Law banning small homes counter to Alaska values

Last week, Wasilla banned tiny houses. The city said it was concerned that the tiny homes would encourage ghetto-like conditions if the small, compact homes so popular in Lower 48 cities these days were to be rented out at budget prices. So, to prevent that from happening, the same council who allowed a parade of box stores into their community said single family dwellings must be 700 square feet or larger.
The tiny home craze has caught on with many, especially those looking for a way out of cost-prohibitive housing prices in large cities. While many city codes require homes of a certain size, building a small home on the bed of a typical flatbed trailer bypasses that code because the structure is no longer permanent. Instead, it’s a mobile.
Advocates for these small homes say they are the answer to the housing crisis many face in urban areas. They are typically built with all the features of a larger home, just on a much smaller scale (think boat cabin galley-size stoves and sinks).

Let’s talk, not litigate, over Indian Country in Alaska

Since we came into office, the topic of tribes placing lands into trust in Alaska has engendered some of the most passionate comments and concerns we have heard on any issue.
Many believe this action will further empower tribes to become more self-sufficient while improving the quality of life throughout rural Alaska — a goal we all share.
Those with strong state’s rights convictions are concerned it may weaken state authority and make an already overly complicated fish and game management system more difficult and impact the constitutional requirement of sustained yield.

Letters to the Editor – Sept. 1

You — and your kids — are what you eat With the new school year starting, parents’ to-do lists are now filled with shopping for school clothes, school supplies and school food. That’s right — school food! In past years, our nation’s schools were used by the USDA as a dumping ground for surplus meat […]

Oil prices should not determine spill prevention

Among the many lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill was that it was almost inevitable. “Success bred complacency; complacency bred neglect; neglect increased the risk—until the right combination of errors finally led to an accident of disastrous proportions.” (Alaska Oil Spill Commission 1990.)
To combat that complacency, Congress created Regional Citizens Advisory Councils. As long as oil is moved, explored or developed in the waters from Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound it will be subject to citizen oversight to protect those and nearby water bodies. Congress recognized that regardless of advances in oil spill prevention and response there will always be risks.

Let’s keep local sandhill cranes safe

For the past few weeks, Kachemak Crane Watch has been receiving reports of sandhill cranes walking roads in town that are very busy with speeding cars and near power lines. Callers are asking why cranes are in this part of town, in the middle of the street. Many callers are concerned for the cranes and noted people in the area are feeding them corn to attract the cranes to their homes.
When I have given Kachemak Crane Watch presentations about cranes and folks ask if it is OK to put out corn, I tell them corn should not be put out to attract cranes if they live near power lines, near a busy street or congested areas where cranes walk down or alongside the road, or where cranes crossing the road might get hit by a car.

It’s time for Homer to move forward

Now that summer has faded into autumn, attention turns to the work of community. My comments are based on observations and professional activities in the engineering and construction trades.
It is painfully obvious that we are faced with dwindling state and city financial resources, thus local attention should be paid to improving the existing industries necessary to sustain our community. The city should consider spending money wisely to improve commerce.

Students, educators need support of creative communities to thrive

Across the state, children are heading back to school in coming weeks as summer draws to a close. Crisp outfits and school supplies are turning up all over the place, and youth are savoring their last few days to sleep in before structure returns to at least part of their lives.
And while parents are by-and-large breathing a sigh of relief at the end of summer vacation, teachers are already back in the classroom, readying themselves for another year. Educators are an extraordinary bunch of folks. Spend a few hours in a classroom, whether it’s the chaos of kindergarten, the awkward transition of middle school or the opinionated halls of high school and imagine that as your daily existence and most of us would go screaming in the opposite direction. But educators actually enjoy trying to hold the attention of 20-plus youth day in and day out, and for that, I for one am deeply grateful.

Separation of church and state allows all to be represented

Spend as much time as any journalist does at public meetings and you will get a very real sense of how commonplace it is to see heads bowed and prayers spoken. And while most public entities, be they cities, boroughs or states, say they have an open-door policy to invocations from any group or belief, statistically, those invocations are most often given with reference to a Christian god.
That open-door policy was tested at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly this month when a woman from the national group The Satanic Temple read an invocation ending with “Hail Satan.” That didn’t go over very well with quite a few folks and protests, organized praying sessions outside the borough building and lots and lots of public testimony followed. The backlash became pointed and personal. It blurred the lines between religion and politics long after everyone went home.

Why I will vote ‘no’ on HEA exemption

In October 2016, Homer Electric Association will ask members to vote to exempt HEA from regulation by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. On its website, HEA urges its members to vote for “local control,” to give the Board of Directors oversight of the cooperative.
On the HEA website, and in its August Courier, HEA lists three potential benefits of exemption from RCA regulation — or what HEA terms “local control.” I will address each of these three points as I explain my reasons for voting “NO” on my ballot in October.
Assurance that locally elected leaders are driving the decision making of our utility.

State operations need reductions, not Permanent Fund revenue

The benefits of the Alaska Permanent Fund shared equally have had a very positive effect. Because of the dividend program income disparity in Alaska is the lowest of any state. It provides for many low income and working class families and we have achieved a higher degree of social justice because of it. It is projected to produce $4 billion annually in four years if we protect it.
The political value of the dividend lies is also in how it protects the fund from which it comes, from wasteful legislative spending. Without the dividend program the constituency that protects the fund is reduced and fund profits can be taken for building any development, which legislators imagine. A bond issue for the $50 billion gasline? No sweat! The bonds can be paid off with fund earnings. Ports? Dams? Bridges? Here we go again.

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