News from Patrick Flynn

Let’s play two!

While the jury may be out on whether I’m worth a darn as either an Assembly member or chair, my powers of prognostication seem to be intact.  We accomplished quite a bit on Tuesday night but, as predicted, were unable to complete our agenda prior to the 11 pm deadline.  Some of the things we did resolve included:

  • Passage of a new ordinance laying out the Conditional Use Permit process for Housing First proposals.  One amendment that troubled me reduced minimum separations from parks, schools and similar facilities (I was the lone no vote) but at least we now have a mechanism to enforce collaboration between service providers and affected neighborhoods.  And, in a new development, reconsideration notice was given on this matter earlier today with the specific intent to review whether the aforementioned amendment was appropriate.  That reconsideration will be taken up at our March 23 meeting.
  • Completion of the public hearing on the universal ID check for package liquor stores.  Responding to discussions with the Assembly’s Public Safety committee, industry representatives reported progress on their effort to establish a voluntary compliance program among all Anchorage operators.  While I wouldn’t characterize them as thrilled about doing so, package store operators seem to prefer their own program due to concerns that an ordinance-based program might attach legal liability.  To explain a bit further, state law specifically exempts operators from liability in certain circumstances but universal ID check is not among them.  The Assembly postponed final action on this item to March 23 with the intent to indefinitely postpone (table) this item if the voluntary compliance proposal achieves sufficient buy-in from operators.
  • Commencement of the Bike Plan public hearing.  As mentioned previously, the expectation that this would be a quick hearing followed by approval changed when the administration asked for additional review time.  That was granted and supporters of the plan decided to emphasize their support by lining up to testify about it’s positive attributes.  We’ll continue that public hearing on March 23, consider any administration amendments, and, hopefully, take final action.
  • A whole bunch of administrative matters (e.g. formally awarding contracts, accepting grants, etc.)

Getting through all those items took a fair amount of time so we didn’t get to several other high-profile items, including:

  • Our resolution regarding the Knik Arm Crossing, which advises the AMATS Policy Committee as it deliberates on whether this project is better off in Anchorage’s short- or long-term transportation plan.
  • Title 21’s Residential Design Standards which, once finally adopted, will proscribe various aspects of residential construction.
  • Low priority signal preemption for public transit, which would permit testing to see how allowing buses along two routes to keep lights green a little longer would effect overall traffic patterns.

Assembly procedures dictate that matters not addressed at one meeting roll to the next.  Since the issues above have generated considerable public interest and we still have plenty to do on March 23 (our next meeting) I invoked the great Ernie Banks, famous for stating “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame… Let’s play two!” (spring training is just around the corner), and scheduled a special meeting for March 16 at 5 pm so we can ensure interested parties can provide feedback on those three items.  That, and the Assembly can take final action on them, thereby giving us a better chance to address all the issues before us on the 23rd.

Before closing, allow me to offer another observation.  As regular readers know, I’m on the mayor’s Homelessness Leadership Team and yesterday the mayor joined us to receive and offer some feedback.  One of the points he reiterated was his priority that we find ways to reclaim the public lands (parks, primarily) where some homeless camp.  I appreciated his desire to ensure that when campers are evicted they are simultaneously directed to services that might help those individuals find housing, and understand how these campers might frighten park patrons, but I’m unsure if that’s the best answer.  Since I serve on the “data” subcommittee it has become apparent that those who utilize public services (CSP, police and EMT responses, ER visits, etc.)  the most, sometimes referred to as “frequent fliers,” cost taxpayers a great deal and are more likely to hurt or be hurt by others.  While there is certainly overlap between those folks and illegal campers, they are not all the same people.  The question is how to best use our limited resources – getting “frequent fliers” off the streets or campers out of parks?  As always, your feedback is appreciated.



This contribution was made on Wednesday, 03. March 2010 at 20:12 and was published under the category Coming events. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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