Public hearing on Anchorage property purchase ends, vote expected next week

The Best Western Golden Lion Hotel
The Best Western Golden Lion Hotel, which the city hopes to turn into a drug and alcohol treatment center. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Public hearing testimony on the city’s plan to purchase properties for a treatment center, housing and homelessness resources ended late Wednesday evening. It was the fifth day of the hearing, at which hundreds of Anchorage residents called in or testified in person. 

The public hearing was for two ordinances. One would expand zoning codes to allow homeless shelters in business districts. The other was to authorize $22.5 million for the purchase of four buildings which would be used for supportive housing, counseling, substance misuse treatment and other services. 

After the hearing concluded, the assembly voted unanimously to, in effect, throw out the zoning ordinance, as they had indicated they would do during the hearing. Assembly members like Meg Zaletel said they intend to replace it with an ordinance that would lay out a much more detailed conditional use process, plus a licensing system for running homeless shelters. 

“Shelter can be something so different than what we’re accustomed to, and this process is really going to be a linchpin in ensuring that that’s the case,” she said.

The assembly still has to vote on authorizing the property purchase. That vote was postponed to next week.

The majority of in-person and phone testimony over the five days was against the plan. Assembly member Chris Constant said the assembly has received thousands of emailed testimonies, the majority of which he says are in favor.