Marathon public hearing continues on vagrant plan, as grassroots rally to oppose - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, August 4, 2020
HomeTop NewsMarathon public hearing continues on vagrant plan, as grassroots rally to oppose

Marathon public hearing continues on vagrant plan, as grassroots rally to oppose

Has Mayor Ethan Berkowitz poked the bear that is the silent majority?

He may have. The grassroots in Anchorage has become activated as taxpayers are rallying to stop the spread of vagrancy and illegal drug activity in their neighborhooods.

This Tuesday’s Assembly meeting will be a continuation of the public input on an ambitious plan by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to use tens of millions of dollar of federal CARES Act funds to purchase four buildings and greatly expand services and shelter to Anchorage’s vagrant population. The problem that people see is that more lawlessness will be headed toward their neighborhoods.

Ordinances were introduced last week that would use $22 million of the federal funds intended to address economic fallout from the super virus COVID-19 to instead acquire the Golden Lion Hotel, the Alaska Club on Tudor Blvd, America’s Best hotel in Spenard and the Bean’s Cafe property. During public testimony last week, dozens of Anchorage residents spoke against the plan to bring vagrants and drug abusers to their neighborhoods.

Last week, volunteers gathered in midtown and assembled mailers that went out to over 6,000 households over the weekend, encouraging people to attend Tuesday’s meeting at the Loussac Library building on 36th Avenue. That’s where the Anchorage Assembly has its meetings.

The mailer that went to thousands of Anchorage residents was paid for by pass-the-hat donations among activists. Meanwhile, a Facebook group called Save Anchorage has gained over 1,500 followers in just a few days and is growing by hundreds every day, the administrators said.

The Tuesday meeting begins at 6 pm. Mayor Berkowitz has limited the number of people who will be allowed into the Assembly Chambers due to COVID-19; those wishing to testify must arrive early to get inside.

Anyone wishing to give testimony by phone may email the Clerk’s office at testimony@anchorageak.gov by 2 pm Tuesday, providing your name, phone number, agenda item or title for which they wish to provide testimony. The subject line of the email should be Phone Testimony. When the Assembly reaches that item on the agenda, the Clerk will call and connect you with the meeting so you may testify. The public is allowed 3 minutes per person to speak. If you want to speak on both ordinances, you will have six minutes.

The vote on the ordinances is expected to come on Thursday of this week, but it’s likely the Assembly will not be through the public testimony by then.

The mayor’s plan starts with AO 2020-58, an amendment to the municipal code that would allow homeless and transient shelters across a vast area of neighborhoods, and would bypass the Planning and Zoning Commission review process.

Items on the Tuesday agenda that pertain to the vagrant plan:

Ordinance No. AO 2020-58, an ordinance of the Anchorage Municipal Assembly amending Anchorage Municipal Code Table 21.05-1: Table of Allowed Uses, to allow homeless and transient shelters in the B3 Zoning District by conditional use; and waiving Planning and Zoning Commission Review, Assembly Members Weddleton and Zaletel and Mayor Berkowitz.

Ordinance No. AO 2020-66, an ordinance authorizing the acquisition by purchase, or lease with option to purchase, of real property legally described as: Lot 7A Block C Heather Meadows Subdivision (Plat 77-149) (PID 009-161-51), Lots 1 – 6 Block C Rosebud Subdivision (Plat P-224A), (PID 009-161-32, 009-161-33, 009-161-34, 009-161-35, 009-161-36, 009-161-37), Block 4A Central City Subdivision (Plat 76-245) (PID 003-241-29), the improvements on Lot 1 Block 33C USS 408 (Plat 84-374) (PID 003-073-33), and Tract C Green Valley Resubdivision No. 1 (Plat 73-210) (PID 010-193-22) (Properties) with aggregate acquisition and renovation costs not to exceed $22,500,000, Real Estate Department, Assembly Chair Rivera, and Assembly Members Zaletel and Constant.

