Assembly votes to suspend plastic bag ban during its calmest meeting in weeks

The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)

Monday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting managed to be what months’ worth of meetings weren’t: pretty much business as usual.

After weeks of combative meetings marked by bitter conflicts, raucous behavior and even a few arrests, discussion returned to more mundane topics like liquor licenses, utility rate increases and whether to charge for single-use plastic bags. 

The Assembly ultimately voted 7-3 to not have businesses charge for the bags — at least for now. It’s temporarily suspending its plastic bag ban until Jan. 1. The bag ban originally took effect in September 2019, but then was suspended for about a year and a half due to concerns about reusable bags and the spread of COVID-19.

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Also among the topics that generated the most discussion Monday night: changing the land use designation for a section of West Anchorage so a snow dumping facility can be built. The Assembly approved the new designation.

The Assembly was also unanimous in its support of a resolution to work with the Bronson administration to close the mass shelter at the Sullivan Arena and move toward a more community-oriented approach to homelessness. The resolution doesn’t specify any final choices for new, smaller shelters.

And on Monday, the Assembly voted to increase rates for trash collection and disposal as well as water treatment. 

The Assembly did not get to everything on its agenda. An ordinance that would change how the mayor appoints department heads and how long a person may serve as a “acting” department head, was bumped to the next Assembly meeting on Nov. 9. 

While the Assembly was mostly back to its usual routine this week, the meeting was not totally without disruption. Two men — who have a history of getting escorted out of public meetings — were removed by security after yelling and being repeatedly asked by Assembly leadership to stay on topic.

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Wesley Early covers municipal politics and Anchorage life for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org.

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