Assembly devolves into community bashing, but Girdwood gets a win on Holton Hills, despite Constant harping

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In the end, Girdwood got a win on Tuesday, if only because members of the Anchorage Assembly think the mayor of Anchorage is too incompetent to execute the transfer of a large parcel of Heritage Land Bank property to a private developer to build more housing in the community south of Anchorage.

The Anchorage Assembly meeting spent time giving Assembly members the opportunity to say repeatedly that it’s the fault of Mayor Dave Bronson, who they don’t trust to finish the work started by former Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson to significantly increase the density of Girdwood.

Assemblyman Chris Constant spun tales of poison cookies, rich privileged NIMBYs, and part-time Girdwood residents who have too many houses, in a long-winded Constant-style diatribe against the constituents of the area.

Assemblywoman Meg Zaletel, who favors the project, said she just could not vote to move it ahead because the mayor isn’t competent to direct the completion of the Holton Hills land transfer, which would double the developed acreage in Girdwood, a somewhat self-contained community south of Anchorage.

Under Quinn-Davidson as acting mayor, a request for proposal was issued for the land to be released by the Heritage Land Bank. CY Investments, owned by Connie Yoshimura, got the contract to develop various housing, to include single-family homes, some mixed use, and some condos. Under the proposed proposal, the city and CY Investments would have split the profits of the development of about 100 homes. There was no guarantee that workers in the Girdwood area would be able to afford the houses, however. Much work would need to be done to satisfy Girdwood that the project would benefit the community.

Girdwood residents complained that no study had been done on the impact on Girdwood; there are water, school, traffic, and public safety considerations to doubling the housing in Girdwood, where many of the existing homes are, admittedly, often vacant because they are second homes, or are rented out as AirBNB or VRBO vacation rentals. Girdwood is a different neighborhood than anywhere in Anchorage because it is defined as a ski resort community and is somewhat insulated geographically and demographically from the rest of Anchorage.

Assemblyman Chris Constant has been a strong proponent of the development. Constant is a business partner with Yoshimura at Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Alaska Realty Referrals, but has not recused himself from the deliberations concerning Yoshimura’s other financial interests.

During the deliberation, Quinn-Davidson said that the pushback from Girdwood “drives me nuts, and I think it gives us a bad name. I think it’s a bad vote for the Assembly. It shows that we are not interested in development.”

Constant put up a passionate fight, and with a shaky voice attacked members of the Girdwood community who had testified.

“It wasn’t just aggressive testimony, it was possibly dishonest testimony that was aimed at personal attacks because they couldn’t win on the ideas. Attack ideas, and if you can’t win there, you then attack the process, and if you can’t win there, you attack the people,” Constant said.

“Yes, the mayor’s team is a disaster,” Constant said. “But there is one party here who is not a disaster and who has a good track record. That’s Connie Yoshimura and her investment company. She is a successful developer that brings projects to fruition regularly in this community, unlike the people who led the charge against her, who have failed in their developments in Tacoma and other places, where they are actually causers of loss and causers of failed projects.”

No one on the Assembly challenged the right of Constant to be involved in the discussion, considering his financial ties to Yoshimura. And so he continued bashing Girdwood:

“I have learned in this process that there are people who if they come forward with projects from Girdwood, my my default setting will have to be ‘no.’ And they will have to convince me to change my opinion. Why? Because they spread rumors that Connie Yoshimura was attempting to poison them with cookies. And because four times one of my closest peers on the Assembly, even last night at midnight, asked me ‘have you been to the ethics board,’ after having disclosed four times the nature of my relationship.

“These people who are fighting against this cause have brought shame upon this body and we have enabled it. And I am so sad that we’re going to watch this project crumble because we enabled people who are so privileged, that they are going to sit in their third or fourth home in Girdwood while they rent out short-term rentals, and they enjoy the fact that property values they have are going to stay high because they stopped this project,” Constant said.

“There is shame to be had for all of us, because we were unable to live up to our values,” Constant continued.

The Assembly voted 7 to 5 to postpone indefinitely, with Constant, Quinn-Davidson, Daniel Volland , Joey Sweet, and Kevin Cross voting against the postponement.

Voting with Zaletel in killing Holton Hills were Assembly Chairwoman Suzanne LaFrance, Pete Petersen, Kameron Perez-Verdia, Felix Rivera, Randy Sulte, and Robin Dern.

29 COMMENTS

  1. Whether its true or not Constant sure looks like a sell-out Capitalist.
    This Girdwood fiasco is another in a long line of projects that fail because of the unusual socialist/capitalist government construct that developed as a result of the 6000+ acres of land owned by the MOA in Girdwood and managed by the HLB.
    Yoshimura was simply trying to adapt to the ridiculous standards of the development contract.
    Developer and MOA splitting the profits? That is classic “Hollywood Accounting”.
    Why doesn’t Girdwood tell us what is their alternative for low-cost housing? I’m sure it could be done somewhere but realistically it wont be too fancy to be “affordable” for resort-oriented employees.

    • I would think if a developer built larger homes people that live in Girdwood with smaller places might upgrade and their smaller home will come on the market providing someone with an affordable home.

