wants his ancestors’ land to be a beautiful, vibrant place.

Wilcox is up now.

He said he is a lifelong non-driver, but he has to be subjected to exhaust everyday.

“We’re looking for 100 percent safety?” Wilcox asked. “We’re in Alaska. We have crabbing. We have oil.”

He advocated for allowing vaping and edibles indoors and smokables outdoors might be a good compromise.

Jennifer Canfield, co-owner of marijuana retailer Green Elephant, is advocating for onsite consumption.

Canfield said smoking cannabis is not completely harmful, but she wants to be allowed to let people do what they’re going to do anyway and keep smoking off the street.

7:40 p.m.

The public hearing for onsite marijuana consumption is happening.

Several members of the public signed up to testify. Each will have three minutes.

Kristin Cox is up first and thanked the Assembly for protecting clean indoor air.

“We know that inhaling anything but clean air is not safe,” Cox said. “I don’t believe onsite consumption is going to eliminate illegal public consumption.”

Emily Davis, who works in tobacco prevention for Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, gave testimony next.

She said secondhand marijuana smoke can have similar effects to secondhand cigarette smoke.

“No type of ventilation system will protect the public from secondhand smoke, vapor or aerosol,” Davis said.

7:35 p.m.

New JACC projects and Centennial Hall projects are all heading to the Committee of the Whole next Monday for more discussion and likely decisions about what level of support for each project will make it to ballots.

7:30 p.m.

Karla Hart of Neighborhoods Affected by Tourism is talking about economic leakage in the tourism industry. Specifically, she is pointing out that few helicopter tours have Alaska-base ownership and relatively little revenue from the tours reach Juneau.

Kirby Day of Tourism Best Management Practices said seasonal stanchions to guide people on South Franklin Street went up today.

7:20 p.m.

Bartholomew said he’s enjoyed working with the Assembly, but he closed with a laugh.

“I won’t really miss working,” he said.

7:15 p.m.

City Manager Rorie Watt is giving Bartholomew some symbolic gifts —a customized CBJ finances Rubik’s cube and a baseball signed by city staff and the Assembly.

“We’re going to miss Bob and his ability to talk about municipal finances in a way that made it accessible to city staff and the public,” Watt said.

7:10 p.m.

The room is fuller than normal with a blend of folks curious about the proposed New JACC and Centennial Hall projects, onsite marijuana consumption and an assisted senior living development tax abatement among other things on a long agenda. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

The room is fuller than normal with a blend of folks curious about the proposed New JACC and Centennial Hall projects, onsite marijuana consumption and an assisted senior living development tax abatement among other things on a long agenda. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

7:05 p.m.

Tonight is starting with recognition of a handful of city employees.

First up is Cathy Turner, who is retiring after 23 years with the library.

Next up is Gary Gillette with Docks & Harbors.

Lastly is City Finance Director Bob Bartholomew.

6:55 p.m.

Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska,is here for the public hearing of an ordinance that would allow for onsite consumption of marijuana at state-approved sellers with outdoor smoking spaces.

Wilcox isn’t thrilled with the ordinance, but said if it passes it would be progress in his view.

Members of Juneau Neighborhoods Affected by Tourism, a group that wants the city to cap the number of tourists and/or ships allowed to come to Juneau, are also taking seats.

6:35 p.m.

The Human Resources Committee wrapped up about 30 minutes earlier than it needed to.

The regular Assembly meeting will start with special recognition for three city employees.

Assembly member Rob Edwardson joked the loaded Assembly agenda will be cleared by 7:30 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

Both options for Centennial Hall would in part be paid for via a 2-percent increase in hotel-motel tax over the next 15 years. That increase would need to be approved by the Assembly and then ratified by voters.

6:25 p.m.

Things have hit an early lull. The Assembly is reviewing some rules of procedure amendments with City Attorney Robert Palmer.

By showing up early, I was able to speak to Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale to understand what’s going on with all the ordinances introducing propositions on tonight’s agenda.

Essentially, there are competing ideas for how much monetary support Centennial Hall renovations and a New Juneau Arts & Culture Center rebuild should receive from the city.

Since discussion of exact dollar amounts never materialized during Public Works Committee meetings held over the last several months, those talks are now happening at the Committee of the Whole level.

However, propositions needed to be introduced tonight so ordinances that would lead to propositions for either a $7.5 million New JACC grant or a $4.5 million grant are both on the agenda to be referred to the Committee of the Whole.

Similarly, propositions that would allow the city to issue either $10 million in general obligation bonds or $7 million in obligation bonds for Centennial Hall are on the agenda.

6:10 p.m.

Duff Mitchel, JCOS Board Chair, is kicking things off with an annual report.

Mitchell said some of the sustainability commissions accomplishments this year include: Participating in review of a livestock ordinance, conducting two visitor sustainability sessions in January and April, assisted drafting a letter to the National Forest Service supporting Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center improvements and more.

JCOS also supported implementation of the Juneau Renewable Energy Strategy throughout the year.

Assembly member Wade Bryson asked Mitchell about accomplishments he’s most proud of during his tenure at the head of JCOS.

“JCOS was very early with the electric transportation push, or I should say, information sharing,” Mitchell said.

He said ongoing pursuit of electric buses is also an effort of which he was proud.

Currently, the aquatics board doesn’t have representation here, but their report was submitted in writing.

This could be a somewhat short preamble to a meeting that Assembly members expect to run long.

6 p.m.

Tonight’s City and Borough of Juneau action is starting with a Human Resources Committee meeting.

Juneau Commission on Sustainability will be delivering an annual report and making appointments, according to the night’s agenda.

The Aquatics Board’s annual report is also tabbed for tonight.

The Assembly meeting will start in about an hour, and it’s a pretty loaded agenda.

Ordinances will be introduced that could mean utility rate changes and propositions related to the Juneau Arts & Culture Center and Centennial Hall, onsite marijuana smoking and assisted living tax abatement will get public hearings,and near the end of the meeting there will be an annexation update.

[Read about annexation here]

[Read about onsite smoking here]


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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