News from Patrick Flynn

Title 21 Terminus

Last week I picked up my massive binders containing the almost-final version of the Title 21 re-write.  Assembly approval is one of the few major tasks facing us this spring so I’m slogging through it and will wrestle over inevitable final amendments but, in the end, I doubt I’ll vote for the darn thing.  My problem with this work product which, depending on your point of view, may or may not be a worthy one, is the process by which it was arrived at. 

One of the hallmarks of good governance is the public process.  Sometimes it works well, and I’d cite recent years’ municipal budget writing as an example.  During the course of a couple months the administration puts forth their plan, the citizenry and Assembly study it and offer suggested changes, new versions and amendments develop and a final discussion & vote takes place.

Other times the public process is subverted, as we saw with the recent Assembly reapportionment, and the citizenry is excluded from debate and deliberation by a government simply checking the legal boxes and then doing whatever it wanted to do in the first place.

And occasionally, as we’ve seen with Title 21, the process is hijacked. Recall this re-write is an outgrowth of Anchorage’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, which was approved in 2001!  How in the world do we expect even the most engaged citizenry to follow and stay engaged in a process that takes more than a decade to complete? 

Well, one might respond, that’s what we elect Assembly members for.  But only one current Assembly member was in office in 2001, Dick Traini, but he was off the body for two years and hasn’t worked much on the issue since his return (no single Assembly member can possibly be an expert on every matter, so we divvy up the load).  Heck, there’s only one or two professionals (from the municipal and private sectors) who may have followed this monster from start to finish.

I’ll close by paraphrasing a legal maxim – process delayed is process denied – and I think it’s wrong.



This contribution was made on Tuesday, 15. January 2013 at 07:29 and was published under the category Neighborhoods. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. The process has been eroded by the persistence of the development community, the “rewrite” by Dan Coffey and, of course, the mayor. Our community is the worse for this fiasco.

    Comment: Anonymous – 15. January 2013 @ 12:33 pm

  2. Amen! It has been nuts. I can’t believe the Assembly reappointment either!

    Comment: Anonymous – 16. January 2013 @ 3:25 am

  3. Patio,

    Thank you so much for hanging in there and slogging through this. I thought you were going to start the message by stating how you took your beautiful wife and children to the park with the hoardes of binders….
    Anyway, I left the meeting early, disappointed that so many of the public who testified had been on the development side of the issue, and was hoping that more spoke for “Space.”
    I would speak for space and this is what I would say:
    We need open spaces for our soul.
    We need it for our sustenance, those who are starting to garden and appreciate nature and what it has to offer in observance of it. This is what we teach our children. They do go outside, if only for the little area around their homes, at the safe watch of their worried parents. Can we tell them to go play in the parking lot? No. They go and play on the hill by the development or on the mini bit of grass outside their door, by the stream easement.
    We do need the little things in life. Thank you for fighting for them.
    Laura Kimmel

    Comment: Laura Kimmel – 16. January 2013 @ 5:35 am

  4. Why was the plan named “2020”? Was it supposed to take 20 years to git ‘er done, because, we are on track with that. But seriously, I liked the direction it took at first. We had amazing experts from all over the country speaking and advising, ordinary citizens having a say and being heard. Really good things were done, and people were excited. Then, the whole thing got hijacked, eroded, and tossed out like it was never there. The Neighborhood Plan, walkable city, public transportation, beautification, artful public spaces, all of it, gone. It is time to reclaim it, add sustainability and other new stuff we have now, and make it happen. Thank you, Patrick, this is why the people elected you.

    Comment: Pam Tesche – 16. January 2013 @ 9:12 am

  5. Patrick, You cracked me up with the “South Park” correction; the one bit of levity for the evening. I won’t count the Giant Snowman guy.
    As someone who was able to look around the room at West High in the 1990’s as a member of the Land Use committee, I remember being in awe that all these people with competing purposes and ideals were able to come together to agree on how we wanted Anchorage to look in 20 years and beyond.
    We all agreed that Anchorage was in a unique and lovely environment, that we wanted to preserve and protect it; we wanted opportunities for the citizens to play, work, shop or socialize without being dependent on cars, to be a part of this larger natural world without spoiling it so much.
    And then after all that work, the developers came together for their secret meetings with public officials where they could air their complaints away from public scrutiny. They hammered on the Planning Dept., they hammered on the mayors, they hammered on the various P&Z and Urban Design Commissions. They got their changes and they still aren’t happy.

    Comment: Margaret Auth – 16. January 2013 @ 9:00 pm

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