Ordinance No. AO 2020-66(S), a an ordinance authorizing the acquisition by purchase, or lease with option to purchase, of real property legally described as: Lot 7a Block C Heather Meadows Subdivision (Plat 77-149) (PID 009-161-51), Lots 1 – 6 Block C Rosebud Subdivision (Plat P-224A), (PID 009-161-32, 009-161-33, 009-161-34, 009-161-35, 009-161-36, 009-161-37), Block 4a Central City Subdivision (Plat 76-245) (PID 003-241-29), the improvements on Lot 1 Block 33C USS 408 (Plat 84-374) (PID 003-073-33), and Tract C Green Valley Resubdivision No. 1 (Plat 73-210) (PID 010-193-22) (properties) with aggregate acquisition and renovation costs Not To Exceed $22,500,000, Real Estate Department, Assembly Chair Rivera, and Assembly Members Zaletel and Constant.

Ordinance No. AO 2020-66(S-1), a an ordinance authorizing the acquisition by purchase, or lease with option to purchase, of real property legally described as: Lot 7a Block C Heather Meadows Subdivision (Plat 77-149) (PID 009-161-51), Lots 1 – 6 Block C Rosebud Subdivision (Plat P-224A), (PID 009-161-32, 009-161-33, 009-161-34, 009-161-35, 009-161-36, 009-161-37), Block 4a Central City Subdivision (Plat 76-245) (PID 003-241-29), the improvements on Lot 1 Block 33C USS 408 (Plat 84-374) (PID 003-073-33), and Tract C Green Valley Resubdivision No. 1 (Plat 73-210) (PID 010-193-22) (properties) with aggregate acquisition and renovation costs Not To Exceed $22,500,000, Real Estate Department, Assembly Members Zaletel, Constant, and Kennedy.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I wonder what Berky’s plan is to reimburse the federal government for those funds when they do an audit and tell him that what he used those funds for was illegal and he has to pay it back? I can tell you what will happen…the tax-paying residents of Anchorage will have to pay it back when their taxes are raised to do so. An accounting of those funds will come due at some point…and the result isn’t going to be pretty, and Berky will be long gone, leaving Anchorage residents holding the bag.

  • Good for these Anchorage residents! As the mayor endorses BLM, and defunding the police, crime will inevitably increase. Vagrancy will inevitably increase. Anchorage will become a sanctuary city for criminals and the homeless. Gun sales will quadruple as citizens have no alternate course but to defend themselves. This is what happens when Democrats and Lefties are in charge.

  • Is it even legal to use CARES Act funding to purchase and renovate hotels?

    • No, it is not legal. That is one of the main points of the testimonies against. He is not using the CARES Act funding correctly by purchasing these properties.

  • For those of us who do not use Face Book much ….how do we get connected to the “save Anchorage” group and offer to donate or help out in someother way….so far I have been praying for enlightment of these out of control assembly members and city administrators including our misguided Mayor….

    • Please considering joining Save Anchorage Facebook group. It is not a closed group or anything, anyone can join. That way you will see all the things they are doing and can make connections, etc. for helping.

    • Charlie, you can find links to the ordinances at
      www dot SaveAnchorage.com
      and a bit of information about activities taking place.

      We are going to try to get that web page in sync with the FaceBook group. This truly is a grass roots efforts with a lot of folks trying many different methods to help inform not just the neighborhoods affected, but all of Anchorage.

      ADN won’t report this because it doesn’t fit the narrative, but if you listen to the testimony, there is a great deal of compassion for the homeless mixed with anger at the Assembly and Mayor for not following well established rules and procedures.

      And there has been a great deal of diversity in the testimony. It is heartening to see how deeply this strikes people and how impassioned they are.

  • Surround the Library and don’t let them go home till they hear everyone.

    • As long as you’re “protesting” you could keep that going indefinitely too. 🤔😉

  • The mayor and the assembly have proven they are the oligarchy and we have zero input into the activities of supposedly elected officials. This arrangement of individuals has no desire to hear what we think or what we want to have happen in our community because it is their plan to execute their will at any cost. The mayor fully intends to make this idiocy go forth before his term is up , for purposes I can only assume are, to pay a debt to a financial or political contributor. There exists zero logical argument for this to take place otherwise.

