Round 4 for Berkowitz plan - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Round 4 for Berkowitz plan



After again hearing hours of mostly negative testimony on the city’s plan to use $22.5 million in CARES Act funding to purchase two hotels, an Alaska Club building, and the Bean’s Cafe campus for homeless services, Assembly members again extended the comment period.

A flood of people testified about the proposed purchases at meetings Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The panel again will hear testimony Tuesday at a meeting that begins at 5 p.m.

The votes on the ordinances are set for Thursday, July 23, at 6 pm.

Much of the testimony centered on the transparency and speed of the effort, with many saying they lived near the proposed facilities, but were not told of the plan. There also were questions about the wisdom of placing the facilities near residential neighborhoods and busy intersections, and the anticipated costs associated with rehabilitating the aging structures.

The city is seeking Assembly approval to begin a complex process to buy the four properties to care for and house the city’s roughly 1,100 homeless. The action would remove $300K from the tax rolls annually and cost taxpayers about $7 million a year in operating expenses.

The city would divert the federal CARES Act funding from people, businesses and nonprofits crushed by COVID-19 and use a “lease with potential purchase” dodge to get around the act’s language limiting use of the act’s funding to temporary, emergency shelter. The city wants to uses the CARES money until revenue is received from the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric and the new 5 percent retail alcohol tax.

The city’s share of the $1.5 billion Alaska received in federal CARES Act funding is $116 million, says Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s communications director, Carolyn Hall. Once the city spends 80 percent of that amount, or $92 million, it will ask for the next $19.9 million, she says. After the city spends 80 percent of that, it would receive the last $19.9 million of its share.
The Assembly members also are mulling a change to the zoning ordinance to allow all that, while opening up much of Anchorage to such facilities, but that effort appears to be fizzling. It would amend the municipal code to allow such things as homeless and transient shelters outside the Public Lands and Institution zoning district, placing them in B3 zoning areas intended primarily for general commercial uses in commercial centers – and do it without Planning and Zoning Commission review.

You can watch the action Tuesday afternoon at, or perhaps Channel 9. Or you can testify. Click here for more information.

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Latest comments

  • Not a very well thought out plan. If this happens it may jeopardize the tourism that frequent the nicer hotels in the mid town. Not to mention the well known restaurants. Is the assembly willing to take the risks by dumping the homeless into an area of town that currently provides for a nice safe tourism experience? Not to mention the tax dollars lost! The assembly should wise up and do what is in the BEST interest of the Anchorage mid town citizens and businesses! Shameful!

    • Tourists mostly aren’t snowflakes. I think they can handle it. Reminds them of home. When I traveled to San Diego years ago and saw homeless and hookers, it was just part of the experience for this Kansas boy.

  • He’s had 8 years to formulate this plan, sad. I suggest a hold be put on the project until the new mayor can act. In fact he/she may have a better plan.

  • Interesting how they keep using the number of homeless as 1,100. The other day in the ADN it said 3,000. So which is it? Can’t trust anyone to tell the truth.

    But the homeless have parked their butts all over town, every street corner, tents. It’s disgusting.

    The ADN also said a high percentage of the folks are Alaskan natives. If an organization has brought someone in for treatments, rather than shunting them onto the streets they should give them plane fare home. I believe that’s shameful leaving these people stranded.

    The Native corporations should be caring for their own rather than just working to make profits. These are their people and they should care what happens to them rather than worrying about their bottom line. I believe that to be shameful as well.

    • Well said. The native corporations and native health corporations could very easily partner to help-take care of the issue. They could form a entity to rehab these folks and house them as well, and probably get the BIA to pay them for the pleasure.
      That said, without a hammer (Jail)-Ethnicity won’t matter- they won’t enroll. So we get back to the start, which is, round them up and prosecute them and offer them the option, once, twice, maybe even three times but if they refuse help then they go to jail. One way or another, they’ll dry out and get off the streets.

  • Remove $300K from the tax rolls annually. That is what happens when the city buys property. Increase outlay while reducing input. Found a loophole. Seems the liberals love a good pandemic. How are you going to keep them down on the farm when they can live for free in Anchorage?

    • You can’t unless you rename the place China East. Seattle and Portland love the homeless.

  • Continual disregard for the taxpayers in Anchorage is a good reason to develop a recall effort for these assembly members. The assembly is not operating in the best interest of it’s constituents when it puts 1100 vagrants, mental patients, drunks, and addicts in front of the taxpayers. Additionally, The muni removed the LIO from the tax roles in the same fashion when Halcro stood at the assembly lectern and lied like a rug when he said the Anchorage taxpayer wouldn’t be impacted by the purchase of that white elephant, He stated the lease holders would pay the bills, then the muni moved the APD into it, So the taxpayers are on the hook for that as well. This crap is getting to the point where very few of us are paying all the bills.

  • I feel a pang of sympathy resonating through me for the Anchorage citizens, home owners and business owners, being forced to endure the radical left policies now dominating the Anchorage political municipal ‘rule’. Those conservatives that couldn’t find the time to vote last round are paying the price, likely more so than political cronies and other leftists. Like I keep saying, Anchorage citizens, “you ‘ain’t’ seen nothing yet”. Voting in November, if the left doesn’t steal the election with mail in voting, is critical to you, your children and grandchildren. The burden of reparation, re-distribution and paying for all, falls on conservatives, their children and those grandkids. Alaskans are better than that. If the leftists ‘want it’, let them pay their “fair share”, per each, not some ‘social justice’ formula that only costs hard working, taxpaying citizens for the handouts, union demands and ‘education’ that shames the idea of a worthwhile, valid education.

  • Free federal money. Free is only 7 million a year extra. The city wants to uses the CARES money until revenue is received from the sale of ML&P to Chugach Electric and the new 5 percent retail alcohol tax. So any money the city gets from selling the utility is to increase costs by 7 million a year. Be careful you don’t piss off the public employees and teachers unions when your underfunded pension becomes due. But it won’t be brought up till a conservative is elected mayor.

  • Has the US Postal Service assigned zip codes to any of Berky’s homeless camps? Great for mail-out ballotts this fall.

  • I encourage everyone to watch the video called “Seattle is Dying”. you can search for it on youtube. It is an hr long and very well done. Alaska is going to go the same way if real problems are not dealt with and the mayor and city council as well as APD have not identified it. The mayor’s plan will be unsuccessful and a waste of taxpayers dollars. Seattle gives the homeless about $600 a month to live. You don’t see a bunch of them get together to rent a place and pitch in for food together. They almost all choose to do drugs and drink. There are very good ideas in the video and also a program that rhode Island runs that is over 90% successful. Rather than reinvent the wheel, why not look at the video and then contact Rhode Island for some advice? I sent the same information to an ADN reporter who I am sure probably did not watch it.

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