Anchorage Assembly Hears Title 21 Testimony, Nobody Likes Rewrite Much

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage.
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

The Anchorage Assembly heard public testimony on the long-anticipated rewrite of Anchorage land-use law, Title 21, at their meeting Tuesday night. More than 40 people testified.

Many in the building and development community turned out to say they were concerned about their property rights and that they thought the rewrite of Anchorage land-use law, or Title 21, went to far.

“My name is Shaun Debenham … severely lacking.”

Others went so far as to say that the rewrite would discourage growth.

“My name is Mike Gould … that’s what this does.”

Title 21 went through 5 or 6 reiterations by many different officials over the past 10 years. It addresses the myriad issues that Anchorage faces as it grows and changes. It is meant to carry out Anchorage’s comprehensive plan which includes “Anchorage 2020.” The plan was a result of a long public process with thousands participating. Many who testified at Tuesday’s Assembly meeting said the rewrite had left out key language contained in earlier versions. They preferred a version of Title 21 that was previously adopted by the assembly.

“My name is Susan Olson … that the public has been involved.”

Some of the criticisms were that the rewrite did not do enough to protect waterways, promote mixed use zones and a more walkable city. The Title 21 review process was started in 2002. In 2010 the assembly provisionally adopted the majority of the chapters. Then, Mayor Dan Sullivan came into office and said he wanted a review of the whole thing. Once the review was done, Sullivan sent it to the Planning and Zoning Commission with some proposed amendments. In 2012, And Assembly committee led by Debbie Ossiander began a review.

Almost none spoke out in support of her revised version. Others said they preferred the 2010 version because the final review was to closely aligned with developers.

“My name is Nancy Peese … the general public was not.”

Public testimony was limited to two and half hours. Assembly Chair Ernie Hall said testimony will continue at next Tuesday’s Assembly meeting for one hour, from 5-6.

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