  2. I do not have any representation on the Anchorage Assembly because the two members who technically represent our east Anchorage neighborhood are unresponsive to neighborhood concerns and my inquiries. SO, I would like somebody on the Assembly to explain why Chris Constant was allowed to participate in discussions and voting on this topic. He has a close and continuing professional and financial relationship with Connie Yoshimura who is championing and is responsible for this Girdwood project; she is his boss. Constant should have recused himself OR the other assembly members should have demanded it. Surely nobody enjoys listening to the diatribes he launches at every meeting and other opportunity. What’s the deal, Suzanne?

    • I know what you mean. I’ve lived in downtown Anchorage since 1996, and haven’t had any representation in the Assembly, state house or senate the entire 27 years.

    • Gary, if you want to file an ethics complaint against the drama queen, the process and the form can be found at muni.org/departments/assembly/ethics/pages/default.aspx.
      .
      Good luck.

    • Real estate brokers are not bosses. They are paid by agents to provide them with services (office space, accounting, marketing, a franchise name, etc). Brokers don’t pay agents – agents pay brokers. And since Mr. Constant’s license is in referral status, he has almost nothing to do with Ms. Yoshimura’s business unless he refers business to someone else, which it seems he very rarely does.

      If you don’t know how an industry works, sit down and shut up.

      • Conflict of Interest is generally defined as anything that has an appearance of impropriety, which a financial relationship between Ms. Yoshimura and Mr Constant definitely meets that standard. It defiantly “appears” inappropriate for him to be voting on something that provides her with a financial benefit.

        I know how COIs work, so I won’t “sit down and shut up”. You should maybe attempt to be more polite with your comments, tho, or at least use your real name if you’re going to be unkind online.

  3. I’m sure the assembly will take this L with grace, and return to pressuring Eagle River to build that 500 unit condo complex that was denied a few years ago.

  4. Well Girdwood just needs to sue to stop because the environmental impact is too much and has not been reviewed enough. Girdwood needs to save the environment and the snail darter from the assembly.

    • What environmental impact? Any wetlands loss would have been handled through USACE with preservation or purchased credits. The end. There are processes for this and they aren’t based on your ideas.

  5. So why wouldn’t the Constant Complainer cry like a newborn. Anyone with any brains knows he is in it to win it for his back pocket. He sounds like AOC, they would make good partners. In m opinion, the Constant Complainer can’t spell VALUES.

  6. I don’t understand. I thought conservative last were all for business development. Why are they gloating that this project got shut down?

  7. The Assembly does not want A N Y T H I N G accomplished by the Bronson Admin.

    They’re selfishly devoted to obfuscating and obliterating anything and everything he might do. That’s how they began writing the “incompetency” narrative, and that’s how they’ll continue writing it.

    “We won’t let him do this” is presented by themselves and construed by their bedfellows (I.e., the media) as “he’s inept.”

    Communism will continue to destroy our city, state, and nation unless we fight it every way we can!

  8. Title 21 Land Development Regulations that work for 2 car commuter families won’t work in terrain like Holtan Hills, too much area is consumed by the need for automobiles. A park and ride lot at the Seward Highway and more dense development without automobiles should be evaluated.

    • Yep, they could make it homeless housing instead. Those people don’t drive filthy cars so it would keep the place pristine, like Anchorage.

    • You have repeatedly commented on this project with very little understanding of it, and it is getting old. This would have provided several times the density allowed by right. Also, Girdwood already has a park and ride lot.

  9. Constant is a sad little man.

    If Girdwood had a non stoned brain, they’d hire a lawyer who can get them divorced from the muni.

    • Municipal entitlement land is not for the benefit of the residents on a single area. The assembly had a duty to look at this land disposal based on the mission of HLB and the rest of the HLB code and they instead made a management decision that is beyond their jurisdiction. 99% of the noise around this project has absolutely nothing to do with what the law says about HLB disposals. Read it.

  10. Girdwood is a small version of Homer, but the people who live in Girdwood are like me – no representation whatsoever from the assembly. Oh, and did anyone say anything about the corrupt assembly members? For the most part, a bunch of real liars and cheats out to fleece people out of anything they can get.

  11. If the radical liberals on the Assembly want to increase housing capacity, all they have to do is approve development of the Knik Arm bridge. That would open huge tracts of land to build more housing, and be much closer to town than Girdwood. And there wouldn’t be a large increase of traffic demand on the already dangerous two lane Seward Highway.

  12. Or tell the UK/USFS Anchorage needs more land deeded to it by same because Anchorage has outgrown the bowl and the federal/foreign dictated public policy as dictated by UK and democrats says that is the only way “Alaska” is permitted to grow and develop BY GROWING ANCHORAGE. ALL HAIL OUR MASTERS.

  13. Downing scores again! The story SHOULD be about Bronson’s abysmal incompetence, but no, she spins it to the evil Marxist, neo-gay, uber-socialist, democrats posing as communists Assembly.

  14. I don’t believe this development in Girdwood has anything to do with Mayor Bronson. I believe it has to do entirely with the nine pathetic Liberals on our Anchorage Ass(embly).

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