Midtown neighbors hire lawyer to fight Berkowitz’s ‘Golden Lion drug center’


At an outdoor neighborhood meeting in an Anchorage culdesac on Wednesday evening, over 75 homeowners from the surrounding area set the opinion firehose to full force toward Assembly members Meg Zalatel and Felix Rivera: The purchase of the Red Lion Hotel by the Berkowitz Administration for a drug treatment center is a nonstarter, they said.

Although they were masked up and socially distanced, dozens of speakers clearly said — through their masks — that the idea proposed by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz is bad for their neighborhoods.

For one thing, one man said, the State Department of Transportation plans to use some of the Golden Lion Hotel’s parking lot for the expected overpass-underpass interchange on the Seward Highway at 36th Ave. Land on the corners of that intersection will probably go to the state through an eminent domain process.

For another thing, residents from Rogers Park said, there’s a preschool just one block away from the hotel at the David & Ruth Green Lubavitch Jewish Center on 35th Avenue.

And doctors from the neighborhoods expressed concern about the types of drugs, both pharmaceutical and street quality, that would be ever closer to homes where children play out of doors, and said the proper place for a drug treatment center would be near the hospital, not by families worried about drug addicts in their backyards.

On the spot for over an hour and a half, Zaletel and Rivera would not be pinned down on an answer but said they are still gathering information and “studying” the issue that has been proposed, which is to revise zoning so that a homeless shelter can be established somewhere in midtown. The proposal bypasses the Planning and Zoning Commission and much of the public process.

One person in the meeting pointed out to Zalatel and Rivera that if only a treatment center was planned, there would be no need for a zoning change. The zoning change was proposed by the Berkowitz Administration because, in fact, the plan is to shelter homeless drug addicts.

Zalatel admitted that a drug treatment center requires no zoning change.

All in all, the mood of the crowd, which came from Geneva Woods, College Village and Rogers Park, was decidedly “livid,” as one participant described it: “They had everything but pitchforks.”

AO 2020-58 was introduced in June, but with no mention of the actual location of what is intended to be a shelter and drug treatment facility for homeless.

But neighbors caught wind of the true plans and Must Read Alaska reported what was the real purpose of the vague ordinance that would bypass the Planning and Zoning Commission so that a large portion of midtown could be rezoned to include any number of homeless shelters.

Although Zalatel and Rivera kept saying they plan to study and gather more information, that was not enough for the group, which included many doctors and members of the Jewish community.

In a private meeting after Zalatel and Rivera had left, the group passed the hat and raised money to hire an attorney to fight the Berkowitz Administration over the proposal. Must Read Alaska has learned that they raised six figures to get started on an injunction.

A public hearing, not yet calendared, is planned for July 14 for the purchase of the hotel, which would be done with federal money intended for COVID-19 coronavirus support for the city.


  1. Mayor Berkowitz….hopefully you have to pay back all the misallocated money you have directed during your tenure from your own pocket for starters !!

  2. The best place for a homeless shelter or treatment center is far away from civilized socially appropriate citizens. For those refusing to meet acceptable civil norms should not be society denigrating to accommodate them. There are lots of islands, in fact a perfect place just out of the city in the inlet. I don’t deny their dysfunction or illness, but I also have a right to a civil life and to my own liberty not under siege by the dysfunctional.

  3. These Residents had their chance to get rid of Rivera but instead they are getting what they voted for. Remember elections have consequences and thats what they get.

    • Sure and elections have consequences.
      Problem is Anchorage’s Assembly forced an easily corruptible mail-in vote scheme on voters.
      The predictable, arguably intended consequence, is that no bond, tax, or incumbent, gets left behind.
      So, those residents could well be effectively disenfranchised, but never know it.
      But think of all the brand new voters who’ll be registered to vote, be able to vote by mail, and be helped to vote by mail from these brand new physical addresses. .
      Imagine what they’ll vote for.
      Now that’s “consequences”.

  4. This is the response I expected. Good for the homeowners. The way Berkowitz caters more and more to a population of homeless that degrades everyone’s quality of life is just baffling.

    • A treatment center is not a homeless shelter. Addictions to pain killers is likely prominent in your neighborhood already. I would object to a homeless shelter in my neighborhood, but not a treatment center. But if Anchorage starts to look like California, I probably wouldn’t object to a homeless shelter either.

  5. I wasn’t in favor of the Red Nose Inn aka Karluk Manor, but it is the least horrible space in East Anchorage. Relatively speaking, an oasis in zombie land. Karluk seems to be pretty locked down. If the former Golden Lion is similarly managed by the same entity, it could work fine. Of course it could be a disaster.

  6. I can’t believe they want to put it slap dab in the middle of a residential and business area. I work down town where we deal with this nite mare on a daily bases. The discussing mess these people leave in their wake we had one woman square in the door way of our shop during business hours and take a pee. The theft we deal with On a regular bases we report them but they are always back again. It’s sickening to think that the new plan is to put the shelters so close to neighbor hoods of families that have bought into Alaska. That work and pay taxes. Property values will plummet. If Berkowitz wants them so badly he can put them next to where he lives!!

    • That is not the socialist way: rules for thee but not for me. Your values may plummet and the dysfunctional move into your house, but the politicians will still have their mansions and iron security guaranteed through ‘fair’ elections.

      • The socialists would benefit from the Japanese Model where low-income folk are living in pods. cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/01/07/japan.capsule.home/index.html. The Alaskans who manage these behemoths are probably staggering under mortgages, maintenance, employees, inventory & taxes. Even if they do follow a socialist model, where the government is paying for addicts, How many years do they think the Federal Government will fund this population?

