The Rustic Goat, a new restaurant on Turnagain in West Anchorage, is getting a new parking lot. But the establishment and its plentiful customer base have stirred up mixed emotions in the neighborhood.
The business was intended to be a neighborhood hang out that people would walk or bike to, so the developers put in limited parking. Instead it’s turned into one of Anchorage’s hottest new restaurants and people are lining the local streets with cars and increasing local traffic.
Resident Solani Miles says it makes the community unsafe. Speaking before the Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday night, she described walking with “our daughters, who are two and four, who we have literally started keeping on leashes when we walk in our neighborhood now because there is so much traffic.”
She was one of about 20 people who spoke passionately about the issue. The crowd applauded and heckled the Assembly and other community members, depending on their positions.
Some felt the proposed parking lot would alleviate the area’s new congestion. Others opposed taking away the community’s green space. Many spoke up to say that the whole endeavor was poorly planned.
Assembly member Ernie Hall, who represents the area, said the business owners consulted with the community council and the planning and zoning commission before building.
“This was not poorly planned. But nobody had anyway of foreseeing the fact that it was gonna be phenomenally successful.”
The Assembly debated postponing the issue to discuss other solutions but ultimately passed the motion 9-2. Many said it was to improve safety in the neighborhood.
The new parking lot will add 28 spaces for the Rustic Goat and take up about 13% of the green space without removing any of the trees.
In other business, the Assembly voted to accept the new version of the Wetlands Management Plan. This one includes a new line saying that Mosquito Lake itself “shall be preserved without disturbance.” It distinguishes that the lake is different from the wetlands around it and gives it added protection. However, in the end, the Army Corps of Engineers has final say whether or not to permit development in high-value wetlands areas.