Anchorage Assembly has new proposal to eliminate single-dwelling zoning across the city

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An obscene amount of snow piled up in Anchorage over the winter. Photo credit: Bob Shem

A controversial proposal to rezone much of Anchorage into an “anything goes” scheme has been greatly simplified by three members of the Assembly. Now, it’s about allowing up to three dwellings per residential lot in every residential neighborhood, rather than the previous plan of “any residential type in any neighborhood.” The prior goal of packing Anchorage with density has been scaled back.

Assembly members Anna Brawley, Daniel Volland and Meg Zaletel announced the new, substitute version (version S-1) of AO 2023-87, which they say reflects feedback they have received. The vast amount of public feedback to the proposed ordinance was negative.

The change in zoning is meant to reflect changing demographics, the new version says. Fewer people of childbearing years are having children and Anchorage has an aging population of Baby Boomers, “a larger proportion of people living alone, and a continuing outflow of working-age adults and families leaving Anchorage and Alaska, particularly over the last decade,” the document explains. “Additionally, the Municipality’s own 2012 Anchorage Housing Market Analysis found that ‘given the historic density of development and rate of redevelopment, the Anchorage Bowl does not have sufficient vacant buildable residential land to accommodate the demand for housing units forecasted over the next 20 years,’” the members of the Assembly wrote.

The Assembly has been working on develop “diversity, equity, inclusion” zoning in Anchorage since last year when AO 2023-66 was introduced to create densely packed neighborhoods throughout the city. Originally, the plan was to have essentially just two zones — housing of any sort and commercial. That meant someone could build an apartment building in the middle of a single-family neighborhood, thus drastically changing not just the personality of the neighborhood, but the level of noise, traffic, and ability to move snow around cars and trash containers in the long Anchorage winters.

The proposed 2023-87 replaced 2023-66 when the former proposal ran into strong public opposition.

The new version of 2023-87 reverses most of the changes proposed through the original plan, including the consolidation of residential zones, and focuses on a single policy objective: Eliminating all single-family zoning in the Anchorage Bowl.

“Things can quickly become overly complicated between legislative drafting and the robust public process, so let’s keep it simple,” said Assemblyman Volland, who added that the new version will be introduced at the June 25 regular meeting of the Assembly. “This new version makes ‘Two-Family Dwellings’ a permitted use by-right in every residential zone and redefines ‘Two-Family Dwellings’ to include detached structures.”

“There’s a brilliance in simplicity,” said Assembly Vice Chair Zaletel. “By making two simple changes—permitting up to three units (two primary and one accessory) by-right where one unit currently exists and allowing dwelling units to be multiple structures—we provide flexibility in current code that empowers more housing.”

The new version also somewhat addresses the snow-removal and storage problem that was created and never addressed by the old proposed ordinance. Anchorage is a snow city and neighborhoods are already challenged by not having enough places in densely packed neighborhoods for snowplows to store snow.

“The public process behind the HOME Initiative has been enlightening,” said Assemblywoman Brawley. “We set out with an ambitious goal to simplify our residential zoning code and make it easier to build housing. Among points of contention, the public process revealed where stakeholders could find consensus. The new version focuses on our points of consensus and sheds the baggage of our disagreements so we can be bold together.” 

The ordinance would have the Planning Commission develop the specific rules around the new zoning plan and the public process may stretch on for many months on this new proposal.

78 COMMENTS

  1. They are at least trying to address the real problem: NIMBYs; pre-existing home-owners in low-density zoned urban neighborhoods who refuse to allow denser developments in their areas. However, it is likely the urban planners will over-correct. As the baby-boomers, now in their 60s and 70s age into their 80s and 90s, the market will crash. It is happening currently in Europe and Japan where there are abandoned houses everywhere. We all got it coming kid.

    • The real problem is that Anchorage has limited space. Cramming more into a small space already just to raise a tax base is a poor plan. Increased crime will surely follow. Look at all the industrial and commercial space that is poorly zoned. Look at the trailer parks that are beyond their limits.
      When people have space they live quality lives and create a better society. You are just creating havoc and chaos and then you’ll complain about poor services.
      Morons in charge!