  7. Not baffling at all. He’s a leftist goon intent on turning Anchorage into his beloved San Francisco. He’s doing a fine job of it too.

    Berky’s about to shut down our bars and restaurants again – blaming them and not the stupid protests for more COVID cases.

    The Federal government needs to be told of this most recent mis-allocation of taxpayer funds. Would love to see this tyrant perp walked to a cell.

  8. There are proposals presently on the table that recognize homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness as an Alaska problem and not an Anchorage problem. There are movers and shakers who want to work with Anchorage to seek a broader solution, one that would remove the homeless persons needing treatment from the local source of their temptations and associates. The municipality refuses to consider these alternatives, and sees the issue as a beds problem and not a behavior problem. Law enforcement is no part of the equation whatsoever. There is a great deal of dogmatism and self righteous arrogance in play on the part of this mayor and assembly.

  9. You will not change the Political Climate in the Municipality of Anchorage as long as there is VOTE BY MAIL.
    Corruption, Special Interest Groups, Self Serving Personal Agendas are in charge. The Municipality is a State within the state of Alaska, Ruled by fear and emotions. Hang in there Folks, you are in for a turbulent ride with no control. Berkowitz, Mayor/Governor of 300,000 Alaskans, and the Assembly minus one are in Total Control. Nobody can stop them, they will prevail!

  10. When the “study” is done the lemmings will jump and run toward the cliff upon the little fella’s command. Had this been proposed in October there might be a chance the neighborhood might not be destroyed but the reality is that it’s early enough that it’ll all be forgotten in November and the change that’s sore needed will but a fast-fading memory.

  11. They were gathering information (to see how bad things might be for them) and studying (to see how they can jam it through anyway) but I doubt they were listening very much.

  12. Getting your money’s worth out of the ‘little guy’ yet Anchorage? Anchorage citizens allowed this debacle to take place by allowing the leftist democrats to vote more than conservatives, who outnumber leftists by three to one or so in Alaska. The leftists voted and conservatives didn’t. The results are decimating businesses and property left and right, in Anchorage and the rest of Alaska. Continued apathy, complacency, ho-hum-ism, and thinking someone else will stop the leftists doesn’t seem to be working so well. November is coming once again and voting will determine the fate of many Alaskans and Alaskan businesses in the next years, or generations if the left isn’t stopped now. The leftist line is nothing but a farrago of louche doctrine being propagated and demanded by the leftist democrats. BLM, antifa and assorted ‘groups’ do not represent America. They represent a version of a marxist paradise that has never been found by it’s promoters. One big scam and Alaska/America is under the gun. The wuhan v was the opening salvo. “Freedom is not Free” has never been a more appropriate quote than at this present day.
    Happy Independence Day.

  13. And the NIMBY folk come out. In Spenard we have been dealing with this for years, while folks in other neighborhoods haven’t had to. Well now you all get to work with it too. Too bad. It’s a great idea to spread the problem around so it’s not just in a couple of areas like now in Spenard and Downtown.

  14. I put my remodeled Midtown duplex On the market a year ago. When I bought it 3 1/2 years ago, the neiGhborhood (Northstar) was fine. It has since declined to a point where it was absolutely devastated by homeless and criminals. There is no doubt in my mind that Berkowitz sacrificed our neighborhood Near the Chester Ck Trail to the Homeless camps because it was small, relatively non- affluent, and has a lot of condos/rentals. It kept them out of the rest of the more affluent neighborhoods for the most part. We had 3 sales fall through, took 4 price drops, made huge financial concessions to the buyers, and lost between $75,000 and $90,000 when it sold last week. That’s between 20% and 25% of our property value lost in 3 years thanks to this administration’s absolute failure to deal with this issue. I don’t wish anyone else the kind of stress and despair we have experienced this past year, but I expect many others will experience it. We are just thankful we were able to sell at all, and get out of the hell-hole that Midtown has become.

    • That was my reaction also when reading the article! I hear there are lots of businesses suffering and individuals out of work and people hungry! The Cares Act only goea so far in helping people. Maybe some of these other funds the city can receive because of the virus could be funneled to additional job training and food banks to help those suffering economically from the recent shutdown and continual impact on businesses.

  15. Need to hire a bus to run all day long picking up and delivering homeless people to Berkowitz’s home.

  16. I want to Thank all our public unions & my liberal midtown neighbors for giving us this leftist assembly

    Well paid Muni, State & Federal workers, our neighbors, should be ashamed for putting themselves ahead of our communities, as their union bosses pad their bank accounts w/ our oil $. Many don’t even live in this mess; they drive home after work, away from the social chaos their union’s political buddies promote ……it is disgusting

  17. Urgent meeting tonight
    5:30 pm 7/10/20 City Center Mall, 4230 Old Seward Hwy

    On Jul 10, 2020, at 1:48 PM, Allard, Jamie wrote:

    Ms. Anderson,

    Could you please share the below email.

    Urgent: We have a community meeting tonight; Friday, 10 July at 5:30 p.m. at City Center Mall 4230 Old Seward Highway in Anchorage. If you live in Anchorage, I hope to see you there. We are bringing in all members of the community, where these locations may affect residents.

    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. Put forth by Assembly Members Weddleton, Zalatel and Mayor Berkowitz.



    Jamie Allard
    Assembly Woman Chugiak-Eagle River
    (907) 854-5349
    [email protected]

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