After a multi-year public hearing process, the Assembly had voted to provisionally approve Title 21 and it was waiting for some cleanup language by the staff when Dan Sullivan became mayor and hired former Assembly member Dan Coffey to go over it all again and recommend changes. He's made recommendations to the Mayor and the Mayor has refined that into a set of proposed amendments. Now the Planning and Zoning Commission is weighing in on these before they go to the Assembly.
Testimony included land owners and/or their representatives citing
- specific sections of new Title 21 that would negatively affect the value of their property
- general complaints that the new Title 21 is essentially social engineering that takes economic decisions from private landowners and gives it to the government
- complaints that Title 21 is the introduction of the United Nations Agenda 21 which, according to handouts, advances global sustainability and "is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States."
Basically, the people who testified framed Title 21 as social engineering that would take away the rights of individuals to make decisions about their property. Some specific issues raised:
- Change in I2 zoning to take out business and retail use and make this only industrial. People said it would lower property values of existing structures and it covers places like C and O'Malley that should have retail.
- A CIRI representative with property at C and O'Malley seemed not too fazed by the new Title 21, but wanted to be sure that they would be able to have an overlay district to make appropriate exceptions for a corner like that where they are planning retail development.
- Target's representative felt it would take so long to get the overlay district approval that they would lose significant time in building and attracting other retailers into their south Anchorage project.
- The current chapter 12 on non-conformities does not afford owners of existing property latitude to do maintenance and repairs as the existing code does. When they do repairs, they are required to spend more on upgrading to the new requirements than presently required. This will cause people to skip maintenance and lead to deterioration of property.
- The staff's economic impact study is inadequate. Staff argues that reducing the number of required parking spaces will offset the costs of added requirements. But a couple of people said that with the landscaping requirements and extra costs because of more complicated requirements the costs will really go up.
No one spoke in favor of Title 21. There were quite a few ideological complaints about social engineering and loss of individual property rights.
One man, speaking for his 21 year old daughter who had bought her first house said, "I appreciate the academics who have spoken. I speak as a citizen." [I didn't hear anyone who identified themselves as even remotely involved with academics, and if they had, they too would still be citizens, it seems to me.]
Another, who identified himself as a contractor from Eagle River said, "Don’t know much about Title 21. Heard a few things in the last few hours. Couple of questions. Assembly, first make note of where Title 21 came from - Agenda 21 from the UN. We are not in the UN we are the US. We have a constitution. . ."
A few people referred to changes that would tell home owners how many windows they could have in their house. [None of the commissioners asked them to identify which section said that.]
America's ideological divide was evident in the room Monday night. The anti-government folks were out in strength fighting off what they see as the social engineering crowd whose goal is to take away people's individual liberties.