      • Adding living units to existing dwellings does not alter the parking spaces (on & off street) required when additional vehicles of those new residents arrive with snow removal concerns.
        Those presupposing the solution by adding dwellings to city size lots appear to be pushing for the 15 minute city, a short walk or bike ride everywhere (see 6th avenue downtow bike lanes). Are they really longing for their idyllic college campus/town of years gone by?
        It is not a problem for all, especially if you are a NIMBY….

    • This will trick enterprising homeowners into building tiny houses in attempt to make some rental $$$. But Anchorage is a bad place to be a landlord and it will only get worse with our new socialist overlords.

    • Maybe not Wayne thanks to the free flow of an open border preferred by our political class.
      Japan has no immigration …. we have plenty to replace us (& they in turn DO have children)
      All we need now is free rent to complete the communist puzzle.
      If you had a big house Stalin would assign you roommates accordingly.
      He cut up apts all over Russia, so people could “share”

    • Just wait for the bills to enlarge every utility and service.
      Bigger electric feeders will be needed
      Bigger gas pipelines and more sippy.
      Buget water lines
      Bigger sewer lines and new treatment plant to process the assembly’s crap.
      Just a few items that will cost everyone more money.

  2. This initiative is nothing short of … “Social Engineering Gone WRONG!” If they truly want condensed population, simply convert many of the existing commercial properties within the MOA into residential units. I’m not confident these commercial structures will ever be re-established as once originally envisioned and planned. As for the DEI component, history will prove that pursuit is completely stupid and wasteful. But, then again, history will prove a harsh reality of this unhinged Assembly.

  3. What you have here is a bunch of self entitled idiots, who have driven property taxes for many of us into the ozone, that believe they have the right to tell the rest of us how we have to live. Those of us that bought houses on large lots decades ago dd so because we did not want to live in high density neighborhoods. Those of us that did so have been levied hundreds of thousands of property taxes over those years, so we have effectively paid for our houses twice. Now comes these jerks that want to force us to live in an environment we chose to not live in when we bought our houses. It is patently wrong for elected officials to pontificate in the legislative process in total opposition to the constituency they are supposedly representing.

    • They do not represent R1 or large tract home owners.
      They represent the liberals, newcomers & renters that elected them (by wide margins, I might add)

  4. Allowing homeowners to pack tiny dwellings into their back yards isn’t going to help the homeless problem since the majority of the homeless can’t or won’t pay for housing. Do these brilliant social engineers believe that homeowners are going to invest in building such structures on their property, bringing drug addicts and the mentally ill into them to see the garbage stack up in their yards, and incur the expense of hauling it to the landfill and paying the muni to dump it there? I sold all my rental properties thirty years ago when tenants became too troublesome to deal with. The Covid Wars was the final straw for any intelligent investor when government created “rent holidays” where tenants didn’t have to pay. You’d have to be insane to invest in income property today.

  5. This dumb idea is part of the assembly’s overall goal to move everyone into collective housing, just like their fellow travelers in communist countries. And, then, the dumb voters in Anchorage will elect them to the legislature where they will institute other communist goals such as collective jobs and unionism statewide.

  6. One more reason to leave Alaska, especially Anchorage.
    SFP (stupid f’ing people) who are now on the ASSembly making stupid f’ing decisions.

    • Agree 100% People are leaving Anchorage because they dont want socialism, communism, or the woke agendas crammed down their throat. The Anchorage Assembly and school districts are out of control. Once LaFrance and her cronies take office the city will only get worse. Good. Let people leave Anchorage and take their tax dollars with them. It will only be a matter of time before the mayor and assembly raise property taxes, initiate a sales tax, and create further ways of sucking the money out of their residents.

      • Christy Constantly complaining is really running the show. Lafrance is his latest puppet. He has already drafted every ordinance he can to screw Anchorage out of existence. Last one to leave, turn off the lights…..

