News from Patrick Flynn

Title 21 update

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’ve seen a steady flow of e-mail traffic regarding the re-write of Title 21, the section of municipal code that governs land use and planning.  Over the past several years citizens, developers, planners and the Assembly worked together (and occasionally at odds with one another) to write new “provisionally adopted” chapters.  With most of the heavy lifting complete the primary remaining task was reconciliation of that work to address inconsistencies and gaps, which is where we are today.  And because that’s the same place we’ve been for about a year some folks are getting understandably antsy.

Rather than have staff conduct the aforementioned work, the mayor contracted with former assemblyman Dan Coffey for that task.  Given Mr. Coffey’s work on the Title 21 re-write during his tenure on the Assembly and his many years working with the existing Title 21 as an attorney representing various business interests he’s certainly qualified, but many of the e-mails I’ve received have expressed concern this process will result in a Title 21 that falls short of the goals outlined in Anchorage’s 2020 comprehensive plan.  Others worry that wholesale changes will be made without public review and some suggest simply passing the provisionally-adopted chapters without any changes, then resolving any problems later.  That latter approach doesn’t have much of a chance because the votes aren’t there. 

Here’s how Debbie Ossiander explained her perspective in an e-mail to one of my neighbors:

Unfortunately the provisionally adopted chapters of Title 21 are not complete…they contain large “reserved” sections, and sections that need to be rewritten since chapters passed later contradict some language passed in earlier chapters.  We still need to do some significant work.  The Assembly Title 21 committee was working on planning staff proposed amendments when the committee realized the administration was going to be proposing some potentially significant changes.  Rather that repeat our review we suspended meetings.

I have asked the Mayor’s office for their proposed changes so they may be calendered for Planning and Zoning action.  I am told that will occur within a month.  When they are presented I will insure they are posted on the city web page.  Any proposed changes he presents will still go though the public hearing process of Planning and Zoning, review by the Assembly Title 21 committee and then public hearing before the Assembly.

I had occasion to speak with Mr. Coffey earlier this week (on an unrelated matter) and he informed me that he’d completed his review (and presumably recommended changes to) all but two of the provisionally adopted chapters.  Once he’s done with those two I expect the mayor will accept most of his recommendations and then send the whole thing to the Department of  Law for their review.  After that legal review the process described by Ms. Ossiander – back to Planning & Zoning and then the Assembly – kicks in.

Recognizing that those who disagree with the changes the mayor will make prior to submitting Title 21 to the Assembly don’t have a mechanism to prevent that (and are frustrated by it), their silver lining is that I wouldn’t be surprised if the timeline extends into September.  That means we’ll have time to review those changes, propose amendments and have a rigorous review prior to final approval, and after the distractions caused by our summer season.



This contribution was made on Thursday, 16. June 2011 at 18:54 and was published under the category Neighborhoods. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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1 Comment

  1. Is Mr. Coffey “qualified” to do the work? It’s correct that he has ample experience with the rewrite. But the new Title 21 is required to implement Anchorage’s comprehensive plan. Mr. Coffey takes issue with substantial portions of that plan. Mr. Coffey has also expressed abundant disdain for the city’s planners. They are professionals with far more qualifications than Mr. Coffey on these issues. Someone “qualified” to do a final review of Title 21 would be someone who respects Anchorage 2020 as the will of the citizens and someone who can work respectfully with the city’s planners.

    The rewrite of Title 21 looks to the future as Anchorage grows. It makes changes to things we’ve been doing that won’t work as we get more crowded. Anchorage 2020 also reflects the desires of people who plan to live here for a lifetime, unlike the transient city we once were.

    At the BOMA luncheon last week, Mr. Coffey showed the opposite view when he held up a 30 year old comprehensive plan as his guide.

    Citizens should be worried that Mr. Coffey and his friends have spent a year in private meetings rewriting the provisionally adopted Title 21.

    Having been stuck with this situation, the changes should come forward as individual amendments to the chapters the Assembly has provisionally approved. We are beyond “s” versions of the rewrite. The Assembly is the legislative body but it has acquiesced its proper role in preparing Anchorage for the future.

    Adopt the provisionally adopted chapters along with the planning department’s fill-in sections. Then let the mayor and citizens come forward with appropriate amendments as needed.

    Comment: John Weddleton – 17. June 2011 @ 1:00 pm

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