  • That’s not what the money was for.

  • Anchorage taxpayers need to underscore for their Assembly what has happened in Juneau. City government there builds facilities and housing for the homeless. So what results? More homeless. Surrounding municipalities are in many cases quite open about sending their homeless to Juneau. Some people say that even western Washington homeless now come to Juneau, and perhaps that is true. In any case, simply providing free food, free housing, free transportation, free clothing, and cash helps the various nonprofits build empires but it creates ever growing costs to the taxpayers. In the absence of cruise ships the drunkards have taken over downtown, so city government is looking at relocating everything to a different part of town. There is no evidence that creating more homeless people so that more services can be provided does anyone any good, and the Assembly has different parts of the borough using politics to foist the problem on each other. No one talks about self-respect, sobering up, getting a job, or even getting people on their feet. As anyone should expect, no one talks about reducing the size of any program. No one talks about how to sustain these nonprofit empires when the federal funding subsides. More drunks. No leadership.

  • How many meetings will the mayor hold trying to wear the public out from attending and voicing comments against his “plan”.
    Hasn’t there been enough objections?

  • Might be fun to see what happens when lots of folks report possibly unlawful use of China flu money for bum housing by calling the Treasury’s Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline at 800-359-3898, or writing to:
    .
    Brian D. Miller, Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), United States Treasury, Office of Inspector General 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Room 4436, Washington, DC 20220.
    .
    Don’t be surprised if these proposals somehow make it on the ballot so they can be enshrined by Anchorage’s easily corruptible mail-in voting system.
    .
    Everybody’ll win… Assembly blames voters, voters blame themselves, government gets bigger, contractors make serious money… imagine what’s coming after a platoon of brand-new voters are “helped” to register, vote, and mail their ballots from their brand-new physical addresses.
    .
    And totally best of all, taxpayers can’t do a bloody thing about it, except pay for it
    .
    … or secede right along with Eaglexit.

  • There’s nothing that says Anchorage has to shelter their public inebriates in Anchorage. Buy the defunct Sears or Walmart building in Wasilla, bus the cretins there and bus them back once they’ve completed their program. If they want to go back sooner let ’em, just don’t bus ’em.

    • Do not send your problems to the valley! We have our own issues and don’t need yours. And contrary to the old joke about Valley Trash, it sounds like it should be “Anchorage Trash”. We don’t put up with some of that out here. And I believe there are two Sam’s Club buildings that would work nicely for your purposes. You are only suggesting what I think is happening frequently. When someone is a problem in a village, they give them a one way ticket to Anchorage. Just moving the problem someplace else doesn’t solve a thing.

  • How about a mayoral and select assembly members recall movement? Need more details on where, who to and how to contribute to any and all efforts to stop this nonsense.

    Where can we send written comments which would become part of the record?

  • In Old Alaska there was a “program” called a blue ticket. Social misfits were handed a one way south ticket on the next departing Steam Ship. Local community members escorted the holder of the ticket to the gangway. Problem solved.

  • Adak. problem solved

  • AO 2020-58 bypasses both the Planning & Zoning process and the Muni Charter. Rationale is that it is just too important not to do immediately because COVID. Cheers –

  • SUZANNE WHY ARE YOU BLOCKING MY COMMENTS?