    • Just wait until the “Stop Oil” idiots from down south get a foothold in Anchorage, and make their way into local & state office. Then you’re toast, they’ll be taking aim at the north slope with their spray cans, funded by public assistance tax dollars.

      Then, what will Alaska do for revenue, apart from raising property taxes and bringing in state sales and state income taxes.

      Tax the rich they’ll yell, from atop the closed, once prosperous, oil pipeline…….. #nothanks

  7. Anchorage has never implemented a driveway ordinance limiting the frontage for driveways on a lot. Building safety allows no more than 40% of frontage for a residential driveway on a new permit. Streets could be more effectively plowed if driveway widths did not exceed 40% of frontage

    • “…….Streets could be more effectively plowed if driveway widths did not exceed 40% of frontage……”
      Imagine snow removal with the additional cars parked on the street by backyard dwellers. But, then, when did this assembly ever care about snow removal?

      • This ASSembly does not care one iota about what they are doing to destroy Anchorage. Destruction is their goal. They are EVIL.
        Destruction has been going one one tuesday, one ordinance at a time with the commies winning. ask Christy Complaining Constantly, he is their leader…..

  8. They clearly have no interest in preserving the nature of neighborhoods and communities.

    Planning for an influx of illegals.

    • Nobody here voted for any of this. Maybe you could put your “holier than thou” attitude away for a while. It is mighty stale.

      • Naw, it’s doing just fine. The fact you whine about it proves my point Anchorage conservatives love to whine and can’t be bothered to vote.

        Facts are stubborn things.

        Reality sucks. People who deny reality get it worse.

      • They DID vote for it. Elected officials on the left were voted in… and THEY are the ones proposing it.

        You must be new here.

        Or just so far let that right is not visible.

      • By not voting, by voting the demoncrats in, yes, the morons that chose not to vote did in fact get what they voted for.

    • Voting in Anchorage going to be a joke until the 2017 mail-in ballot system goes away.
      I mean, I could have filled in the two municipal ballots that incorrectly showed up at my home address, but I’m not a Democrat.

      I’m guessing that frequently sending ballots to the wrong addresses is a good way to depress the votes in certain unfavorable ‘single family dwelling’ zoned neighborhoods in competitive districts.

      We could barely vote a sex offender out of the Mayor’s office with this system in place.

    • And, the “elites” (otherwise known as parasites) in the WEF will live in mansions, eating steak and caviar, and enjoying their luxurious lifestyles.

    • There is a good 40 minute video about the Agenda 30 on Rumble. I don’t think we can post links here or I would post. It is an interview of a former UN official – whistleblower. Really interesting. The UN is evil and indistinguishable from the WEF as run by the same oligarchs. And of course the UN website touts the Agenda as such a great thing. Awful.

  9. So if you work hard, get a good job and can actually afford a single family home in Anchorage, you should be punished?
    If you want to see what happens to “affordable multi family housing” I suggest you take a drive through Mountain View, Fairview or Spenard.
    That’s what is coming to your neighborhood.

    Good job lefties.

  10. You know, this sounds like an actual problem that the assembly could be addressing: “a continuing outflow of working-age adults and families leaving Anchorage and Alaska, particularly over the last decade.” But no, they’d rather be focused on DEI.

  11. Why would we need more housing if we are losing people and have fewer jobs? It isn’t economically realistic. This would just create a huge population of poverty stricken people reliant on government programs to live.

    • “This would just create a huge population of poverty stricken people reliant on government programs to live.” — You answered your own question.

    • The housing market sure doesn’t reflect losing jobs or population.

      I know it is anecdotal evidence, but two houses on my street went on the market last week for $750,000 and $650,000 on matching 1 and 1/3 acre lots. Both already have sale pending signs out front as of Wednesday morning. Neither home is larger than 2000 square feet and both were built in the 70’s or 80’s. The one listed for $650,000 needs a total remodel as the same people have lived there for 40 years and never updated the home and they are smokers.

