Letters to the Editor

Letter: Zoning changes don't benefit residents

The rushed Assembly-sponsored zoning changes benefit builders’ profitability by cutting their costs, decreasing public safeguards, and rushing for a 2024 booming building season. With our continued population decline, this push will leave us overbuilt. Builders seeking higher profitability target established neighborhoods where zoning changes now do not require builders to provide architectural designs, Nordic weatherization, drainage studies, landscaping and on-site parking. Zoning changes have almost doubled the number of dwellings per lot: now five-unit townhouses up to 40 feet tall, with 60% lot coverage, are allowed to be crammed on small residential lots, with unaffordable prices starting at $500,000 and rents at $2,500. Assembly “home” zoning changes are not affordable except to elite professionals.

Zoning laws allow intelligent development and preservation of everyone’s rights. Now, the public risks yardless eyesore construction, snow removal, and traffic nightmares from on-street parking. Neighboring cottage homes will be overshadowed by these commercial structures. This relaxation of zoning oversight means family neighborhoods may face an influx of small businesses such as marijuana shops or auto repair.

Nordic towns value low-rise construction for sunlight, views and open spaces to counteract bleak, dark winters. Assembly zoning changes mimic Portland’s zealous changes (a city where the homelessness increase is nearly 10%), a confusing patchwork city of commercial and residential. We need to roll back the changes and proceed with caution to maintain our charming Alaska town as a tourist destination, not a cookie-cutter Portland. We must protect our family neighborhoods, schools and unique Alaskan character to prevent further outmigration.

— Marty Margeson


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