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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Daysha Eaton is the News Director at KBBI in Homer. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.