  • cnn uses all caps ! breaking news ! ect

  • Have you driven to walked around Anchorage lately? It looks like most of the residents disappeared. Empty buildings everywhere. People lying on the ground. Men and women talking to themselves in a psychotic state. Individuals or small groups shuffling around slowly, with no plan or purpose. (I can’t comment on the children who are hiding in their bedroom with junk food and a cell phone that they never put down; these kids will someday join the shufflers.). No jobs. Depression. Anger. A toxic brew. Nothing will improve. The comments presented on this site explain why Anchorage is deteriorating fast and will eventually become uninhabitable except for the people who can afford private, armed guards and elaborate security systems. Why? Because the citizens of Anchorage have perfected the art of negativity. The mayor is too short and was born in San Francisco. He wants to ruin Anchorage. Assembly members like Forrest Dunbar are corrupt radicals whose only goal is to take money from working people and give it to those bums. The others members of the assembly are fascists, unless they are mini Trumps. Just say no. Complain loudly and often. Be critical. Call the elected officials immature names, like The Little Dictator. Never engage in a thoughtful debate about the problem or the possible solutions. Never offer an alternative proposal. Just whining about what the city officials are planning is sufficient. Thus, there will be a lot of shouting at the assembly to stop the proposal to address the homeless housing crisis. The No crowd will prevail and nothing will change. A few years from now all of you will be complaining that The Little Dictator did nothing to deal with this problem. So there will be no positive changes. The situation will only get worse. There will be plenty to complain about long after Berky has fled the jurisdiction. And don’t forget to be hysterical about the requirement you wear a mask when entering a business. It’s time to say No. Always say no. Our only hope is that the President is correct: Someday very soon it will suddenly disappear, like a miracle. Maybe on Easter, when the churches are full.

    • What else can taxpayers do? The cities throw money at a problem; it doesn’t work so what do they do? They throw even more money at it! When did telling someone to sober up and get a job become racist, politically incorrect, or even unpopular? How can taxpayers say enough?

    • That’s our only hope? Just pray and go to church then one day it will disappear? There’s nothing practical we can do to reduce the spread? Is there any role for science? What do non-christians do?

  • Reality:

    Tens of thousands of words of opposition will be spoken at these mis-named “hearings” (because they’re NOT listening) but, at the end of the day, the assembly will rubber-stamp the scheme.

    You can’t fix this one but you could head off countless more schemes like it at the ballot box in November.

    But, hey, it’s Los Anchorage (moving rapidly to becoming San Francisco North) so you won’t. Not unless you’re a lot smarter than the present crop of politicians believe you are.

  • How many people need to stand up and shout NO before our Mayor and Assembly can hear them? 100? 1,000? How many is enough?

    One person expressing these concerns should be enough to dramatically slow down the steam roller. Hundreds of people saying NO is enough make even the most deaf, blindest politician stop in their tracks.

    So why are our politicians ignoring the voice of we the people?

  • Long before Save Anchorage came about, the Midtown Community Council was working on the concept of what AO 2020-66 calls an engagement center. Discussions on the council level included connecting people on the streets who wished to work with work. This came up again in their meeting last month in response to the mobilization of opposition. Others around town are troubled by the fact that employment, suitability for employment and its role in getting people off the streets much quicker than any social program has been almost entirely absent from the dialogue in recent years. Why do a lot of so-called conservatives aggressively avoid discussing this and instead talk about more programs and more warehousing? If individuals band together and form their own collectives to seek work and other opportunities, it would eliminate the need for offices full of middlemen across town, such as temp agencies. It would eliminate the mentality of someone toiling away at two jobs in order to barely afford an apartment. These ordinances thrust into the forefront the need for a greater dialogue on whether low-income people have a place in Anchorage besides merely existing to pay rent. The best and brightest of those faced with this barrier have already voted with their feet, whether to Mat-Su or the Kenai Peninsula or Outside.

  • How did we get to the point where the obvious solutions are somehow considered novel?
    Arrest them. If they don’t want jail
    They can do treatment. If the fail treatment, 30 days. If they get a second offense it’s 90 days. Same options. Third offense a year. After the third offense, no more treatment. 2 years. You will be clean and sober by the end of it, and you won’t be homeless for those two years. Done. Problem solved. They will get their life together, or hitch a ride to Portland where they belong.

  • Get the government and tax payers out of the homeless business The non profits will fill the void if there is a need. If the vagrant is breaking the law arrest them, otherwise leave them alone. Last thing we need is to be paying off law suits that the homeless will eventually start filing because if they are injured because of something that happens at one of these facilities. And we are on the hook to pay upkeep and maintenance of theses buildings. It will become worst than the schools with their hands out every year.

    • And what will be your reaction when you run over a vagrant who is in a wheelchair straddling the median at Tudor and Lake Otis as he loses his balance and rolls out into the road ???

  • Send all vagrants to the Democrat Headquarters where they can do something useful, like lick stamps.

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