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Anchorage

Midtown business owners reconsider anti-panhandling resolution

With frustration over homelessness, panhandling and public drinking simmering in Midtown Anchorage, some of the district’s business owners are in disagreement over the city’s response to the problem.

The Midtown Community Council, made up mostly of business owners, circulated a strongly worded resolution this week urging the municipality to more aggressively enforce panhandling and nuisance laws.

However, community council members raised concerns at a meeting Wednesday over the resolution’s strong language, which accuses the city of “refusing” to combat panhandling, public drinking and loitering in the public right-of-way.

“The Municipality has, we have been informed, directed the Anchorage Police Department not to fully enforce certain laws,” the resolution reads.

The community council voted 9-4 Wednesday to postpone sending the resolution to the city until it can be re-drafted.

“It is a very complex issue, there is no one single answer, and I guess I don’t want to be seen as saying that the police are refusing to do something unless I know that they’ve actually said that they’re refusing to do something,” said Tim Potter, who works in Midtown as a director of planning for the engineering firm DOWL.

Some community members also asked for more time to involve other community councils in the resolution and change the wording to emphasize criminal activity rather than homelessness in its own right.

The issue will be taken up again at the community council’s next meeting in August.

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