Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Natural Resource Extraction"

We took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked over to the Thai Kitchen for dinner last night.  On the way we passed these woods off of Laurel Street.  We walk along here fairly frequently.  Tonight we saw a blue sign.

You don't see the blue sign?  Look carefully, it's right in the middle. I guess if you were driving by, it would be easy to miss, and impossible to read if you did see it.  But we were walking, so we could see more, and walk up the hill to read what it said.

So, with that basic information, we walked on.

The view from the Thai Kitchen is often pretty spectacular, if you can ignore the strip mall decor in the foreground. Tonight was no exception.  Dinner was good and then we walked home down 42nd Ave.

Since it was too late to call, I tried the Muni website.  It took quite a bit of poking around from the basic  to finding the page where I could look up case # 2010 - 110.  Which didn't exist.  So I tried 2010-110, and there it was:

Staff Report | View Case Comments | Submit Comments

Hearing Date: Monday, Oct 11, 2010 *
Case Number: 2010-110
Petitioner: Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office- (TLO)
718 L Street Ste 202
Anchorage, AK 995010000
Day Phone: 9072698688

Representative: Lounsbury & Associates
Ken Ayers
5300 A Street
Anchorage, AK 995180000

FAX: 9072729065
Day Phone: 9072725451
Application Date:
Request: Zoning conditional use for a natural resource extraction
Site Address:
Detail: A conditional use to allow for a natural resource extraction. Providence-Chester Creek Subdivision, Tract C-2. Generally located east of Laurel Street and north of E. 40th Avenue
Legal Desc.: PLI Public lands & institutions district
* Community Council review comments are due to the Planning Department 10 days prior to the public hearing date if they want them included in the Board or Commission packet.

So, the request is for "Zoning conditional use for a natural resource extraction"

Maybe they're going to drill for oil?  Mine for gold?  Coal?  Or is this a timber harvest?  Do you think the Muni Planning Department, now that they have a website for this stuff, could give us a few more details?  Is it vague like this
  • because they don't want us to know?  
  • Or because it just never occurred to them to put up more information?  
  • Or they don't have the computer ability to add more information? 
  • Maybe they just like talking to people, so they just put up a little info so people need to call them.
  • Or maybe they think people will give up in frustration.
  • Or maybe they just have so much to do they didn't get around to it. (I'm not being sarcastic here, with budget cuts, there are fewer people to do more work.  And if the public doesn't find out about these things, then businesses - and in this case a quasi governmental body - don't have to face the public before they get regulations waived.  Ergo, less government is better. Now I am being sarcastic.)
We were in London and Berlin and Brussels and Washington DC this summer and they all have these little pockets of trees amidst all the buildings and roads.  They are little oases amidst the concrete.  Anchorage still has these clumps of original forest here and there in the middle of town.  Some people argue that we don't need to preserve this greenery in town because we are surrounded by thousands of acres of wilderness.

But you have to get in a car and go to that wilderness.  We need to have wilderness, or at least green spaces, that kids can walk to from home.  Places where we can connect with nature.  When they are mostly cut down, it's almost impossible to get them back.  The city has to essentially die, like Detroit, before you can reclaim the land.  And it takes a lot longer to get real trees going in Anchorage than it does in Detroit.

The announcement also says this is on Laurel "north of East 40th."  That's an interesting description.  While East 40th may exist on their maps at this point, it's just woods going up the hill like the rest of this land right now.  And it's green between two buildings between Laurel and Lake Otis.  That road, funded by the State, will be a gross invasion on this little paradise with this lovely forest covered hill that doesn't take up much space, but preserves our connection to wilderness.  And cleans the air.  And buffers the noise.  And moderates the wind.  And percolates the rain water.  And gives refuge to migrating birds.  This isn't some wimpy green fantasy.  This is about recognizing the ecosystem's natural recycling and cleansing functions that we cannot duplicate for much greater costs.

This is all Mental Health Trust land, just south of McLaughlin Youth Facilities.  I think the abstract idea of a land trust for people with mental health problems (arguably a fairly large portion of our population) is a great idea.  But practically, like the land for the University, it is a way to take otherwise almost, sometimes, inviolable land, and putting it for sale, because it helps the mentally ill and it helps education.   And then legislators can say, "Why come to us for money?  Just sell your land?"

This post is full of links - many to past posts - which all relate to what is covered here.  If what I say in this post isn't clear to you, then click on the link for more depth on that particular point.


    The only one in that area I can see is the easement one...?
    Not exactly a natural resource extraction project...

  2. Knowing a bit of the geology of Anchorage, I'd guess it's gravel 'extraction' that is the natural resource. Must be a future road project in the area!

  3. I agree with Jay, they are probably trying to get a permit for a gravel pit. As if Los Anchorage needs another gravel pit.

  4. I realize I forgot to respond to one of the broader thrusts of this post- the endless layers one often encounters in trying to find out "public information" .
    One of the reasons I enjoy visiting this blog is your constant attention to ways we can find out things for ourselves and means to increase more sensible participation in our public business.
    I have plenty of moments of giving into unreasoned and unreasonable responses to events but this quiet questioning place of yours helps curb that tendency some.. thank you.


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