Local government leaders have taken the first steps toward what they hope will reinstate a Coastal Management Program. The application for an initiative petition, signed by some 200 people, was delivered to the Lieutenant Governor late Friday.
Before its sunset at the end of June, the Coastal Management Program worked with developers, local residents and state and federal permitting agencies to assist development along and near the state’s coastline. Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho – one of the sponsors – said it was disheartening to see the old program go away after the governor and legislature couldn’t come to terms that would extend it.
“Our initiative is intended to encourage our state leaders to redouble their efforts to create a credible coastal management program during the 2012 legislative session. And if they are unable to do so, Alaskans will have an opportunity to express their support for Alaska’s coastal program in November 2012,” Botelho said.
The proposed initiative is not the same as the bill that was on the table during this year’s special legislative session. It is based on what the local, coastal governments see as needed to manage development in their areas. For example, the Department of Environmental Conservation is included in the proposed plan. Under the most recent law, and all the proposals the legislature considered, there was what is called a DEC “carve-out.”
“What we’ve tried to do here is design a program that we think is most suitable for Alaska. And part of that is looking and making sure that the permitting process is streamlined, that it encompasses all programs done by our resource agencies, and that it be done in a coordinated, collaborative way,” Botelho said.
Another sponsor, Mako Hagerty, is a Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member. He says he was disappointed with the legislative process and thinks the initiative is a better alternative.
“We’re not just going to be delivering signatures. We’re going to be delivering a message that this is a program that the state needs to participate in,” Hagerty said.
The third sponsor is Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby.
The Lieutenant Governor has 60 days to determine whether the initiative meets the legal framework to go before the public. At that point, the sponsors can begin collecting nearly 26,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Botelho says the goal is to finish before the legislature begins next year’s session. That would give lawmakers the option of passing a substantially similar law – or doing nothing again, which would put it on next fall’s ballot.