      Try to buy property in Anchorage and see how fast properties sell.

      Are multi family dwellings the answer to the lack of affordable housing in Anchorage? I don’t know. But the current market for housing in Anchorage is neither affordable or abundant.

      • The Knik Arm bridge would open up thousands of building sites that would be closer to downtown Anchorage than South Anchorage is. On the down side, this would depress the real estate valuation of homes in Anchorage because of the law of supply and demand.

        • Look again- the property available is mainly commercial not residential. Plus the tolls would be ridiculous and the cost to build and maintain is above anything Alaskans can afford. We don’t want the bridge to expand Anchorage and its problems.
          That’s why it’s a dead idea

          • Most of the prime residential building sites were snatched up by developers years ago and are currently unzoned. The Federal government could be persuaded to pay for 90% of the construction cost, especially if tidal power generation was included. It’s only a dead idea for those who can’t or won’t look to the future.

    • I used to think that would be a great idea to have that bridge. Not now because there would be so many evil-sided people living in the MSB and it would be no better off then Anchorage.

    • God no. Keep them in Anchorage where they belong. The people in the valley dont need liberals and their mindset in their community. Thats why they live there and not Anchorage

  12. Here’s a thought. How ’bout building the bridge and letting people live in the neighborhoods they want to? Anchorage will never be NYC, thank God, but ruining privacy and space means making people live like caged animals. No thanks.

  13. Thank your Lafrance and Assembly voters for the overcrowded slums and fire hazards they are creating along with your additional taxes.

  14. Grand idea, no?
    .
    Look at how much money the city can pick up in higher property taxes levied against multifamily-zoned properties.
    .
    Every homebuilder knows the percentage of a home’s administrative cost, money that doesn’t build the home, but goes to city bureaucrats for planning, permits, inspections, etc, etc.
    .
    Triple the number of houses, stands to reason the city income stream’s at least tripled, no?
    .
    Lest we forget, triple the number of houses means physical addresses for newly registered bum and illegal-alien voters just tripled, no?
    .
    What’s “diversity, equity, inclusion” zoning supposed to do except force Section 8 housing on neighborhoods of people who’d never have invested their life savings to live in neighborhoods if they knew Section 8 housing was coming to a lot near them?
    .
    City emergency is it, so many bums and illegal aliens have to be forced on neighborhoods of everyone except Important People like those, say, in Potter Valley subdivision?
    .
    Follow the money? Have a look at “Private equity firms now rank among the largest owners of US subsidized affordable housing properties” August 2, 2022:
    .
    “In the last few years, private equity firms including The Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital have become some of the largest owners of subsidized affordable housing in the U.S., acquiring apartment properties with more than 138,000 units backed by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and other federal housing programs meant to create affordable housing.
    .
    Neither private equity firm has created affordable housing. Both Blackstone and Starwood Capital accumulated their portfolios by acquiring interests in existing subsidized affordable properties, raising concern about whether they will maintain the properties as affordable when current subsidies lapse.”
    .
    (‘https://pestakeholder.org/news/private-equity-firms-now-rank-among-the-largest-owners-of-us-subsidized-affordable-housing-properties/)
    .
    Could the Assembly members’ scheme be all about “…acquiring interests in existing subsidized affordable properties”, properties soon to be owned and operated by Zalatel and private-equity friends, once they force neighborhood zoning changes?
    .
    Would it be surprising if the Brawley, Volland, Zaletel Club offer to submit their scheme to a vote of the people, a vote to be counted by the counters who work for the BVZ Club?
    .
    Undoubtedly more Grand Ideas are coming.
    .
    What regime, secure in their belief that their easily corruptible election system insulates them from angry voters, would stop now?

  15. If they can destroy the single family house communities, and overload them with multifamily units, it is just that much easier to put homeless shelters in those communities.
    .
    It is all about forcing those that do not want to comply into worshiping at the altar of the all powerful state. Destroy the family, destroy the neighborhoods.

