Karla Hart leads a rally in Marine Park on April 9 calling for a ban on large cruise ships on Saturdays in Juneau. Supporters turned in signatures on Thursday for a petition seeking to put the question to local voters. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Karla Hart leads a rally in Marine Park on April 9 calling for a ban on large cruise ships on Saturdays in Juneau. Supporters turned in signatures on Thursday for a petition seeking to put the question to local voters. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Supporters of Saturday cruise ship ban say they have enough signatures for ballot initiative

Total only slightly exceeds minimum, but backers will have 10 more days if certified total is short.

This story has been corrected to note the group Protect Juneau’s Future was formed in 2021, not this year.

Supporters of a petition seeking to put a Saturday ban on large cruise ships on the fall municipal election ballot said Thursday they submitted more than the minimum signatures required to the Juneau city clerk’s office and are prepared to get more if the certified total falls short 10 days from now.

Residents sponsoring what they call the Ship Free Saturdays initiative brought 2,459 signatures to the clerk’s office on Thursday morning — exactly 100 more than required — but one petition book with 37 signatures was invalidated due to lack of proper notarization, said Karla Hart, a leader of the campaign. The city clerk’s office has 10 days to review and certify or reject signatures.

Petitioners are typically encouraged by officials to gather significantly more than the minimum required signatures since some names may be declared invalid by the clerk’s office for reasons such as duplicates or not being a valid resident. Hart said she isn’t concerned about the small safety margin of the current signatures submitted, since supporters will get an additional period if they fail to meet the certified minimum.

“We knew going in that we had (another) 10 days to make it up,” she said. “And so we decided to just use that 10 days because to be honest it was a pretty tough collecting environment in terms of, not so much the (opposing) signs that the industry had put out, but the change in civic society that places that normally we would gather signatures weren’t welcoming initiative signature gatherers. So we had to meet a lot more dispersed population.”

The 2,359 certified signatures required is 25% of the total voters in the most recent regular municipal election.

The petition calls for a ban on cruise ships with a capacity for 250 or more passengers on Saturdays and July 4.

“All we are seeking is one day a week, plus the Fourth of July, when locals can go downtown, visit the glacier, hike on our trails, and go fishing without competing with thousands and thousands of cruise passengers,” said Steve Krall, a supporter of the initiative, in a press release issued Thursday by Ship Free Saturdays. “This is a modest and reasonable request: a simple day of rest for everyone.”

If the proposed ban qualifies for the ballot its opposition will include the group Protect Juneau’s Future, which at its website states “on Saturdays alone, cruise passengers are estimated to bring in nearly $32 million of direct spending into Juneau’s economy in 2025.” In a statement issued Thursday, the group expressed disappointment about the number of signatures turned in exceeding the necessary minimum.

“This measure threatens to undermine the significant progress made through open dialogue between our community and the cruise industry,” the statement notes. “We believe such important decisions should not be made through a ballot process but rather through continued collaboration and communication.”

The group opposed a similar attempt at limiting cruise ships in 2021 with three measures imposing restrictions. Hart, who also led efforts favoring those measures, has previously said organizers’ efforts were limited due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Juneau set a record for cruise ship traffic last year with about 1.67 million passengers, with about the same number forecast this year despite a new five-ship-a-day ban taking effect due to an agreement between the city and cruise industry. Local leaders say they are attempting or considering various steps to lessen the impacts of tourism, including spreading visitor activities over a larger area (including a gondola at Eaglecrest Ski Area scheduled to be operating by the summer of 2026) and a daily limit on the number of passengers.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 15

Here’s what to expect this week.

An empty classroom at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on July 20, 2022. (Lisa Phu/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska faces consequences as federal education funding equity dispute continues

State officials offered feds a $300,000 compromise instead of $17 million adjustment.

Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, D-Anchorage, speaks on the Senate floor on March 6. Gray-Jackson was the sponsor of a bill to make Juneteenth a state holiday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
On Juneteenth, Gov. Dunleavy weighs adding a new legal holiday for Alaska

If the governor signs recently passed bill, Juneteenth would be observed as a state holiday in 2025.

Observers from the U.S. Department of Justice examine the accessibility of a polling place in Juneau’s Mendenhall Valley during the Aug. 16, 2022, primary election. The Justice Department concluded that the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to properly accommodate voters with disabilities. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Disabled Alaskans encountered barriers in recent elections, Justice Department investigation finds

Alaska failed to accommodate people with disabilities who were trying to cast… Continue reading

Independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks during a campaign rally at Legends Event Center on Dec. 20, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)
Want to run for President in Alaska? You’ll need a few thousand friends.

On Friday, supporters of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. turned in more than… Continue reading

A Juneau Police Department officer talks on a radio in a patrol car. Officials said JPD’s communications system, which had an end-of-life date in 2014, needs to be replaced to provide improvements such as full radio coverage within the city and borough limits. (City and Borough of Juneau photo)
Voters may be asked to OK $22.75M in bonds to upgrade emergency communications, wastewater treatment

Juneau Assembly will consider two proposed measures, take public comments, at July 1 meeting.

Construction on Egan Drive on Tuesday evening leaves one lane open in each direction. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Upgrades at Fred Meyer intersection overnight Tuesday and Wednesday to affect traffic

One lane on Egan in each direction open 7-9 p.m.; northbound traffic diverted 9 p.m.-5 a.m.

A view of Angoon from a floatplane on Friday. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Thayer Creek Hydro project fulfills ‘dream of the elders’

Angoon hydropower groundbreaking comes after four decades of effort, seeks to stabilize future costs

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, June 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read