  16. Does everyone then get a property tax exemption like the downtown housing incentive and the subdivision property tax incentive?

    How do you get to put 3 bldgs on the Anchorage lots that aren’t flat or square?

    Since the lots are mostly city lots ranging around 6500 sq ft, 8500 sq ft, 10,000 sq ft., etc., there’s not a lot of room left for distance from property line, setbacks is there?

    With 3 bldgs on city size lots and the resulting increase in water and electricity needs of those additional people, where are you going to put your windmill, solar panels, and water souce equipment since Lafrance and the assembly also want to tear down the Eklutna dam and take away that water and electricity source?

    Asking for a friend…

    If, as the article states, people are moving From Alaska, Anchorage, and having less children, what is the need for a significant density increase?

    Where do you put the snow and park the cars after you put 3 bldgs on property?

  17. Okay, maybe I’m being somewhat paranoid, but here’s my take on this: The assembly keeps pushing this ordinance, then pulling it back, reworking it a bit, and trying again. Clearly they want it to happen, and that is very likely with the incoming mayor. But the real question is WHY they want it, and I have a theory: Many of the areas that currently are composed of large lots with single-family homes on them are, coincidentally, areas that also tend to vote conservative. Areas that have higher-density housing tend to vote more towards the liberal side. The political powers sometimes redraw the voting district boundaries to try and favor one party or the other. However, there are limitations as to what that can accomplish due to the way the areas are populated. By pushing this ordinance through, they can potentially change the voter demographics in areas that currently lean conservative by increasing the number of residents there who lean liberal. I will agree that this is a bit of a “long game” approach, but it does have the potential to happen this way, and I can easily see the liberal members of the city government pushing something for this reason.

    • Maybe there is multiple reasons for getting rid of the single home housing and your thought of what is going on could fit right in! In the Mat-Su Borough, redistricting happened to try to force Rep David Eastman out of the game. It did not work; but, I am sure that MSB rinos and the evil will keep trying.

    • KJP was pushing this the other day- “don’t complain about the high mortgage interest, we plan to give you liar loans and multi-family housing (section 8)”. Because those are our voter base. Sort of like “don’t complain about the cost of food, we’ll give you more food stamps.”

    • Not sure about that Jim.
      South Addition (downtown/Park Strip) is very liberal, as is Turnagain-by-the Sea.
      These are R1 places and ONLY elect libs.
      In my experience, high density, trailer courts can pretty conservative (think red necks here)

      • The areas you referenced are not large lots. Most of them are less than 1/2-acre, some less than 1/4 acre. That would be why I referenced “Large lots with single-family homes”.

  18. The deranged, ignorant, lunatic left destroys everything it touches. These are the scum that:
    1. Pro drug.
    2. Pro crime.
    3. Pro tax.
    4. Pro open borders.
    5. Pro abortion- till the 9th month.
    6. Anti Israel.
    7. Pro over population (keep the borders open- and millions coming in from the Third World.
    8. Anti- American.
    9. Anti- freedom- anti second amendment.

    These lunatic are the enemy. They will turn Anchorage into an impoverished, ugly, polluted, shanty town.

  19. How is this increased housing density even possible (legal by code) for anyone who is on well and septic? There are minimum setbacks for very good reason.

  20. Enjoy your 15 minute village where supposedly all will live happily crammed together and own nothing. It’s assumed we’ll all live in our little DEI world happy, singing songs, and holding hands. No, I envision slums with people packed like cordwood. Then the pandemics and fires will rage through.

  21. They aren’t your servants. That is not the job they accepted or are doing. They accepted the unauthorized job of ruler and I believe each should be arrested.

  22. Good grief. Tell me you’re a money grubbing real estate developer without telling me you’re a money grubbing real estate developer. Alaska is a vast state with loads of land so if you wanna live nut to butt with your neighbor move to NYC

  23. They want you to build those secondary housing units so they canbe taken”for the public good” to house their ” unhoused”voters. At YOUR expense, naturally

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